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 burgage holders

Number of Qualified Electors:

about 90 to 100

Number of voters:

91 in 1693, 1694 and 1698


30 Nov. 1693HON. FITTON GERARD vice Parker, deceased45
 John Weddall45
 Ambrose Pudsay1
  Election declared void, 2 Feb. 1694 
23 Feb. 1694HON. FITTON GERARD46
  Double return. GERARD declared elected, 17 Apr. 1694 
 Thomas Stringer32
 Ambrose Pudsay45
 Richard Shuttleworth10
 Edward Parker11
 Edward Harvey32
27 Dec. 1706DANIEL HARVEY 
 CHRISTOPHER PARKER vice Stringer, deceased 
  Double return. HARVEY declared elected, 22 Jan. 1707 
23 Apr. 1713THOMAS LISTER vice Parker, deceased 
5 Sept. 1713THOMAS LISTER80
 Edward Harvey302
  Stanley’s election declared void, 14 Apr. 1714 

Main Article

Situated in the remote Pendle valley, Clitheroe was, according to Browne Willis*, ‘an ancient town consisting of about 200 houses built of limestone and plastered over’. Anglican provision was particularly poor and, though Presbyterianism was weak in the area, Quakers and Catholics formed significant minorities, and the presence of these groups worried local Anglicans, particularly when they attempted to exercise electoral influence in the early 1690s. Clitheroe was essentially a small market village, and its economy was dependent upon agriculture and small-scale weaving. ‘The rudimentary . . . economic and social life of the place . . . was also reflected in the town’s primitive and embryonic local institutions.’ The borough was governed by a baronial charter and, despite an abortive attempt in 1684 to procure a charter of incorporation, in this period Clitheroe continued to be governed by an in-bailiff and out-bailiff, both elected annually, and an inquiry jury, consisting of burgage owners, known as burgesses, and burgage tenants, known as freemen. The inquiry jury sat annually, and burgesses and freemen found by the jury were entitled to vote in local and parliamentary elections, providing that the landlords of the latter group had not already exercised the vote attached to the burgage in question. The baronial nature of the borough constitution allowed the lord of the manor some electoral influence. The honour of Clitheroe, as the lordship was known, had been held by the crown and been the basis of the interest of the duchy of Lancaster at Clitheroe in the 16th and 17th centuries, but in 1662 it was granted to the 1st Duke of Albemarle (George Monck†). Following a short period when the interest of the lord of the manor was in abeyance, this interest was exercised by the 1st Duke of Montagu (Ralph Montagu†), who had married the widow of the 2nd Duke of Albemarle (Christopher Monck†) in 1692, until his death in 1709 when it reverted to Montagu’s widow. The lord of the manor did not, however, dominate the borough. The main interests were those of the families which had acquired extensive holdings of burgage properties in Clitheroe, the most prominent of these being the Listers of Westby and Arnoldsbigging, Yorkshire, who had owned land in the borough since the 14th century and whose seat was less than half a mile from Clitheroe, and that of the Parkers and Stringers, Sir Thomas Stringer† having acquired a number of burgages during the Restoration period. The by-elections of the early 1690s witnessed fierce contests as the lord lieutenant, Lord Brandon (Charles Gerard*), attempted to establish an interest in the borough. Brandon’s intervention prompted a strong reaction by local Anglicans, giving these elections a strong partisan flavour, but after Brandon’s withdrawal from the borough in 1695 Clitheroe elections appear to have been dominated by rivalries between the prominent local families, though by 1710 and 1713 partisan factors again began to play a more important role in the borough’s elections.3

The Convention Members Christopher Wilkinson and Anthony Parker both stood for the borough in 1690 but found themselves confronted by a veteran of county politics, the clerk of the peace Roger Kenyon, a man with extensive experience of Clitheroe elections in the Restoration period. Kenyon was assiduous in his campaigning, arguing in one letter that ‘when the pr[o]clam[ation] dissolves and calls another Parliament it be that the same persons are not desired again’. Despite being faced by the opposition of a number of Catholic burgage owners, who instructed their tenants to support the sitting Members, Kenyon was returned with Parker, Wilkinson having withdrawn before the poll.4

