New Windsor


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 inhabitants 1660, 1679; in the corporation 1661-77, 1685-9; in the inhabitants paying scot and lot 1680-1

Number of voters:

about 600 in 1660, 1679; under 30 in 1661-77, 1685-9; about 350 in 1680-1


 Double return. BAKER and PALMER seated, 27 Apr. 1660  
 Alexander Baker  
 William Tayleur  
19 Feb. 1677SIR FRANCIS WINNINGTON vice Braham, deceased  
27 Feb. 1679(SIR) JOHN ERNLE  
 Richard Winwood  
 Samuel Starkey  
 WINWOOD and STARKEY vice Ernle and Powney, on petition, 5 Apr. 1679  
29 Aug. 1679JOHN POWNEY446154
 Samuel Starkey235212
 Richard Winwood2091991
 STARKEY and WINWOOD vice Powney and Carey, on petition, 4 Nov. 1680  
11 Jan. 1689HENRY POWLE  
 Sir Algernon May 12
 William Adderley  
23 May 1689SIR ALGERNON MAY, vice Wren, election declared void, 14 May 1689  
 Samuel Starkey  

Main Article

Though there were precedents both for a corporation franchise and for the prescriptive right of the inhabitant householders to vote, the disputed elections at Windsor are chiefly attributable to unscrupulous efforts by the Opposition to eliminate the castle interest. It was later alleged that in 1660, when this interest was in abeyance, the election was held at the market cross on the wide franchise. Three candidates are known to have stood: Alexander Baker, who had been neutral during the Civil War, and was apparently unopposed, Roger Palmer, ‘a most loyally affected person’, and Richard Winwood, a moderate Parliamentarian and Presbyterian. Winwood was apparently returned by the inhabitants; but Baker and Palmer, the corporation candidates, were allowed to sit on the merits of the return. Palmer did not seek re-election in 1661, probably for personal reasons, and Winwood preferred to contest Buckinghamshire, though unsuccessfully. The corporation this time chose Sir Richard Braham and Thomas Higgons, an ardent supporter of the Restoration, an outsider, and presumably a court nominee. Baker again fought the seat along with the Royalist, William Tayleur, who at the Restoration had been granted the offices of surveyor of the works at Windsor Castle and steward of Windsor forest. Both had the support of the ‘burgesses at large’ but Tayleur suffered much ignominy at the hands of Lord Mordaunt, the governor of the castle, who intervened in the election, turned Tayleur out of his lodgings in the castle and imprisoned him. Tayleur’s grievances were later the subject of impeachment charges against Mordaunt. On 6 July the House upheld the corporation franchise against a petition from the unsuccessful candidates, though only because George Starkey, who had sat for the borough in 1659, had ‘mislaid’ the records. With the purging of the corporation in 1662, royalist control seems to have been complete. The corporation entrusted Braham and the deputy steward with obtaining the renewal of their charter, which was issued in February 1664, and reserved to the King the right to approve the high steward, deputy steward and town clerk. On Braham’s death, Sir Francis Winnington, the solicitor-general, was returned, probably unopposed, on Charles II’s personal recommendation.2

