Available from Boydell and Brewer
Right of Election:
in the freemen
Number of voters:
about 30 in 1688
|c. Apr. 1660||SIR WILLIAM WHEELER|
|HON. JAMES HERBERT|
|3 Apr. 1661||HON. JAMES HERBERT|
|SIR EDWARD HALES, 2nd Bt.|
|14 Apr. 1677||JAMES HERBERT vice Herbert, deceased|
|13 Feb. 1679||JAMES HERBERT|
|SIR EDWARD HALES, 2nd Bt.|
|Edward Hales I|
|20 Aug. 1679||SIR EDWARD HALES, 2nd Bt.|
|GLANVILLE vice Herbert, on petition, 8 Jan. 1681|
|10 Feb. 1681||WILLIAM GLANVILLE|
|7 Mar. 1685||SIR JOHN GODWIN|
|10 Jan. 1689||JAMES HERBERT|
Queenborough was a small, decaying fishing village which subsisted on its oyster beds. It was governed by a mayor, four jurats, and two bailiffs. The Herberts, who had estates on the Isle of Sheppey, had a considerable interest, as did the Hales family. The proximity of the Sheerness garrison provided government influence.
The two Members returned in 1660, Sir William Wheeler and the Hon. James Herbert, had been supporters of Parliament until secluded at Pride’s Purge. Both favoured the Restoration. Wheeler had considerable property in Kent, but it is probable that he owed his return to the Admiralty interest exercised by his friend Edward Montagu I. On 5 Mar. 1661 the Duke of York wrote to the corporation that he understood they intended to elect Thomas Povey, his treasurer and receiver-general. He expressed his pleasure, but something must have gone awry, for Herbert was again returned with government backing, together with Sir Edward Hales of Tunstall, whose father and grandfather had represented the borough. Both became court supporters. In 1677 James Herbert succeeded his father at the age of 17. His family interest, coupled with the government interest he enjoyed as Danby’s son-in-law, obliged his opponent, Sir George Moore, to withdraw before the poll.1
In 1679 Edward Hales I of Chilston unsuccessfully contested the seat. He had hoped for the support of his cousins of the Tunstall family, but they were pre-engaged to Herbert. Herbert’s interest, however, seems to have been waning, perhaps because of the use, or misuse of the monopoly of oyster fishing granted to his father in 1674. Certainly there was dissension in the borough: on 4 Aug. 1679 an article was exhibited against one Andrew Widgen for uttering ‘opprobrious, scandalous, and vilifying words ... that is to say, "they are all rogues and villains that voted or spoke against Captain Hales"’, including the mayor. Shortly before the elections to the second Exclusion Parliament Edward Hales II wrote to (Sir) Edward Dering:
Your continued respects to me and my ambition to sit at your feet in the House prompted me once more to make an attempt at Queenborough, having also had news of the dissolution from my cousin Hales with some intimation in it that he would stand there if I would quit my pretensions. He said he begged I would forget what had passed formerly. ... His father had constrained him to stand with him, and being proper for his station to be in the House, therefore will stand there, where with his father’s and his own Admiralty interest I believe I shall hardly be able to stem it.
In fact the two cousins were returned for Canterbury and Hythe respectively, Sir Edward Hales retained his seat, and the other was contested by William Glanville, probably with the support of Edward Hales of Chilston. Herbert carried down the writ and, according to Danby, was ‘chosen by but one vote difference’. Glanville petitioned and the House declared him duly elected, but not until 8 Jan. 1681, two days before the dissolution. Apparently the committee of elections declared Herbert’s election void because he had given a mace to the corporation. In 1681 Sir Edward Hales withdrew because of his age, and recommended his son Charles to the electors. On 22 Jan. Herbert wrote to the mayor and jurats:
Gentlemen, I have had the happiness to serve twice for your corporation through the favour of some of my friends among you, and yet by the opposition of others it was upon terms so severe as a stranger might have expected it. However I will not decline still offering you my service in this next Parliament, and hope you will consider my interest in the island and hundred is not so inconsiderable as to expose me to the hazard of such opposition as I formerly met withal. Gentlemen, I need no act to assure you that I cannot but intend the good of your corporation since the best of my fortune lies in your nearest neighbourhood and so concerns me as common good to us both. Truly I am sensible of these oppositions as reflecting too much upon me in that place. I will hope to find you better inclined at this time, and therefore make you this early offer of standing in hope to find your favour, and that such as were my friends before may have so good an influence upon the rest as to encourage me thereunto.
Five days later Glanville wrote to the corporation justifying his petition in the last Parliament and pointing out that his election had been declared valid by the Commons ‘without a negative voice’.
It would be a meanness much below the mind of a gentleman to make supplication to be your burgess, but it is a necessary piece of civility and good manners to offer my service if you please to accept it. I freely forget all unkindness showed me at the last election, and I think me as fit to serve you in the next Parliament as the House of Commons thought me in the last.
It is not known whether Herbert or Charles Hales actually stood, but Glanville was elected with Gerard Gore, son-in-law of Edward Hales I.2
In 1683 it was reported that ‘few in that town are not disloyal’, but in 1685 the corporation congratulated James II on his accession, and, as the lord lieutenant, Lord Winchilsea, hoped, returned two Tories, probably without a contest. Sir John Godwin, commissioner of the navy at Chatham, came from a local yeoman family, while Caleb Banks doubtless owed his seat to his father Sir John Banks, the great Kentish merchant and land owner. In February 1688 Winchilsea’s successor, the Roman Catholic Lord Teynham, reported:
There are here about thirty or one and thirty that have their voices in the election of two parliament men. Caleb Banks [has] a good interest here, but Captain Wilford is judged at present to have the most prevailing, and assures, if Sir John Godwin will stand with him, to assist and promote his interest with his own, and if the measures, some time since proposed, be taken, in probability they may carry it.
Among the measures proposed were doubtless quo warranto proceedings, but the charter was apparently surrendered without resistance. Godwin died in March, but in June Wilford, who was commander of the guardship at the Nore, and Robert Crawford, the lieutenant-governor of Sheerness, who had acquired a local estate by marriage, were nominated jurats under the new charter. Three months later Sunderland recommended them to Teynham as court candidates for the borough, and on 25 Sept. the mayor proceeded to hold the election. Crawford and Wilford were opposed by Herbert and Sir William Booth, another naval officer. After a poll Crawford and Herbert were declared elected with 27 and 16 votes respectively, against Wilford (10) and Booth (2). Three days later the writs were recalled, but Crawford and Herbert were again returned in 1689. Both were court Tories in the Convention.3
Author: Basil Duke Henning
- 1. CSP Dom. 1677-8, pp. 78, 87, 90.
- 2. Stowe 746, ff. 14, 19; Cal. Treas. Bks. iv. 633, 674, 826; Arch. Cant. xxii. 181, 184-5; HMC 14th Rep. IX, 414.
- 3. CSP Dom. July-Sept. 1683, p. 151; 1685, p. 26; 1687-9, pp. 196, 220, 274; London Gazette, 23 Feb. 1685; Duckett, Penal Laws (1882), 363-4; Kent AO, Qb/RP, f. 1.