Available from Boydell and Brewer
Right of Election:
in inhabitants paying scot and lot
Number of Qualified Electors:
Number of voters:
at least 45
|21 Feb. 1690||William Montagu|
|4 May 1691||Thomas Jervoise vice Montagu, deceased||25|
|20 Nov. 1693||Anthony Rowe vice Whithed, deceased||30|
|Election declared void, 20 Dec. 1693|
|23 Nov. 1694||George Pitt|
|26 Oct. 1695||Anthony Sturt|
|23 July 1698||George Pitt|
|2 Jan. 1699||John Pitt vice Pitt, chose to sit for Wareham|
|7 Jan. 1701||Anthony Sturt|
|24 Nov. 1701||Frederick Tylney|
|20 July 1702||Anthony Burnaby|
|10 May 1705||Sir John Hawles|
|Sir Edward Lawrence|
|3 May 1708||Sir John Hawles|
|Sir Edward Lawrence|
|7 Oct. 1710||James Barry, Earl of Barrymore [I]|
|25 Aug. 1713||Richard Steele|
|James Barry, Earl of Barrymore [I]|
|Sir Richard Vernon, Bt.|
|30 Apr. 1714||Barrymore vice Steel, expelled the House|
Stockbridge was a borough by prescription, of which Browne Willis* wrote that ‘they have a charter but could not be informed from whom or when’. The main officials in the town were the bailiff and constable, who were elected annually. Stockbridge was considered to be one of the most venal boroughs in the country. After a by-election in 1689 a bill had been introduced for its disfranchisement, but not passed. At the 1690 election there were three candidates, William Montagu, whose election for the borough in 1689 had been voided on the grounds of corruption, William Strode, Montagu’s opponent of the previous year, and the sitting Member, Richard Whithed. Montagu and Whithed, both Whigs, were returned. Strode’s petition was referred to the committee of elections on 2 Apr. but not reported. Montagu, who was in prison in the King’s bench for debt at the time of his election, died on 2 Apr. 1691, while still incarcerated. Prior to the ensuing by-election, Whithed informed members of the local gentry that Thomas Jervoise, a wealthy Hampshire landowner who was later associated with the Whig party, was prepared to stand against the Whig Anthony Rowe, a former follower of the Duke of Monmouth and currently a government contractor. At the election Jervoise defeated Rowe, with both candidates being allowed votes from individuals who ‘pay no scot nor lot’. After his defeat, Rowe twice presented petitions to the House on 26 May and 31 Oct. 1691, alleging bribery and partiality on the part of the bailiff as returning officer, but on 7 Nov. he was given leave to withdraw his petition.4
In 1693 another by-election was necessitated by the death of Whithed. Rowe chose to stand once again, on this occasion with the support of the Whig Thomas Neale*, who leased the Stockbridge rents of assize from the crown and who in 1692 had treated the electors by sending them three oxen. Initially Jervoise hoped that he could use his interest to get another Whig, Anthony Henley*, elected, but the latter declined to stand. In August it was rumoured that Strode, ‘Mr Cromwell and Colonel [Henry] Dawley’ (who had represented Lymington in 1680 and 1681), might stand, while at the same time Arthur Moore*, who was associated with the Tory party, began to make an interest in the borough. At first it appeared that Dawley was prepared to desist in favour of Moore, and that ‘all the gentlemen are against Mr Rowe’. On 2 Sept. Stanley Garway informed Moore’s father-in-law, Edward Browne, that Cromwell had agreed not to stand, ‘but will give your friend [Moore] all the assistance he can and will bring over Mr Strode and his interest’. Three days later Garway informed Browne that Moore should secure Jervoise’s support, and warned him that ‘some care ought speedily to be taken to secure the writ, for no doubt Mr Neale will move at the next meeting of the Parliament for a writ to be granted, and there being but a short time to effect the election, by this means it may be lengthened’. However, by the 13th it appeared that Dawley had been persuaded, possibly by Jervoise who supported his candidature, to stand against Rowe, whose agent had been at Stockbridge the day before to apply to the local gentry for their support. Garway informed Moore that some of the gentry had said that
they had formerly a great kindness for Colonel Dawley, but that since he had married a papist, they knew not what to say. That one or more of the electors came to my Lord De La Warr (who formerly appeared for Mr Rowe) and told him that he had then recommended Mr Rowe to them as a very honest gentleman and they did not know as yet how he had forfeited that character, or to that purpose which created a little warmth.