Winnington had gone over to the Opposition before the dissolution of the Cavalier Parliament and Higgons did not stand for the borough again. At the first general election of 1679, the original court candidates were also outsiders. Indeed when Shaftesbury drew up his list of the first Exclusion Parliament he believed that the diplomat, Sir Leoline Jenkins, and the rising court lawyer, Sir George Jeffreys, had been returned. But at the last minute the need to find a seat for (Sir) John Ernle, the only debater for the Court, outweighed all other considerations, and he was nominated, together with a townsman, John Powney. Jenkins found a safe seat at Oxford University, but Jeffreys was fated never to expose his talents to the parliamentary test. On the day of election Starkey’s son Samuel assembled over 200 of the inhabitants at the market cross, and asked them ‘whom they would have for their Members in Parliament ...; and they all answered Mr Winwood and Mr Starkey’. The corporation, however, elected Ernle and Powney, and the mayor refused to seal an indenture for the exclusionist candidates. However, they were seated on petition, the House setting aside the return by the corporation in favour of an unrestricted inhabitant franchise. In the autumn election Powney stood jointly with John Carey, master of the buckhounds. Having the mayor and under-steward at their devotion, they polled not only the inhabitants but outsiders living 30 miles off. Even then, it was alleged by the country party, they could only obtain a majority by bringing in royal servants ‘from the board of green cloth, down to the grooms, watermen, lettermen, helpers in stables and turn-spits.’ Fisticuffs and cudgels were the order of the day ‘and there is so much holloing they disturb the King’s fishing’. The mayor returned the court candidates, but endorsed their indenture with a statement that their rivals, Winwood and Starkey, had ‘the majority of the votes of the common burgesses, inhabitants of New Windsor’, and submitted the claims of the King’s servants to be determined by the House of Commons. On the recommendation of the elections committee, the House altered the franchise to scot and lot payers only, and unseated Powney and Carey. Winwood and Starkey were again returned in 1681, apparently unopposed. The corporation sent loyal addresses, accepting the King’s reasons for dissolving Parliament, and abhorring the ‘Association’, which they later sought to connect with the Rye House Plot. But they could not save themselves from a quo warranto and surrendered their charter.3

Jeffreys was appointed recorder under the new charter, which confirmed the corporation franchise, and reserved the right to remove officials to the crown. Both candidates to James II’s Parliament were royal nominees. William Chiffinch, a courtier, held property nearby, but Richard Graham, solicitor to the Treasury and the King’s creature, was an outsider. There is no evidence of a contest. In 1688, Sunderland recommended Graham, and James’s agents reported that Chiffinch was again proposed by the corporation. Four candidates are known to have stood in 1689. The Whigs were Sir Algernon May who had some property in Old Windsor, and Henry Powle, a stranger, but of Berkshire descent. They were opposed by Sir Christopher Wren and William Adderley of Burnham, presumably also a Tory. Powle apparently declared that ‘he would be chosen by the populace’, but he was returned with Wren on the corporation franchise, subsequently being chosen Speaker of the Convention. Adderley petitioned, claiming that the franchise was in the scot and lot payers, and on 23 Apr., it was alleged, 30 Tory Members meeting at the Devil tavern agreed to bring on the Windsor by-election next day ‘with a resolution to turn Mr Powle both out of the chair and out of the House’. But Powle insisted that ‘the former resolutions of the House on behalf of the populacy were upon a mistaken ground’, the franchise being limited to the corporation by prescription as well as the original charter of Edward I, and on 2 May the House accepted this without a division. Meanwhile May claimed that Wren had been returned only by the mayor’s voting twice, and his return was declared void by 107 votes to 72. At the ensuing by-election, Starkey unsuccessfully challenged May. Both were Whigs, but Starkey asserted the right of the ‘populace’ to vote. He could offer no new evidence, however, and the House rejected his petition.4

Authors: Leonard Naylor / Geoffrey Jaggar


  • 1. Bodl. Gough, Berks. 3 no. 34, An Answer to the Case of the Borough of New Windsor, The Case of the Borough of New Windsor.
  • 2. SP29/11/135; CJ, viii. 3, 292, 664-5, 666; ix. 585; Whitelocke Mems. iv. 406 (wrongly dated 1660); Keeler, Long Parl. 357-8; R. R. Tighe and J. E. Davis, Annals of Windsor, ii. 302-3, 312-14, 333-5; N. and Q. (ser. 2), ix. 65.
  • 3. CJ, ix. 569, 586, 646; Gough, Berks. 3, nos. 33, 34; HMC 13th Rep. VI, 20; Sidney Diary, i. 98; HMC 7th Rep. 495; London Gazette, 12 May 1681, 24 Apr. 1682, 2 Aug. 1683.
  • 4. Tighe and Davis, ii. 411-14; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 69; 1687-9, p. 276; Duckett, Penal Laws (1883), 235; CJ, x. 118, 132, 254; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 2, p. 542.