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Number of Qualified Electors:
Number of voters:
at least 2,560 in Dec. 1701; at least 3,675 in 1710; at least 2,756 in 1713
|10 Mar. 1690||EDWARD KYNASTON|
|HON. RICHARD NEWPORT|
|7 Nov. 1695||RICHARD NEWPORT, Ld. Newport||281|
|Sir Edward Leighton, Bt.||1471|
|28 July 1698||EDWARD KYNASTON|
|SIR EDWARD LEIGHTON, Bt.|
|12 Dec. 1699||ROBERT LLOYD I vice Kynaston, deceased|
|9 Jan. 1701||SIR HUMPHREY BRIGGS, Bt.|
|ROBERT LLOYD I|
|11 Dec. 1701||ROBERT CORBET||1303|
|ROBERT LLOYD I||1236|
|Sir Humphrey Briggs, Bt.||1153|
|23 July 1702||ROGER OWEN||1803|
|Robert Lloyd I||15653|
|24 May 1705||SIR ROBERT CORBET, Bt.|
|ROBERT LLOYD I|
|20 May 1708||SIR ROBERT CORBET, Bt.|
|HON. HENRY NEWPORT|
|19 Oct. 1710||JOHN KYNASTON||2056|
|ROBERT LLOYD II||1939|
|Henry Newport, Ld. Newport||1852|
|17 Sept. 1713||HENRY NEWPORT, Ld. Newport||2042|
|Sir John Astley, Bt.||16835|
The Whig and Tory interests in Shropshire were evenly balanced, and the representation was shared between them at every general election in this period, except for 1708 and 1710. The various principals were all gentlemen with estates in the north of the county, in the vicinity of Shrewsbury. On the Whig side a predominant influence was exercised by the Newports, earls of Bradford, who held the county lieutenancy for most of the period. The Tories on the other hand did not have aristocratic leadership, the most prominent among them, the Kynastons, being wealthy squires.
In 1690 Edward Kynaston of Oteley and the Hon. Richard Newport I (Lord Newport 1694–1708), both of whom had sat for the county in the Convention, were returned without a contest. There may have been a third candidate who withdrew, for on 27 Feb. 1690 the Earl of Shrewsbury answered as follows an inquiry concerning this constituency: ‘having already engaged myself to be assisting to Mr Newport in his election . . . I cannot now support any other interest which I do not know to be consistent with his’. At the next election Francis Herbert*, a Tory, made a preliminary canvass. He had quarrelled with his uncle’s widow, Lady Herbert, who was Newport’s sister, and this, it was alleged, had ‘stirred him up to oppose Lord Newport’s being made knight of the shire’. A ‘composition’ was made before the end of October, by which he agreed to withdraw, but there was still a contest. Sir Edward Leighton, 1st Bt., the defeated Whig candidate at Shrewsbury, put up against Kynaston, and was defeated. Leighton was returned in 1698, however, when Newport, who as a Member had been absent from the House for long periods, declined to stand. Then early in the following year Kynaston died, and Robert Lloyd I, an active Tory who was eager to succeed him, was returned unopposed at the ensuing by-election. In January 1701 Lloyd was chosen with a new Whig candidate, Sir Humphrey Briggs, 4th Bt., again without opposition.6
In the December 1701 general election both sitting Members put up, but Richard Corbet, whose wife was Lloyd’s sister-in-law, was ‘prevailed upon by Lord Newport’ and some other Whig friends to stand against his brother-in-law, and so a contest developed. John Bridgeman of Blodwell, Shropshire, who was himself a brother-in-law to both Lloyd and Corbet, decided that in spite of his own preference for the Whig side he would divide his interest between the two, and late in November he reported the outcome of a preliminary meeting of Shropshire gentry ‘to propose those they think fit to be chose’:
both my brothers to my great satisfaction seem’d fair so in their proposals to each other but the other candidates not agreeing I believe will occasion a poll, my brother Lloyd and Mr [Roger] Owen of Condover join their interest; Sir Humphrey Briggs joins his interest with my brother Corbet. Whatever way it is determin’d I hope after this present election is over both my brothers will be as fair to one another as formerly.
