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Right of Election:
in the freemen of the boroughs of Flint, Caergwrle, Caerwys, Overton and Rhuddlan
Number of Qualified Electors:
Number of voters:
760 in 1697
|17 Mar. 1690||THOMAS WHITLEY|
|28 Oct. 1695||SIR ROGER PULESTON|
|8 Apr. 1697||THOMAS RAVENSCROFT vice Puleston, deceased||510|
|Sir John Hanmer, Bt.||2501|
|13 Aug. 1698||THOMAS MOSTYN|
|11 Jan. 1701||THOMAS MOSTYN|
|13 Dec. 1701||SIR THOMAS HANMER, Bt.|
|2 Feb. 1702||SIR JOHN CONWAY, Bt., vice Hanmer, chose to sit for Thetford|
|1 Aug. 1702||SIR ROGER MOSTYN, Bt.|
|2 Dec. 1702||THOMAS MOSTYN vice Mostyn, chose to sit for Cheshire|
|29 May 1705||SIR ROGER MOSTYN, Bt.|
|20 May 1708||SIR JOHN CONWAY, Bt.|
|17 Oct. 1710||SIR JOHN CONWAY, Bt.|
|21 Sept. 1713||SIR ROGER MOSTYN, Bt.|
Despite the fact that its freeman electorate was ‘without limitation’ and therefore numerous, the Flint Boroughs constituency was subject to the same cartels through which county elections were controlled, and especially so after 1697, when the only surviving interests belonged to the leading Tory gentry, the Conways, Hanmers and Mostyns. Each of these families dominated one of the out-boroughs: Sir John Conway, 2nd Bt., was lord of the manor of Rhuddlan; Sir John Hanmer, 3rd Bt.†, and his nephew and successor, (Sir) Thomas II (4th Bt.), were lords of Overton (possibly the least important); and Sir Roger Mostyn, 3rd Bt., was lord of Caergwrle. The fourth out-borough, Caerwys, was in the hands of the Griffith family, of whom little has been discovered apart from a Royalist allegiance during the Civil War. The county town, which Celia Fiennes despised as ‘a very ragged place; many villages in England are better; the houses all thatched and stone walls, but so decayed that in many places ready to tumble down’, was none the less of particular importance, since it provided the venue for elections – ‘there was a town hall’, conceded Fiennes, ‘such a one as it was’ – and the returning officers, the bailiffs. These were appointed by the constable of the castle, who thus exercised an important influence. Indeed, the Member returned in 1690, the Whig Thomas Whitley, son of Roger Whitley* of Hawarden, was himself joint constable, and at the next election his support was enough to secure the unopposed election of a fellow Whig, Sir Roger Puleston.2
This Whig interest disintegrated in 1696–7 when Thomas Whitley, Puleston and, finally, Roger Whitley all died in rapid succession. At first glance it might appear that the defeat of the Tory Sir John Hanmer by Thomas Ravenscroft in the by-election of April 1697 indicated continuing vitality in the fortunes of Flintshire Whiggery, but the pattern of alignments had changed. Ravenscroft had unsuccessfully canvassed the Whitley interest at the 1695 election, but having been passed over in favour of Puleston it seems probable that he was backed at the 1697 by-election by his kinsman Conway, a Tory. Conversely, Hanmer’s chief supporter was one Morgan Whitley, the receiver-general for Cheshire and north Wales and cousin of the recently deceased Thomas Whitley. Hanmer’s petition, which he withdrew, alleged first that Ravenscroft had infringed the recent Act to prevent expenses at elections, and secondly that through the connivance of the bailiffs he had polled many illegal voters, mostly freemen who had only been admitted since the vacancy had occurred, and ‘foreigners’. Ravenscroft’s side of the story presented a mirror-image: here it was Hanmer’s agents, Whitley and Thomas Price, who ‘directed’ the bailiffs. Their ‘irregular and scurrilous conduct’ included refusing ‘several hundreds of burgesses’ for Ravenscroft; creating ‘great and various disturbances’ to hamper polling; and on occasion having a session adjourned after just five votes had been taken. Whitley was said to have travelled to Chester during the election (which lasted from 8 to 19 Apr.) ‘promising . . . he would bring from there several hundreds to poll for Sir John Hanmer’. Eventually, in this version, the bailiffs too ‘went to Chester to advise with counsel how to make a return and upon that advice . . . returned Mr Ravenscroft’.3
There were no further contests in this period, as the Boroughs constituency became a counter in the negotiations between the principals in the county. Ravenscroft died before the 1698 election (a fact which may account for the prior withdrawal of Hanmer’s petition). His replacement was Thomas Mostyn, the brother of Sir Roger, who was in turn followed by Sir Thomas Hanmer and Sir John Conway. The appointment of Sir Roger Mostyn as constable of Flint castle in 1701 placed the family in an especially strong position, reinforced when Sir Roger obtained for the borough a confirmation of its charter. The Tory ascendancy over Flint corporation is evident in a loyal address in October 1704 (presented by Hanmer) which associated the triumphs of the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†) with those of Sir George Rooke*. The quarrel between the Tory interests in 1702, when Conway stood against Hanmer for the county, made no ripple in the Boroughs, where Sir Roger Mostyn and then his brother Thomas were returned. Conway was chosen in 1708 and 1710 only as a result of a new agreement with Mostyn and Hanmer which gave Sir Roger the county seat. The two baronets changed places in 1713, when Sir Roger Mostyn was once again returned without any opposition at the polls, though his father-in-law the Earl of Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) had, cryptically, expressed his fear of ‘the contrivances of one who has been obliging my family everywhere’.4
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. Flints. Hist. Soc. xi. 90.
- 2. Bodl. Willis 18, f. 43; Arch. Camb. ser. 5, iv. 126; Journeys of Celia Fiennes ed. Morris, 181; NLW, Chirk Castle mss E1052, W. Eyton to Sir Richard Myddelton, 3rd Bt.*, 23 [Oct. 1695].
- 3. Bodl. Eng. hist. c.711, f. 195; Flints. Hist. Soc. 88–90.
- 4. CSP Dom. 1700–2, p. 404; L. N. V. L. Mostyn and T. A. Glenn, Fam. of Mostyn, 160–1; London Gazette, 23–26 Oct. 1704; Devonshire mss at Chatsworth House, Finch-Halifax pprs. box 5, bdle. 13, Nottingham to Ld. Guernsey (Heneage Finch I*), 26 Sept. 1713.