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 burgage holders and corporation

Number of Qualified Electors:


Number of voters:

27 in 1713


12 Mar. 1690Sir John Carew, Bt. 
 Richard Carew 
30 Oct. 1691Narcissus Luttrell vice Richard Carew, deceased 
11 Nov. 1692Michael Hill vice Sir John Carew, Bt., deceased 
29 Oct. 1695Francis Buller 
 Walter Moyle 
16 Mar. 1698Francis Pengelly vice Buller, deceased 
2 Aug. 1698John Speccot 
 John Morice 
 Henry Priestman 
 Walter Moyle 
25 Jan. 1699James Buller vice Speccot, chose to sit for Cornwall 
14 Jan. 1701James Buller 
 Alexander Pendarves 
22 Mar. 1701Thomas Carew vice Pendarves, chose to sit for Penryn 
5 Dec. 1701James Buller 
 Thomas Carew 
5 Feb. 1702Benjamin Buller vice Buller, chose to sit for Cornwall 
28 July 1702Thomas Carew 
 Benjamin Buller 
25 Jan. 1703John Rolle vice Buller, deceased 
21 May 1705James Buller 
 Joseph Moyle 
14 May 1708James Buller 
 Alexander Pendarves 
 Joseph Moyle 
7 Dec. 1708Sir Cholmley Dering, Bt.,  vice Buller, chose to sit for Cornwall 
20 Oct. 1710Sir Cholmley Dering, Bt. 
 Alexander Pendarves 
19 Dec. 1710Jonathan Elford vice Dering, chose to sit for Kent 
17 Jan. 1711Sir William Carew, Bt. vice Pendarves, chose to sit for Penryn 
7 Sept. 1713William Shippen27
 Jonathan Elford15
 Martin Bladen121

Main Article

The right of election at Saltash was in the holders of the local burgages and in the corporation, whose members had to be burgage holders in the borough. The chief interests were those of two neighbouring landowners: the Bullers, tenants in chief under the duchy of Cornwall, and the Carews of Antony, who together owned most of the burgages. Both families suffered minorities during this period, making it difficult to determine which person exercised the predominant interest. Further, the Admiralty was beginning to exert an interest, based on the proximity of Plymouth dockyard, and the consequent doubling of the town’s size during the period.2

In 1690 the Buller interest was in abeyance as the head of the senior line, Francis, was still a minor and, furthermore, living in Cambridgeshire, while his uncle Richard (d. 1694) was resident at Shillingham. As a consequence the Carew brothers took both seats. After the death of Richard Carew, Narcissus Luttrell, the parliamentary diarist, was elected in his place. Luttrell had no connexion with Saltash, but had a hearing pending at the bar of the House against the return of John Morice following the Newport by-election of December 1690. By using their influence with Sir John Carew, 3rd Bt. (whose wife, Lady Mary Carew, was the daughter of Sir William Morice, 1st Bt.†, and hence the niece of John and Nicholas Morice†), the Morice interest had Luttrell brought in for Saltash and the Newport petition was allowed to lapse. The death of Sir John Carew in the following year saw Michael Hill returned with the backing of the Carew interest. With Sir John Carew’s heir a minor, the Carew interest fell to Lady Mary (d. 1698), who lived out of the county, and the surviving trustees of Sir John’s marriage settlement, Hugh Boscawen I*, Jonathan Rashleigh* and Nicholas Morice, who were appointed executors to administer the estate until a male heir reached his majority. Thus, the Carew interest was weakened just as Francis Buller came of age.3

In the 1695 election Buller claimed his political inheritance, but a struggle developed for the second seat. Both outgoing Members put in for it, Luttrell having gained a considerable interest in the town by his close attention to the needs of its inhabitants. However, Luttrell was ‘wholly a stranger’ to Lady Carew who therefore felt ‘no obligation to choose him again’. Further, she believed that to ‘comply’ with the town’s desire to have Luttrell stand again would merely establish his interest beyond recall at the next election. Having promised her interest to Walter Moyle, whose father, Sir Walter†, was the brother-in-law of Nicholas Morice, as well as being a trustee of Buller’s father and the executor of his uncle Richard, Lady Carew was determined to assert her influence. With liberal expenditure and the help of the Carew steward, Moyle was successful in defeating the challenge of Hill and a Mr Moulton who may not have gone to a poll, being ‘very indiscreet to show their teeth since they could not bite’.4

The death of Francis Buller saw a by-election held in March 1698. With Parliament due to be dissolved shortly under the Triennial Act, the temporary vacancy was filled by Francis Pengelly, godson of Francis Buller† (d. 1682), who had recently been appointed attorney-general to the duchy of Cornwall and who supplied the naval dockyard at Plymouth with bricks. At the general election of 1698 the recent death of Lady Carew gave the trustees even more control over the Carew interest and John Morice was returned. Since the town, in Lady Carew’s words, had been ‘so averse’ to Moyle in 1695 his hopes of re-election in 1698 may already have been slim. However, of more importance may have been the impending majority of James Buller, which seems to have resulted in the candidature and victory of John Speccot, who was also elected knight of the shire. Speccot subsequently vacated the Saltash seat upon Buller’s coming of age, allowing him to take the seat unopposed in the 1699 by-election. The dockyard interest put up Henry Priestman*, a lord of the Admiralty, whom James Vernon I* was felt ‘like to get in’ and ‘turn out Moyle’. According to Vernon, Priestman failed to gain election because ‘the application was made too late to Mr Boscawen [Hugh I], who was pre-engaged to [John] Morice’. Not realizing that James Buller would shortly be eligible for a vacancy, Vernon felt that Moyle would be left out unless Speccot brought him in at the ensuing by-election. Vernon’s lack of awareness concerning Buller’s strong claims to a seat would explain why Alexander Pendarves chose to contest the by-election at Penryn in 1699, rather than that for Saltash.5

