Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the corporation

Number of Qualified Electors:


Number of voters:



3 Mar. 1690Francis Powlett
 John Pollen
30 Oct. 1695John Smith
 Sir Robert Smyth, Bt.
21 July 1698John Smith
 Anthony Henley
14 Jan. 1701John Smith
 Francis Shepheard
 Sir John Cope
25 Nov. 1701John Smith
 Francis Shepheard
 Sir John Cope
16 July 1702John Smith
 Francis Shepheard
 Sir John Cope
 Francis Seymour Conway
11 May 1705John Smith
 Francis Shepheard
6 May 1708John Smith
 William Guidott
5 Oct. 1710John Smith
 William Guidott
12 Dec. 1710Smith re-elected after appointment to office
25 Aug. 1713William Guidott
 Sir Ambrose Crowley
 Thomas Pitt
30 Mar. 1714Gilbert Searle vice Crowley, deceased

Main Article

Andover’s charter of 1599 specified that the corporation would include a bailiff, a steward, ten aldermen or approved men and 12 common councilmen or freemen. By a decision of the House in 1689 the right of election was confined to these 24 members of the corporation rather than the freemen in general. The bailiff acted as returning officer and considerable influence for one seat could be exercised by the steward, who was elected by the corporation. At the beginning of this period the steward was William Guidott, a lawyer and neighbouring landowner, who had no political ambitions himself, although his son William subsequently represented the borough. There was also a high steward, who was not a member of the corporation and was usually a man of standing. In 1690 the office was held by the 1st Duke of Beaufort (Henry Somerset†), although he had not taken the oath of allegiance to William III.1

In the 1690 election two local men were returned without a contest, John Pollen of Andover, a Tory, who had represented the borough in 1689, and Francis Powlett of Amport. Powlett represented a junior branch of one of the most powerful families in the county, and his kinsman, the 1st Duke of Bolton (Charles Powlett†), was lord lieutenant of Hampshire and leader of the county Whigs. Neither Member was in good health and Powlett died, probably in July 1695, well before the election in October. Pollen did not stand either and this left the field clear for John Smith I of South Tidworth, near Andover, a prominent Whig whose candidacy was supported by Bolton. No doubt the financial transactions in which Smith had been concerned for the corporation before the election also helped to secure his election. The second seat was taken by Sir Robert Smyth, 3rd Bt., of West Ham in Essex, another Whig and a Bolton nominee. In March 1697 William Guidott snr. was dismissed as steward for neglecting the service of the corporation and Roger Mompesson*, a London lawyer, was appointed in his stead, although he appears to have played little part in electoral affairs in Andover, being chosen recorder of Southampton in the following year and representing that borough from 1699 to 1701. Meanwhile Smith had been consolidating his interest. Just before the 1698 election he advanced the corporation, at that time deeply in debt, a loan of £1,200 and he retained his seat without a contest. Smyth on the other hand was replaced by Anthony Henley of The Grange, Hampshire, another Whig. The connexions of the Marquess of Winchester (Charles Powlett I*), who had been defeated in the county elections, considered petitioning against the Andover election on the grounds that the requisite four days’ notice of election had not been given, and Winchester was advised in November that ‘the ministry do all pretend to be your friends . . . especially Mr Smith . . . and if he be capable of a good natured act, he owes it to your lordship’. Winchester’s friends evidently believed they could persuade Smith not to oppose a petition and allow the election to be declared void, whereupon Smith would be easily re-elected and they would all vote for Winchester against Henley. The plan was dropped, however, as Smith would not cooperate, although George Rodney Brydges* attempted to reassure Winchester that

there is no comparison between Mr Smith’s friendship to you and Mr Henley, only in this business I believe he is engaged to him out of some consideration to himself, for if that election were made void or any encouragement made towards it he must be out of the House till a new one was made, besides the natural aversion every honest man has to a trick.

