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

Background Information

A single Member constituency

Right of Election:

in the freemen of Monmouth (1661 and 1679); Monmouth, Newport, Chepstow, Usk and Abergavenny (1681); Monmouth, Newport, Chepstow and Usk (1685); Monmouth, Newport and Usk (1689)


about 2,000 in 1715


26 Mar. 1677CHARLES SOMERSET, Lord Herbert of Raglan, vice Probert, deceased
 Hon. Heneage Finch I
12 Sept. 1679CHARLES SOMERSET, Lord Herbert of Raglan
 John Arnold
 ARNOLD vice Lord Herbert, on petition, 26 Nov. 1680
14 Mar. 1681JOHN ARNOLD
30 Apr. 1685CHARLES SOMERSET, Mq. of Worcester
c. June 1685SIR JAMES HERBERT vice Lord Worcester, chose to sit for Gloucestershire
15 Jan. 1689JOHN ARNOLD
4 Feb. 1689JOHN WILLIAMS vice Arnold, chose to sit for Southwark

Main Article

Monmouth itself was regarded as dependent on the Raglan Castle interest, but the contributory boroughs were less subservient, though their rights were disputable. No return survives for 1660, when Sir Trevor Williams, subsequently a leading opponent of the Somersets, was elected. His interest was strongest in Usk, and in 1661 Sir George Probert was returned by the mayor, bailiffs and ‘burgesses’ of the county town alone. He may also have been unacceptable to the Marquess of Worcester (Henry Somerset), for a new charter followed, and on his death he was succeeded by Worcester’s son on the same franchise. But in February 1679 ‘six files of musketeers’ failed to prevent the defeat of the Hon. Heneage Finch I, the newly appointed solicitor-general, by Williams. In September Williams moved up to the county seat, and Lord Herbert was elected by the Monmouth voters ‘without his seeking’; but John Arnold claimed that the franchise should be extended to the ‘burgess inhabitants’ of Newport and Usk, and the House agreed. In the same session, Williams, who on party lines might have been expected to support Arnold, was teller against the contributory boroughs in the similar Montgomery case. In 1681 Arnold was taking no chances, and had himself returned on two indentures, one in the name of the mayor and bailiffs of Monmouth, the other including also the ‘burgesses’ of Chepstow, Newport, Usk and Abergavenny. Thomas Herbert, who had brought Arnold before the Council for petitioning in 1680, wished to contest the election, but Worcester ordered him not to proceed, apparently on instructions from the Court. Newport sent up a loyal address in July, and in December the King was reported to be satisfied with the loyalty of the Monmouth corporation. No proceedings appear to have been taken against it. In any event, the recorder, uncle of William Milborne, was widely regarded as a crypto-Catholic. Meanwhile preparations for a new election went ahead, and in the same month Worcester wrote: ‘Methinks it were well Sir Charles Kemys endeavoured to fix the Newport people for him that he may be chosen as their Member’.1

However, in 1685 Kemys was able to secure one of the county seats, together with Lord Herbert, who was also returned for the borough. The indentures substantially follow the form of 1681, except that Abergavenny drops out. On 12 June Herbert waived his election for the borough, and a new writ was ordered. No return for the by-election survives, but according to Cobbett Sir James Herbert, a faithful follower of the house of Raglan, was successful. In 1688 the charter of Monmouth came under attack. For the abortive election Sunderland, presumably by an oversight, approved the candidature of both Sir James and Thomas Herbert. Worcester (now Duke of Beaufort) thought that the latter might overcome the handicap of his known support for the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws if the corporation were thoroughly purged. But Arnold was returned ‘unanimously’, his indentures being signed by the mayor and bailiffs of Monmouth, the mayor of Newport and the portreeve of Usk. When Arnold chose to sit for Southwark, his place was taken by Williams’s son, again unanimously, and in the same form of return.2

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Edith E. Havill, ‘Parl. Rep. Mon. (Cardiff M.A. thesis, 1948), 74, 78-80; HMC Finch, ii. 54; HMC 12th Rep. IX, 84, 114; True Dom. Intell. 23 Sept. 1679; HMC 10th Rep. IV, 151-2; CJ, ix. 647, 663; CSP Dom. 1680-1, pp. 354, 638-9; London Gazette, 23 June 1681; Beaufort mss, Ld. to Lady Worcester, 11 Dec. 1681; J. R. Jones, First Whigs, 101-2.
  • 2. Bodl. Carte 130, f. 124; HMC Downshire, i. 293; Duckett, Penal Laws (1882), 288.