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Reference: NLW MS 23289B

Background of the Gwydir Family History

John Wynn inherited the Gwydir estate in 1580 and following this he played a prominent part in the politics of north Wales as a member of parliament and as a sheriff. He was also an entrepreneur: he attempted to start a cloth industry in the Conwy valley and he also had interests in the Parys Mountain copper mine. He had a strong feeling of Welshness and an avid interest in Welsh history and literature, being also a generous patron of bards. This feeling is reflected in the 'History'.

The 'History's' main objective is to tell the story of Sir John's ancestors and show their noble lineage. The Welsh gentry of the early modern period were famous for the importance they attached to lineage. The 'History' was composed when the hierarchical values of the Middle Ages were still one of the cornerstones of society and noble ancestry reinforced a landowner's status and power. So important was ancestry to society during that period that Sir John was forced to defend himself in court after Thomas Prys of Plas Iolyn brought a case against him for claiming that he was a direct descendant of Owain Gwynedd.

Further reading

  • Sir John Wynn. History of the Gwydir family and memoirs. Edited by J. Gwynfor Jones. Llandysul : Gwasg Gomer, 1990.
  • J. Gwynfor Jones. Syr John Wynn. Caernarfon : Gwasg Pantycelyn, 1991.
  • J. Gwynfor Jones. The Wynn family of Gwydir. Aberystwyth : Centre for Educational Studies, 1995.