St. Ives

Double Member Borough

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in inhabitants paying scot and lot

Number of voters:

about 200


22 Apr. 1754George Hobart 
 James Whitshed 
31 Mar. 1761Humphrey Mackworth Praed 
 Charles Hotham 
28 Apr. 1763Hotham re-elected after appointment to office 
21 Mar. 1768Thomas Durrant108
 Adam Drummond107
 James Johnstone81
 John Stevens71
10 Oct. 1774William Praed95
 Adam Drummond78
 Samuel Stephens71
 Praed's election declared void, 8 May 1775 
16 May 1775Sir Thomas Wynn 
26 Dec. 1778Philip Dehany vice Drummond, vacated his seat 
11 Sept. 1780William Praed 
 Abel Smith 
5 Apr. 1784William Praed 
 Richard Barwell 

Main Article

The chief interest was in the family of Praed of Treventhoe, near St. Ives, who had sat for the borough in several Parliaments since the Restoration; the Duke of Bolton, who owned one of the manors of St. Ives; Lord Buckinghamshire; and John Stephens, of a local family concerned in the fisheries and mines, who had formerly managed the borough for Buckinghamshire. At the general election of 1754 Buckinghamshire and Praed each carried one candidate without opposition.1

In June 1760 Thomas Jones, election agent to Lord Edgcumbe, wrote about St. Ives in a survey of Cornish boroughs:

By the late junction of Lord Buckingham and Mr. Stephens their interest seems pretty well secured, though Mr. Praed has a strong party in the town and pushes his interest. The Duke of Bolton has also some pretensions. But it does not seem probable that his Grace and Mr. Praed, joined to any other interest which can be made, would be a match for Lord Buckingham and Mr. Stephens.

Then in March 1761 Samuel Stephens, John’s son, wrote to the Duke of Newcastle that he and Lord Buckinghamshire had been canvassing the borough jointly, but that ‘within these three days’ Buckinghamshire had cancelled his engagements with Stephens and joined Praed. ‘I am determined ... ’, he continued, ‘to support the claim that extensive property and the general consent of the people entitle me to’; but apparently he did not go to a poll, and Praed’s and Buckinghamshire’s candidates were returned unopposed.2

The expense of that election is not known; but the re-election of Charles Hotham, Buckinghamshire’s brother-in-law, in April 1763, cost nearly £1,175, which included payment ‘to 124 persons at seven guineas each’; and Buckinghamshire wrote to Hotham, 25 June 1766, that the expense of his parliamentary interest had been so great that he could not in future engage himself to anyone ‘except upon the terms of their furnishing the money’. The same day John Knile, an agent of Buckinghamshire, drew up a state of the borough which he had compiled together with Praed. The resultant figures of an elaborate calculation were:

For Lord Buckingham and Mr. Praed: certain127
                                                     doubtful  27
For the Duke of Bolton and Mr. Stephens: certain117
                                                             doubtful  27

To this Knile added in a covering letter: ‘Mr. Praed is of opinion that if the Duke of Bolton should appear and distribute any money to the amount of ten guineas for a double vote, that my Lord and he (Mr. Praed) should advance an equal sum but by no means advance any if his Grace should go beyond that sum.’3

It is not clear what happened concerning Praed and Stephens: of the two Members returned Thomas Durant was Buckinghamshire's candidate, and Adam Drummond Bolton's; and soon after the election Bolton wrote to Grafton in an undated letter:4 ‘Two upstarts going down to St. Ives, just before the election, put me to an expense there which I did not expect, but it is money well laid out, for I have secured the borough in future.’

In 1774 William Praed, son of Humphrey Mackworth Praed, and Adam Drummond were returned, apparently on a joint interest: Stephen's petition against their return alleged that H. M. Praed had acted as agent both for his son and Drummond, and advanced money to voters ‘on their notes, payable with interest to the bank of Truro [Praed's bank]’, but with the understanding that repayment would not be demanded from those who voted for Praed and his friend.5 Praed's election was declared void, and at the by-election he supported a Government candidate.

No Powlett candidate stood for St. Ives after the dissolution of 1780, nor a Hobart; in in 1780 and 1784 Robinson classed the borough as ‘under the arrangement of Mr. Praed’.

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Add. 32995, f. 182; 35604, f. 197.
  • 2. Add. 32907, ff. 461-2; 32920 f. 125.
  • 3. Hotham mss, Beverley RO.
  • 4. Grafton mss.
  • 5. Oldfield, Rep. Hist. (1816), iii. 190