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 mayor, capital burgesses and freemen’1

Number of Qualified Electors:


Number of voters:

33 in 1711


11 Mar. 1690Ambrose Manaton 
 Henry Manaton 
11 Nov. 1695Robert Molesworth 
 Ambrose Manaton 
1 Apr. 1696Hon. Sidney Wortley Montagu vice Manaton, chose to sit  for Tavistock 
3 Aug. 1698Henry Manaton 
 Dennys Glynn 
 Robert Molesworth 
13 Jan. 1701Henry Manaton 
 Dennys Glynn 
1 Dec. 1701Henry Manaton 
 Dennys Glynn 
27 July 1702Dennys Glynn 
 Henry Manaton 
17 Jan. 1704William Pole vice Manaton, chose to sit for Tavistock 
21 May 1705William Pole 
 Henry Pinnell 
17 May 1708Richard Munden 
 John Manley16
 Henry Manaton9
19 Oct. 1710Bernard Granville 
 Jasper Radcliffe 
26 Mar. 1711Henry Manaton vice Radcliffe, deceased12
 Paul Orchard21
  Orchard seated on petition, 8 May 1711 
20 Feb. 1712Sir Bourchier Wrey, Bt. vice Granville, appointed to office 
7 Sept. 1713Sir Bourchier Wrey, Bt. 
 James Nicholls 

Main Article

The franchise at Camelford was in the mayor, who acted as returning officer, eight aldermen or capital burgesses, a recorder, and an indeterminate number of freemen. In 1690 the Manatons, two Tories whose family reputedly owned two-thirds to three-quarters of the borough, retained both seats. At the next general election, Robert Molesworth, a Country Whig, was able to use his cousin, Sir John Molesworth, 2nd Bt.*, who had an estate at Pencarrow, to secure his return with Ambrose Manaton. As he reported on the day before the election, the lord of the manor, the mayor and the sheriff were all opposed to him and the sheriff had been delaying the election in the hope of winning over some of Moleworth’s voters. Molesworth had to borrow £100 to maintain his challenge, but was rewarded for his efforts when his opponents compromised and did not force a poll. Manaton chose to sit for Tavistock once he had been seated on petition for that borough, and was replaced in April 1696 by Hon. Sidney Wortley Montagu, a Court Whig.2

In 1698 Dennys Glynn, a Tory from a prominent gentry family, ‘though upon an interest quite opposite to Manaton’s had all the town for him, having drunk for it this twelve-month past’. This left the other seat to be contested by Molesworth and Henry Manaton, who had succeeded to his brother’s interest. According to James Vernon I*, Manaton had a ‘visible majority’, and Molesworth confirmed this with only two votes. His late appearance at the election was deemed to be the reason for his defeat, although Molesworth blamed his ‘kinsman’, Sir John, for neglecting the borough in his absence. Manaton and Glynn were returned at the next three general elections without a contest, although in 1704 Manaton chose to serve for Tavistock and was replaced by William Pole, a Tory from a prominent Cornish family. With Manaton ensconced at Tavistock, Pole was returned in 1705 with Henry Pinnell, a Tacker nominated by Lord Granville (Hon. John*).3

A few days before the poll in 1708, Richard Munden, a Whig army officer and a protégé of the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†), had considered his election at Camelford safe, a confidence which proved to be justified as his return was not contested. George Granville*, having become the effective head of the Granville interest, recommended to the town John Manley, an active Tory politician and a Cornishman. With Manley’s defeat of Manaton, Granville spoke of having ‘recovered’ the borough. Manaton petitioned on 26 Nov. 1708 on the grounds of illegal practices by Manley and his agents, renewing his petition on 16 Nov. 1709. When it was reported on 24 Jan. 1710, Manaton’s counsel alleged bribery on the part of Manley’s agents Jackson and Bond, both of whom had previously been mayor of Camelford. One of the aldermen testified that when it was proposed to choose Manaton with Hugh Boscawen II*, Jackson declared ‘that the town would be ruined, for they would spend nothing, and none of the country gentlemen would come to town, but if he and they would vote for Mr Manley, he had £300 to dispose of, and they would have equal shares’. It was also alleged that Manley had undertaken to pay off the debts incurred at Pinnell’s election in 1705. Manley’s counsel urged that Manaton’s witnesses ‘were not to be credited, being poor and of bad character’, arguing that Manley had been chosen on the recommendation of the family of Granville, who ‘have had the prevailing interest in Camelford for many years’. Manley retained the seat. The reference to Boscawen was probably indicative of Manaton’s need for a partner in borough politics owing to his increasingly precarious financial position.4

At the general election of 1710, Bernard Granville II, nephew of George Granville, was returned with Jasper Radcliffe, a Tory kinsman of Henry Manaton, with Boscawen bemoaning the perfidiousness of the Tories in calling the election on the same day as that for Grampound. On Radcliffe’s death, Manaton, who was then sitting for Tavistock and was recorder of Camelford, defeated Paul Orchard, a friend of Granville. Orchard’s petition, presented on 11 Apr. 1711 stated that he had obtained 21 votes against Manaton’s 12. He was supported by a petition (eventually withdrawn on 1 May 1711) from the ‘mayor, burgesses, town clerk and freemen’. The report of the elections committee on 8 May said that ‘the right of election was agreed to be in the mayor, chief burgesses, and freemen of the borough’, accepted the poll of the legal mayor giving Orchard a majority, and declared him duly elected. At a by-election in February 1712, following Granville’s acceptance of office, Sir Bourchier Wrey, 5th Bt., a west-country landowner, was returned unopposed. Although later in 1712 John Trevanion* thought that the Granville family often controlled one seat and Manaton the other, the latter’s interest appears to have become quiescent. In July 1713 George Granville, now Lord Lansdown, wrote to Lord Oxford (Robert Harley*) to remove James Prideaux (who had been Manaton’s agent) as postmaster for Camelford and replace him with a Granville supporter (and a member of the corporation) ‘Mr William Carew . . . a gentleman of good family, nearly related to Sir William Carew, 5th Bt.*, and a man of good principle’. In September, Wrey and James Nicholls, two nominees of Lansdown, were returned.5

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley


  • 1. CJ, xvi. 274, 643.
  • 2. Polsue, Complete Paroch. Hist. Cornw. i. 192; Courtney, Parl. Hist. Cornw. 347; HMC Var. viii. 217–18.
  • 3. Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 147; York Arch. Soc. Copley mss DD38, box B-C, Molesworth to Sir Godfrey Copley, 2nd Bt.*, 25 Aug. 1698; CJ, 274–5.
  • 4. CJ, 274–5; BL, Evelyn mss, Mrs Boscawen to John Evelyn II*, 11 May 1708; HMC Portland, iv. 489.
  • 5. Evelyn mss, Anne to John Evelyn, 28 Oct. 1710; CJ, 643–4; Add. 70314–15, Trevanion’s list 1712; HMC Portland, v. 306–7.