Thereafter Moore appears to have decided against contesting the by-election, leaving Rowe and Dawley to fight it out. At the election in November Rowe defeated Dawley. Dawley petitioned Parliament on 1 Dec. The elections committee reported on the 20th that witnesses for Dawley alleged that Neale had written to the borough recommending Rowe and offering sacks of wheat to those who voted for him, that Rowe had offered the bailiff £20 to return him and had bought votes at the rate of £5 each. Counsel for Rowe produced Neale’s letter, which contained no mention of wheat, although Neale’s agent admitted that Neale had made an annual distribution of beef to the inhabitants of Stockbridge and changed to wheat on complaints that the beef was inequitably distributed. The agent denied that the wheat was only promised to those who voted for Rowe. Other witnesses were produced to claim that Dawley had offered them money and that his witnesses had all received bribes. The committee decided that Rowe had been duly elected but the House disagreed, resolving that the ‘said election . . . is a corrupt and void election’. Instead of a new writ the House ordered a bill to be brought in to disfranchise the borough, though it was rumoured in Stockbridge that it had been Rowe’s ‘friends that moved to have their borough disfranchised’.5
The bill to disfranchise the borough received its first reading on 8 Jan. 1694. During the following weeks concerted efforts were made in Stockbridge to prevent the bill’s passage, even to the extent that ‘two or three of the even-tempered men of each side or party’ in the borough were brought together to agree on a petition to Parliament against the bill. Although the bailiff was at first wary of signing the petition, agreement was eventually reached, so that when the bill received its second reading on 7 Feb., two petitions from the borough were read, in the first of which
the petitioners . . . sensible of the high displeasure of this House, occasioned by certain irregularities committed by some members of the borough . . . hope the House will not use such severity to the burgomasters, they being resolved for the future, in all difficult cases to consult the gentlemen of the county thereabouts.
In the second they asked to be heard by counsel at the bar of the House before the bill was passed. Both petitions were rejected. The bill was thrown out on its 3rd reading on 30 Mar., though only by a majority of eight votes. Prior to that date it had been suggested that Strode would stand again if the bill failed and a new by-election was held to replace Rowe. Jervoise’s influence appears to have been enhanced in the borough owing to the belief that he had laboured ‘night and day’ to ensure the bill’s defeat, so that prior to the by-election in November his support for the candidature of a Tory, George Pitt of Strathfieldsaye, a wealthy Hampshire landowner and kinsman to Thomas Pitt I*, looked to be the strongest interest. Strode was still considering standing, but informed Jervoise that he was prepared to desist in Pitt’s favour, depending on ‘whether the Marquess of Winchester [Charles Powlett I*] will intimate any thing to me as to that election’. However, Strode was as concerned as other local gentry that whatever the outcome of the election, Rowe should be prevented from being returned, so that when in early November Winchester agreed to support the candidature of Pitt if Strode chose not to stand, Strode appears to have desisted. On the 12th Pitt wrote from London that ‘the writ for the election . . . was [deferred] by the House of Commons . . . and all the favour we could obtain was that they would again take it into their consideration on Tuesday next [20th]; I am very well assured there is a design still to disfranchise the borough if possible’. However, on the 15th the Duke of Bolton (Charles Powlett†) recorded that he had written to his sons, Winchester and Lord William Powlett*, ‘to get out the writ for Stockbridge on Tuesday next’. The writ was eventually issued on Tuesday the 20th. The day before the election on the 23rd, although Rowe no longer looked to be a prospective candidate, it was still feared that Neale would use £500 to secure the return of his own son. At the election the following day Pitt was returned, though it is not evident that Neale’s son stood. Either way, an immediate fall-out from the election was that Neale created a new conflict in the borough by changing the method for collection of the borough’s rents of assize.6
Prior to the 1695 general election Pitt turned his attention to Wareham while Jervoise chose not to stand, thereby ensuring that two new Members would be returned. On 5 Sept. a correspondent of Jervoise wrote:
I had no opportunity to discourse Mr Pitt about what you spoke to me in London concerning your nephew [John] Venables standing at Stockbridge, but this week he was so kind to see me, and as no concern can make me forget serving you, so I mentioned Mr Venables to him who was very ready to give him what assistance he can in his election and he may be sure of the same from me . . . I am afraid it will cost him some money, but if he will join with Mr [Anthony] Sturt, who was lately our sheriff and whom Mr Pitt proposes to succeed him . . . it will cost him the less.
