Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Number of voters:

over 4,000 in 1705


 GEORGE SAUNDERSON, Visct. Castleton
 Thomas Hatcher
 Sir William Brownlow, Bt.
1 Apr. 1661GEORGES SAUNDERSON, Visct. Castleton
 Robert Bertie I, Lord Willoughby de Eresby
2 Jan. 1665SIR ROBERT CARR vice Hussey, deceased
 Sir Thomas Hussey, Bt.
19 Feb. 1679GEORGE SAUNDERSON, Visct. Castleton
 Sir Thomas Hussey, Bt.
25 Aug. 1679GEORGE SAUNDERSON, Visct. Castleton
7 Mar. 1681GEORGE SAUNDERSON, Visct. Castleton
30 Mar. 1685GEORGE SAUNDERSON, Visct. Castleton
14 Jan. 1689GEORGE SAUNDERSON, Visct. Castleton
 Robert Bertie II, Lord Willoughby de Eresby

Main Article

Lincolnshire was the only county constituency in England for which one Member sat continuously throughout the period and beyond. Lord Castleton certainly did not owe his success in nine consecutive general elections to intense parliamentary activity or to a particularly clear-cut political line, although his attempt to hold the balance between court and country evidently appealed to the electorate. One of his assets was that his family, through genealogi cal accident, had no Civil War record to repel voters on either side. Moreover, he was perhaps the only landowner in the county whose wealth and estates enabled him to rival the Berties, who were unpopular with the gentry whom they overshadowed, with the commoners because of their drainage projects, with the Parliamentarians because of their Cavalier past, and with the country party because of their court connexions, especially under the Danby administration. Hence they were obliged to satisfy themselves with borough seats, mostly outside the county. The other persistent interest lay in the two branches of the Hussey family, whose hold on the junior county seat was interrupted by the maverick Sir Robert Carr. Few counties, indeed, maintained such a high level of political unpredictability among their chosen representatives.

At the general election of 1660 Edward Rossiter and Thomas Hatcher, two Presbyterian colonels who had sat for the county under the Protectorate, stood jointly against an unnamed ‘third party’, doubtless Castleton. Other candidates included (Sir) William Brownlow, who had been nominated one of Lincolnshire’s representatives in the Barebones Parliament. Rossiter might be considered to have worked his passage by his share in the capture of the republican John Lambert, and was returned as senior knight of the shire, with Castleton in second place. Before the next election Lord Willoughby (Robert Bertie I) tried unsuccessfully to induce Rossiter to join with him against Castleton. ‘The country in this conjuncture of time will look upon his interest as dead else’, he wrote to John Hatcher; but Rossiter insisted on retiring. The third candidate was Charles Hussey, the son of a Royalist, who had sat with Rossiter in the second Protectorate Parliament. Probably what determined his success was that he and Castleton were regarded as friends and patrons by the commoners who were resisting Willoughby’s drainage projects in the Isle of Axholme. Willoughby’s expenses were only £189 7s. Hussey’s career was cut short by his premature death in 1664. The seat was contested by his nephew Sir Thomas Hussey and Sir Robert Carr, an ambitious young man linked (probably bigamously) to the rising star of Sir Henry Bennet. ‘Though neither appearing in the country nor certainly known to stand for it till within very few days before the election’, Carr was successful by 600 votes, and his election was welcomed by a short-lived government periodical.1

Although Carr became chancellor of the duchy and a Privy Councillor, he was always an object of suspicion to Danby, and Willoughby (now 3rd Earl of Lindsey) ran Hussey against him again in February 1679. He may also have found a candidate to stand against Castleton, but both were ‘worsted’, and in the autumn the sitting Members, who had abstained on the exclusion bill, were re-elected ‘without the least trouble or expense’. It is unlikely that there was a contest either in 1681. Carr died in 1682, and was replaced by Hussey in James II’s Parliament. Both Members opposed the King’s ecclesiastical policy, and it was suggested in January 1688 that they might meet with opposition from (Sir) William Ellys. But a gentry meeting on 11 Dec. probably readopted them, and they were returned again to the Convention, though Lindsey’s agent was confident that his son would have carried it against Castleton ‘if your lordship had given timely notice and appeared in person’.2

Author: J. S. Crossette


  • 1. Reps. Assoc. Architect. Socs. xxiii. 135; Notts. RO, DDSR221/96, Turner to Savile, 7 Apr. 1660; HMC Ancaster, 478-9; W. B. Stonhouse, Isle of Axholme, 103; The Newes, 12 Jan. 1665.
  • 2. Spencer mss, Hickman to Halifax, 5 Feb., 29 Aug. 1679; Beaufort mss, Ld. to Lady Worcester, 22 Feb. 1679; Duckett, Penal Laws (1882), 148; HMC 11th Rep. VII, 28; Eg. 3336, f. 150.