St. Ives


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' 1660-84; in the corporation 1685

Number of voters:

37 in 1685; 254 in 1705


16 Apr. 1660JOHN ST. AUBYN
  Double return of Nosworthy and Praed. PRAED seated, 5 May 1660
 NOSWORTHY vice Praed, on petition 16 July 1660
27 Mar. 1661JAMES PRAED I
  Double return. PRAED and NOSWORTHY seated, 16 May 1661
 BASSET vice Nosworthy, on petition, 18 Dec. 1661
10 Jan. 1662DANIEL O'NEILL vice Basset, deceased
 Edward Nosworthy I
19 Jan. 1665EDWARD NOSWORTHY I vice O'Neill, deceased
 Sir William Godolphin
 ?James Praed I
12 Jan. 1689JAMES PRAED II

Main Article

St. Ives is one of the few boroughs which obtained a wider franchise at the Restoration. Under the Protectorate the corporation, consisting of the portreeve or mayor and 12 ‘burgesses’, had returned Members, but in 1660 the rights of the ‘freemen’, later defined as the inhabitants paying scot and lot, were successfully asserted. The strongest traditional interest in the borough was held by the marquesses of Winchester, as lords of the principal manor; but throughout the period it was eclipsed by the Nosworthys, who, as impropriators of Lelant rectory, were entitled to a tithe of all the pilchards and herrings landed in the port. The Praeds of Trevethoe, who held two of the four lesser manors in the borough, enjoyed the other major interest.1

In 1660, two of the candidates, John St. Aubyn and his ‘bosom friend’, Edward Nosworthy I, were, as decimators, closely identified with the Protectorate. The corporation returned St. Aubyn, their recorder, and James Praed I, ‘the chief supporter of the Stuarts in that neighbourhood’; but Nosworthy challenged Praed, producing another return in the name of the freemen. St. Aubyn and Praed were seated on the merits of the return, but on 16 July the House accepted that ‘the freemen at large have right to elect’, and Nosworthy took his seat. In 1661 Henry Osborne, a courtier of the Bedfordshire family, was recommended by the Duke of York, but his name figures on neither election indenture; nor apparently did St. Aubyn go to the poll. There was no opposition to Praed, but this time Nosworthy was elected by the corporation, while the freemen returned John Basset, the son of a prominent local Cavalier who had obtained a new charter for the borough in 1639. Nosworthy was seated on the merits of the return, and Basset died while his petition was still pending. On 25 Sept. Francis Godolphin wrote to Daniel O’Neill, another and far more prominent courtier:

in order to secure your election for burgess of St. Ives, it will be needful to procure a letter from the King to the town, telling them that he is informed they are about to choose Mr St. Aubyn again as their recorder, of whose particular disaffection to his person he had formerly taken notice, and must look upon it as an evidence of their own disaffection to him, if they should attempt to choose him again, having persons better qualified for that office. St. Aubyn is a bosom friend of Nosworthy, the present Member, whom Basset hopes to eject.

On 18 Dec. (Sir) Job Charlton reported from the elections committee that Nosworthy had been elected

by 19 of the capital burgesses and returned by the mayor, and that Mr Basset, since deceased, was elected by a far greater number of burgesses at large. That in Mr Nosworthy’s own case upon the election to the last assembly, judgment was given against the election of the mayor and twelve capital burgesses. That all the inhabitants had right of election, and that the question being now the same that it was then, the committee was of opinion that the burgesses at large had right of elec tion; that Mr Basset had the majority of voices, and that Mr Nosworthy his election was void.

The by-election was held on 10 Jan. 1662, by which time Godolphin’s father (Sir William Godolphin, 1st Bt.) had taken over as recorder. Together with the mayor and 43 ‘burgesses’, he certified that O’Neill had been returned ‘with one mind, assent and consent’. Again Nosworthy returned another indenture, bearing 26 signatures, to Chancery, though he does not seem to have pursued the matter in the House. His tenacity was rewarded on O’Neill’s death when he defeated Sir William Godolphin, the court candidate.2

In the first two Exclusion Parliaments Nosworthy and his son, an even stronger opponent of the Court, monopolized the representation of the borough, no doubt with the support of their friend, the 6th Marquess of Winchester (Charles Powlett I). Praed may also have stood in February 1679, though on personal, not political grounds. In 1681 the elder Nosworthy, who was in financial difficulties, transferred to Liskeard, and was replaced by Praed’s son, probably an opponent of exclusion. On 7 Nov. 1683 Thomas Trenwith, the collector of customs, reported:

Edward Nosworthy, junior, that served for this borough in the late Parliament, has for several years been forming a party here to secure both burgess-ships and has been so successful that he has got eight of the capital burgesses, being twelve besides the mayor, to his own party. By these this place is wholly swayed. Amongst them they keep the mayoralty and from year to year debar the loyal magistrates whose turn it is and give this reason for it, viz. lest, if a Parliament should be called, we should put Nosworthy by and elect one of a more loyal family, or as they term it a courtier. Four of them have been in actual rebellion and one a sequestrator. To endear himself the more, Nosworthy desired to be admitted and they have sworn him a capital burgess, though living sixty miles distant and without electing him first into the 24 inferior burgesses, as the charter positively directs.

One would have thought eight out of the thirteen pretty fair, yet our gentlemen would not rest there. About three weeks before Allhallows-day, the time we elect our mayor, they were very active to bring in more confiding men into the places of such of their party as they feared to be mercenary and thought themselves not sufficiently assured. Money was offered to one of them to resign, which he accepted and a new magistrate was elected in his room. To another they offered besides money to deliver him up an obligation he is under to the corporation, which he refusing they voted him out and elected another ...

The humour of late was not more hot and fierce in the City [of London] than in this little town; never was poor thing more pitifully distorted and abused than our charter has been. Some julep is wanting to allay their heat. No dose like that which wrought so successfully on your citizens. The attorney general would prove our best physician and a writ of quo warranto our most sovereign medicine.

Quo warranto proceedings were brought against the corporation in 1684, and a new charter issued in March 1685 removed Nosworthy and his friends from the corporation, made all members of it removable at will by the King in future, and appointed the Earl of Bath, the Government’s electoral manager in Cornwall, as recorder. In the following month Charles Davenant, an excise commissioner, and James St. Amand, the King’s apothecary, both outsiders, were returned on the government interest. St. Ives was one of the corporations which promised Lord Bath in 1688 to elect any two candidates whom he should nominate, provided that they were Cornishmen and Protestants. On the other hand the younger Nosworthy, who had become a Whig collaborator, undertook ‘to choose who the King pleases’. Presumably they compromised with Praed and Thomas Owen, though Sunderland ordered St. Amand to stand for re-election. In November Nosworthy made his brother mayor, ‘a poor, weak, deaf man, no inhabitant [and] no way qualified by the charter’. He resigned before the general election of 1689, which was conducted jointly by Trenwith, ‘mayor by the new charter’, and John Stevens, ‘mayor before the surrender of the charter’ in 1684. Nosworthy, ruined by litigation, had fled abroad, but his interest passed to his first wife’s father, John Maynard I, and his nephew, Walter Vincent, was ‘duly, fairly and unanimously elected’ with Praed, though the electorate was not defined.3

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Gilbert, Paroch. Hist. Cornw. i. 252-3; iii. 97; J. H. Matthews, St. Ives, 44-45.
  • 2. Adm. 1745, f. 31; Matthews, 193; CSP Dom. 1670, p. 663.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1683-4, pp. 78-79; 1685, p. 255; 1687-9, p. 276; Duckett, Penal Laws (1882), 379; (1883), 215, 217; Add. 41805, f. 119.