Available from Boydell and Brewer
Right of Election:
in the freemen
Number of voters:
under 500 in 1661
|10 Apr. 1660||ROGER BOSWORTH|
|20 Nov. 1660||SIR HENRY LINGEN vice Bosworth, deceased|
|9 Apr. 1661||SIR HENRY LINGEN|
|SIR EDWARD HOPTON||251|
|Double return of Hopton and Westfaling. HOPTON seated, 16 May 1661. Election declared void, 23 July 1661|
|24 Sept. 16611||SIR HENRY LINGEN|
|11 Feb. 1662||ROGER VAUGHAN vice Lingen, deceased|
|18 Feb. 1673||JOHN SCUDAMORE, Visct. Scudamore, vice Vaughan, deceased|
|18 Feb. 1679||BRIDSTOCK HARFORD|
|2 Sept. 1679||BRIDSTOCK HARFORD|
|15 Feb. 1681||PAUL FOLEY|
|24 Mar. 1685||HERBERT AUBREY|
|11 Jan. 1689||(SIR) WILLIAM GREGORY|
|11 June 1689||HENRY CORNEWALL vice Gregory, appointed to office||372|
Hereford was an open borough with a wide franchise. Elections were notoriously expensive and sometimes riotous. Of the successful candidates, only Roger Bosworth, a physician, and Thomas Geers were permanently resident in the city; but all the others were Herefordshire gentlemen, though William Gregory, like Geers, was primarily a lawyer. For the Convention, the city returned two moderates, of royalist sympathies, Bosworth and Herbert Westfaling. On the death of the former, the ultra-royalist Sir Henry Lingen was elected. At the general election of 1661, Lingen sought to replace Westfaling by his comrade-in-arms, Sir Edward Hopton. The contest that followed was remembered as an example to be avoided for years to come. Lingen gained control of the corporation, to which the royalist councilmen had not yet been restored, and the mayor created nearly 80 of his supporters freemen. When Westfaling asked for a similar favour, no quorum could be obtained. Lord Scudamore, the high steward, was urged to stand, but firmly refused, declaring that ‘three persons of worth and unquestionable loyalty are already publicly engaged in their endeavours to be chosen, and have all been civil to me in the late election for the county’, when his son had been returned. On the day of the election there was no opposition to Lingen, but against Hopton Westfaling demanded a poll. On a report that the mayor was detained in the Guildhall by Westfaling’s supporters, trumpeters sounded ‘To horse!’ and the two old Cavaliers charged to his rescue at the head of their militiamen, riding over men, women and children on the way. After taking three votes, the mayor adjourned the poll. Next day he refused to go to the shire hall, and proclaimed Lingen and Hopton elected from the window of the latter’s lodging. The indenture was signed by the mayor and some 24 others, but Westfaling persuaded the sheriff to accept another return. He was able to show 233 duly qualified voters. In reply Hopton and his supporters scraped up 25 x ‘gotten a week or a fortnight after the election, and some of them doubly set down, some almsmen, some minors’. Nevertheless, on the merits of the return, Hopton had to be allowed to take his seat while the elections committee deliberated. On 23 July (Sir) Job Charlton, himself a Herefordshire j.p. who must have known all the parties well, reported that ‘there was a very strange carriage and some disturbance in the elections, which proceeded either from fear in the mayor, or was done by design’. He recommended that Hopton should be unseated, but the House preferred to declare the whole election void. A motion to send for the mayor in custody was negatived without a division. At the ensuing by-election Lingen and Westfaling (who, according to family tradition, spent £1,200 on the contest and petition) were elected, probably without a contest.2
When Lingen died in the following winter, Roger Vaughan, a kinsman and protégé of Westfaling, was returned. He soon became a court dependant, as ultimately did Westfaling, presumably out of financial necessity. On his death, he was replaced by the 2nd Lord Scudamore, who had succeeded his grandfather in 1671 and inherited the traditionally moderate politics of his family. A more radical interest was introduced by Paul Foley, who had bought Stoke Edith in 1670 and soon gained control of the corporation. Several successive mayors, it was alleged, were at his devotion, the city revenues were diverted ‘to the treating and entertaining Mr Foley and others of the same faction’, common councilmen were chosen ‘not of the best and most approved citizens, but persons of mean parts and estates ... such as were most forward and zealous to serve Mr Foley’s interest’, and in the next decade nearly 200 persons were admitted to the freedom ‘without the advice and consent of the aldermen and common council ... nor in the presence of the steward and 12 at the least of the more discreet and abler citizens’. Admissions to the freedom of the city were not entered in the official records of the corporation, so that Foley’s opponents could not prove their right to vote. In 1675 the local country party leaders met to nominate candidates for the next general election; with Scudamore promoted to represent the county, and Westfaling ousted altogether, the Hereford seats were designated for Foley and William Gregory, the deputy steward of the borough. But in February 1679 Gregory preferred to fight the seat which he had meantime won at Weobley, and Bridstock Harford was returned with Foley. The country party had hopes of Harford as well as Foley, for he and his father had been mentioned as republican sympathizers in 1663. But he disappointed them by voting against exclusion. Nevertheless the sitting Members were returned without a contest in the autumn. But in 1681 Harford apparently stood down and two court candidates were nominated, Herbert Aubrey and William Bowdler. Unfortunately they were bitter personal rivals for the local receivership of taxes, and there seems little reason to doubt that Aubrey and Foley made at least a tacit election compact to keep Bowdler out, much to the disgust of Secretary Jenkins on the one hand and the high-minded Scudamore on the other. Although Bowdler was supported by Gregory, he was defeated by Aubrey.3
