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:

over 400 in 1681


9 Apr. 1660JOHN MONSON 
8 Apr. 1661(SIR) THOMAS MERES 
4 Apr. 1664(SIR) JOHN MONSON vice Bolles, deceased 
19 Apr. 1675HENRY MONSON vice Monson, deceased 
17 Feb. 1679(SIR) THOMAS MERES 
18 Aug. 1679(SIR) THOMAS MERES 
 Sir Thomas Hussey, Bt. 
14 Feb. 1681SIR THOMAS HUSSEY, Bt.344
 Henry Monson190
22 Mar. 1685(SIR) THOMAS MERES 
10 Jan. 1689(SIR) HENRY MONSON 
 ?(Sir) Thomas Meres 
28 May 1689SIR EDWARD HUSSEY, Bt. vice Monson, discharged from sitting 

Main Article

Under a charter of 1628 the corporation of Lincoln consisted of the mayor, 12 aldermen, two sheriffs (who acted as returning officers) and between 25 and 30 common councilmen. The freedom of the city appears to have been liberally granted at times of political excitement, and was doubtless a factor in the long domination of Sir Thomas Meres and the Monson family from the Restoration to the Revolution. Meres’s episcopal connexions appealed so strongly to the cathedral interest that he was successful at every general election from 1659 to 1685, while John Monson and his son Henry held the other seat, except in 1661-4 and 1681, when they were temporarily displaced by the Hussey interest. Monson’s father had been so prominent a Royalist in the Civil War that his own eligibility at the general election of 1660 must have been dubious under the Long Parliament ordinance; but there is no evidence of a challenge. Perhaps it was his association with an unpopular land-drainage project that led to his replacement in 1661 by Sir Robert Bolles; certainly it was not his royalism, for Bolles had enjoyed as a Cavalier the reputation of being ‘fierce, violent, and active’. On 23 Aug. 1662 the commissioners for corporations removed seven aldermen, both the sheriffs, and nine of the common council. Bolles died in the following year, and Monson regained his seat. He died himself in 1675, in his father’s lifetime, and was succeeded by his son. A contest may have been expected at the by-election, for 49 new freemen were created.1

After the dissolution of the Cavalier Parliament it was reported that ‘Sir Thomas Meres meets with much opposition at Lincoln’, probably from Bolles’s nephew, Sir Thomas Hussey. However John Hatchers seems to have persuaded Hussey that his intervention would do more harm to his neighbour Henry Monson, and he withdrew to contest the county instead, though not before 62 new freemen had been created. Both Members voted for exclusion. Before the August election Hussey was described as hovering over both county and city. The latter was considered the more ‘fickle’ of the two, and he may have swooped on it without success, for the sitting Members were re-elected only by ‘the greater part of the citizens’. In 1681, however, he drove Monson to the foot of the poll. The corporation and inhabitants produced loyal addresses approving the dissolution of Parliament and abhorring the Rye House Plot; but in October 1684 they had to surrender their charter to Judge Jeffreys. Its replacement nominated the Earl of Lindsey (Robert Bertie I) as recorder, and reserved to the crown the usual power of removing officials. Lindsey might have been expected to use the corporation interest in favour of Hussey, whom he had supported in the county election; but at the next general election, only two months after the issue of the new charter, he lost his seat to Monson, who was probably helped by the creation of 31 freemen, while Meres took the precaution of obtaining a letter of recommendation to Lindsey from Sunderland at the King’s command.2

Meres’s continued compliance with the Government in the second session of James II’s Parliament proved fatal to his interest. Nevertheless in January 1688 Lindsey reported: ‘The city of Lincoln are most of them Church of England men, but there are also dissenters; [they] are resolved upon the choice of Sir Henry Monson and Sir Thomas Meres’. The sitting Members were accordingly approved as court candidates, but by September Sunderland had decided to drop Monson, who opposed the King’s ecclesiastical policy, in favour of Henry Stone of Skellingthorpe. Stone, a newcomer to the county, was not a j.p. and had enjoyed somewhat strained relations with the corporation; but he had contributed to the cost of the new charter, and it was probably known that he intended to endow an industrial school in the city. Hussey now confined his efforts to the county, for which he had been successful in 1685; but a new high Tory candidate appeared in the person of Sir Christopher Nevile, who had recorded his consent to the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws. The old charter was restored in October, and at the abortive election of 13 Dec. Monson and Nevile were returned. ‘Sir Thomas Meres did not appear, nor any for him, only a porter who called for a poll, upon which Sir Thomas Meres had only nine votes, and the others had each of them above two hundred.’ Meres may have stood again in the following month when Monson and Nevile were re-elected to the Convention ‘by the major part of the citizens and freemen’. Although Monson had not scrupled to oppose James II in defence of the Church, he drew the line at transferring his allegiance. On 13 May 1689 he was discharged from sitting as a non-juror. Thirty-two new freemen were admitted, and at the by-election Hussey’s cousin, Sir Edward of the Caythorpe branch, was returned as a Whig.3

Author: J. S. Crossette


  • 1. W. D. Birch, Royal Charters of Lincoln, 206-8; J. W. F. Hill, Tudor and Stuart Lincoln, 173, 185.
  • 2. HMC 13th Rep. VI, 12; Reps. Assoc. Architect. Socs. xxiii. 136; Spencer mss, Hickman to Halifax, 9, 15 Aug. 1679; Bodl. Top. Linc. C4, ff. 324-32; London Gazette, 14 Nov. 1681, 16 Aug. 1683; Hill, 185, 188-9; Birch, 265, 275.
  • 3. Duckett, Penal Laws (1882), 146, 147; CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 275; Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. lii), 923; Hill, 189, 192, 209, 214; Lincs. AO, L1/6/438; Univ. Intell. 26 Dec. 1688; C. Holmes, 17th Cent. Lincs. 257.