Poole

Borough

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the freemen

Number of Qualified Electors:

unknown

Number of voters:

57 in 1698

Elections

DateCandidateVotes
4 Mar. 1690Sir Nathaniel Napier, Bt. 
 Sir John Trenchard 
21 May 1695Anthony Ashley, Ld. Ashley vice Trenchard, deceased 
4 Nov. 1695Anthony Ashley, Ld. Ashley 
 Sir Nathaniel Napier, Bt. 
10 Aug. 1698William Joliffe34
 William Phippard33
 Sir Nathaniel Napier, Bt.27
 Richard Fownes18
22 Jan. 1701Sir William Phippard 
 William Joliffe 
 Edward Hooper 
26 Nov. 1701Sir William Phippard 
 William Joliffe 
5 Aug. 1702Sir William Phippard 
 William Joliffe 
22 May 1705Sir William Phippard 
 Samuel Weston 
18 May 1708William Lewen 
 Thomas Ridge 
 Sir William Phippard 
 Edward Hooper 
18 Oct. 1710Thomas Ridge 
 Sir William Phippard 
7 Mar. 1711William Lewen vice Ridge, expelled the House 
16 Sept. 1713Sir William Lewen 
 George Trenchard 

Main Article

The franchise at Poole was disputed between the corporation and freemen on the one hand, and the inhabitants paying scot and lot on the other. A double return in 1689 had not produced a clear decision. The elections committee had declared in favour of the candidates elected on the scot-and-lot vote, but the House had disagreed and seated the two returned on the freeman franchise. No resolution had been passed about the right of election and, according to information produced in a much later case of 1774, some of the scot-and-lot electorate had taken part in the elections of 1690 and 1695, but as neither of these had been contested the evidence was not conclusive. After 1695 only the freemen seem to have voted. Even with this smaller franchise there was no controlling interest, although a number of prominent Whig families had some influence, the Trenchards, the earls of Shaftesbury and, on a humbler level, the Bonds of Creech Grange.

In 1690 Sir John Trenchard, of nearby Lytchett Matravers, was returned with Sir Nathaniel Napier, 2nd Bt., a Tory who had successfully transferred from Corfe Castle to Poole in 1689, when he had purchased a certain amount of goodwill by paying for the town’s new charter. A few months after the election, Trenchard, obviously hoping to consolidate his interest in the town, wrote to his brother, Henry, ‘I am treating with Mr [Thomas] Papillon* for victualling part of the fleet at Poole and I hope I shall effect it, which may prove some advantage to the town and neighbourhood’. Trenchard died just before the end of this Parliament and his place was taken by Lord Ashley (Anthony), eldest son of the 2nd Earl of Shaftesbury (Anthony Ashley†), a Country Whig. In 1695 Trenchard’s brother-in-law, William Joliffe, was reportedly ‘mightily courted to stand at Poole’, no doubt to protect the Trenchard interest, but as he would ‘spend no money’, it is unlikely that he stood a poll. In 1698 Ashley stepped down on account of his poor health, and the seats were taken by Joliffe and William Phippard. Phippard was, like Joliffe, a Whig merchant, who was serving as mayor at the time of his election. They were unsuccessfully opposed by two Tories, Napier and Richard Fownes*.1

At the first 1701 election Joliffe and Phippard (now Sir William) stood for re-election. But Ashley (now 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury), disgruntled at the replacement of country gentlemen by merchants, brought forward his brother-in-law, Edward Hooper. Shaftesbury also tried to persuade Nathaniel Bond*, the town’s recorder, to put up his son Denis*. Shaftesbury described Phippard as ‘one who has attempted to bring the whole town to his subjection’ and promised to support the younger Bond either at this or any subsequent election. This offer was declined, though the Bonds undertook to assist Hooper. According to Shaftesbury, however, the Bond interest was later utilized for Phippard, even to the extent of inducing other leading Whigs like Thomas Trenchard* to desert Hooper. Some part in this outcome may have been played by the lord lieutenant, the Duke of Bolton (Charles Powlett I*). Certainly, Shaftesbury repeatedly protested about Bolton’s uncooperative attitude. Hooper was defeated and the disappointment to Shaftesbury was such that when the mayor of Poole offered to back a second attempt to return Hooper in November 1701, he declined. This left Joliffe and Phippard to be returned without a contest, and they continued to sit in Anne’s first Parliament.2

Before the 1705 election Awnsham Churchill, a prominent Dorchester and London bookseller, asked Shaftesbury for his interest at Poole. The Earl replied on 29 Jan. 1705 that he was pleased Churchill was thinking of standing for Parliament, but

as to my family interest at Poole ’tis what I am unable to do the public any service in by . . . my brother Hooper’s being so much discouraged by his former rebuke and the severe opposition and usage he met with from the Whig interest at that time.

