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 1690

Number of Qualified Electors:


Number of voters:

about 1,000 in 1690-1708, 1713; 307 in 1710


28 Oct. 1695JOHN KYNASTON  
 Sir Edward Leighton, Bt.  
25 July 1698JOHN KYNASTON  
6 Jan. 1701JOHN KYNASTON  
26 Dec. 1701JOHN KYNASTON  
22 July 1702JOHN KYNASTON655 
 Thomas Jones407 
 William Prynce2551 
14 May 1705JOHN KYNASTON  
10 May 1708JOHN KYNASTON714 
 Sir Edward Leighton, Bt.5432 
 LEIGHTON vice Kynaston and Mytton, on petition, 20 Dec. 1709  
3 Jan. 1710THOMAS JONES179 
 Edward Cressett1283 
9 Oct. 1710RICHARD MYTTON224 
 Thomas Jones177 
 Sir Edward Leighton, Bt.1314 
4 Sept. 1713THOMAS JONES3515 
 Corbet Kynaston2763707
 KYNASTON vice Jones, on petition, 27 May 1714  

Main Article

Shrewsbury elections were usually controlled by the Tories, who drew most of their strength from outside the town, from the suburbs and the extensive liberties of the borough, and from among the ‘out-burgesses’. A local Tory squire, John Kynaston of Hordley, had an especially strong interest. But there was also a considerable Tory element in the town itself, and Tory mobs went on the rampage in 1710 and 1714. The Whigs drew their strength mainly from within the town, which was described by Defoe as being ‘full of gentry and yet full of trade too’ and which contained a substantial Dissenting community. The Whig power-base was in the corporation: there were some Whig gentlemen with personal or family interests, such as Thomas Jones and the Newports, earls of Bradford (the Hon. Andrew Newport, who sat for the borough until 1698, was, however, a Tory), though none had an interest as strong as Kynaston’s.8

The first challenge to the Tories came in 1690, when there was apparently a ‘great poll’, the sitting Member Hon. Andrew Newport being returned with newcomer Richard Mytton, a cousin of Kynaston and another Tory. An unsuccessful challenge came in 1695 when a local gentleman, Sir Edward Leighton, 1st Bt., put up as a Whig, but Newport was again returned, this time with Kynaston himself. Kynaston and Mytton were returned unopposed at the next three elections, but in 1702 they were opposed by two Whig candidates. An unusually large number of freemen were admitted prior to the poll, but even so the Whigs were easily defeated by Kynaston and Mytton, who were returned again unopposed in 1705. In June 1706 the corporation made an address to Queen Anne congratulating her on the successes of the war, which was presented not by either of the sitting Members but by the Earl of Bradford (Francis Newport†), the lord lieutenant of the county. Then in the following year Lord Bradford’s grandson, Hon. Henry Newport*, was reported to be thinking of standing at Shrewsbury at the next election. In the event Newport stood for knight of the shire, and instead the Whig interest at Shrewsbury was represented again by Leighton. Kynaston and Mytton were chosen without difficulty, but Leighton petitioned against the return and, when his petition was not considered in this session, renewed it on 16 Nov. 1709. He alleged that the franchise was confined to the resident freemen paying scot and lot, and that his two opponents had achieved a majority only through bribery and threats, and through the ‘partial proceedings’ of the mayor, who was the returning officer. Evidence was given that during the two years preceding the election Kynaston and Mytton, or their agents, had between them ordered about 2,000 pairs of shoes to be made by the shoemakers of the borough, and that just before the poll ‘there was a general meeting of the said shoemakers at Ned’s coffee-house; where it was proposed that, in consideration of their having made so many shoes upon the sitting Members’ account, they should all vote for them’. The committee of elections supported both Leighton’s claims, although even so staunch a Whig as Arthur Maynwaring* considered his case to have been a weak one and the committee’s decision to have been prejudiced. ‘The [Tory] party is so broke in the House of Commons’, Maynwaring wrote on 15 Dec. 1709, ‘that there happened something quite new last night . . . for one Mr Kynaston was voted not duly elected, without having one affirmative for him, though in truth there was not much to be said against him.’ On 20 Dec. the committee’s verdict was endorsed by the House after a division: the two sitting Members were unseated and Leighton put in their place. The by-election for the vacant seat was held, it would appear, under the newly restricted franchise, and although Edward Cressett, the Tory candidate, had the Kynaston interest, he was defeated by the Whig, Thomas Jones.9

