Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Background Information

Estimated number qualified to vote:

about 4,000


17 Mar. 1820SIR WILLIAM LEMON, bt. 
27 Jan. 1825SIR RICHARD RAWLINSON VYVYAN, bt. vice Lemon, deceased 
 Sir Richard Rawlinson Vyvyan, bt.901
 Ernest Augustus Edgcumbe, Visct. Valletort811

Main Article

Cornwall was ‘almost an island, being surrounded on all sides by the sea’, except for the border with Devon. Its geographical remoteness and cultural distinctiveness were reinforced by poor transport communications. A ‘ridge of bare rugged hills, intermixed with bleak moors’, ran through ‘the midst of its whole length’, and much of the county presented a ‘naked and almost desolate appearance’. Arable farming flourished in the eastern districts, where wheat, barley and oats were grown, cereal crops were also cultivated in sheltered valleys along the south coast, and potatoes were widespread and ‘prolific’. Some cattle and sheep were reared, but dairy farming was ‘little attended to’. Historically, Cornwall owed its ‘relative importance’ to its ‘mineral treasures’. Tin mining was widely dispersed through the county and output continued to increase in the early nineteenth century, when it exceeded that of ‘any other part of the world’. During the eighteenth century Cornwall had been in the vanguard of the early Industrial Revolution, as the application of steam power to pumping technology made it commercially viable to exploit deeper deposits of copper, which were concentrated in the west of the county around St. Ives, Camborne, Redruth and Helston. In this period Cornwall accounted for two-thirds of world output of copper, and there was a speculative boom in 1823-5, when many new mines were opened. Several other metals were mined in smaller quantities, including lead and iron. Pilchard fishing, the other traditional industry, was carried on from ports and villages all around the coast and ‘great quantities’ of fish were ‘cured and exported’. There were slate quarries near the River Tamar and many places had clay suitable for brick making. Bodmin and Truro were the two principal towns, and the latter in particular was an important commercial and banking centre, but Lostwithiel still laid claim to be the county town.1

Despite its isolated position, Cornwall was much more a part of the ‘political nation’ than is often supposed. An important feature of Cornish politics was the comparative weakness of the aristocracy. There were only four peers, the 2nd earl of Mount Edgcumbe of Mount Edgcumbe (the lord lieutenant), the 1st earl of Falmouth of Tregothnan, the 1st and 2nd earls of St. Germans of Port Eliot, and the 1st Baron De Dunstanville of Tehidy, all of whom were Tories. They exercised control over some of the many boroughs for which Cornwall was notorious, but there was a tradition that they did not interfere directly in county elections, which were the preserve of the gentry and farmers. Prominent Tories among the gentry included Reginald Pole Carew† of Antony House, John Tilly Coryton of Pentillie Castle and Francis Glanville† of Catchfrench. However, there was also a ‘gentry led reform movement’, the leading figures in which were John Colman Rashleigh of Prideaux, William Peter of Chiverton, the Rev. Robert Walker of St. Winnow, John Trevanion of Carhays and Edward Wynne Pendarves of Pendarves. At a series of county meetings since 1805 they had raised such issues as parliamentary reform, repeal of the Test Acts, Catholic emancipation, retrenchment and agricultural relief, and they had campaigned for all inhabitants to be allowed to attend, rather than just the freeholders. In 1814, when the sheriff refused to summon a meeting of the inhabitants, the reformers did so on their own authority as magistrates, and thereafter several such meetings were held. The Tories insisted that they were illegal and refused to attend, but in so doing they risked abdicating their leadership of the county. An alliance was emerging between the reformers and the farmers, at a time of falling agricultural prices, rising poor rates and grievances about tithes, and Penhallow Peters of Veryan, the leader of the Cornwall Agricultural Association, played a prominent part in county meetings from 1816. Meantime, the founding of the West Briton newspaper in 1810, edited by the Methodist Edward Budd, provided the reformers with an organ to counter the high Toryism of the Royal Cornwall Gazette. Methodism was of course a powerful influence on popular attitudes, particularly in the western mining district, where it strengthened traditional habits of social independence, but its contribution to the reform movement at the beginning of this period is less clear. A retired army officer, residing near Helston, told the duke of Wellington in 1819 that while ‘men here express their political sentiments freely ... they have not that lawless bias upon their minds which is discoverable elsewhere’, having been ‘taught from their infancy to fear God and honour the king, and to keep the Sabbath holy’. He believed that the ‘peace and loyalty of this county’ was ‘owing to the promulgation of the pure principles of the gospel’ by Wesley and his successors. The veteran Whig Sir William Lemon of Carclew had held one of the seats since 1774, and he had shared the representation unopposed since 1806 with his son-in-law, John Hearle Tremayne of Heligan, an independent with Tory leanings. In addition to representing different political interests, Lemon, whose family fortune came from copper mining, was a natural spokesman for that industry, whereas Tremayne was identified with the agriculturists. The refusal of Sir John St. Aubyn of Clowance to stand against Tremayne in 1812 exemplified the reformers’ difficulty in finding a candidate with sufficient financial means to sustain a contest.2

