The Dynevor Title
It is still unclear why Sir Rhys ap Thomas was never given a title after his support of Henry Tudor at Bosworth Field in 1485; he did, after all, become the most powerful man in Wales under both Henry VII and Henry VIII, but perhaps his Welsh family connections weren't prestigious enough to impress the status-conscious English aristocracy. The Rhys (or Rice) family may have had their lands at least partially restored in the Tudor and Stuart reigns but the much-sought prestige of a title eluded them for quite some time afterwards, and even then was acquired indirectly by marriage. The modern Dynevor peerage dates back only to 1780 when William Talbot, Baron Talbot of Hensol, was created the 1st Baron Dynevor (anglicized spellings were more in keeping with the fashion of the day so Dinefwr had to go). The title came into the Rice family by the marriage of George Rice to William Talbot's only child and daughter, Cecil. (Walter Fitz Uryan Rice became the 7th Baron Dynevor on the death of his father in 1911 but by 1916 being Welsh had come back sufficiently into fashion for him to change the name Rice by royal assent back to Rhys! But not before a street in Betws built on Dynevor land had been named Rice Street after him in 1906.)
The First Baron Dynevor of Dynevor
According to The Complete Peerage (Vicary Gibbs ed.), the first Baron Dynevor was William Talbot, Baron Talbot of Hensol, co Glamorgan, who succeeded his father in that dignity as 2nd Baron [Talbot] on 14 Feb 1737.
He was created Earl Talbot with the usual remainder on 29 March 1761. Having no male issue, he was created Baron Dynevor of Dynevor, co. Carmarthen for life on 17 October 1780, with a special remainder in favour of his only child, Cecil Rice, widow and the heirs male of her body. [Cecil Rice was his daughter.]
William Talbot was born 16 May 1710 at Worcester, educated at Eton 1725-1728 and matriculated at Oxford (Exeter college) on 23 January 1727/28. He was created DCL (Doctor of Civil Law) on 12 June 1736. He was MP for co. Glamorgan (1734-1737), Trustee (21 March 1733-4) and Member of the Common Council for Georgia, 17 March 1736/7-1738.
He was Colonel of the Glamorganshire Militia, 1760. Having been a supporter of Frederick, Prince of Wales, he was (by his son, George III, soon after his succession) created Earl Talbot (19 March 1761.) He was a Privy Councillor (25 March 1761) and Lord Steward of the Household, 1761 till his death. He was present at the marriage of George III and acted as Lord High Steward of England at the coronation and carried St Edward's Crown.
He married, 21 Feb 1733/4, at St George, Hanover Square, Mary, daughter and heir of the Right Hon. Adam De Cardonnel, of Bedhampton Park, co. Southampton, Secretary at War, by his 2nd wife Elizabeth, sometime wife of William Frankland, daughter and heir of Rene Baudouin of London, merchant.
He died 27 April 1782 at Lincolns Inn Fields and was buried at Sutton.
The Talbot Peerage is somewhat unusual in that the 2nd Baron Talbot was also an Earl who could add 1st Baron Dynevor to his roll call of titles, while the 2nd Baron Dynevor muddies the waters even further by being a woman (life gets thoroughly confusing when you're a peer of the realm, doesn't it?).
William, 2nd Baron Talbot was created the Earl Talbot in 1761. On 17 October 1780, he was granted the additional title of "Baron Dinevor, of Dinevor, county Carmarthen" with a special remainder to his only daughter, Cecil.
Upon the Earl's death on 27 April 1782, the Earldom of Talbot became extinct, the Barony of Talbot passed to his nephew (which is now part of the Earldom of Shrewsbury) and the Barony of Dinevor (Dynevor) passed to his only daughter who later assumed the surname de Cardonnel.
Upon the death of the 2nd Baron Dynevor on 14 March 1793, the title passed to her elder son George Talbot, who become the 3rd Baron Dynevor, resuming his paternal surname of Rice in 1827 (he died 9 April 1852).
The current holder of the titles of Earl Talbot and Baron Talbot is a gentleman bearing the full, resplendent name of (are you ready for this?): Charles Henry John Benedict Crofton Chetwynd Chetwynd-Talbot, Premier Earl of both England and Ireland - 22nd Earl of Shrewsbury and Waterford, 7th Earl Talbot, Viscount Ingestre and Baron Talbot. (Source: Burke's Peerage.)
The Dynevors seem to have been prouder of the length of their ancestry than their achievements. In a book ' A Peerage for the People ' by William Carpenter, first published in 1835, and again in 1841 with updates, George Talbot Rice, the 3rd Lord Dynevor, is described thus: "Baron Dynevor - This Peer is descended from Adam on the mother's side, and from the Lord knows who on his father's!" William Carpenter might even be justified in this sneering comment: as we've seen, the Dynevors once claimed their descent from 'Old King Cole' as far back as the 3rd century, no less, and "seven kings, five dukes, fifteen earls and twelve barons" were once branches on their family tree, or so they claimed.
