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Number of voters:
|15 Apr. 1660||FRANCIS AUNGIER, Baron Aungier|
|Sir Richard Onslow|
|3 Apr. 1661||ADAM BROWNE|
|SIR EDMUND BOWYER|
|28 Feb. 1679||ARTHUR ONSLOW||1368|
|GEORGE EVELYN I||1338|
|Francis Aungier, Earl of Longford||1165|
|(Sir) Adam Browne, (Bt.)||1033|
|20 Aug. 1679||ARTHUR ONSLOW|
|GEORGE EVELYN I|
|22 Feb. 1681||ARTHUR ONSLOW|
|GEORGE EVELYN I|
|8 Apr. 1685||(SIR) ADAM BROWNE, (Bt.)|
|SIR EDWARD EVELYN, Bt.|
|14 Jan. 1689||(SIR) RICHARD ONSLOW|
|GEORGE EVELYN I|
One of the Surrey seats had been occupied by the Onslows since 1628, but Sir Richard Onslow lost the 1660 election
by building too much upon his interest there, and very imprudently insisting upon the choice of his eldest son with him. They both stood, and by that neither succeeded ... the party violence of the Royalists in his own county, with a mixture of envy, being then very strong against him.
It was reported that the people cried ‘no Rumpers, no Presbyterians that will put bad conditions on the King’. The successful candidates, though staunch Royalists, were both beyond the scope of the Long Parliament ordinance against Cavaliers and their sons. Lord Aungier, an Irish peer, had inherited property in the county, while Daniel Harvey was the son of a leading City Royalist who had bought an estate during the Interregnum. He did not stand again, and Aungier migrated to Arundel in 1661. The senior knight of the shire in the Cavalier Parliament was Adam Browne, who had been in arms for the King in both wars and a royalist conspirator in 1659. The record of his colleague Sir Edmund Bowyer was less impressive, but he may have been more acceptable to the Onslows, who were apparently content in this election with the monopoly of their pocket borough of Guildford.1
Bowyer retired from politics at the dissolution of the Cavalier Parliament, but Browne stood for reelection with Aungier, who had been created Earl of Longford, as the other court candidate. The original country candidates were Arthur Onslow and Ellis Crisp, a ‘fanatic’ industrialist. Even so strong an Anglican as John Bramston paid tribute to Crisp’s sense of justice; but it was clear that there would be ‘a mighty and very expensive struggle’, and he stood down in favour of George Evelyn, scion of a well-established county family and unexceptionable in respect of religion. On the other hand Onslow could only expect ‘great personal animosity’ from Sir Nicholas Stoughton, the leading patron of dissent in the county, who appeared at the hustings on the first day of the election at the head of a very numerous party.
My Lord Longford and Sir Adam Browne immediately rode up to him with full expectation of having his interest. ... ‘My lord’, says he, ‘it is true Mr Onslow has treated me extremely ill in detaining an estate which I think belongs to me; but I can safely trust him with the rest of my property, and look upon that, and my religion and liberty, as much more secure in his hands than yours.’
Evelyn’s brother, the diarist, estimated that the electors ‘ate and drank him out near £2,000 by a most abominable custom’. Longford spent little less, but was clearly defeated by over 150 votes. Though he complained that he had lost the election ‘by tricks and foul play, and not for want of interest’, he wrote to his patron Ormonde in July that he had no intention of standing again. Nevertheless the country party feared trickery on the part of the sheriff to defeat the sitting Members by calculated vagueness over the date of the next election. Accordingly on county court day
some lovers of their country ... willing to hazard the loss of a little time and some small expense rather than lose an opportunity of doing service, went to Guildford, where, notwithstanding the secret management of the affair, there was such an appearance of persons of good quality such as hath seldom or never been seen (the circumstances considered), to the number of about 1,000 men (to speak modestly), though some say many more.
‘No manner of opposition being made by any man’ in the crowded hall, the victorious candidates were treated to dinner by the freeholders, in striking contrast to the expense of the previous election. There was again no poll at the general election of 1681, but Onslow and Evelyn were presented with an address urging them to ‘continue vigorously to prosecute the horrid popish plotters and endeavour they may be brought to condign punishment, especially all sham plotters, which we esteem the worst of villains’. Among the many things the Members were asked to do were to press for the right of legal petitioning and to resist any form of money bill until these various demands were met. Onslow and Evelyn replied that they would be ‘faithful in the discharge of that great trust they had reposed in them’.2
Before the general election of 1685 Evelyn was earnestly urged by his brother
not to stand, finding the Court was unwilling he should, and that I had observed by the account we had weekly, what very mean and slight persons (some of them gentlemen’s servants, clerks, persons neither of reputation nor interest) were set up.
Evelyn, however, despite his disfavour at Court, was aware that ‘the country would choose him whether he would or no’, and he agreed to stand, but not actively to seek election. He wrote to his brother:
To show you how unwilling I am persuaded to stand again, I have not solicited one vote either for myself or friend, but leave the freeholders to their own choice the day of the election. There have been many of my neighbours and countrymen with me to desire I would serve them in the ensuing Parliament. I have desired their excuses but when I could not prevail with them to let me be at home and in quiet, I told them that if they did choose me and Mr Onslow, we would both serve them, so we are obliged to do once chosen.
The lord lieutenant, the Duke of Norfolk, nominated Browne as Tory candidate, though he was now ‘so deaf that he could not hear one word’, and his colleague was Sir Edward Evelyn, head of another branch of the family, ‘an honest gentleman’, according to the diarist, ‘and much in favour with his Majesty’. The Whig candidates were determined ‘to be at no charges. The freeholders must treat themselves, which they have in two former elections done, and are resolved not to put the gentleman they vote for to any expense, they having formerly paid so dear for it’. This time they feared the sheriff might hold a snap election on county court day without the usual adjournment to Guildford Down. They made sure that enough freeholders were present to demand a poll, but they were still ‘circumvented in their election ... by a trick of the sheriff’s’. The election was adjourned to the small village of Leatherhead, incapable of providing shelter and lodging for all the voters. ‘The afternoon being very tempestuous’, the Whigs, who exceeded the other party by many hundreds, as John Evelyn was assured, scattered, and in their absence the Tory candidates were declared elected. According to Onslow’s grandson, the Whig candidates gave up the poll ‘through the arbitrary and partial proceedings of the sheriff and the violence used towards them and their friends ... though the majority of the electors was visibly with them’.3
Arthur Onslow died in July 1688, but his son, nicknamed, ‘Stiff Dick’, was an even stronger Whig, and the King’s electoral agents reported in September that he and George Evelyn would oppose the sitting Members. ‘’Tis not determined who shall be set up, but under consideration.’ However there is no sign of opposition to the Whig candidates in 1689.4
Author: J. S. Crossette
- 1. HMC Laing, i. 310; HMC 14th Rep. IX, 482.
- 2. Jones, First Whigs, 43, 98; Devonshire mss I/C; Bramston Autobiog. (Cam. Soc. xxxii), 137; VCH Surr. ii. 367; HMC 14th Rep. IX, 484-5 Surr. Arch. Colls. xxvii. 10; Evelyn Diary, iv. 164-5, HMC Ormonde, n.s. iv. 317, 341; Dom. Intell. 29 Aug. 1679.
- 3. H. Evelyn Hist. Evelyn Fam. 49-51; Evelyn Diary, iv. 433-4; HMC 14th Rep. IX, 484.
- 4. Duckett, Penal Laws (1883), 248.