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 freemen

Number of Qualified Electors:

about 250 in 1694; 800 in 17221

Number of voters:

about 462 in 1701


 William Gee 
26 Nov. 1701WILLIAM GEE276
 Sir Charles Hotham, Bt.186
 Ralph Warton1592
23 July 1702SIR CHARLES HOTHAM,  Bt. 
16 May 1705SIR CHARLES HOTHAM,  Bt. 
2 Sept. 1713SIR CHARLES HOTHAM, Bt. 

Main Article

Beverley, a ‘large market town’, was an attractive place of residence for the East Riding gentry, many of whom kept a town house there, ‘upon account of its pleasant situation for game, nearness to York, and goodness of the town’. However, the local cloth-making industry was in decline, and the corporation, consisting of a mayor, recorder, 12 aldermen or ‘governors’, and 13 capital burgesses, relied on the generosity of its Members of Parliament to provide for their needs. The chief interests were traditionally those of the Wartons of Beverley and the Hothams of Scorborough. The Hotham influence was lessened by the death in 1689 of Sir John Hotham, 2nd Bt.†, leaving an unstable elder son, who managed to squander much of the family fortune. Sir Michael Warton of Beverley, who was reputed to be the richest commoner in England, was the chief creditor and benefactor to the corporation, contributing £6,000 in charities besides other gifts, as well as regular treats for its officers. Elections during this period were also affected by the ‘manufacture’ of a significant number of new burgesses for political purposes, which accounted for the rapid rise from 1694 onwards in the number of qualified voters in the borough.3

In 1690, Warton and William Gee, who was doubly allied to the Hothams by marriage, were unopposed. They rewarded the corporation the following month by paying for a new carpet and cushions for the town chamber. At the next election Sir Charles Hotham, 4th Bt. (cousin and heir to Sir John Hotham, 3rd Bt., the spendthrift baronet who had died in 1691), began to make an interest, spending large sums of money. He was also one of an ‘unusually large’ number of new burgesses sworn in the autumn of that year. Despite these preparations, Hotham desisted before a poll, so that Warton and his brother Ralph were elected unopposed. In 1698 Gee stood on Hotham’s interest, only to be defeated by the two Wartons. Prior to the election Hotham had come to an agreement with Sir Michael Warton to bring in Gee on both their interests, though at the election the interference of Sir Michael’s uncle, Sir Ralph Warton†, on behalf of Ralph Warton, ensured Gee’s defeat.4

The creation of new burgesses prior to elections continued apace, and in December 1700 Sir Michael’s nephew, Charles Pelham†, became the 143rd burgess to be sworn since 1694. At the same time, although the Wartons were returned unopposed at the first election of 1701, certain events ensured that the autumn election would be a very different affair. In October a dispute arose between the corporation and Ralph Warton, because the latter had withheld £200 left by his uncle, Sir Ralph, for the setting up of a woollen manufacture for knitting stockings, on the grounds that the corporation intended to use the money for other purposes. In the same month the corporation also expressed its dissatisfaction with the activities within the town of Sir Michael’s servants. These conflicts seem to have ensured that by the time of the November election Hotham, who had been steadily paying off family debts and restoring his estates, was in a strong position, as was his fellow candidate and relation, Gee. Although Hotham was defeated, it was a very close poll. The Duke of Newcastle (John Holles†) reported in December that Sir Michael had been ‘within four of losing it at Beverley, and his brother lost it to Mr Gee’. Giving the result of the poll, Sir William St. Quintin, 3rd Bt.*, commented that ‘the election at Scarborough was the same day [which] was the reason Sir Charles could not be at Beverley, or else Sir Michael had had his brother’s fate’.5

Prior to the 1702 election another 25 burgesses were created, bringing the total of new burgesses sworn since 1694 to 195. At the election Sir Michael Warton chose not to stand, which enabled Hotham to carry both seats without any opposition. Before the 1705 election 16 new freemen were created, including John Moyser, a local man who presented the corporation with a new gilt mace, and who stood for election that year on the recommendation of Warton. It would seem that Hotham and Warton had reached an agreement to share the representation, for in a letter to the mayor Warton asked the town to choose Hotham and Moyser. They were returned unopposed. Moyser, a skilled amateur architect, organized subscriptions for restoring Beverley Minster, under the aegis of Hotham and Warton, who both contributed money, while Warton also left £4,000 in his will for the perpetual repair of the Minster. Hotham and Warton were unopposed at the next four elections, endearing themselves to the corporation by paying for the erection of a handsome cross in the market place, subscribing generously to the foundation of a charity school, to which past MPs also contributed, and arranging for repeated treats for the corporation. Although the Hotham interest fell into abeyance in later years, the Warton interest remained strong, with Sir Michael’s two nephews and coheirs, Charles Pelham and Michael Newton, sitting at different times for the borough.6

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Ivar McGrath


  • 1. G. Holmes, Pol. Relig. and Soc. 17.
  • 2. Add. 70501, f. 43.
  • 3. Add. 47057, ff. 27–28; Bodl. Willis 15, ff. 118–19; Holmes, 17; Quinn thesis, 72, 75; Bean, Six N. Counties, 768; Beverley Bor. Recs. (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. lxxxiv), 177–8, 180–4, 190.
  • 4. Beverley Bor. Recs. 180, 184; Add. 70018, ff. 94–95; Hull Univ. Lib. Hotham mss DD HO/13/4, Hotham to [Sir Michael Warton], 30 Aug. 1698.
  • 5. Beverley Bor. Recs. 188, 189; Add. 21553, f. 56; 70501, f. 43; HMC Portland, ii. 182.
  • 6. Beverley Bor. Recs. 190, 193; G. Oliver, Hist. Beverley, 239–40; Beverley Corp. Min. Bks. (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. cxxii), 1–3, 5; Acct. of Charity Schools in GB and Ire. (1710), 15–16.