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 6,500 in 16791


17 Apr. 1660SIR ROBERT BINDLOSS, Bt.  
 Sir Richard Hoghton, Bt.  
17 Jan. 1665THOMAS PRESTON I vice Stanley, deceased  
25 Feb. 1679HON. CHARLES GERARD6056 
 William Spencer25892052
9 Sept. 1679CHARLES GERARD, Visct. Brandon  
 James Holt  
22 Feb. 1681CHARLES GERARD, Visct. Brandon  
 Charles Gerard, Visct. Brandon530 
 Richard Savage, Lord Colchester488 
17 Jan. 1689CHARLES GERARD, Visct. Brandon  
 James Holt  

Main Article

For most of the period Lancashire politics were dominated by the rivalry between the Stanleys and the Gerards. Both families had suffered for their ardent royalism; the 7th Earl of Derby was executed in 1652, while Lord Gerard of Brandon (later the 1st Earl of Macclesfield) was in exile throughout the Interregnum. Political differences between them were slight, but until Hon. Charles Gerard became lord lieutenant after the Revolution the Gerards’ interest depended on their untiring personal efforts and on their alliances with men who

owed no specific allegiance to any leading county faction. Since such men at this time were usually of a more rebellious political nature, Macclesfield’s politics appealed to them more than the stability and traditional character of Derby’s.

The influence of the duchy had greatly declined, and the chancellor’s interference, if any, made no visible impression on the county elections.2

The London press announced the election of the stalwart Presbyterian Sir Richard Hoghton on 12 Apr. 1660, but he was not returned. Of the successful candidates, Bindloss was also a former Parliamentarian. Of his colleague Bradshaigh, Lord Derby wrote:

Whoever knows this county, if he will speak the truth, will say that my interest did make Sir Roger Bradshaigh knight of the shire, without which he had not been. ... He underhanded joined with Col. [Richard] Kirkby in the design of making an interest (wherein they failed) in the year 1660 to advance the Lord Gerard of Brandon to be his Majesty’s lieutenant of Lancashire.

The Stanley interest had reached its nadir, and when in November the bill to restore Derby to his estates was sent down from the Lords, Edward Rigby was the only Member to speak in its favour, and it was ignominiously thrown out.3

At the succeeding general election, the Stanley interest had gained enough ground to return Derby’s brother as senior knight of the shire. But Derby’s position at Court, where Gerard was captain of the guard, was still weak, and five of his nominees as deputy lieutenants were rejected. When Sir Henry Bennet became secretary of state in 1662, Derby wrote:

Now I have a person of your worth and of whose favours to me I have formerly tasted to make my application unto, I do not despair (by your assistance) better to be understood by the King than I have hitherto been ... There be two gentlemen in this county (Sir Roger Bradshaigh and Colonel Kirkby) who have made it their business to persuade those that know them not that they are the leaders and managers of all the gentry of this county of Lancashire, whereby they have gotten this advantage, that what they say is represented as the voice of the whole county, and because I want the good word of these two, the King is persuaded that I am lost in the affection of the gentry here.

Eventually, three of Derby’s candidates for the lieutenancy were accepted, and one of them, Thomas Preston I, succeeded Edward Stanley as knight of the shire unopposed in 1665. Meanwhile Gerard’s position was weakened by his long and squalid lawsuit with Alexander Fitton over the Gawsworth estate, and his dismissal as captain of the guard in 1668, and on Derby’s death, Lord Bridgwater became lord lieutenant till the 9th Earl came of age in 1676.4

