Select Wynn Miscellany

Here are some Wynn stories and accounts over the years:

Gwydir Castle and the Wynns

The first recorded owners of Gwydircastle in Caernarvonshire were the Coetmores, who were responsible for building the Hall Range, the earliest surviving part of the house.

Following the Wars of the Roses, the castle was rebuilt around 1490 by Meredith ap Ieuan ap Robert, founder of the Wynn dynasty and a leading regional supporter of King Henry VII. Originally a fortified manor house, Gwydir acquired additions in the 1540’s, incorporating reused gothic building material from nearby Maenan Abbey.  A
turret was added around this time and Sir John Wynn’s initials can be seen above the main entrance in the courtyard gatehouse along with the date of 1555.  The castle was given an Elizabethan porch and gardens in the 1590’s.

The Wynns were supporters of King Charles I.  John Williams, his Lord Keeper, stayed at Gwydir. And the King himself is said to have visited in 1645 as guest of Sir Richard Wynn, Treasurer to Queen Henrietta Maria and Chief Groom of the Royal Bedchamber.

The castle has the reputation for being one of the most haunted houses in Wales, the "Grey Lady" being the most commonly seen together with the ghost of a monk said to have been trapped in a tunnel leading from the secret room and Sir John Wynn himself.  Judy Corbett’s 2004 book Castles in the Air described some of these ghosts.

Wynn and Variants in the UK

Wynn in the UK is mainly but not solely a Welsh-origin name.  It comes in many spelling variations.  Wynn, Wynne, Winn, Gwynn, and Gwynne are all found today.  The spelling in the 16th century could be interchangeable.  Robert Wynn of Conway in north Wales, for instance, was recorded as Gwynne, Wynn, and Wynne at various times in his career.

The spelling had stabilized by the 19th century.  The surname distribution in the 1881 UK census can give us some clarity as to where each of these names has been concentrated.  

Wynn and Wynne 

Wynn and Wynne are clearly closely related.  Wynne is strongest in North Wales (principally Denbighshire) and extending into Cheshire and Lancashire.  Wynn was more found in the English border counties such as Shropshire and Gloucestershire.  

Gwynn and Gwynne  

Gwynne has been the more common and has been mainly found in south Wales, notably in 1881 in Glamorgan.  Gwynn is more the English spelling.  


This does appear to have different origins.  The main numbers were to be found down the East Coast of England, principally in Yorkshire but extending into Lincolnshire.  There was a small enclave also in Cornwall, reflecting possibly the Cornish variation on the Welsh name.

Reader Feedback - The Winns from Thornton Stewart

The Winns from Thornton Stewart in north Yorkshire were my lot.  The name I believe comes from Patrick Brompton and I think that these Winns were related to Francis Winn of Prior House in Bedale who was Mayor of Richmond.  The surname was spelt Wynd in Bedale.

There is someone who has said that my Winns owned a coach with the same crest as the Winns from Nostell Priory (who spelt their name Gwinn on occasions).  However, this coach story is just hearsay.

Julie Brutnell (

Winville at Askrigg in North Yorkshire

Winville opposite the Post Office was the residence of George Winn and his wife Elizabeth.  George was born in 1808 at Nappa Hall in Askrigg along with his elder brother John who became the vicar of St Andrews Church in Aysgarth.  George followed the family tradition and became a solicitor and local councillor, as was his son William.  

Winnville is now the White Rose Hote

Dr. Thomas Wynne the Barber Surgeon

Dr. Thomas Wynne, a self-declared doctor or “barber surgeon” as he was called, was a prominent Quaker in north Wales, one who had been arrested and imprisoned for six years in Denbighshire.  In 1681 he learned about William Penn, came to London, and was on the Welcome with Penn to Pennsylvania a year later, acting as his personal physician. 

He settled in Philadelphia.  His home Wynnestay, built in 1689, is one of the oldest extant buildings in Philadelphia (now to be found near Wynnefield station). 

Thomas Wynne died in Philadelphia in 1692.  Jonathan, a son by his first wife Martha, was his heir and made his home at Wynnestay.  Two Jonathans later the Wynns acquired for themselves in 1774 a farmhouse in Chester county.

The Wynne Family of Wills Point, Texas

Buck Wynne was the son of a poor Rusk county farmer from Tennessee who rode into Wills Point, east of Dallas, in 1877 with nothing but a rifle and a pair of lawbooks in his saddlebags. 

Fat Dad, as his grandchildren came to call him, was the forebear of a flamboyant clan that has given contemporary Texas such necessities as the Styrofoam cup (invented by a Wynne on his mother’s side), the Cattle Baron’s Ball (in 1973), as well as Texas’s answer to Disneyland – Six Flags Over Texas opened by Angus Wynne Jr. in Arlington in 1961.  His son Shannon is a Dallas restauranteur best known for his Flying Saucer Draught Emporium.

The Winn Family in South Australia

The Winn Family arrived in South Australia on the sailing ship Shack-O-Mackson in 1852. Richard Winn was an experienced farmer and settled at Coromandel Valley.  Their eldest son Oliver became a butcher, whereas their third son Walter, born in 1862, took over the family business when he was only eighteen and became a baker.  Walter married Margaret Fisher and they raised four children.  

With four young children and the bakery and general store, the Winn family had a busy life. After returning from the First World War, their son Hector would take over the business.   In 1970 the Coromandel Valley and District branch of the National Trust was offered their building as a museum.

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