Aubrey secured a loyal address from the corporation on 15 May 1681, but he seems to have been simultaneously briefing the Government for an attack on their charter. This was presented first and foremost as a means of destroying Foley’s interest. A legal ground for action was afforded by the failure to administer the oaths to the corporation between 25 Mar. 1663 and 1680, when an inquiry from the Privy Council stimulated a rush to take the sacrament; consequently only 13 out of 31 were qualified to act. The corporation could not be induced to present an address approving the dissolution, but in 1682 Aubrey and Gregory competed in brow-beating them into a submission so humble that it was used as an edifying example to more obstinate boroughs. The new charter, drawn up by Aubrey’s friend Jenkins in consultation with the Marquis of Worcester (Henry Somerset), named the latter as recorder, and provided that crown approval must be obtained for all furture aldermen. An important clause reduced the quorum necessary to admit freemen freemen to four members of the corporation, one of whom had to be the mayor. The nomination of such prominent Tories as Aubrey, Harford, Bowdler and Sir John Morgan to the bench of aldermen, and Westfaling, Thomas Prise and Thomas Geers to the common council, was deemed sufficient to ‘secure the honest and loyal subjects from all apprehensions of being over-powered by men of faction and sedition’. A loyal address abhorring the Rye House Plot was presented in 1683, and in 1685 Aubrey and Geers, a rather second-rate lawyer, were elected.4
Geers and Sir Barnaby Scudamore, a customs official, were recommended as court candidates in July 1688. The Duke of Beaufort (as Worcester had now become) thought that Geers might have sufficient interest to secure re-election if the corporation were new-modelled and purged. But the old charter was restored on 27 Oct., and at the general election Gregory and Foley were returned. It soon became known in quarters close to the Government that the former was to be given judicial office. Robert Harley II, left high and dry by the surrender of his interest at Leominster, was informed by his brother on 23 Feb. 1689 that ‘Lord Scudamore and Sir John Morgan have writ to Hereford on behalf of Col. [Henry] Cornewall’. (Sir) Edward Harley disbelieved the rumours of Gregory’s impending promotion, but his son in the country was better informed and wrote on 11 Mar.: ‘Probably I might with great expense have come in at Hereford, but it was not a place in which I could expect a continuing. Sir Edward Harley and (Sir) Henry Capel, rather late in the day, wrote to Scudamore urging him to stand himself, but to no avail. On 10 May Foley’s mother wrote:
It hath been a great grief to my son as well as myself that he could not persuade a good man to come in nor keep a bad man out. ... Though I think he hath as great an interest as any man in a regular way can have ... he finds the rabble all engaged, and those that should have more wit not willing to make choice without money.
The Whig standard was eventually borne by Edward Gwyn, a lawyer of a Breconshire gentry family who lived in the city, but had no known connexion with the Foleys. He was badly beaten by nearly three to one, and on 26 June petitioned against the return alleging assault, intimidation and the admission of unqualified electors at the poll. The allegations were investigated by the elections committee, under no less prominent a local Whig than John Birch, who reported on 6 Aug. that they were without foundation, and the House agreed. In his disappointment, Foley strove unsuccessfully to have Hereford excepted from the bill to restore corporations.5
Author: John. P. Ferris
- 1. C219/52.
- 2. R. Johnson, Ancient Customs of Hereford, 149-53; CJ, viii. 308-9; Cooke, Herefs. iii. 167; CSP Dom. 1661-2, p. 234.
- 3. Kingdom’s Intell. 24 Feb. 1662; CSP Dom. 1675-6, pp. 460-1; Add. 29910, f. 141; SP29/417/88; Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 22, f. 366.
- 4. Johnson, 153-4; CSP Dom. 1680-1, pp. 289-90, 521, 648, 659; 1682, pp. 164, 182-3; 1683-4, p. 316; Luttrell, i. 65, 185-6; Dingley, Hist. from Marble (Cam. Soc. xcvii), p. ccccxciii; Duncumb, Herefs. i. 360-1; iii. 42; London Gazette, 30 Aug. 1683.
- 5. Bodl. Carte 130, f. 24; Duckett, Penal Laws (1882), 288; C115/8901, 8910, 8913; Add. 40621, f. 26v; BL Loan 29/140, Sir Edward to Robert Harley, 5 Mar. 1689; 29/75, Mary Foley to Sir Edward Harley, 10 May 1689; HMC Portland, iii. 432; PCC 80 Vere.