If William Carpenter was contemptuous of the Dynevors' pretensions, the 3rd Lord was fortunate to get off so lightly from an author who described the aristocracy of his day in these stinging terms:
The history of the Peerage is a history of intrigue, profligacy, corruption, jobbing, and peculation. Repulsive as the Spirit of Aristocracy has ever been, it is not to be doubted that it has, in many features, largely degenerated over the last two hundred years… its high chivalry has degenerated into pure chicanery; its lofty courage has degenerated into low cunning.
The current Lord Dynevor is Baron Hugo Griffith Uryan Rhys, born 19 Nov 1966. And for those who are interested in such matters here are the dates for all the ten Barons (each Lord succeeded to the title on the death of the previous one):
Summary of Lineage
The story of their line is one of ruthless founding fathers, replaced later by status-conscious gentry seeking recognition in London, and tending to dissociate themselves from direct involvement in Welsh regional affairs. The home seat of the family was at Dinefwr, Llandeilo, which the Rhys line held almost wholly from the 15th century. In Henry VI's reign the head of the Rhys family, Griffith ap Nicholas, was a man of great wealth, and consequently power and influence, related by marriage to the principal families of North and South Wales, and he caused a large Estate to be built up at Dinefwr. Thomas ap Griffith, the Courteous, succeeded his father followed by his son Sir Rhys ap Thomas, whose career shaped the making of English history, since it was he who was instrumental in Henry VII's victory at Bosworth field in 1485, and where tradition claims he killed Richard III. Despite some reversals in fortune the Rhys family flourished at Dinefwr, bearing a dominating role in Welsh influential circles. Many improvements were made to the Estate, and in 1775 Capability Brown was invited to lay out the magnificent parkland. The Neath Abbey Estate connection had come about through the marriage of Griffith Rice, an ancestor of the Barons Dynevor, to Katherine, daughter of Philip Hobby of Neath Abbey, around 1700.
- 1st Baron
- William Talbot, Earl Talbot and 2nd Baron Talbot (born 16 May 1710 - died 27 April 1782)
- 2nd Baroness
- Cecil De Cardonnel, Baroness Dynevor (born July 1735 - died 14th May 1793)
- 3rd Baron
- George Talbot Rice (born 8th Oct 1765 - died 9th April 1852)
- 4th Baron
- George Rice-Trevor (born 5th Aug 1795 - died 7th Oct 1869). He died without male issue and his cousin, the Reverend Francis William Rice succeeded to the title. Most of the family wealth passed to his four daughters, leaving only the estates and the title to the 5th Baron. Armed with hindsight, we might discern in this the beginning of the slow decline in the family's fortunes.
- 5th Baron
- Francis William Rice (born 10th May 1804 - died 3rd Aug 1878)
- 6th Baron
- Arthur De Cardonnel Rice (born 24th Jan 1836 - 8th June 1911)
- 7th Baron
- Walter FitzUryan Rice (born 17th Aug 1873 - died 1956)
- 8th Baron
- Charles Arthur Uryan Rhys Rice (born 21st Sept 1899 - died 1962). An M.P. for Romford and Deputy Chairman of the Sun Insurance Company. The Neath Abbey estates were sold by him at auction in September 1946. When he died at the age of 62, death duties previously incurred by the 7th Baron had not been paid, placing an intolerable financial burden on the next in line of descent namely Richard Charles Uryan Rhys
- 9th Baron
- Richard Charles Uryan Rhys, (born 19 June 1935 - died 12 November 2008). Richard Rhys inherited after his father's death the remaining holding of the Llandeilo Estate, comprising 23 farms, and 2,000 acres, a ruined castle, a deer park with a herd of rare long horned white cattle, and a death duties debt outstanding in six figures. (Farms were sold off and some attempt made to save the Hall as an Arts Centre, but ultimately it was sold to a private buyer in 1974.) The National Trust acquired the deer park and the outer park at Dinefwr in 1987. Newton House was purchased by the Trust in 1990 having been through several hands since first sold by Lord Dynevor in 1974. The East Drive was acquired in 1992. The generosity of the Heritage Lottery Fund facilitated the purchase of Home Farm and Penparc in 2002. The 9th Baron resided in Chiswick, London, and the Llandeilo area, and his chief interest was in the Raven Book Publishing Company, of which he was a Director.
- 10th Baron
- Baron Hugo Griffith Uryan Rhys, born 19 Nov 1966.