When the dissolution was announced in February 1820, rumours of a challenge to Tremayne were circulated by ‘a gentleman supposed to be high in the confidence of one noble lord’, but these proved to be ‘wholly unauthorised’ and no opposition to the sitting Members was expected.3 Much more anxiety was excited by the task of organizing an address of condolence to George IV. William Rashleigh of Menabilly, the sheriff, dreaded receiving a requisition from the reformers for ‘a meeting of persons besides freeholders’, as ‘I should not deem myself justified in refusing’, but he learned to his relief that Mount Edgcumbe had taken the matter in hand. The wording of the proposed address, which was circulated among some leading Tories, was crucial, and Mount Edgcumbe recognized that ‘nothing like approval of the late king’s politics will go down’, although ‘I think the praise of his private virtues may stand’. He thought the part relating to George IV ‘says enough without flattery, and touches on the most unexceptionable part of his character and conduct without doing it so pointedly as to provoke the opposition of the party who disapprove of the very thing we like him for, having kept his father’s ministers’. A draft was shown to ‘Tremayne and his friends’, which was to be passed ‘if he thinks fit’ to ‘some of our enemies’, such as Colman Rashleigh (Tremayne’s relative), in order to ‘secure us from opposition, as Lord Morley did by consulting Lord Ebrington*’ in Devon. Tremayne, ‘the intended seconder’, asked that the word ‘wisdom’ be removed, and Mount Edgcumbe inserted ‘an unmeaning phrase about benevolence instead’, so that ‘I made at last such a milk and water composition that the most delicate stomach could not reject it’. However, he insisted that the address should make no mention of the inhabitants. The meeting of freeholders was held at Bodmin, the day before the election, and Mount Edgcumbe, who was indisposed, was represented by his son, Lord Valletort*; he moved the address, which was seconded by Lemon and ‘carried unanimously’. As Mount Edgcumbe subsequently observed, ‘all’s well that ends well ... but it has plagued me almost as much as the gout’.4 At Lostwithiel next day, there was a ‘numerous and highly respectable’ attendance for the election. Lemon was nominated by Peter, who emphasized his ‘well known independence and long and faithful services’ to the county, and seconded by Davies Gilbert, Tory Member for Bodmin, while Tremayne was proposed in similar terms by Coryton and Edward Collins of Truthan; they were duly declared elected.5

