Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the freemen

Number of voters:



18 June 1720CARTWRIGHT re-elected after appointment to office 
16 Apr. 1722ROBERT CORKER 
23 Aug. 1727JOHN HEDGES 
25 Mar. 1731JAMES CHOLMONDELEY vice Corker, deceased19
 John[?] Robartes5
3 May 1734HENRY TEMPLE, Visct. Palmerston 
24 May 1737PEREGRINE POULETT vice Andrews, deceased13
 Algernon Coote, Earl of Mountrath2
 John Sabine 
 Christopher Tower 
 SABINE and TOWER vice Liddell and Foster, on petition, 11 Dec. 1741 
 LIDDELL and FOSTER vice Sabine and Tower, on petition, 18 Mar. 1742 
5 July 1746WILLlAM BRETON vice Liddell, deceased 
12 Dec. 1747WILLIAM ORD vice Wortley, chose to sit for Peterborough 
22 Feb. 1752WILLIAM MONTAGU vice Heath, deceased 

Main Article

The chief interests at Bossiney in 1715 were those of Samuel Travers, who held a duchy lease of Tintagel castle,1 and of Robert Corker, receiver general of the duchy in 1720, who owned property in and around the borough. Until 1741 it returned government supporters and servants of the Prince of Wales. Thomas Pitt, the Prince of Wales’s manager for the Cornish boroughs, wrote c. Oct. 1740:

The number of voters are 21. Mr. Edgcumbe [the Government’s manager in Cornwall] offered the late mayor of this borough £500. But by the last account from hence a majority of the corporation (at least 13) are secured for two members on the country [i.e. opposition] interest, as far as such men can be secured. The present mayor is on the other side. He was elected by Mr. Edgcumbe as is said by those who best know the constitution of the borough in an illegal and unwarrantable manner.

At the election the sheriff, who had been appointed by the Prince as Duke of Cornwall, sent the precept to the late mayor, from whom he accepted a return in favour of two opposition candidates, rejecting one made by the present mayor in favour of two ministerialists. On a petition heard before Walpole’s fall the ministerial candidates were seated, on the ground that the indenture returning their opponents had not been signed by the proper returning officer; but after Walpole’s fall the opposition candidates were reseated on a further petition.2

Before the general election of 1747, Edward Wortley, who had acquired much of Corker’s property there, and secured the lease of Tintagel castle,3 wrote to Thomas Pitt, 6 June:

As you had suspected, and it was rumoured there might be an opposition, I thought it proper to wait on my Lord Edgcumbe to know what was to be expected. I told him I proposed to be chosen myself for one, and to support with all my interest any person that you should name for the other. And I have the satisfaction to acquaint you that he assured me that his interest shall be at my disposal, so that this affair is absolutely fixed and certain.

No difference of opinion in politics has ever lessened the friendship his Lordship and I have always professed for one another in private life, so that I know him well, and can rely on his word as much as upon any man’s.

As there can be no opposition, I must beg you will not take, or suffer to be taken, any step with relation to the management, without having first had my entire approbation.

Some trifling expenses may be proper to be made; but I hope none will be made but such as I and every one that is most zealous for supporting and improving my interest, must think absolutely necessary.

On 12 June Pitt reported to his brother-in-law, Dr. Ayscough, who attended to the Prince’s election business at Leicester House:

Bossiney I look upon likewise as secure, at least in conjunction with Mr. Wortley, but I am in hopes of jockeying him out of the other [seat] ... Lord Edgcumbe has promised to give Mr. Wortley his interest. He has wrote a letter to the mayor recommending the person I shall name to be chosen with himself, and, at the same time tells the people he will not serve them [sit for Bossiney], and by this promise of Lord Edgcumbe he is secure from any opposition, and will save his money. Now, as he recommends my interest, I cannot appear against him but by a proper application on my side, and a failure of the like from him, which I must supply, a spirit may arise among the voters to choose a person that is not above representing them.

A week later he wrote again:

I dined with my Tintagel friends. We have of them 17 out of 21, and ... talked them up to such a pitch of Mr. Wortley’s usage of them, that it is very probable we shall have the other instead of him. I promised them if Mr. Wortley was angry with them, and neglected the quay, I would engage to build them one ... I tell you fairly I am in hopes, but take notice it is but hope, of ... two at Bossiney.

In the event he only carried one, Richard Heath. When Wortley chose to sit for Peterborough, Pitt wrote, 2 Aug.:

As Mr. Wortley will make a vacancy, it will be proper as soon as possible to agree with him. If you cannot bring him to reason, I think we may ... carry it against him.4

But both this vacancy and that caused by Heath’s death were filled by Wortley, who in July 1752 came to an agreement with Edgcumbe to share the representation and the expense of the borough in all future general elections.5

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Maclean, Trigg Minor, iii. 203.
  • 2. Chatham mss; CJ, xxiv. 13, 18.
  • 3. Trigg Minor, iii. 203.
  • 4. HMC Fortescue, i. 110, 112-14, 120, 127, and Boconnoc mss.
  • 5. 3 July 1752, Wortley mss in R. Inst. Cornwall.