Churchill transferred to Dorchester, leaving Phippard to be returned with another local Whig merchant, Samuel Weston. Joliffe, who was now over 80, had retired. In the summer of 1707 George Lewen, the mayor of Poole, wrote to Shaftesbury offering the corporation’s support to Hooper at the next election. The Earl gratefully accepted this ‘kind, free offer’, referring to ‘the constant regard and true esteem I have ever preserved for your corporation . . . and the particular respect I have for yourself and my other good friends there’. The mayor’s brother, William Lewen, was also standing and it was hoped that the two interests combined would be strong enough to defeat Phippard. Weston did not stand but Phippard was joined by Thomas Ridge, a Portsmouth brewer. Although Ridge and Phippard were Junto Whigs, the Lewens were Tories, which explains why the Junto was not anxious for a change. Lord Somers (Sir John*) had told Sir John Cropley, 2nd Bt.*, Shaftesbury’s friend and protégé, in May that the Duke of Newcastle (John Holles†) was hoping to put up a candidate at Poole with Shaftesbury’s assistance, but that Somers ‘thought that town was now safe and well and that your [Shaftesbury’s] best answer would be some danger might happen to the Whig interest if you were now to make an alteration’. The Duke of Bolton was also unenthusiastic. Shaftesbury did receive some encouragement from Lord Treasurer Godolphin (Sidney†), who at this time was trying to construct a party of moderate Whigs, to which he was clearly hoping to recruit Shaftesbury. Cropley reported on 30 Dec. 1707 that Robert Molesworth*,

one day talking of elections, he wishing for a Parliament out of either of the lists, as he calls them, Lord Rochester’s [Lawrence Hyde†] squadron or the Junto’s . . . I said I hoped for a new one at Poole, Mr Hooper and perhaps another with him. He replied he should be glad of it and so would lord treasurer be too for he was of his mind to have true Whigs that would be your Whigs and not the Junto’s as Molesworth said Phippard and Weston were.

Despite this encouragement, by February 1708 Shaftesbury was becoming anxious. He wrote to Hooper:

We have a hard game to play and though we have hearty friends we have as hearty enemies and some whom we have most reason to expect assistance from are (as you know by experience) the readiest to give us up and though you are so good as to forgive the behaviour of all our Whig friends towards you in King William’s time, yet I can never forget as a warning not to depend too much in the future. I told you the coldness of the Duke of Bolton, our lord lieutenant, who when he was talking with me a few months since at a great Whig lord’s and settling matters relating to our county, speaking too in particular of Poole election, the present mayor and his brother, as also of his competitor, Mr Ridge, never so much as mentioned anything of you, nor wished me to set you up or induce you to stand. You hear too how young Mr [Denis] Bond begins to leave us, which though I believe not literally true yet . . . he is very likely to act the same part against you as his father did . . . You see how the two present Members are set. You see at the same time the shyness of country gentlemen and how little it becomes me to accept an offer from them should they be so forward, unless we have a sure foundation elsewhere . . . We must not run the hazard of such another treatment as we once had nor venture the being ground between the two parties. If the great people above who govern the Whig interest can like these mercenary tools much good may [it] do them . . . On the other hand if the country gentlemen are out of humour, still they may see what they can gain by it, for till they get you, that will never get a country gentleman again into that town, where they have never had one since I represented it myself.

In view of all this he suggested they should proceed with extreme caution and

let George Lewen and friends do as they can. For Phippard joined with Ridge will set his brother hard at last and for joining his brother with Ridge surely that would be too scandalous on both. But we must not put in our strength only to make him easy. If he can with a demonstration satisfy me that you are secure even within the town itself and have a plain majority there, I will agree to your standing and (if you give me leave) engage you shall appear, otherwise let it take its chance and let them choose you if they can.

Hooper, whose own calculations did not give him a majority, agreed with this cautious approach. Nevertheless they persisted, and a few days before the election Shaftesbury wrote to Somers asking for his assistance and at the same time complaining of Whig disunity in general and of the behaviour of the Duke of Bolton in particular. Somers sent promises of such help as he could give, together with assurances that those to whom he had spoken ‘severally assured me they have not conceived the least danger to Mr Hooper’. In the event Shaftesbury’s fears proved well founded and although Lewen was returned, Hooper was not. Phippard was also unsuccessful. The depth of Shaftesbury’s dismay was revealed in a letter he sent to George Lewen on 14 Feb. 1709 declining to help remedy the damage caused to the town’s trade by the loss of Newfoundland. He wrote:

Had any favour been shown me at Poole, I might have had encouragement and assurance . . . But as my interest has been treated there, it becomes those who have quitted me to apply to others whom they have thought abler and fitter to protect and defend them. I am sorry when I lose my opportunity to serve my country, but I can serve it only in proportion to the interest that is given me in it. Nor should I have complained thus as to the loss of my interest, if it had fallen by any other hands than yours.

By now broken in health, Shaftesbury made no further effort to intervene in Poole elections.3

In 1710 Phippard was returned with Ridge and, on Ridge’s expulsion, his place was taken by the Tory, William Lewen. In the last election of Queen Anne’s reign Lewen was returned with George Trenchard, son of the 1690 Member.

Author: Paula Watson

Notes

  • 1. Dorset RO, Lane (Trenchard) mss D60/F56, Sir John to Henry Trenchard, 21 Oct. 1690; Add. 70018, f. 69.
  • 2. PRO 30/24/20/14, 42; 30/24/21/231, ff. 321–2; 30/24/22/1, ff. 59–60.
  • 3. PRO 30/24/20/134, 141; 30/24/21/158, ff. 53–54; 30/24/22/1, f. 69; 30/24/22/2, f. 156; 30/24/22/4, ff. 298, 318–19, 324.

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