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Old 10th May 2019, 17.22:27   #626-0 (permalink)
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Default Re: The sad case of a founding members and player of Wrexham Football Club (Massive history thread!)

Originally Posted by eastsussexred View Post
As confirmed by Alfred Neobard Palmer, Richard Williams (the brother of the first Sir Watkin Williams Wynn) lived at the property known as The Crispin, on Crispin Lane, during the 1730's. He would later become an MP for Flint and he also inherited the Penbedw Estate (Nannerch).
Ogilbys Road map of 1675 (previously attached) had shown that The Crispin was a substantial property in the region, at least on par with Plas Coch, but the entire area had previously been named after the Crispin, including the land that The Racecourse was built on, as shown on the map from 1793-95 (attached).
Richard Williams of Penbedw died at Oswestry in 1759, but an artcle in the Shrewsbury Chronicle of 1774 (attached) confirmed that he had been a breeder of hunt and race horses 'The above mare was called Vendecea and bred by the late Richard Williams Esq of Penbedw' and that he was still being credited with his stud, some 15 years after his death.
The property known as The Crispin was known to still have stables in the mid 19th Century, when it was demolished, but Richard Williams occupancy of the the property during the 1730's also makes it likely that he was breeding horses on Crispin Lane, as he was a man of means; landed gentry who was a member of the two most powerful and wealthy families in Wales (the Williams's and the Wynn's). When added to this, the fact that The London Evening Post were advertising The Wrexham Races on the 'new Course' in 1739, while Richard Williams lived at The Crispin, and the William's Wynn's were promoting the races, then it seems probable that it was Richard Williams who bought horseracing to those fields off Crispin Lane, some 70 years before Sir Watkin Williams Wynn (5th Bart) was credited with building Y Cae Ras.
As previously corrected in an earlier post, it was not Richard Williams who lived at The Crispin in the 1730’s, but the other brother of the first Sir Watkin Williams Wynn- Robert Williams of Erbistock.
Like all of the brothers, Robert Williams (1695-1763) was a man of means, who had been born into one of the wealthiest families in Wales. He was the owner of Erbistock Hall and was elected MP for Montgomeryshire (1741-42 and 1742-47) as well as receiving the title of The Recorder of Oswestry.
Alfred Neobard Palmer stated that Robert Williams lived at The Crispin from 1731 ‘and for a few years after’ although he must have leased the property, as Palmer also reported that The Crispin had been owned by the Ambrose Lewis family since at least 1704 until the year 1820. This begs the question as to why Robert Williams would lease, and live in a property on Crispin Lane, when he himself owned Erbistock Hall and other substantial estates in the region, while his family were also the largest landowners in Wales?
It would therefore seem that it may have been the location of the property, which was the most important factor when Robert Williams lived at The Crispin, as it was a substantial house in its own grounds, which adjoined a large area of open fields that were owned by his brother- Sir Watkin Williams Wynn. This becomes apparent when we look at the timing of the lease, which corresponds with a period in which we know that his family were promoting The Wrexham Races ‘on the new course’ (as recorded in The London Evening Post of 1739 and 1740) while we also know that his other brother- Richard Williams of Penbedw (MP for Flint) was building a reputation for breeding racehorses at this time. And so it may have been a family project, which first brought horse racing to Y Cae Ras in 1739 and 1740, although a lack of information in the archives in succeeding years, suggests that the races were not firmly established as a major annual event until the end of the 18th Century. A newspaper report from The Chester Courant further indicated that The Wrexham Races of 1792 were more of a rustic event, at that time, and in his memoirs, Major Charles James Appleby, (the brother-in-law of Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn) also described the races as being ‘ little more than leatherplate races’ at the end of the 18th Century. Other, much smaller venues are also known to have been used for private races at different times and in other locations around town, with individuals, such as the landlords of public houses using the fields adjoining their premises to facilitate races between customers, while making money from the betting associated with such races. But it was the construction a new public house, called The Turf Tavern in 1793-95 which suggests that Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn (5th Baronet) had decided to upgrade the old racecourse off Crispin Lane, and establish Y Cae Ras as the only public horse racing venue in town. His decision might also have been swayed by the need for a suitable training ground for a new cavalry regiment, known as The Gentlemen and Yeomanry Cavalry of Wrexham, which was established, under Sir Watkin’s patronage in 1795. The regiment, along with its successors and other local military regiments would maintain a long association with The Racecourse, and Sir Watkin commissioned a new silver trophy, called ‘The Silver Cavalry Cup’ specifically for the members of the cavalry who would race in their own event, during the annual Wrexham Races, from the beginning of the 19th Century.

In The Welsh History Review, an academic paper from The University of Wales, it has been recorded that the Myddleton family of Chirk Castle had been regularly subscribing to horse racing in Wrexham since before the year 1700. Although the exact location of those early races may have now been lost, it would seem that the Williams brothers had invested in the construction of a new course, off Crispin Lane in 1739, and the course was later revamped, due to military considerations, as well as commercial opportunities, by Sir Watkin Williams Wynn (5th Baronet) around 1793.

Last edited by eastsussexred; 10th May 2019 at 17.29:33..
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