Available from Cambridge University Press
Right of Election:
in the free burgesses
Number of voters:
at least 11
|11 Mar. 1604||THOMAS WYVELL|
|SIR PETER MANWOOD|
|c. Mar. 1614||RANULPHE CREWE|
|SIR ROBERT PHELIPS|
|14 Dec. 1620||(SIR) THOMAS TREVOR|
|SIR THOMAS SMYTHE|
|26 Jan. 1624||(SIR) THOMAS TREVOR|
|2 May 1625||SIR RICHARD BULLER|
|20 Jan. 1626||SIR RICHARD BULLER|
|25 Jan. 1626||SIR JOHN HAYWARD|
|3 Mar. 16281||SIR RICHARD BULLER|
|SIR FRANCIS COTTINGTON , bt.|
The borough of Saltash was created in the thirteenth century out of the great feudal honour of Trematon, and formed part of the ancient demesnes of the duchy of Cornwall. The town grew up on the western bank of the Tamar, below Trematon castle, and this favourable location on the edge of Plymouth Sound ensured its status as one of Cornwall’s principal ports.2 In about 1610 Saltash possessed at least 15 ships, which traded with France, Spain, Portugal and Newfoundland.3 The antiquary Richard Carew†, who lived barely two miles away at Antony, reckoned that the borough contained between 80 and 100 households at the end of the sixteenth century, and noted a recent increase in building-work, a reflection of the ‘competent wealth’ of the residents.4 Two of Saltash’s captains turned to privateering in the later 1620s, but the wars with Spain and France also brought economic disruption and the burden of billeting sick soldiers. In 1628 the mayor was summoned before the Privy Council for obstructing impressment in the town.5
Under its charter of incorporation, granted in 1585, Saltash was governed by a mayor, recorder and 10 aldermen. The charter also confirmed an anomalous situation whereby the borough, though much quieter than the bustling port of Plymouth, enjoyed extensive rights and jurisdictions over the whole of Plymouth Sound and its tidal tributaries.6 Additional Duchy of Cornwall profits arising from the Tamar and its ferry crossing were granted to the mayor and burgesses by Elizabeth I, Prince Henry, and, in 1618, by Prince Charles.7 In 1625, Plymouth attempted to secure some of these privileges for itself, citing Saltash’s failure to conduct an expensive salvage operation in Catwater Harbour, but the latter’s corporation successfully argued that such a transfer was not in the Duchy’s interests.8
Saltash first returned Members to Parliament in 1547. The franchise was vested in the free burgesses, but the actual number of voters in the early seventeenth century is difficult to gauge, as election indentures were signed only by the mayor.9 The pattern of patronage at the start of this period is also hard to establish. The Carews of Antony had exercised a steady influence over the borough throughout Elizabeth’s reign, and thus it was probably Richard Carew who provided a place in 1604 for Sir Peter Manwood, a fellow member of the Society of Antiquaries. The other seat in this election went to a local gentleman, Thomas Wyvell.10 In 1614 Saltash awarded one of its burgess-ships to the Speaker-designate, Ranulphe Crewe, who probably relied on the backing of the 3rd earl of Pembroke, steward of the duchy of Cornwall. Sir Robert Phelips, who secured the other place, may have been able to call on the support of his distant kinsmen, the Bullers, who lived a few miles outside Saltash at Shillingham. It is unclear whether Phelips’ seat was kept open for him while he unsuccessfully contested the Somerset county election.11
In contrast, the electoral developments of the 1620s are clear-cut. By the start of this decade Sir Richard Buller had become recorder of Saltash, the first holder of this office who can be identified, and he dictated most of the nominations for the next five elections.12 Buller himself took one seat between 1625 and 1628, while his son Francis was returned in 1624 and 1625. Sir Thomas Smythe, who sat in 1621, was Buller’s uncle by marriage, while Sir John Hayward (1626) was the recorder’s brother-in-law. Smythe’s own brother, Sir Richard, was receiver-general of the duchy of Cornwall, and a combination of this link to the Bullers and Saltash’s own deep obligations to the Duchy ensured that the borough accepted nominations from Prince Charles’s Council in 1620 and 1624.13 Although objections were raised to the Duchy’s initial choice of candidate in 1620, Sir Oliver Cromwell*, the borough agreed to a compromise figure, Sir Thomas Trevor, who was also returned at the subsequent election.14 Only in 1628 was there a direct challenge to the Buller monopoly. Despite the recorder’s opposition, the mayor was persuaded by his friend (Sir) James Bagg II* to secure the return of another Court figure, Sir Francis Cottington.15
Author: Paul Hunneyball
- 1. OR.
- 2. Parl. Survey of Duchy of Cornw. i. ed. N.J.G. Pounds (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. n.s. xxv), 126; R. Pearse, Ports and Harbours of Cornw. 13; I.D. Spreadbury, Castles in Cornw. 22.
- 3. E190/1023/16; 190/1024/3, 15.
- 4. R. Carew, Survey of Cornw. ed. P. White, 132.
- 5. CSP Dom. 1628-9, pp. 65, 299, 304, 441; E190/1031/5, 10; A. Duffin, Faction and Faith, 132.
- 6. C66/1265; Pearse, 14; Carew, 132.
- 7. J. Polsue, Complete Parochial Hist. of Cornw. iv. 136; Parl. Survey of Duchy of Cornw. 129.
- 8. CSP Dom. 1623-5, pp. 437, 462-3, 465.
- 9. HP Commons, 1509-58, i. 58; C66/1265; C219/37/29.
- 10. HP Commons, 1558-1603, i. 137; Archaeologia, i. p. xiv; C2/Chas.I/W63/13.
- 11. Vis. Som. (Harl. Soc. xi), 85; Dorset Vis. Addenda ed. Colby and Rylands, 2; Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 56-7; C142/356/108.
- 12. Vis. Cornw. (Harl. Soc. ix), 284.
- 13. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 57; Arch. Cant. xx. 77-9; Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), iv. 80.
- 14. DCO, ‘Letters and Patents 1620-1’, f. 39v; ‘Prince Charles in Spain’, f. 33v.
- 15. SP16/100/47.