Several petitions from owners and occupiers of land for relief from agricultural distress were presented to Parliament in 1820, 1821 and 1822.6 In November 1820 a requisition for a county meeting to express support for Queen Caroline was ‘prepared by the gentlemen who have hitherto led the popular cause’, but it was rendered unnecessary by the news of the withdrawal of the bill of pains and penalties. There was ‘scarcely a village or parish’ in which some celebration was not afterwards organized. A few loyal addresses, mostly inspired by corporations such as those in Falmouth and Penzance, were sent to the king.7 In February 1821 a requisition signed by 46 persons was sent to the sheriff, Richard Vyvyan of Trewan, for a meeting to consider restoring the queen’s name to the liturgy, inquiry into distress, economy and retrenchment and parliamentary reform. This confirmed Tremayne’s suspicion that a meeting would be requested ‘chiefly on reform’, in which ‘the queen’s business will be brought in as a makeweight to prove that the ... Commons does not speak the voice of the people’. Vyvyan, whom De Dunstanville had ‘reason to think ... is a well disposed man’, declined to act, as he feared such a meeting would ‘tend only to increase [the] unsettled and feverish state of [the public] mind’, and ten magistrates therefore summoned a meeting of freeholders and inhabitants. William Rashleigh observed that the convenors, ‘by inviting the inhabitants, have effectually prevented the attendance of any respectable opposition to their measures’, and the Gazette declared that it could ‘in no sense ... be called a county meeting’. De Dunstanville circulated a draft declaration protesting against the meeting, to which he thought the names of ‘respectable inhabitants’ might be added to those of freeholders.8 The West Briton was impressed by the attendance at Bodmin on 6 March, given the ‘unfavourable’ weather, but according to the Gazette only 187 persons entered the town that day through the turnpike gates, including ‘old women’, and the gathering was ‘certainly the least numerous or respectable of [the reformers’] meetings’. Wynne Pendarves presided and a series of resolutions were moved by Edward Glynn of Glynn and seconded by Colman Rashleigh in a speech lasting two hours. The first resolution condemned the ‘persecution’ of the queen by ministers, and the second the ‘unjust and unconstitutional’ omission of her name from the liturgy. The third observed that in the sixth year of peace the ‘sufferings’ of the people, particularly in agriculture, were still ‘increasing’, and the fourth complained that previous petitions for relief had been ‘treated with contempt’ by Parliament. It added that the ‘peace establishment ... especially our standing army’ had been ‘built up on a most enormous and extravagant scale’, that the ‘nominal reductions’ made in government expenditure were ‘wholly inadequate to the necessities of the nation’ and that ‘excessive taxation’ had caused a ‘stagnation of trade’. The fifth asserted that popular grievances would never be redressed without a reform of the electoral system to ‘secure an identity of interest ... between the constituent and representative bodies’, and the sixth welcomed the Grampound disfranchisement bill for paving the way towards a ‘more general reform’, as it established the principle that ‘the vested rights of individuals ought not to stand in the way of a great and clear public benefit’. Trevanion objected to the first two resolutions, as he believed the queen was clearly guilty, and ‘four hands’ were held up against them. The rest were ‘carried unanimously’, except for ‘one hand’ raised against the sixth. Afterwards, ‘about 70 gentlemen and respectable yeomen’ dined at Oliver’s Hotel. The resulting petition was presented to the Commons by Lemon, 9 Apr. 1821. A Tory attorney reported his impression that ‘the greater part of the population are ripe for any mischief, not for the sake of the queen, but out of [exasperation?] from the taxes and poor rates and no price for the produce of the land’; he found that ‘very few of the middle and lower rank’ were ‘inclined to sign the counter declaration’. Nevertheless, De Dunstanville, while acknowledging that the reformers had ‘very astutely blended many subjects together ... which are of the greatest public interest’, regarded it as ‘a matter of triumph that 1,370 respectable names’ were collected for his declaration, which defended the sheriff’s rejection of the ‘extremely ill-timed’ requisition. He noted that the farmers in the west were ‘certainly very sour’, though ‘very few ... refused to sign’, and that in Redruth, ‘one of the enemy’s headquarters, we have 24 or 25 of its most respectable inhabitants on our lists, certainly a majority of the freeholders’.9 In response to a requisition signed by 229 leaseholders, 201 freeholders and 48 others, the reformist sheriff, David Howell of Liskeard, convened a meeting at Bodmin, 2 Apr. 1822, to consider measures for the relief of agricultural distress and parliamentary reform. Whereas the West Briton claimed that ‘a considerable number of the respectable yeomanry ... a great proportion of whom occupy their own land’, were present, the Gazette observed that the ‘great body of our nobility and gentry’ were absent and deplored the attempt to exploit legitimate agrarian grievances for political ends. Penhallow Peters and George Simmons of St. Erne moved a series of resolutions, which warned that distress had ‘reached a height that must ensure their utter impoverishment and irretrievable ruin’ unless remedied. The problem was ‘chiefly, if not solely, attributable’ to the government’s ‘profuse expenditure’ on an ‘unconstitutional military establishment ... the continuance of useless offices [and] the granting of unmerited pensions’, which had resulted in ‘an enormous and ruinous amount of taxation’. Falling prices since the resumption of cash payments had made the tax burden even more ‘oppressive’, while unemployment among the labourers had forced up the poor rate. The ‘only adequate means’ of relief lay in tax reductions, a revision of the corn laws to protect agriculturists from ‘unequal competition’ and a ‘just and equitable composition’ of tithes. A House of Commons ‘chiefly composed of placemen and the representatives of boroughs ... subject to ... unconstitutional interference’ was identified as the ‘primary source of all the calamities and grievances’ of the country, and a measure of reform was demanded in similar terms to that made the previous year. Walker, Colman Rashleigh and Trevanion supported the resolutions, which were ‘carried unanimously’, and Peter moved a vote of thanks to Joseph Hume* for his ‘indefatigable exertions’ to expose government profligacy; ‘most of the gentlemen who had attended ... and a number of respectable yeomen’ later dined at Oliver’s. The petition was presented by Lemon, 22 Apr.10 In the light of the recent case of Anthony Geake of Lezant, who had been imprisoned over a tithes dispute, Penhallow Peters chaired a ‘respectable meeting of the yeomanry’ in Bodmin, 22 May, which resolved that the present system was ‘unequal in its operation’, a ‘great impediment’ to agricultural improvement and the cause of ‘expensive and vexatious proceedings ... in the spiritual courts’. A committee was appointed to prepare petitions to Parliament for a ‘fair and just commutation’, which were circulated in every parish, and a subscription was raised to cover the cost; the petitions were apparently not presented.11 Alerted by the Members, the adventurers in the pilchard fishery met at Truro, 4 June, when they agreed that the proposed 2s. duty on salt for curing would ‘entirely annihilate’ their industry. They appointed a committee to organize a petition to the Commons, and a delegation was sent to London to consult with ‘Members interested in the welfare of the county’.12 At a meeting on 14 Oct. the inhabitants of Falmouth condemned the proposed removal of their packet service to Plymouth, and a deputation was chosen to visit other Cornish towns and ‘request their co-operation’. Consequently, Howell summoned a meeting by requisition of the nobility, gentry, clergy and freeholders at Bodmin, 25 Oct., when the Members, Lord Falmouth, Walker, Trevanion, Colman Rashleigh and Peter attended. Resolutions were moved by Falmouth and seconded by Lemon, which warned that the town would be ‘ruined’ if it lost its packet service, that this would extend to the rest of the county, which was already suffering from ‘the failure of its fisheries and ... the general distress of agriculture’, and that an inquiry was needed. It was agreed that the Members should present the resolutions to the prime minister, Lord Liverpool. In December 1822 the government announced that Falmouth had been reprieved.13 Numerous petitions for repeal of the coal duties were sent up to the Commons in 1823 and 1824.14