However, it was still not clear that anyone else would come forward to cause a contest. Two weeks before the election, on 12 Oct., Sturt informed Jervoise that he had met Venables about the election, and as yet no other candidates had come forward. On the 22nd a correspondent of Robert Harley* wrote that ‘Sturt and Venables stand fairest, but Sir Henry Belasyse* and Treasury [William] Lowndes* have tried to make an interest’. However, at the election it was two local men, Nicholas Bacon and Hugh Goddard, who stood against Venables and Sturt, the two latter jointly on Jervoise’s interest. Sturt and Venables were successful, and Bacon and Goddard’s petition on 7 Dec., as usual alleging corrupt practices, achieved nothing. In early 1696 it was reported that the two Stockbridge Members ‘hardly ever . . . vote together’. At the 1698 election Sturt was returned unopposed with George Pitt. When the latter chose to sit for Wareham, his place was taken by his brother, John, who was returned unopposed at the by-election in January 1699. Sturt and John Pitt held the seats in January 1701, when they stood on Jervoise’s interest. However, in the second election of that year both men dropped out, leaving the seats to be taken by two Tories, Frederick Tylney and Anthony Burnaby. As with the previous candidates, Tylney appears to have been dependent for success on the support of Jervoise, who between 1698 and 1702 represented the county in Parliament. However, in early 1702 it was reported to Jervoise that Burnaby had ‘bought his election, but has not yet paid’.7
Burnaby’s activities during the second 1701 election appear to have caused some concern on the part of Jervoise and his associates in Stockbridge in the lead-up to the 1702 general election. A correspondent wrote to Jervoise on 4 Apr. that
I very much approve of Mr Pitt . . . I know Stockbridge to be a mercenary sort of knaves, but . . . I have made [Mr] Gatehouse and some others sensible that they were in the wrong to compliment Burnaby, being altogether a stranger, and that could have no other foundation but his promise of reward . . . If Mr Burnaby hath made any false steps in voting, if you communicate it to me . . . it is possible I may improve it.
Prior to the election it became apparent that Pitt was intending to stand at St. Ives, and that Jervoise intended supporting the candidature of his brother-in-law, Henry Killigrew, the Tory admiral whose naval career had been shattered in 1693 by the loss of the Smyrna convoy. Tylney was happy to ‘join heartily’ with Killigrew. However, by the time of the election, Tylney had decided to stand for Southampton, thereby avoiding a contest in Stockbridge, where Burnaby was standing once again. It is possible that the Jervoise interest wished to avoid a contest, being uncertain of the strength of Burnaby’s position in the borough. At the election Killigrew and Burnaby were returned unopposed. However, in February 1704 a new dimension entered into the borough’s politics, when the Whig Sir Edward Lawrence offered his services to the electorate for the next Parliament. At the same time, Jervoise was reassured that the voters ‘intended to choose Admiral Killigrew’ at the next election, ‘but wondered they did not hear from him or you’. The same correspondent reported that Burnaby was now disliked in Stockbridge, and that Lawrence appeared to have a good deal of support. In August Killigrew enquired of Jervoise if it would be possible for him to remain a candidate even though he would be absent from the actual election, as he was planning to stand also at St. Albans on the interest of the Duchess of Marlborough. In the end Killigrew did not stand at Stockbridge, though a three-way contest was ensured by the candidature of the Whig (Sir) John Hawles, a former solicitor-general. Lawrence and Hawles defeated Burnaby. In his unsuccessful petition against their return Burnaby mentioned that both ‘were unknown to the said borough till the election’.8