Both Corbet and Lloyd were returned, the latter in spite of the late intervention of another Tory candidate, Gervase Pierrepont. The outgoing Member for Appleby, Pierrepont owed his seat there to the patronage of the Earl of Thanet (Thomas Tufton†), and until late in the day it was uncertain whether he would be named again for the borough. This uncertainty probably accounts for his having put up in Shropshire. Having at last received confirmation of Thanet’s continuing support at Appleby, Pierrepont may well have attempted to withdraw from the county election shortly before the poll: this would explain his very poor showing as compared to that of the other four candidates.7
In 1702 Corbet stood on his own against the two Tories, Briggs preferring the security of the Whitmore interest at Bridgnorth. Again John Bridgeman divided what interest he had between his two brothers-in-law, but this time only Corbet was returned, after a stiff contest in which Owen topped the poll. Lloyd immediately set to work to undermine Corbet’s interest, in preparation for the next election. Corbet, however, was afflicted with a chronic illness and stood down in favour of his kinsman Sir Robert Corbet, 4th Bt., also a Whig. In April 1705, Owen declined an invitation from Sir Robert to join, replying that Lloyd was the preferred candidate and in the event the representation was shared between Lloyd and Corbet without a contest. In April 1707 Sir Robert Corbet and several other Whig gentlemen were appointed at the Shropshire quarter sessions to draw up an address to Queen Anne congratulating her on the achievement of the union with Scotland, and in the following year the Whigs secured both the county seats at the general election. Lloyd did not stand, being himself now in poor health (he died in 1709), and there was no other Tory challenge.8
In the 1710 election the dominant issue in Shropshire seems to have been the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell. Popular enthusiasm for the doctor gave rise to a great commotion at the county assizes in April of that year. According to a Whig newspaper, the Daily Courant:
one Mr Yewde a non-juror, with several other persons being assembled in a riotous manner, insulted some of the counsel going that circuit, and committed other disorders, for which they are under prosecution. They also attempted to get an address of a seditious nature signed by the gentlemen of the grand jury and others, but it was rejected by a much greater number, and the most considerable of the jury, and the other gentlemen present.
Shortly afterwards a group of Whig gentlemen, including Sir Robert Corbet, Bridgeman and, possibly, Leighton, sent a letter to the lord lieutenant of the county, proclaiming their ‘dislike of such shameful and tumultuous actions, designed to cast an odium upon the proceedings of . . . Parliament, to inflame her Majesty’s subjects, and to disturb the public peace’. These comments, submitted with a view to the prosecution of the rioters, were in turn communicated to Secretary of State Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*), who obtained from the Queen a condemnation of these ‘riotous and seditious proceedings’ of the Tories, and a warm endorsement of the actions of the Whig gentlemen. Both the representation and the Queen’s reply were subsequently published. One Shropshire Whig wrote at about this time:
in our county . . . though the Sacheverell principle had well nigh entrapped all the common and most of the better sort of people’s minds, yet such outrageous insults as was in London and some other places did not generally affect us, and except Shrewsbury I don’t hear for a certainty of any considerable gentlemen concerned in the tumult.9
Sacheverell himself appeared in Shropshire in July, after his triumphal ‘progress’ from London to be installed as rector of Selattyn, near Oswestry, a living to which he had been presented by Robert Lloyd II, a son of the former county Member and a former pupil of Sacheverell at Oxford. The doctor, having begun his return journey with a civic reception at Oswestry, and having been hailed there by what one bishop called in disgust a ‘ridiculous assembly of the clergy’, went on to Shrewsbury, where he was welcomed by a host of some 7,000 supporters. He subsequently passed through Bridgnorth and Ludlow, again with great pomp in each case, and accepted hospitality from several parliamentary candidates (though not from either of the Tory candidates for the county itself). The effect produced by this visitation was noted by a Whig, writing from Shropshire some time afterwards, when electioneering was well under way:
it is impossible to imagine what an influence the crying of the Church in danger has among the vulgar in this country, and when any of the High Church begs a vote for themselves or party the question they ask the freeholder is, if he be not for the Church. Then if he answers yes, then be for us they cry, that we may hinder our churches from being pulled down by Presbyterians and Dissenters.10
The two Tory candidates, encouraged to put up by the obvious popularity in the county of the High Church cause, were John Kynaston of Hordley, the leader of the Shropshire Tories, who had been content hitherto to sit for Shrewsbury, where he had a strong interest; and Robert Lloyd II, the friend of Sacheverell. Despite continuing ill-health, Richard Corbet agreed to stand on the Whig interest, joining with one of the outgoing Members, Lord Newport. The Whigs began their canvass first only for Newport to find ‘very cold answers from some of his old friends’. The Tories in turn appeared to have suffered a severe setback when Lloyd was persuaded by his uncle, Bridgeman, to withdraw on financial grounds. In early July Roger Owen wrote to an unnamed person to request assistance in persuading the young man to change his mind. Lloyd’s announcement of his withdrawal had, he said:
made such a distraction in our affair in hand that it cannot be rectified without your assistance . . . Mr Lloyd . . . seems to be so positively resolved to desist that ’tis impossible for any of his friends to prevail with him . . . we will keep this unwelcome news a secret till we hear from you, you may assure him that the election for both is seemingly so sure by the considerable interest already made that there is no room to doubt of success . . . he seems to be discouraged with the expenses of the election, which will be so inconsiderable that I am sure he won’t value it, for almost every gentleman will bring in the freeholders at his own expense, and if there be any further charge Mr Kynaston bears half with him. If we miss this opportunity we are bewitched, for the like will never offer again.
