Available from Boydell and Brewer
Right of Election:
in the inhabitant paying scot and lot
Number of voters:
|20 Apr. 1660||HON. ARTHUR STANHOPE|
|12 June 1660||ROBERT PIERREPONT vice Hutchinson, discharged from sitting|
|1 Apr. 1661||HON. ARTHUR STANHOPE|
|10 Feb. 1679||ROBERT PIERREPONT|
|18 Aug. 1679||ROBERT PIERREPONT|
|31 Jan. 1681||ROBERT PIERREPONT|
|16 Mar. 1685||HON. JOHN BEAUMONT||over 300|
|SIR WILLIAM STANHOPE||over 300|
|11 Jan. 1689||FRANCIS PIERREPONT|
Seventeenth century Nottingham was among the most attractive of English provincial towns. Consequently there was little difficulty in finding gentry, resident or formerly resident, to represent it in Parliament, though they were never admitted to the corporation. Under Colonel John Hutchinson, it had been a parliamentary stronghold during the Civil War, and after the Restoration it was a notable centre for Presbyterianism. The dominant interest lay in the Pierreponts, a cadet branch representing the borough with very short intervals from 1640 to 1706. Though all the candidates at the general election of 1660 had held office during the Interregnum, in Mrs Hutchinson’s words, ‘some time before the writs for the new elections came, the town of Nottingham, as almost all the rest of the island, began to grow mad, and declare themselves so, in their desires of the King’. Bonfires were set up to burn the Rump, and stones thrown at the garrison, who replied with bullets, killing an ‘old professor ... standing at his own door’. George Monck, told of the tumult by an enraged officer, ‘signed a warrant to Colonel Hacket to let loose the fury of the regiment upon the town and plunder all they judged guilty’. But Hutchinson, hearing of the order from Charles Howard, was able to get it countermanded, so securing the goodwill of the townspeople in general and of Arthur Stanhope in particular, whose house the soldiers had actually entered to plunder. The election was fought largely on personalities. Plumtre, a witty and skilful physician of a family that had been prominent in Nottingham since the 14th century, was regarded by the Hutchinsons as their social and spiritual inferior:
a horrible atheist, and had such an intolerable pride that he brooked no superiors, and, having some wit, took the boldness to exercise it in the abuse of all the gentlemen wherever he came. ... Dr Plumtre laboured all he could to get the burgess-ship for himself and to put lay the colonel with the basest scandals he and two or three of his associates could raise. Mr Arthur Stanhope ... having a great party in the town, was dealt with to desert the colonel, and offered all Plumtre’s party; but on the other side he laboured more for the colonel than himself, and at length, when the election day came, Mr Stanhope and the colonel here clearly chosen.
Plumtre died shortly after, and when Hutchinson as a regicide was discharged from sitting he was replaced by Robert Pierrepont, whose interest had been temporarily in abeyance at the general election owing to his involvement in Booth’s rising.1
Stanhope and Pierrepont retained their seats in 1661, though neither could be called a Cavalier, and the commissioners for corporations determined on a thorough purge. Six of the seven aldermen were dismissed, but the removal of the recorder, the 2nd Earl of Clare, was countermanded by the King. Stanhope retired at the end of the Cavalier Parliament, but Pierrepont and Richard Slater, both of the country party, were returned to all three Exclusion Parliaments, certainly without a contest in 1681. Despite a loyal address approving the dissolution, the charter soon came under attack. On the mayor’s casting vote, the corporation resolved on surrender in July 1682; a protest signed by over 300 ‘burgesses’ was of no avail. Wild scenes followed at the mayoral election at Michaelmas, one party, including the old recorder, Edward Bigland, and abetted by Slater and William Sacheverell, maintaining the old charter, the other upholding the new, which was unfortunately late in arriving. Fines ranging from £300 were imposed on 22 of the rioters. The new charter did not affect the franchise, but provided for the removal of officials by order-in-council. The new corporation dutifully congratulated James II on his accession, and at the 1685 election Slater and Pierrepont’s son Francis were routed by John Beaumont and Sir William Stanhope, a last-minute substitute for Sir William Clifton, who, with the assistance of the Duke of Newcastle (Henry Cavendish) as recorder, had assiduously nursed the constituency, but was returned for the county instead.2
Nottingham was ‘regulated’ in 1688 by Brent, the ‘Popish solicitor’ and Timothy Tomlinson, a local Independent. The Tory corporation, which would only promise vaguely to return ‘two loyal persons’, were removed en bloc in January and February. In March the new corporation thanked the King for the Declaration of Indulgence and promised to use their utmost endeavours to attain ‘an unalterable settlement’. Another charter was issued on 1 Sept., and the royal electoral agents reported that the electors would choose Slater and Samuel Saunders, the son of a republican colonel,
who had been discoursed, and fully declared themselves in your Majesty’s interest. ’Tis requisite that a mandate be sent down for the choosing Mr Samuel Smith and Mr Joseph Howes to be sheriffs for the year ensuing.
The borough seats were deemed so safe for the Government that they were to be held in reserve for Sacheverell, now a leading Whig collaborator, and the rising crown lawyer Nathan Wright, should they fail for the county. The general election of 1689 was conducted by the mayor appointed under the new charter, after five days’ notice to the ‘burgesses’, freeholders and inhabitants qualified as electors, and two Whigs were returned, Francis Pierrepont and Bigland. Slater, tainted by his collaboration with James II, apparently did not stand.3
Author: E. R. Edwards
- 1. HMC Portland, ii. 308-9; D. Gray, Nottingham through Five Hundred Years, 56; Hutchinson Mems. 105, 321; HMC Popham, 162; Thoroton, Notts. ii. 80; Vis. Notts. (Thoroton Soc. rec. ser. xiii), 91; A. C. Wood, Notts. in the Civil War, 133.
- 2. CSP Dom. 1661-2, pp. 540, 553; Luttrell, i. 103; Prot. Dom. Intell. 15 Feb. 1681; Gray, 51, 53-54, 57; Notts. RO, DDSR 219/1, Newcastle to Halifax, 11 Oct. 1682; Spencer mss, Newcastle to Halifax, 18 Mar. 1685; London Gazette, 27 June 1681, 30 Mar. 1685.
- 3. Notts. Misc. (Thoroton Soc. rec. ser. xxi), 23; Gray, 57-58; Duckett, Penal Laws (1883), 126, 245; CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 273; PC2/72/570, 608, 627; London Gazette, 12 Mar. 1688.