Available from Boydell and Brewer
Right of Election:
in the resident freemen and inhabitants paying scot and lot
Number of Qualified Electors:
over 400 in 1715
Number of voters:
269 in 1681; 403 in 1715
|11 Mar. 1690||SIR WILLIAM WOGAN|
|29 Oct. 1695||SIR WILLIAM WOGAN|
|2 Aug. 1698||SIR WILLIAM WOGAN|
|14 Jan. 1701||WILLIAM WHEELER|
|16 Dec. 1701||WILLIAM WHEELER|
|28 Aug. 1702||JOHN LAUGHARNE|
|29 May 1705||JOHN LAUGHARNE|
|18 May 1708||JOHN LAUGHARNE|
|24 Oct. 1710||JOHN LAUGHARNE|
|22 Sept. 1713||JOHN LAUGHARNE|
Haverfordwest surprised Defoe: it was ‘a better town than we expected to find, in this remote angle of Britain . . . strong, well built, clean and populous’. The franchise had been settled by a decision of the Commons in 1663 in ‘the burgesses inhabitants’, that is to say the resident freemen, and ‘the inhabitants which paid scot and lot’ (a definition construed in 1715 to include freeholders as well), but it seems clear that the corporation still constituted the most important element in the parliamentary constituency. The expansion of the electorate between 1681, when about 260 voters were polled, and the end of our period, when the total was estimated as 400, is probably to be accounted for by admissions of freemen. Although Sir William Wogan, who represented the borough from 1685 to 1700, was a local landowner, he was also a lawyer with a national reputation and the mayor and common council expected to exploit his skill and connexions to their advantage, requesting him in October 1690 to use his ‘interest and endeavours’ to ‘procure’ the annexation of the nearby rectory of Narberth to St. Mary’s, Haverfordwest. The grant in 1694 of a weekly market and three fairs a year to the town may well have been as a result of Wogan’s intercession. His successor in 1701 was a West Indian planter, William Wheeler, a bird of passage whose brief tenure of the seat was presumably secured through his several family connexions in Haverfordwest, not least his brother John, probably the ‘Colonel Wheeler’ whose generosity in the summer of 1701 facilitated the erection of a ‘new market-house’.1
Wheeler’s place was taken in the general election of 1702 by John Laugharne, another local squire. His interest, nourished by ‘bounteous benefactions’, grew to dominate electoral politics in the borough, and he was returned unopposed at every election until his death in 1715. A strong High Church Tory, Laugharne may have been able to capitalize on anti-Dissenter prejudice aroused by the presence in Haverfordwest of two Independent congregations. Party spirit was not much in evidence in the early years of Anne’s reign. The previous Member, Wheeler, had sat in the Commons as a Whig, and the borough’s congratulatory address on the military triumphs of 1704 showed no inclination to play down the achievements of the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†). But addresses on the peace in 1712 and 1713 were markedly different in tone. The Tory ministers were praised, while the ‘invectives’ and ‘devices’ of ‘factious’ opponents at home were dismissed as ‘pretended jealousies’ and ‘inveterate disaffection’ to Queen and government.2
Despite the events surrounding the Hanoverian succession, Laugharne was more than sanguine about his chances in the ensuing general election in 1715. ‘Nobody appears against me’, he wrote. ‘I am sure of 350 at least out of 400, and the returning officer . . . I have not spent a penny but 5s. to the ringers on my return from London.’ This optimism was justified, but Laugharne died suddenly on the night after his election, and after a by-election in which some 50 new freemen were created for the Tory candidate, a Whig was seated on petition.3
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. Defoe, Tour ed. Cole, ii. 456; Carew, Rights of Elections, 269–70; Pemb. Life 1572–1843 ed. B. E. and K. A. Howells (Pemb. Rec. Soc. i), 52–3; CSP Dom. 1694–5, p. 21; Haverfordwest and Its Story, 102.
- 2. R. Fenton, Hist. Tour of Pemb. (1903), 371; E. Laws, Little Eng. beyond Wales, 364; London Gazette, 26–30 Oct. 1704, 8–10 July 1712, 9–12 May 1713.
- 3. Northants. RO, Isham mss IC 242, Laugharne to (Sir) Justinian Isham (5th Bt.†), 22 Dec. .