The following election was to be far more contentious. In 1689 Lord Brandon had attempted to gain a grant of the honour of Clitheroe, presumably as the basis for establishing an electoral interest in the borough, and was only halted in February 1690 by a petition from the dowager Duchess of Albemarle. This reverse did not end Brandon’s ambitions, and after Parker’s death on 3 Apr. 1693 Brandon moved quickly to establish an interest for his brother Fitton at the ensuing by-election. Gerard was confronted by concerted opposition from the newly elected recorder of the borough, John Weddall, nephew of Christopher Wilkinson. Parker’s death occurred shortly after the prorogation of Parliament and led to a lengthy campaign. The early stages of the contest found the 9th Earl of Derby putting to Kenyon the name of Sir William Williams, 1st Bt.*, as a potential candidate, a suggestion prompted by a promise Derby had made to Williams in return for legal work. Meanwhile the chancellor of the duchy, Lord Willoughby de Eresby (Robert Bertie*), attempted to revive the duchy interest and canvass support for Hon. Philip Bertie*. The latter candidacy was the more credible of the two, but neither found it possible to establish a substantial interest. The same must also be said of the attempt in November of the Duke of Montagu to revive the interest of the lord of the manor in favour of a John Allen, and the contest resolved itself into a straight contest between Gerard and Weddall. Brandon treated vigorously, going as far as to send a militia company to the borough in June ‘in compliment to the ale houses at Clitheroe’, and it was later alleged that the 1st Earl of Scarbrough canvassed the Marquess of Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) for Court support for Gerard by alleging that ‘Weddall and his party are Jacobites’. Gerard also gained the support of Parker’s widow, who appears to have been managing the burgages which had previously secured her husband’s election. Despite Brandon’s exertions, Weddall was determined to fight his corner, and the conflict led in October to a bitterly contested election for bailiffs. This election was crucial to the Gerard interest as the bailiffs were the borough’s returning officers and controlled the sittings of the inquiry jury, which determined who could vote in parliamentary elections. A Weddall supporter topped the poll, but the Gerard candidate, Roger Mainwaring, tied with Wilkinson for second place. Wilkinson was declared elected, was sworn, and dismissed the inquiry jury, thereby preventing the swearing of any new freemen. Mainwaring obtained a legal case to claim that he was the legally elected bailiff and a number of Gerard supporters obtained mandamuses to be sworn freemen and therefore to be allowed to vote. It was later alleged that on 4 Nov. Gerard’s supporters had formed a ‘great rabble’ to support Mainwaring’s claim to be bailiff, and that this gathering had only been dispersed by the arrival of a justice of the peace and a bailiff, both supporters of Weddall. The election saw further disturbances. When Mainwaring and his supporters found the door to the moot hall open on 25 Nov. they promptly entered the building and swore Mainwaring bailiff, and when the sheriff brought the precept for the election to the borough the same day he gave it to Mainwaring, so that five days later Mainwaring called the court of election and adjourned it to the street, while Weddall’s interest proceeded with the election in the more usual location of the moot hall. This led, inevitably, to a double return.5