The impeachment of Dr Sacheverell inflamed the passions of Tories in Shrewsbury. At the assizes in April 1710 there was a near riot. Two of the barristers attending the circuit had been involved in Sacheverell’s trial: (Sir) Simon Harcourt I*, the principal defence counsel, and Nicholas Lechmere*, one of the managers of the impeachment. Harcourt was escorted into the town in triumph by 400 gentlemen on horseback, while Lechmere was hissed and insulted. During the assizes some Tories drew up and circulated among the grand jury a pro-Sacheverell address, later to be branded by the Whigs as ‘seditious’ and to be publicly deplored by the Queen herself. According to a Whig, some ‘considerable gentlemen’ took part with the mob in these proceedings. In June Kynaston presented to the Queen an address from the corporation of Shrewsbury in favour of Sacheverell, and in the following month the doctor himself visited the town. He was welcomed by 7,000 supporters, headed by a number of Tory gentlemen including the two prospective Tory candidates for the borough, Richard Mytton and Edward Cressett, and at his entry into the town ‘the streets were crowded with such an infinite number of foot that he was an hour passing from the gate to the place where he was entertained at supper’. The noise, it was said, could be heard two or three miles off. There was also some mob violence. A Tory recorded that ‘the Presbyterian meeting-house [was] gutted, the pews and tub of sedition burnt . . . some of the mob severely punished on that account’. At the election, which probably was again held under the restricted franchise, the Tories triumphed.10

In 1712 the corporation addressed the Queen to congratulate her on the peace, and congratulated her as well on having changed her ministry and dissolved the Parliament of 1710. Also in 1712 the corporation ordered that no more freemen be admitted until after the next parliamentary election, but despite this order an extraordinarily large number of new freemen were admitted in 1713, about 170 compared with about 35 in 1702, and at the election Jones, apparently with the support of the then mayor, managed to defeat his Tory opponents Edward Cressett and Corbet Kynaston (the young son of John Kynaston). Kynaston presented a petition against Jones, which was reported to the House on 27 May 1714, claiming that the mayor had been wrong in refusing to poll some 94 ‘out-burgesses’ who had gone ‘up into the Hall in a body and demanded to be polled for Kynaston and Cressett’. The committee resolved that Jones was not duly elected, and that Cressett and Kynaston had been, thereby reversing the decision of 1709 restricting the franchise, which had been Jones’s principal defence. The House confirmed the committee’s resolutions and at the same time condemned as ‘frivolous, vexatious and scandalous’ a petition which had been presented by several of Jones’s supporters against the return of the other Tory, Cressett.11

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Post Boy, 28–30 July 1702.
  • 2. Bean’s notebks.
  • 3. VCH Salop, iii. 266.
  • 4. Post Boy, 12–14 Oct. 1710.
  • 5. Resident freemen paying scot and lot
  • 6. The Case of Thomas Jones, Esq. Upon the Petition of Corbet Kynaston, esq. Touching the Election for the Borough of Shrewsbury [1710–11].
  • 7. Resident freemen paying scot and lot and non-resident freemen
  • 8. Salopian Shreds and Patches, ix. 233, 255–6; Defoe, Tour ed. Cole, 397.
  • 9. VCH Salop, 266; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. ser. 1, xi. 199; Shrewsbury Burgess Roll ed. Forrest; London Gazette, 24–27 June 1706; HMC Portland, iv. 454–5; Parlty. Lists Early 18th Cent. ed. Newman, 82; Bradford mss at Weston Park, John Bridgeman to Sir Arthur Owen*, 9 Jan. 1710; Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 532.
  • 10. G. Holmes, Trial of Sacheverell, 235, 236, 247–8, 249; Daily Courant, 11 Apr. 1710; Letter to Rt. Hon. the Earl of Bradford, Ld. Lt. Co. of Salop; Salop RO, Forester mss, George Weld II* to Sir William Forester*, [c.May 1710]; Coll. of Addresses Which Have Been Presented to the Queen, since the Impeachment of the Rev. Dr Henry Sacheverell, ii. 5; Boyer, Anne Annals, ix. 203; Add. 17677 DDD, f. 550; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. ser. 4, iv. 63.
  • 11. London Gazette, 10–12 July 1712; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. ser. 1, xi. 202; Shrewsbury Burgess Roll; The Case of Thomas Jones. . . .