St. Mawes


Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the freemen

Number of voters:

about 20


[of St. Just parish] (1801): 2,779


19 June 1790SIR WILLIAM YOUNG, Bt.
21 Feb. 1792 THOMAS CALVERT vice Simcoe, appointed to office
10 Nov. 1795 WILLIAM DRUMMOND vice Calvert, vacated his seat
28 Oct. 1796 JEREMIAH CRUTCHLEY vice Nugent, chose to sit for Buckingham
19 Feb. 1806 WINDHAM re-elected after appointment to office
3 Nov. 1806SIR JOHN NEWPORT, Bt.
21 Jan. 1807 WILLIAM SHIPLEY vice Newport, chose to sit for Waterford
22 July 1807 HUGH FORTESCUE, Visct. Ebrington, vice Shipley, chose to sit for Flint Boroughs
22 Apr. 1808 GEORGE GRANVILLE LEVESON GOWER II, Earl Gower, vice Bernard, vacated his seat
28 Feb. 1809 SCROPE BERNARD vice Ebrington, accepted a commission in the army
17 Apr. 1813 FRANCIS HORNER vice Shipley, vacated his seat
12 Mar. 1817 JOSEPH PHILLIMORE vice Horner, deceased

Main Article

From 1790 George Nugent Temple Grenville, 1st Marquess of Buckingham, assumed sole parliamentary patronage of St. Mawes, having inherited in 1788 his father-in-law Earl Nugent’s moiety and having purchased the interest of the co-patron Hugh Boscawen, who accordingly gave up the seat he had personally occupied for 16 years at the dissolution. The Whigs found that they had no chance when they contemplated contesting the borough in 1790.1

Buckingham returned his friend Sir William Young for one seat until 1806; the other went to friends of Pitt’s administration. Pitt named Calvert, who succeeded Simcoe on a vacancy in 1792 and stated that he had offered £3,000, which would be used to compensate Simcoe.2 Most probably Drummond and Crutchley were also paying guests. When the patron went into opposition in 1801, he promised to return a political ally, Windham, in anticipation of his defeat at Norwich. He preferred to return Windham at the general election, rather than a family stopgap (as in 1796), because ‘some of my voters must always be sent down to Cornwall’. Windham duly found refuge at St. Mawes, where Buckingham informed him:

The only political tenet to which your ... electors will bind you, is the belief that the pilchard is the best of all possible fish, which as long as you are not obliged to taste it, you may undertake for their sake to believe.

The bargain proved embarrassing to Windham when he took office in 1806. Lord Grenville wished his secretary at the Treasury, John King, to have Sir William Young’s seat and it was up to Windham to find compensatory office in the West Indies for Young. King had been replaced in office by William Henry Fremantle, who was also intended for Young’s seat, as were others after him, before Windham could arrange the quid pro quo.3 At the general election of 1806 Buckingham, after some shuffling, replaced Young with another friend, Bernard, and Windham by Sir John Newport, the Irish chancellor of the exchequer, until Newport was sure of his Irish seat: the vacancy was then filled by the patron’s nephew Shipley.

In 1807 Buckingham promised Fremantle, who was his candidate at Saltash, that if defeated there he would be returned for St. Mawes: but when Fremantle failed in his petition at Saltash, he found himself Member for Tain Burghs, by an arrangement of Buckingham’s to exchange seats with Lord Stafford, whose heir came in for St. Mawes. The reason for this was that Buckingham was faced with a threat at St. Mawes, engineered by James Buller II* in revenge for Buckingham’s attack on his interest at Saltash. It took the form of litigation in the name of Adm. Spry and Buckingham informed Fremantle 23 Feb. 1808, ‘My first duty is to secure to my family the quiet possession of this interesting property’.4

The threat had subsided by 1812, when Buckingham offered a seat to George Tierney, the Whig factotum, whom he had refused to consider in 1807. Tierney now politely refused to consider him as a patron. According to Brougham, as ‘the result (it is believed) of the debate on Creevey’s motion against Lord Buckingham’s sinecure’, the seat was earmarked for another talented Whig, Francis Horner, who came in at the expense of a dinner only, but on a proviso of general political agreement. On Horner’s death, the 2nd Marquess offered the seat to Serjeant Lens and, on his refusing it, to Phillimore, who was an instrument of Buckingham’s bid to form a third parliamentary party.5

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Ginter, Whig Organization, 190.
  • 2. W. H. Rose, Pitt and Napoleon, 107.
  • 3. Bucks. RO, Grenville mss D54/13, Buckingham to Grenville, 15 Dec. 1801; Add. 37881, f. 3; 37883, ff. 62, 96; 41852, f. 263; HMC Fortescue, viii. 241; Buckingham, Court and Cabinets, iv. 50, 53.
  • 4. HMC Fortescue, viii. 385; Fremantle mss, box 46, Buckingham to Fremantle [May 1807]; box 47, same to same [21 Mar.]; box 51 (bdle. 7), same to same, 21 Mar. 1808.
  • 5. HMC Fortescue, x. 295; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 6 Sept., 8 Oct.; Brougham mss, Brougham to Grey, 25 Nov. 1812; Fremantle mss, Fremantle to Horner, 16 Mar., reply 17 Mar. 1813; NLW, Coedymaen mss 12, f. 925.