By 1679 Gerard was committed to the country party, but there was no opposition to his son in the February election. For the junior seat he proposed William Spencer, another exclusionist, against whom Derby persuaded Peter Bold to stand. Although he could scarcely be regarded as a court supporter, he enjoyed the duchy interest, wielded by (Sir) John Otway. With Rigby responsible for marshalling Gerard’s voters, the result was a notoriously expensive election. The county court met as usual at Lancaster Castle on 25 Feb., and was adjourned to Scotforth Moor. On a view Bradshaigh, the sheriff, found a majority for Spencer, but Bold demanded a poll. At midnight on the following day he was leading by 820 votes to 301, Rigby made his greatest effort in the next two days, bringing Spencer up to 2,447, though 91 of his voters were Quakers who would not swear to the value of their freeholds, and 466 more were questionable for other reasons. Polling continued slowly on Saturday and Monday, leaving Spencer 1,765 ahead. At this juncture Bradshaigh adjourned the court to Preston, the administrative centre of the duchy. The Gerard interest accused Bradshaigh of partiality, and complained of ‘several of the great Papists ... bringing in great companies and leading them into the town’. On 4 Mar. the court again sat from 3 p.m. to midnight, and Bold reduced his deficit to 681, Bradshaigh refusing to admit any more votes for Spencer till the numbers should be even. Although Rigby had more freeholders ready to go to the poll, it was decided to boycott the remainder of the election as a protest against the irregularity of the adjournment and the polling of voters not present at the reading of the writ. So the court returned to Lancaster on 7 Mar. with Bold leading by 3,912 to 2,589. He picked up eight more votes at Lancaster, proclamation was made without result for any further votes for Spencer, the four poll-books were compared, and Bradshaigh, brushing aside the indenture bearing the names of Gerard and Spencer audaciously offered him by the Presbyterian mayor of Lancaster, declared Gerard and Bold elected. Spencer petitioned, but no decision was reached.5

In September 1679 Sir Charles Hoghton, leader of the Presbyterian interest, replaced Spencer and defeated the high churchman James Holt, and the election of 1681 produced no change. Gerard (now Viscount Brandon) was unopposed throughout. There is no evidence that Derby played any part in these elections, probably because of ‘an irreconcilable quarrel’ with Bradshaigh, but in 1685 he proposed Bradshaigh’s son and successor and his own kinsman Lord Colchester (Richard Savage). Finding Colchester unacceptable to the Court as a former adherent of Monmouth, Derby transferred his support to Holt. At a county meeting on 13 Mar., with about 80 gentlemen present, including both Derby and Gerard, it was proposed that Bradshaigh and Holt should be nominated. But Brandon, though supported only by Hoghton and Rigby, ‘huffed hard, and declared he would ... spend £1,000 in a poll’. He and Colchester were defeated, but the poll was inexplicably low, and there were probably good grounds for his petition, though it was never reported to the House.6

Nothing is known of court candidates for Lancashire in 1688; presumably James relied on the interest of Brandon, one of his leading Whig collaborators. A county meeting was proposed in December, but Derby declined to attend, ‘my opinion being so well known for Lord Colchester and Mr Holt, for the King’s proclamation removes all scruples, and I hope his [presumably Colchester’s] carriage may take off the objection to a court employment’. Derby’s ultra-cautious attitude to the invasion of William of Orange meant that he was ‘not much regarded’ at this time. When the county election was held, Colchester had already found a seat at Liverpool. Hoghton was returned unopposed, while the other seat was contested by Brandon and Holt. ‘Indeed, there was some competition with Lord Brandon, but the dissenters were persuaded concerning him, and so did carry it’—or so one of them claimed.7

Author: Irene Cassidy


  • 1. Westmld. RO, D/Ry 2151.
  • 2. J. M. Wahlstrand, ‘Elections to Parliament in Lancs. 1685-1714’ (Manchester M.A. thesis, 1956), 128-31.
  • 3. Merc. Pol. 12 Apr. 1660; SP29/61/85; Old Parl. Hist. xxiii. 50.
  • 4. SP29/61/85; Ormerod, Cheshire, iii. 551; The Newes, 26 Jan. 1665.
  • 5. BL, M636/32, Edmund to John Verney, 13 Mar. 1679; Westmld. RO, D/Ry 2150, 2151; Rylands Lib. Legh mss, Bold to Legh, 22 Jan. 1679; CJ, ix. 570.
  • 6. Legh mss, Bold to Legh, 28 Feb. 1685; Fleming mss 2378, Dodding to Fleming, 30 Jan. 1681; 2846, Brandon to Lancs. freeholders, 10 Feb. 1685; 2883, Kirkby to Fleming, 16 Mar. 1685; Preston Guardian, 20 Feb. 1909.
  • 7. HMC Kenyon, 210; Wahlstrand, 74; Jolly’s Note Bk. (Chetham Soc. n.s. xxxiii), 92; HMC Le Fleming, 221.