Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Number of voters:

over 1,500 in 1695


c. Apr. 1660SIR WILLIAM LEWIS, Bt.
 Sir Herbert Price, Bt.
  Election declared void, 25 July 1661
 Edward Progers
  Election declared void, 31 Jan. 1662
 Edward Progers
15 Apr. 1685CHARLES SOMERSET, Mq. of Worcester
24 June 1685EDWARD JONES vice Ld. Worcester, chose to sit for Gloucestershire
16 Jan. 1689EDWARD JONES

Main Article

No dominant interest can be discerned in Breconshire, and no less than six of the ten elections in the period resulted in the return of a non-resident. The Presbyterian Royalist, Sir William Lewis, who represented the county in 1660, lived in Hampshire, though most of his income was derived from Breconshire. The next general election was contested by two Royalists, Sir Herbert Price, a courtier who had been in exile, and Sir Henry Williams, a country gentleman already conspicuous as an enemy of ‘seditious preaching’. Williams complained that his adversary’s leading supporter, John Jeffreys, a major in the militia, ‘makes use of his command more for his own interest now for the election than for his Majesty’s service’ by recruiting ‘fanatics’. Nevertheless Williams was declared elected, and Price had to be satisfied with the borough seat; but the county election was declared void because of the sheriff’s ‘miscarriages’. A new writ was issued, and the sheriff ordered to attend on 27 July to answer for his conduct at his own expense. He was not discharged until after the autumn recess. Warned by his experience, he had contrived to avoid receiving the writ until his year of office had elapsed, and it came into the hands of Jeffreys. But the Duke of Ormonde intervened to foist another courtier on the county. Although he held no property in Breconshire, he had been granted an English peerage under the style of Earl of Brecknock to commemorate his descent from its medieval lords, and the gentry acknowledged a great obligation ‘for the honour and patronage you have given this poor country by your choice’. He proposed to them Edward Progers, a royal pimp from a Roman Catholic family and cousin to an obscure and impoverished Breconshire squire. Jeffreys was returned; but on Progers’s petition, (Sir) Job Charlton reported that ‘divers indirect means’ had been used, without which Progers would have had a majority. He instanced the delay in executing the writ, the holding of the election in an unusual place (although the indenture is dated from the county town), the refusal of votes and the adjournment of the poll. This election too was declared void without a division. Another court and country contest seemed likely, but the gentry offered to Ormonde ‘a perfect resignation to your great wisdom and prudence in the choice of a third person’. This course proved unnecessary, for Jeffreys, whose affairs were involved, could not resist Ormonde’s offer of employment in Ireland, and Progers was probably returned unopposed.1

At the first general election of 1679, Progers was defeated by Richard Williams, subsequently described as ‘disaffected’. Williams, the second cousin of the Convention Member, inherited property in Breconshire, but lived in Radnorshire, whereas Progers at least had a brother resident in the county. Nevertheless he stood down in the autumn on the excuse that he could not leave the Court. It was reported that (Sir) Henry Capel would be elected; but Williams continued to represent the county throughout the exclusion crisis. There was certainly a contest in 1681 when the Marquess of Worcester (Henry Somerset) put up a court candidate, who has not been identified, and in 1685 Breconshire was one of the five constituencies that returned his son. When he chose to sit for another constituency he was replaced by a local Tory, Edward Jones, who was unanimously re-elected in 1689.2

Author: Leonard Naylor


  • 1. CSP Dom. 1660-1, pp. 124, 127, 320; SP29/34/21; CJ, viii. 312, 314, 317, 354; Bodl. Carte 33, f. 7.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1679-80, p. 64; July-Sept. 1683, p. 115; 1684-5, pp. 93-94; HMC 10th Rep. IV , 151; Sidney Diary, i.79.