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

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the freemen

Number of voters:

about 90


29 Oct. 1660JOHN TANNER I vice Boscawen, chose to sit for Cornwall
20 Aug. 1679JOHN TANNER I
15 Feb. 1681JOHN TANNER I
12 Jan. 1689EDWARD HERLE

Main Article

The most persistent interests at Grampound in this period were exercised by two minor gentry families, the Herles of Prideaux and the Tanners of Courte, behind whom stood the local Presbyterian magnate, Hugh Boscawen. Nevertheless this powerful junto had to cede one seat in 1661, and totally lost control in February 1679 and 1685 to a rival borough-monger, (Sir) Joseph Tredenham. The returns were in the name of the mayor, the ‘burgesses’ (presumably the eight aldermen) and the ‘inhabitants’ or freemen. The mayor not only acted as returning officer but virtually nominated the ‘jury’ that decided on admission to the freedom. The number of signatures on the indentures varies from 30 at the 1660 by-election to about 85 in February 1679.

At the general election of 1660 Boscawen was himself returned with Thomas Herle; but he vacated the borough seat when the county election was resolved in his favour on 12 July. No warrant for a new writ is recorded in the Journals, and it was not until nearly the end of the autumn recess that the vacancy was filled by Boscawen’s henchman John Tanner I. In 1661 Boscawen was obliged to retreat to his pocket borough of Tregony, taking Herle with him. Tanner was re-elected with Charles Trevanion, whose father had sat for the borough in the Short Parliament before his heroic death in the royalist army. It is perhaps hardly surprising that the two Members were returned on separate indentures, a practice that was retained for the exclusion elections.

At the dissolution of the Cavalier Parliament Boscawen persuaded the electors of Tregony and Truro to return himself, his brother, and two of his sons to the first Exclusion Parliament. This tour de force no doubt precluded him from paying much attention to Grampound, and without his assistance his satellites Tanner and Herle could not resist the new Tredenham interest, which had been built up over the last few years with the assistance of treasury funds, and presumably involved swamping the Boscawen party with new freemen. Tredenham was returned as the senior Member ‘with the unanimous assent and consent’ of the electorate and some 80 signatures on his indenture. No such claim was made for Trevanion, though his separate indenture as junior Member carried even more signatures. Tanner eventually replaced Robert Boscawen at Tregony, and in August exchanged seats with Trevanion, who had surprisingly gone over to the Opposition on exclusion. Tredenham, who had voted in the other lobby, had to take refuge from the rising tide of exclusionist sentiment and organization in his stronghold of St. Mawes, and in both the second and third Exclusion Parliaments Tanner was accompanied by Herle’s nephew Nicholas.

Grampound sent no loyal addresses approving the dissolution of these Parliaments or abhorring the ‘Association’. The corporation formally abhorred the Rye House Plot, but this did not save their charter, which was surrendered to the Earl of Bath as lord lieutenant of Cornwall in November 1684. Remodelling of the corporation was doubtless facilitated by the wave of mortality among the local Whigs; Tanner, both the Herles, and three of the Boscawens all died between 1679 and 1685. The new charter of March 1685 nominated Bath as recorder, with the usual power reserved for removing officials by order-in-council. At the ensuing election Tredenham, now vice-warden of the stannaries under Bath, was returned with Robert Foley, a stranger recommended by his brother-in-law Lord Keeper Guilford (Sir Francis North). The first purge of the new corporation occurred as early as January 1687, when no less than four ‘burgesses’ were removed. In 1688 Grampound, like Launceston, undertook to elect Protestant Cornishmen approved by Bath, who accordingly proposed Trevanion and John Tanner II; but Brent, ‘the Popish solicitor’, apparently nominated the royal physician, Sir Charles Scarburgh, and John Hamley of Treblethick, an obscure country gentleman of ancient family. Sunderland ordered Scarburgh to stand as court candidate, and in June Tanner and Tredenham, together with the latter’s son and the mayor, were removed from the corporation. Four more ‘burgesses’ followed them in September; but the old corporation was restored in the following month. At the general election of 1689 Tanner, a cautious Tory (unlike his uncle), was returned with Nicholas Herle’s father Edward, an inactive Whig.

London Gazette, 24 Sept. 1683; CSP Dom. 1684-5, p. 199; 1685, p. 87; 1687-9, p. 26; North, Lives, i. 335; PC2/71/387, 72/694, 735; Duckett, Penal Laws (1882), 379; (1883), 215, 216.

Authors: Paula Watson / Basil Duke Henning