On 15 Dec. 1693 two petitions were presented against Gerard: Weddall’s was supported by one from the ‘bailiffs and burgesses’ of Clitheroe. The two sides then began gathering information in preparation for the hearings. The case was heard in January 1694, with Gerard calling into question the legality of Weddall’s election as recorder, claiming that Mainwaring had in fact defeated Wilkinson by one vote in the bailiff election of October, claiming popular support for Mainwaring’s right to be bailiff, and complaining of the dismissal of the inquiry jury, which had prevented those of Gerard’s supporters entitled to be sworn freemen from claiming this right. In reply, Weddall contended that these apparent freemen had been created by illegal burgage splitting by the Gerard interest, and claimed that Mainwaring was not qualified to serve as bailiff as he had been a minor at the time of the election. Both sides questioned the legality of a number of their opponent’s voters, and the committee of elections decided in Gerard’s favour. The committee’s report came before the House on 2 Feb. and it appears, from the notes of Sir Joseph Williamson*, that on that occasion Members were less happy than the committee had been with the election of a minor as bailiff, so that the Commons declared the election void. After this decision the attempt of the Gerards to establish an interest at Clitheroe was portrayed by one of Weddall’s supporters as ‘a slavery that is begun upon us’, and the by-election of 1694 shows how important the election was both to the supporters and opponents of the Gerard interest. Conflict again took place over the election of a bailiff. Wilkinson had died on 13 Jan. 1694, and on 14 Feb. Gerard’s supporters broke into the town hall and swore Mainwaring bailiff. However, Weddall’s interest continued to deny the legality of Mainwaring’s election and on the 19th chose Ambrose Pudsay to replace Wilkinson, so that the two sides again had rival claimants for the post of out-bailiff. During February the candidate of Gerard’s opponents changed. Christopher Lister, described as a ‘firm Church of England man and one that hath a full purse [and] values not the expense of £2,000 or £3,000’, had begun treating in the borough by 5 Feb. with, according to a report of 1713, the support of Thomas Lister of Arnoldsbigging and Westby. By the 19th it had been agreed that he would stand in the place of Weddall, who was perhaps feeling the cost of the expensive and drawn out contest. Indeed, Weddall approached Carmarthen on 18 Feb. to support Lister’s candidacy. Several of Weddall’s supporters from outside Clitheroe were slow in shifting their support to Lister, including the Earl of Derby, but any disquiet at the switch soon disappeared and on 23 Feb. the rival out-bailiffs again held two elections, leading to another double return.6

On 10 Mar. Lister petitioned against Gerard’s return, and while some of Lister’s supporters were confident that Mainwaring’s minority when elected bailiff would fatally compromise Gerard’s election, others were wary that ‘all the powers above’ would be ‘entirely’ in Gerard’s interest when the case was heard. Rumours also circulated that ‘Mr Gerard would either carry the choice, or make void the charter of Clitheroe’. Despite such fears Lister’s supporters were conscientious in gathering information against Gerard’s election, and in March 1694 brought the questions of Mainwaring’s election and the disturbance at Clitheroe in November 1693 to the assizes. Ominously, their complaints were dismissed. When the committee of privileges and elections heard the case on 11 Apr. the two sides, as in the previous election, argued over the status of their opponents’ voters and the legality of the election of Mainwaring and, as in January, the committee decided that Gerard was duly elected by 119 votes to 52. The committee reported its findings to the Commons six days later, and on this occasion Gerard’s election was confirmed. Whether Gerard and Brandon had taken advantage of their ‘friends above’, as Lister’s supporters had alleged they would, is difficult to say, but the tellers for Gerard’s election were both Whigs, and the tellers against both Tories.7

Having gone to such lengths to secure Gerard’s election it is surprising that Brandon did not attempt to support a candidate in 1695, and the borough was left to be contested by the interests of the rival local families. Kenyon was an early casualty of this conflict. Although he had attempted to maintain his interest in the borough through the diligent despatch of papers and the votes to the borough, he had been unable to visit Clitheroe for some time and in September 1695 it was assumed by some in Lancashire that Kenyon’s interest would not be strong enough to secure his return. Kenyon’s close ally, the Earl of Derby, even went so far as to propose that Sir Godfrey Copley, 2nd Bt.*, stand in Kenyon’s place. Copley was related, through his mother, to Catholic burgage owners at Clitheroe, and Derby expected their tenants to support Copley’s candidacy. Although Copley’s candidacy was not taken any further, Derby decided to support that of Pudsay, who stood on a joint interest with Lister, and they were opposed by the Whig soldier Thomas Stringer, brother-in-law of the deceased Member Anthony Parker, who possessed a number of burgages in the borough. Although Stringer was serving in Ireland in the months before the election, his interest at Clitheroe was managed by his sister Catherine Parker, Anthony’s widow. Kenyon had mortgaged some of his estate to Parker and it appears that Kenyon was finding difficulty in paying the mortgage, which may explain his decision to withdraw before the poll. Montagu again made a forlorn attempt to re-establish the interest of the lord of the manor, this time in favour of Hon. Charles Montagu*, but the election resolved itself into a three-cornered fight between Lister, Pudsay and Stringer, with Lister and Pudsay emerging victorious at the poll. On 25 Nov. Stringer petitioned, claiming that a number of Pudsay’s voters were not duly qualified while some of his own supporters who had the right to vote had been rejected by the bailiffs, and the two sides began gathering information and preparing witnesses for the hearing of an election petition. Stringer’s supporters were convinced that he had ‘all the right in the world on his side’, but when the committee of elections heard the case on 3 Feb. Pudsay enjoyed the united support of a number of Lancashire’s Tory Members. The chairman of the committee, the Tory Hon. John Granville, was also reported to be ‘hearty for Mr Pudsay’ and, despite Stringer receiving vociferous support from the Whig William Norris, Pudsay’s return was endorsed nemine contradicente on 12 Feb. by the House.8

