Much Wenlock


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:

about 350 in 1679


21 Apr. 1660SIR FRANCIS LAWLEY, Bt. 
4 Apr. 1661SIR THOMAS LITTLETON, 2nd Bt. 
18 Feb. 1679SIR JOHN WELD132
 Sir Francis Lawley, Bt.126
 Sir Thomas Littleton, 2nd Bt.83
 Sir John Weld 
 Sir Francis Lawley, Bt. 
18 Feb. 1681JOHN WOLRYCHE 
31 Mar. 1685THOMAS LAWLEY 
14 Jan. 1689GEORGE WELD 

Main Article

The leading territorial interests in Wenlock were the Lawleys, who owned the Priory, the Welds of Willey, and the Foresters, as lords of Little Wenlock manor. In 1660 the Welds were disqualified as Cavaliers, and the Foresters were politically inactive until William Forester came of age. Thus Sir Francis Lawley was accompanied in the Convention by Thomas Whitmore, the recorder, a passive Royalist who had represented the borough with him in 1659. In 1661, Lawley moved up to the county, and the senior seat was taken by Sir Thomas Littleton, who had represented the borough in the Short and Long Parliaments until disabled for royalism. Sir John Weld, as bailiff, admitted 29 new freemen, 14 of whom were described as gentlemen, and returned his ambitious son George for the other seat. By 1679 the two Members were politically in opposite camps; while Littleton was prominent in the country party, Weld had become a henchman of Danby’s, and a placeman on the Irish establishment. Correctly reading the signs of the times, he did not stand during the exclusion crisis, and was replaced by his father. Littleton stood for re-election, but was opposed by Lawley, who had also become an official under Danby. But it was William Forester, fighting his first election, who finished top of the poll, and he was accompanied in the first Exclusion Parliament by Sir John Weld, who had nosed out Lawley by six votes. Both seem to have been moderates at this juncture, and they probably paired for the division on the exclusion bill. There was another close election in August. Forester and John Wolryche shared expenses of £124 9 s. ‘A great number of burgesses’ were made in their interest and Wolryche defeated Sir John Weld by seven votes. The sitting Members were re-elected in 1681, probably unopposed.1

George Weld returned from Ireland on succeeding to Willey, and was elected to James II’s Parliament with Lawley’s son, another Tory. A quo warranto was pending against Wenlock in June 1688, but the charter was not surrendered. At the general election of 1689 Thomas Lawley was replaced by Forester, who had played a prominent part in the Revolution, and was to represent the borough with Weld until the death of the latter.2

Author: J. S. Crossette


  • 1. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), i. 90; (ser. 3), ii. 290-300; VCH Salop, iii. 291-2; Spencer mss, Thynne to Ld. Halifax, 26 Feb. 1679; Salop RO, 1224/21/2-3, 26-27, 35.
  • 2. Duckett, Penal Laws (1883), 185.