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

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the freemen

Number of voters:

over 400 in 1681


3 Aug. 1660SIR EDWARD HALES, 2nd Bt. vice Twisden, appointed to office
14 Jan. 1668THOMAS HARLACKENDEN vice Peirce, deceased
 Sir John Banks, Bt.
14 Feb. 1679SIR JOHN TUFTON, Bt.
16 Aug. 1679SIR JOHN TUFTON, Bt.
1 Feb. 1681SIR JOHN TUFTON, Bt.
6 Mar. 1685SIR JOHN TUFTON, Bt.
Nov. 1685EDWIN WYATT vice Tufton, deceased
 Sir Vere Fane

Main Article

Of the 11 Members returned for Maidstone, the county town, only Sir Edmund Peirce was not resident in or near the borough, and he had a Maidstone connexion through his wife, the daughter of a former recorder. No one interest prevailed; among the neighbouring gentry the Barnhams, Tuftons, and Fanes had considerable influence, as did the relatively parvenu family of Banks.

In 1660 Thomas Twisden, who had represented the borough as a rather unlikely recruiter in the Long Parliament, and Robert Barnham, whose father had sat for Maidstone in six Parliaments, were returned. Both had royalist backgrounds. When Twisden was made a judge, his seat was taken by Sir Edward Hales, another active Royalist. In 1661 Barnham was again returned, this time with the Royalist Peirce, Hales having removed to Queenborough. On 15 June 1666 the corporation learned that a writ of quo warranto had been issued against them. Having been ‘in some measure assured that by care and diligence’ the proceedings might be stopped and their charter confirmed, they ordered that £60 should be raised ‘for the doing whereof’. Apparently their efforts were successful, for no more appears in the records. Peirce died in 1667, and after a delay caused by the plague Thomas Harlackenden, who was to become a somewhat unreliable member of the court party, defeated Sir John Banks, who had sat for the borough in the Protectorate Parliaments. By 1678 it was clear that Harlackenden at least could not afford to stand again, and Banks, who had been promised court support, laid out £481 13s.3d. for ‘Maidstone expenses’, according to his ledgers. However, he chose to stand for Rochester at the first general election of 1679, and Maidstone was represented in the first Exclusion Parliament by Sir John Tufton, a moderate who had sat for the county in the two previous Parliaments, and Sir John Darell, an exclusionist, whose family had furnished many representatives for Kentish constituencies. Darell sat for Rye in the second and third Exclusion Parliaments, and his place was taken by Thomas Fane, also of the country party, who was returned unopposed on each occasion with Tufton.1

The corporation sent loyal addresses approving the King’s reasons for dissolving Parliament and abhorring the ‘Association’, and surrendered its charter in June 1682. The new charter was the first to specify the franchise. The right of election was vested in the mayor, aldermen, common councilmen and those ‘freemen ... having lands or tenements of freehold in their own proper right for term of their lives at the least’. A further address, presented under the common seal, expressed abhorrence of the Rye House Plot. The lord lieutenant was confident that Maidstone would ‘make loyal Members their representatives’ in 1685, and in James II’s Parliament Tufton was joined by an obscure court supporter, Archibald Clinkard. On Tufton’s death Edwin Wyatt, recorder under the new charter, was returned, but probably not in time to take his seat.2

In January 1688 Wyatt, the town clerk, 11 aldermen and 23 common councilmen were removed and in the next month the newly appointed Roman Catholic lord lieutenant, Lord Teynham, presented a rather confused report.

It is judged that the most apparent interest is that of Sir Thomas Colpepper and Mr [Caleb] Banks (son of Sir John). Serjeant Wyatt and Mr Clinkard have also a good interest in this town, but Sir William Twisden is presumed to have the best for himself, if he did not design to stand for knight of the shire. John Amos of East Farley is judged by the mayor and the dissenters (who incline for him) to have the most likely interest to carry an election for himself, and would be the more secure if Serjeant Wyatt and Mr Clinkard join theirs; and so on the contrary, if Serjeant Wyatt and Mr Clinkard are thought fit to stand, the above-mentioned interest so joined to them.

In August the corporation thanked the King for his second Declaration of Indulgence and promised to elect loyal Members. In the next month it was reported that ‘the mayor and the dissenters propose Thomas Fane and Ralph Bufkin, who are like to be elected, and are both right men’. Sunderland, however, recommended Wyatt and Bufkin, an obscure local squire. At the abortive election Fane seems to have been returned without opposition for the third time; the identity of his colleague is not known. After the Revolution the family interest was represented by Sir Vere Fane, who stood with another Whig, Sir Thomas Taylor, against the Tory Caleb Banks. But unluckily his election agent was

a little obnoxious in the town about the surrender of the charters, and happening in too much confidence of Sir Vere’s success to call the freemen ‘rabble’, they took so much distaste at it that they chose Sir Thomas Taylor and Mr Banks.3

Author: Basil Duke Henning


  • 1. Maidstone Recs. ed. Martin, 153; CJ, ix. 1, 32; D.C. Coleman, Sir John Banks, 107; Prot. Dom. Intell. 4 Feb. 1681.
  • 2. London Gazette, 14 July 1681, 8 May 1682, 30 Aug. 1683; Maidstone Charters ed. James, 147; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 26.
  • 3. PC2/72/568 581; CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 274; VCH Northants. Fams. 96; Hasted, Kent, iv. 360; Duckett, Penal Laws (1882), 363, 365; N. and Q. (ser. 3), vi. 121.