In the course of the 1695 Parliament Lister and Pudsay drifted away from their Tory roots and transferred their loyalties at Westminster to the Whigs, but the 1698 election appears to have witnessed a re-run of the 1695 contest. On this occasion Stringer defeated Pudsay to join Lister in the Commons. On 23 Dec. 1698 Pudsay petitioned against Stringer, claiming that the partiality of the bailiffs had denied him the votes of duly qualified electors, and suggesting that Stringer owed his return to manipulation of the corporate structure at Clitheroe, but the petition lapsed. The return of Stringer and Lister in January 1701 may suggest that by this time Stringer’s interest was being strengthened, perhaps by the purchase of further burgages, and following Lister’s death in November 1701 Stringer and Pudsay were returned unopposed in December. The 1702 election was more eventful, with Montagu’s cousin, Edward Harvey, challenging the sitting Members in an attempt to re-establish the interest of the lord of the manor. Though Harvey’s Toryism gives the contest the appearance of a party clash, it must be remembered that his patron Montagu was a committed Whig. Comprehensively defeated at the poll, Harvey petitioned on 24 Oct., renewing his petition at the start of the next session, and the committee of elections finally reported to the Commons on 21 Dec. 1703. Harvey had alleged ‘unlawful and corrupt practices’ on the part of Pudsay and Stringer, such as the offer of cash bribes to voters by Catherine Parker and Pudsay’s willingness to cancel debts of various voters to him, and claimed that a number of voters who had intended to support him were denied their right to vote, but the House agreed with the committee’s resolution that Pudsay and Stringer had been duly elected.

Harvey was not prepared to let the matter drop and diligently tended his interest at the borough, most notably with the steward of Clitheroe via the agency of James Grahme*, and gained the support of Thomas Lister of Arnoldsbigging. The consequence of Harvey’s electioneering was his unopposed return with Stringer in 1705. This did not signal an end to hostilities at Clitheroe, as by early 1706 Stringer had formed a joint interest with his Tory nephew Christopher Parker, with Parker making an interest for the election of bailiffs that year. These developments worried Harvey, who in early 1706 was convinced that the Parliament would be dissolved after its first session, and who later in the year was sure that once the Union had been effected an election would be called. Although neither event came to pass Harvey’s concern to preserve his interest proved to have been judicious when Stringer died in September. Parker applied for support at Clitheroe but was opposed by Harvey’s brother, the Whig major-general Daniel, with Harvey’s advocates claiming that he would ‘free the town from such arbitrary proceedings as have too much of late prevailed in it’. As in the by-elections of 1693 and 1694 the rival candidates secured the support of one bailiff each, and as in 1694 a double return was the result. Harvey petitioned on 13 Jan. 1707, followed by Parker the next day. On 23 Jan. the Commons agreed with the resolution of the committee of elections that Harvey was elected. Edward Harvey, having been seated upon the Whig interest of Montagu, had supported the candidacy of his Whig brother in opposition to the Tory Christopher Parker, Parker having established his interest in the borough with the assistance of his Whig uncle. This slightly incongruous partisan line-up continued at the 1708 election, when the Whig 10th Earl of Derby (Hon. James Stanley*) supported the return of Edward Harvey, but Parker, who had probably increased his interest at Clitheroe by taking advantage of the provision in his uncle’s will giving him first refusal of all Stringer’s Clitheroe burgages, was able to secure the second seat with no evidence of a contest.9