In February 1700 Henley presented the corporation with £200 to help pay off Smith’s loan and the same day Smith himself was elected high steward in the place of the recently deceased Beaufort. Shortly afterwards the corporation sent a letter to Smith and Henley to explain a recent purge of five of their members:

we thought fit to acquaint you that Mr Bailiff and the majority of our approved men have removed five of the burgesses . . . and design in some short time to put in more substantial . . . men in their room, thereby to make our corporation more reputable. Perhaps some may endeavour, therefore, to represent this act unto you as done to lessen your interest and, therefore, we write that your manifold kindnesses and favours to our corporation have laid such obligation on us that we shall always show our gratitude to you and shall make such return as lies in [our] . . . power.2

In the election of January 1701 the directors of the New East India Company, headed by Samuel Shepheard I*, made a determined effort to obtain the return of as many of their supporters as possible. Andover was one of the boroughs selected by Shepheard as part of this plan, probably because of its small, easily corruptible electorate. Also, he could rely on the support of the lord lieutenant, the 2nd Duke of Bolton (Charles Powlett I), who had succeeded his father in 1699 and was a close ally of the Junto. Shepheard may have persuaded Henley to stand down, using the influence of Henley’s brother-in-law, Sir Theodore Janssen, 1st Bt.†, another director of the New Company, and in his place Shepheard put up his son Francis, who was opposed by Sir John Cope*, a Whig, of Bramshill, Hampshire. By the use of bribery and the extension of an interest-free loan to the corporation, Francis Shepheard’s return was secured, while Smith was also returned as usual. On 13 Feb. 1701 Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt.*, accused Samuel Shepheard I in the House of corruption in connexion with five boroughs, including Andover. The case was heard on 17 Mar. when the Commons resolved first ‘that the electors of the borough of Andover . . . have endeavoured corruptly to set to sale the election of a burgess to serve in this present Parliament for the said borough’, and second ‘that the lending of money, upon any security, to a corporation which sends Members to Parliament and remitting the interest of the same, with intent to influence the election of such corporation is an unlawful and dangerous practice’. It was later reported that this latter resolution was in fact aimed at Smith. On 18 Mar. the bailiff and two others were ordered into the custody of the serjeant for their part in the election, and the following day Francis Shepheard was discharged from being a Member. No new writ was issued before the end of the Parliament.3

The same trio contested the second 1701 election. Cope stood on the interest of the inhabitants at large and in his petition, presented to the House on 3 Jan. 1702, claimed that he and Smith

had the majority of the burgesses, freeholders and other inhabitants of the said borough, who have an undoubted right to vote, and ought to have been returned, but . . . the bailiff perceiving the petitioner had a majority from Mr Shepheard of the freeholders and inhabitants declared the right of election was in the bailiff and burgesses only; and that Mr Shepheard had the majority of such.

The petition was referred, but no action was taken on it.

In March 1702 Smith and Francis Shepheard presented an address of condolence on the death of William and congratulation on the accession of Anne from the bailiff, steward and corporation of Andover. A few weeks later, with Seymour introducing him to the Queen, Cope presented a similar address from the freeholders and inhabitants. In the 1702 election Cope again opposed Smith and Shepheard, but this time he was joined by a Tory, Francis Seymour Conway*, a younger son of the Shepheards’ old enemy, Sir Edward Seymour. Smith and Shepheard were returned by the corporation but ‘the mob or populace then made a stir and great noise in the street headed by some Quakers and factious persons and chose (which their hands and seals fixed to an indenture), Sir John Cope and Francis Conway’. Cope and Conway presented a petition against the election of Smith and Shepheard which prompted the corporation, anxious to defend their privilege against this attempt ‘to stir up the right of election . . . in the populace and not in the select number only’, to send up a lawyer at their own expense to put their case. When the petition was reported on 28 Jan. 1703 the elections committee declared that, as the petitioners’ counsel had been unable to offer any evidence in support of their allegations of ‘indirect and illegal practices’ against the sitting Members, the petition should be withdrawn. The 1689 resolution on the franchise was then read and the committee resolved that the right of election lay in the corporation only and declared Smith and Shepheard duly elected, with which the House agreed. Earlier, in January 1703, Mompesson had been replaced as steward by William Guidott, son of the former steward, who held the office for the remainder of the period. A lawyer and a Whig, Guidott was agent to the Duke (John Churchill†) and Duchess of Marlborough. Guidott did not stand in 1705, when Smith and Shepheard retained the seats, but on Shepheard’s retirement in 1708, Guidott took his place and held the seat, with only one break, until 1741. Smith was also returned in 1708 and again in 1710 without a contest. In August 1712 Guidott alone presented to the Queen an address of thanks from the corporation for the peace terms laid before Parliament and a further address of thanks for the peace itself in May 1713. Smith may have dissociated himself for political reasons, although the latter address managed to display a pro-Hanoverian sentiment, declaring:

We likewise return our most dutiful thanks for your royal assurance of having provided for the security of the Protestant succession as now established by the Act of Settlement and of the perfect friendship that is between your Majesty and the illustrious House of Hanover. We shall always pray that all attempts that have or shall be made to divide your Majesty and that House (whose interests are inseparable) will prove vain and ineffectual.4

At the 1713 election Smith’s unexpected withdrawal caused consternation among the Whigs. On 20 Aug. the Duke of Bolton wrote to James Stanhope*, who was considering standing for Andover:

I had a letter from my Lord Galway and he acquainted me with your thoughts as to Andover. I was engaged to a particular friend, but I told my lord if you was in danger at Cockermouth, I would do anything for you in particular, and likewise that the public might not want so good and so useful a man at this critical time. Mr Smith quitting so, without letting any of his friends know it, has put us to almost insuperable difficulties, and I had but an indifferent account from my friends to-night that they wanted two votes. One [elector] I can send them word I am sure on for one vote, for he is engaged to them [the Tories] but for one vote, and Mr Guidott will excuse him for voting for him, they being all for him. You may be sure that your name shan’t be used without we are sure of carrying it for you, which I own I don’t think very likely.

It was probably in relation to this election that Robert Walpole II* was informed, ‘Mr Smith has determined not to stand at next elections, I conclude he cannot be brought in for Andover since he has given up his interest there by a letter to the town so if he cannot be prevailed with to come in for some other place, he will not be in Parliament’. As one of Smith’s friends, Walpole was to ‘convince him how unseasonable it will be for him to be out now’. The signs were obviously too discouraging and in the event neither Smith nor Stanhope stood. The three candidates were Guidott, Thomas Pitt I* and Sir Ambrose Crowley, a wealthy London merchant, who undoubtedly stood with the support of the lord lieutenant of Hampshire, now the Tory 2nd Duke of Beaufort. Guidott and Crowley were returned. The latter was the first Tory to win an election in the borough since Pollen in 1690 but he died on 7 Oct., before the beginning of the session. Pitt presented a petition against Crowley’s return, alleging bribery, but withdrew it on deciding to sit for another borough. Another Tory, Gilbert Searle, who owned property near Andover, was returned at the by-election and he and Guidott represented the borough for the rest of the reign.5

Authors: Paula Watson / Sonya Wynne


  • 1. Corp. of Andover ed. Darrah and Spaul, 3–4; CJ, x. 70–71; Andover Pub. Lib. Andover corp. recs. 4/M1/3, 9 May 1679.
  • 2. Andover corp. recs. 4/M1/5, pp. 13, 32, 34, 45, 50, 61, 67, 70; 4/EL/3; PCC 217 Browning; Bolton mss at Bolton Hall, D/20, Ld. William Powlett* to Winchester, recd. 21 Nov. 1698; D/26, Benjamin Overton* to same, 7 Nov. 1698; D/27, Bridges to same, 8 Nov. 1698.
  • 3. EHR, lxxi. 225–39; Cumbria RO (Carlisle), Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/2/4, James* to Sir John Lowther, 2nd Bt. I*, 15 July 1701.
  • 4. London Gazette, 26–30 Mar., 23–27 Apr. 1702, 2–5 Aug. 1712, 23–26 May 1713; Andover corp. recs. 11/PE/31, 32, 33; 4/M1/5, pp. 92–93, 101; 4/M1/6, 30 Aug. 1745; Corp. of Andover, 10–11.
  • 5. Centre Kentish Stud. Stanhope mss U1590/C9/28, Bolton to Stanhope, 20 Aug. 1713; Camb. Univ. Lib. Cholmondeley (Houghton) mss 681, [–] to Walpole, [1713].