Lloyd was persuaded to stand after all and, despite forfeiting his uncle Bridgeman’s support, was returned with Kynaston. At the election one Tory noted ‘there went above 50 clergymen together in a body into the field who all voted for Kynaston and Lloyd; ’twas a very fine sight’.11
The Tory interest continued uppermost in the county for a while after this election. The Earl of Bradford (Hon. Richard Newport I) was replaced as lord lieutenant by Shrewsbury in April 1712, and in July 1712 and April 1713 addresses were drawn up at the Shropshire quarter sessions congratulating the Queen on the success of the peace negotiations and on the peace itself, in each case denouncing her ministry’s critics as ‘factious’. The 1712 address included an expression of determination on the part of the signatories to defend her Majesty’s ‘sacred person and prerogative’. In the 1713 election, however, the Whigs recaptured one of the county seats, Lord Newport being returned at the top of the poll (despite Tory allegations that in 1710 he had said he would give money to build a bawdy-house but not a church). The Tories had been weakened by the withdrawal of Robert Lloyd II. Originally John Kynaston had intended to withdraw, and in December 1712 he had announced that he would give his interest to Sir John Astley, 2nd Bt.†, a Staffordshire gentleman who had recently inherited through his wife some property in Shrewsbury. Astley, apparently, had ‘but lately come over to Kynaston’s interest’, for which he was now ‘very much blamed by those that have been always his friends’. At first it was given out that he was to join with Lloyd, but within days Lloyd had declared that he would not put up for re-election. Lloyd was still in some financial difficulty, and there was a suspicion that Kynaston was attempting to ‘make him his tool’. Moreover, Lloyd was a ‘whimsical’ and a moderate enough Tory at this time for Lord Newport to propose an electoral accommodation with him. Kynaston had thus no choice but to stand himself with Astley, and at the poll Kynaston secured the second seat.12
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. Probably only part of the poll (VCH Salop, iii. 257).
- 2. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. ser. 4, xii. 7.
- 3. Ibid. 8.
- 4. Ibid. 10.
- 5. Ibid. 12.
- 6. CSP Dom. 1689–90, p. 484; VCH Salop, 257; Add. 29578, ff. 529, 531; 29579, f. 472; Bradford mss at Weston Park, John to Sir John Bridgeman, 26 July 1698, 10 June 1699, John Bridgeman to Robert Lloyd I, 2 June 1699.
- 7. Bradford mss at Weston Park, John to Sir John Bridgeman, 19, 25, 29 Nov. 1701, John Bridgeman to Richard Corbet, 9 Dec. 1701; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. 7.
- 8. Bradford mss at Weston Park, John Bridgeman to his cousins Finch and Pain, 23 Mar. , John Bridgeman to Richard Corbet, 14 July 1702, 19 Apr. 1703, 10 Feb. 1708, John to Sir John Bridgeman, 18 May 1705, Sir Robert to Richard Corbet, 29 Jan. 1708, Ld. Newport to Richard Corbet, 4 Feb. 1708; Sta