The death of Montagu in 1709 appeared to create an opportunity for the interest of the lord of the manor to be used in a more partisan manner. Before his death the Duke had proposed Pudsay’s son for the post of steward of the borough courts, as a precursor to an attempt to replace the Tory Parker with the Whig Pudsay. Montagu’s death in 1709 prevented him carrying out this plan. The honour of Clitheroe reverted to his widow, a sister of the Duke of Newcastle (John Holles†), and this appears to have induced the Junto to believe that they could apply pressure for the election of a Whig MP on the interest of the lord of the manor. In June 1709 Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) proposed reviving Montagu’s scheme to strengthen Pudsay’s interest to Newcastle, and though Pudsay was unwilling to stand against Harvey and Parker the Junto were loath to let the matter drop. In August 1710 Lord Halifax (Charles Montagu*) wrote to Derby ‘for his advice and assistance in setting up somebody at Clitheroe to oppose Ned Harvey’, and the following month Sunderland wrote again to Newcastle to urge Pudsay’s candidacy on the Montagu interest, informing Newcastle that ‘everybody that wishes well to England ought to exert themselves at this time for upon the next elections depends the Revolution and the Protestant succession’. Newcastle considered supporting Pudsay but, whether because of Pudsay’s unwillingness to stand or the recognition that the interest of the lord of the manor was not strong enough to return both Harvey and Pudsay, Parker and Harvey were returned without a poll.10

In 1712 it was forecast that there would be ‘hotter disputes’ at the forthcoming Clitheroe election, and in January 1713 Thomas Lister II, son of Thomas of Westby, was making an interest for the next Clitheroe election. When Parker died in April 1713 Lister was returned unopposed at the resultant by-election. The general election five months later was, however, far more controversial. Hon. Charles Stanley, Derby’s brother and a committed Whig, stood in opposition to Harvey, and the initial confidence that the Tories Harvey and Lister would be successful proved to be ill-founded, with Stanley comfortably defeating Harvey for the second seat. On 3 Mar. Harvey petitioned against Stanley’s return, alleging ‘bribery . . . and other undue practices’, but when the petition was heard by the House on 14 Apr, motions that Stanley and Harvey were duly elected were both defeated and seven days later a motion that a writ for a new election be issued was also lost. A newsletter attributed this to the ‘manifest corruption’ that the House had discovered at the general election, so that for the remainder of the Parliament Clitheroe was left with one Member, the representative of the most effective and enduring electoral interest in the borough, though also the most shadowy, that of the Listers of Arnoldsbigging and Westby .11