Although it is unclear to what extent Jervoise had either assisted or opposed the election of Hawles and Lawrence, he continued to have a strong enough interest to warrant applications for his interest from prospective MPs. In April 1707 the whiggishly inclined Charles Wither* informed Jervoise that ‘the zeal with which you espouse my pretensions to the Stockbridge election is beyond what I could expect from you . . . If the old Members are resolved to stand, I must rely entirely on your interest, for it would be ridiculous for me to oppose their united force’. However, in 1708 Hawles and Lawrence were returned unopposed.9
Prior to the 1710 election Lawrence made it known that he would not stand again, thereby prompting speculation as to who would contest Stockbridge. In September it was reported to Jervoise that Lord Sunderland (Charles, Ld. Spencer*) had recommended ‘Sir William Humphries, who is an alderman of London and a man of great estate’, and that ‘[Ellis] St. John writes very sanguinely of success for Sir William and Sir John Hawles’. The correspondent presumed that Jervoise would give his interest to Humphries, who was a ‘very fit and proper man’. However, Hawles decided against standing, while two new candidates came forward, the 4th Earl of Barrymore, an Irish Tory, and another Tory, George Dashwood, son of the London merchant, Sir Samuel*. Both men received the active support of the Duke of Beaufort, and it was presumed they would carry the election against Humphries. In the event, Humphries appears not to have stood, and Barrymore and Dashwood were returned unopposed. In 1713 Barrymore stood again, though a contest was ensured by the candidatures of Richard Steele, the Whig writer and journalist, Thomas Brodrick (who with his brother Alan†, later 1st Viscount Midleton, was one of the leaders of the Whigs in the Irish house of commons), and Sir Richard Vernon, a Shropshire baronet. On 30 Oct. Jervoise was sent an account of the election which stated that
At Stockbridge Mr Steele (author of The Tatler, Spectator, Guardian, and of The Englishman, all wonderfully ingenious and useful papers) and Mr Brodrick (brother to the late Speaker in Ireland) were chosen by a vast majority (50 to 20); that a petition is lodged by Lord Barrymore. And it will indeed, I fear, go hard with Mr Steele, at least he can expect no favour from those who are like to rule the roost, having, I conceive, disobliged them much in a late pamphlet, entitled A Letter to the Bailiff of Stockbridge, Concerning the Demolition of Dunkirk.
Barrymore’s and Vernon’s petition was pre-empted by the expulsion of Steele from the House in March 1714. Barrymore was returned unopposed at the ensuing by-election.10
Authors: Paula Watson / Ivar McGrath
- 1. Bodl. Willis 48, f. 226.
- 2. Hants RO, Jervoise mss, Stockbridge poll, 4 May 1691.
- 3. Jervoise mss, Stockbridge poll, 20 Nov. 1693.
- 4. Willis 48, ff. 226, 418; Jervoise mss, Francis Powlett* to [Jervoise], 14 Apr. 1691, Stockbridge poll, 4 May 1691; Bodl. Carte 79, f. 346.
- 5. VCH Hants, iv. 484; Jervoise mss, Dillon Gifford to [Jervoise], 1 Jan. 1692, 12 Nov., 25 Dec. 1693, Henley to same, 19 Mar. 1692, Stockbridge poll, 20 Nov. 1693; Univ. Kansas Spencer Research Lib. Moore mss, Garway to Browne, 31 Aug., 2, 5 Sept. 1693, same to Moore, 13 Sept. 1693; SP 9/18/52; Chandler, ii. 428.
- 6. Jervoise mss, Edward Pyle to [Jervoise], 13, 20, 29, 31 Jan., 5, 9 Feb. 1693[–4], 3 Apr., 31 Oct., 22 Nov., 2, 6 Dec. 1694, Strode to same, 24 Oct. 1694, Pitt to same, 3, 12 Nov. 1694, Bolton to [–], 15 Nov. 1694; Chandler, 433; G. Holmes, Electorate and National Will, 26.
- 7. Jervoise mss, Philip ? to [Jervoise], 5 Sept. 1695, James Hooper to same, 10 Oct., 7 Dec. 1695, 23 Jan. 1695[–6], Sturt to same, 12 Oct., 5, 7 Dec. 1695, 30 Nov. 1700, Venables to same, 24 Mar. 1695[–6], Thomas Austin to same, 14 Dec. 1698, William Clark to same, 25 Nov. 1701, Ellis St. John to same, 21 Feb. 1701[–2]; Add. 70018, ff. 94–95.
- 8. Jervoise mss, Pyle to [Jervoise], 4 Apr., Tylney to same, 11 May 1702, St. John to same, 21 Feb. , Killigrew to same, 8 Aug. 1704; London Gazette, 26 May-30 Oct. 1704.
- 9. Jervoise mss, Wither to [Jervoise], 8 Apr. 1707,
- 10. Ibid. (Sir) P[eter] King* to [Jervoise], 12 Sept. 1710, Mr Harris to same, 30 Oct. 1713; Beaufort mss at Badminton House, Beaufort to George Duke, same to Henry Whithed, same to Robert Pitt*, all 14 Sept. 1710; Dorset RO, Fox-Strangways mss D124/box 238, bdle. 11, [?Sir Willoughby Hickman*] to Charles Fox*, 20 Sept. 1710; London Gazette, 30 May–2 June 1713.