In January 1701 Buller was chosen with Pendarves (a cousin of Sir Richard Carew, 4th Bt.). Pendarves elected to serve for Penryn, and was replaced by Thomas Carew, ‘late of Exeter’ (a more distant cousin of Sir John and Richard Carew). These two men retained their seats in December 1701, but Buller was also returned for the county, and naturally gave up his seat at Saltash. At the ensuing by-election Benjamin Buller, probably a distant relative, replaced him. On the accession of Queen Anne, the borough’s address of congratulation was presented not by the two Members, but by James Buller as the town’s recorder and the young Sir Richard Carew, 4th Bt., who was clearly seeking to exert his interest. Benjamin Buller and Thomas Carew were returned at the general election which followed in July 1702, but Buller’s death at the end of the year precipitated yet another by-election which saw the return of John Rolle I, a Devon lawyer. This may be the occasion referred to by Nicholas Morice in 1708 when Sir Richard Carew apparently thwarted the designs of Morice and Hugh Boscawen II. The address from the borough in October 1704 was again not presented by the town’s Members, but by Pendarves. In 1705 James Buller was returned with Joseph Moyle, brother of Walter but a government Whig, who acted as Nicholas Morice’s man of affairs. The Moyle–Morice influence was given a fresh lease of life following the death of 17-year-old Sir Richard Carew in 1703, and the succession to the baronetcy of an even younger brother (Sir William Carew, 5th Bt.), who was not yet politically active. Reports suggested that the 1705 election ‘may be disputed’, presumably by ‘Mr Holmes’ of the docks, who was noted in 1708 as having given Moyle great opposition in 1705. In July 1705, Daniel Defoe reported to Robert Harley* that Saltash was one of the Cornish boroughs governed by ‘the gentlemen and the townsmen’ about which ‘there is nothing to be done’.6

At the general election of 1708, Sir William Carew, though still not yet of age, began to assert his interest by coming to an agreement with Buller, to the exclusion of Morice’s preferred candidate. However, Morice still had control of the Carew purse strings so that ‘if Buller will bring in Pendarves at Saltash it must be upon his own cost, for I have forbidden Dennis [the Carew steward] to spend a farthing, or to follow any of Sir William’s orders’. It would appear that one Bayley spent nearly £100 among the burgesses and would have had to spend the same again to mount an effective ‘prosecution’ of the matter in Parliament. Morice saw this as a waste of money as Buller would soon precipitate a by-election, having again been returned for the county. To have returned Moyle would also have been pointless, as the prospect of office would have meant a fresh election. Mr Holmes, despite having promised the Earl of Orford (Edward Russell*), did not appear in the borough at all. Thus, Pendarves and Buller were returned and Sir Cholmley Dering, 4th Bt., a Kentish Tory and great friend of Buller, came in at the ensuing by-election when Buller chose to sit for Cornwall.7

At the general election of 1710 Dering and Pendarves were returned. John Dibble*, a Whig naval contractor, made an interest among the voters by the application of guineas, but does not seem to have proceeded as far as a poll. Since both Dering and Pendarves chose to sit elsewhere, they were replaced by Jonathan Elford, a Devon Tory, and by Sir William Carew, who had now attained his majority. John Trevanion’s* assessment of the important interests at Saltash in 1712 succinctly summarized the state of affairs: ‘Sir Will. Carew, Buller; the dock sometimes in’. Before the 1713 election, James Buller, generally regarded as the mainstay of the Tories in Cornwall, had died and been succeeded by his elderly relation John Buller I*. The aged Buller at the very least acquiesced in the candidature of William Shippen, a Tory lawyer, in partnership with Elford. At first, Sir John Jennings* stood, presumably on the dockyard interest, but he desisted and Martin Bladen†, a Whig, stood single. Buller even appears to have been prepared to create faggot votes by splitting burgages to support his interest. Shippen triumphed easily, with 27 votes, including seven from members of the corporation. Elford received 15, 12 of which were from corporation members, and Bladen only 12, including six corporation votes.8

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley


  • 1. A. Luders, Controverted Elections, ii. 107.
  • 2. Willis, Not. Parl. ii. 76–7.
  • 3. PCC 78 King, 209 Box, 220 Fane; Cornw. RO, Carew Pole mss CC/FF/1, Lady Carew to John Triese, 26 Oct. 5 Nov. 1695.
  • 4. Carew Pole mss, Lady Carew to Triese, 15, 18, 26 Oct., 5, 23, 26 Nov. 1695.
  • 5. Ibid. Lady Carew to Triese, 23 Nov. 1695; Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, i. 147–8; Northants. RO, Montagu (Boughton) mss 47/66–67, Vernon to Shrewsbury, 6, 9 Aug. 1698; Add. 40772, f. 112.
  • 6. London Gazette, 14–18 May 1702, 23–26 Oct. 1704; Bodl. Ballard 21, f. 222; Morice mss at Bank of Eng. Nicholas to Humphry Morice*, 28 May 1708; HMC Portland, iv. 270.
  • 7. Morice mss, Nicholas to Humphry Morice, 5, 30 Mar., 14, 28 May 1708.
  • 8. Add. 70314–15, Trevanion’s list, 1712; Luders, 109, 152, 157, 194, 209, 233.