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Richard Harrison


  • 1. Lancs. RO, Clitheroe bor. recs. MBC 162, pollbk.
  • 2. Post Boy, 24–27 Oct. 1713.
  • 3. Bodl. Willis 48, f. 360; 51, ff. 72–73; Northern Hist. xxi. 108–36; Notitia Cestriensis ed. Raines (Chetham Soc. ser. 1, xxi), 297–346; H. L. Lyster-Denny, Memorials of an Ancient House, 3–4, 124, 134; Lancs. RO, Brownlow mss DDFr 7/14, case of John Weddall, c.1694; Lancs. RO, Kenyon mss DDKe 9/66/11, Kenyon to [Guicciardini Wentworth], 18 July 1693.
  • 4. Kenyon mss DDKe/HMC/722, copy letters of Kenyon to Clitheroe voters, Feb. 1690; DDKe 9/63/6, M. Hammond to Kenyon, 15 Feb. 1689[–90].
  • 5. Kenyon mss DDKe/HMC/808, [Derby] to Kenyon, 13 May 1693; 810, Wentworth to same, 6 June 1693; 813, Kenyon to Wentworth, 22 July 1693; DDKe 9/66/11, same to [same], 18 July 1693; DDKe 9/66/17, Weddall to Kenyon, 18 Sept. 1693; DDKe/27 notes about Clitheroe election, c.1693, Kenyon to [?], 19 Feb. 1693–4, information of Michael Clerke, c.1693; HMC Kenyon, 236–7, 278; CSP Dom. 1689–90, p. 472; BL, Verney mss mic. 636/47, John Verney* [Ld. Fermanagh] to Sir Ralph Verney, 1st Bt.†, 11 Nov. 1693; Brownlow mss DDFr 7/21, poll bk. for bailiff election.
  • 6. Kenyon mss DDKe/HMC/826, Richard Richmond to Kenyon, 29 Dec. 1693; 846, William Oddy to same, 5 Feb. 1693[–4]; 852, Thomas Marsden to same, 11 Feb. 1693[–4]; DDKe 9/67/12, same to same, 6 Feb. 1693–4; DDKe/27, Pudsay and Thomas Lister to same, 14 Feb. 1693[–4], Kenyon to [?], 19 Feb. 1693–4; L. Inn Lib. MP100/158, Case of the Hon. Fitton Gerard; Chetham’s Lib. Manchester, broadside coll. IV/2064/584–5, Answer of John Weddall; Brownlow mss DDFr 7/10, objections against voters, c.1694; SP 9/18, f. 48; HMC Kenyon, 287–8.
  • 7. Kenyon mss DDKe 9/56/18, George* to Roger Kenyon, 1 Mar. 1693–4; DDKe 9/67/37, Thomas Marsden to same, 27 Mar. 1694; DDKe/HMC/865, case of Christopher Lister, c.11 Apr. 1694; HMC Kenyon, 291.
  • 8. Kenyon mss DDKe/HMC/969, Thomas Wilson to Kenyon, 24 Sept. 1695; 973, Peter Legh† to same, 20 Oct. 1695; 991A, Richard Edge to same, 23 Jan. 1695[–6]; DDKe 9/68/78, R. Bretland to same, 17 Oct. 1695; John Rylands Univ. Lib. Manchester, Legh of Lyme mss corresp. Kenyon to Legh, 19 Oct. 1695; PCC 36 Coker; HMC Kenyon, 386, 399–400, 402.
  • 9. Bagot mss at Levens Hall, Edward Harvey to Grahme, 9 May 1704, 28 Apr. 1705, 6, 23 Apr., 6 May, 3 June, 11, 20 Sept. 1706, 16 Apr., 18 June 1708; HMC Kenyon, 438, 439; Kenyon mss DDKe 9/101/66, Charles Stanley to George Kenyon, 27 Nov. 1706; DDKe 9/101/91, Edward Harvey to same, 13 Mar. 1706–7; Cheshire RO, Shakerley mss DSS, Kenyon to Peter Shakerley*, 24 Jan 1712–13; PCC 201 Eedes.
  • 10. Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland (Holles) mss Pw2 134, W[illiam] Jessop* to [Newcastle], 23 June 1709; Pw2 2/5, Sunderland to same, 1 Sept. 1710 Portland (Harley) mss Pw2 Hy 1028, [?] to [?], 22 Aug 1710; Huntington Lib. Montagu mss MO 1648, Halifax to [Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†)], 26 Aug. 1710; Lancs. RO, Parker mss DDB 85/19/43, Thomas Dunmer to [Edward Parker], 19 Sept. 1710.
  • 11. Hamilton mss at Lennoxlove bdle. 4205, James Dunlop to Hamilton, 7 July 1712; Shakerley mss, George Kenyon to Shakerley, 24 Jan. 1712–13; Norf. RO, Harbord mss (unsorted coll.), Derby to Sir Ralph Assheton, 2nd Bt.*, 18 May 1713; Kenyon mss DDKe/HMC/1152, John Walmesley to Kenyon, 23 June 1713; DDKe/27, call bk., 5 Sept. 1713; HMC Portland, v. 421–2, 427–8.