When we talk about Jacobites it is easy to sometimes miss out the fact that there were many supporters for the Jacobite cause in Wales so with St Davids Day just passed we thought we’d shine a light on the Welsh Jacobites.
Wales in fact plays a part in Jacobitism before it even really existed for it was on a visit to a Catholic shrine in Holywell, north Wales that James II supposedly prayed for a son with his second wife, Mary and shortly after Mary suddenly conceived.
Many of Wales’ oldest families supported the Jacobites in theory if not in practice. Perhaps the best example is that of Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn. From the early 1700s Wynn headed one of the best known Jacobite clubs, the Cycle Club. The club would meet periodically to toast the ‘king over the water’ in specially made drinking glasses and pledge support for the Jacobite cause. The club members included every significant landowner in a ten mile radius of Wrexham so had a fair amount of power in their midst. The Cycle Club was not the only secret Jacobite organisation to exist. In Montgomeryshire there was a group known as ‘The 27’ and at one meeting in Talgarth in 1727 Jacobite sympathisers actually ended up having to appear before a magistrate to explain their actions.
During the build up to the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion discontent was rife, especially in Wrexham, where as the summer progressed, rioters broke windows in the ‘dissenting chapels’ and roamed through the streets of the town. It was believed that Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn orchestrated the riots.
Wynn was considered an important figure in the potential restoration of the Stuarts to the throne and was active again in the ’45 Rebellion pledging his support for the Jacobites in the 1740’s. The key point here though is that he offered support only as long as the Stuarts came accompanied by a French army. Whilst others followed with just promises of the French army Wynn held fast and insisted his condition was met before support was given. When Prince Charles Edward Stuart arrived in Scotland in 1745 without the anticipated French support Wynn held fast and thus provided no aid. This action may account for the lack of active Welsh Jacobites in the ’45 Rising.
Despite Wynn’s stance though some Welshmen did join the Jacobite army including a David Morgan from Penycraig who obtained a captain’s commission in the army of the Young Pretender. He was apparently captured by the Hanoverians during the Jacobite retreat north from Derby and was tried for treason. On 30th July 1746 he was executed on Kennington Common by hanging, drawing and quartering, and then his head displayed on Temple Bar in London.
After this it’s not a surprise that any Welsh Jacobites worked hard to cover their tracks to avoid facing a similar fate to David Morgan. We hope you enjoyed this little insight into Welsh Jacobites. As always please like, share, tweet, comment, follow and have a wonderful Dydd Gwyl Dewi.
All the best, K & D