There were rumours in the autumn of 1824 that Lemon was about to retire and that Sir Richard Vyvyan of Trelowarren (not the former sheriff) was ‘feeling the pulse’ of the county.15 Lemon apparently had no such intention, but he died suddenly in December. This happened, as Mount Edgcumbe observed, at ‘a most unlucky moment’, when Vyvyan and Wynne Pendarves had started canvassing ‘for a more remote period’, and it left the county with ‘no time for consideration, nor opportunity for other persons to present themselves as candidates, which at a dissolution I have no doubt there would have been’. Vyvyan declared that his principles were ‘those upon which our forefathers ... founded the religious and civil establishments of our excellent constitution’. Wynne Pendarves, according to the West Briton, offered ‘upon grounds entirely distinct from the political opinions which he has hitherto professed’ and ‘by a body of gentlemen, some of whom are opposed to, and others unconnected with, the cause of parliamentary reform’. Indeed, he wrote to St. Germans and Pole Carew to request their support, which was withheld on public rather than personal grounds. The Gazette claimed that a ‘mob of attorneys’, headed by one Davies of Redruth, were behind Wynne Pendarves’s candidature, and that a subscription had been raised to support him, as he was in straitened financial circumstances since the failure of the North Cornwall Bank. It seemed ‘incredible and disgraceful’ that ‘any man with the feelings of a gentleman’ could sink to the ‘meanness’ of accepting money from ‘a class of men whom he must secretly despise’. After a brief canvass Wynne Pendarves’s committee announced, 17 Dec. 1824, that given the ‘advanced period’ of the present Parliament they would not ‘bring him forward’ until the general election.16 However, he and Vyvyan immediately commenced personal canvassing for the general election, with each blaming the other for starting it; Vyvyan was reportedly well received in the west, but limited his appearances to the towns, while Wynne Pendarves had strong support from the ‘mining interest’. At Newlyn, Wynne Pendarves explained that it was necessary to refute the calumnies being ‘industriously circulated’ about him, that he was a Catholic and an enemy of the established church. He declared that the behaviour of the Irish Catholics was ‘sufficient to preclude, for the present, any further concessions to them’. Vyvyan, who professed anxiety to do nothing to jeopardize Tremayne’s position, proposed to Wynne Pendarves that they should each refrain from soliciting the second votes of Tremayne’s supporters, but this was ‘unanimously rejected in a full conclave’ of the reformers. The West Briton insisted that they were friendly to Tremayne and that his seat was being endangered by the ‘imprudent conduct’ of some of his ‘most particular friends’, who were ‘zealous in their support’ for Vyvyan.17 With the by-election approaching, Vyvyan considered asking George Fox of Falmouth, ‘the principal merchant of the county and connected with almost the whole of the mining district’, to second him, as this would ‘expose the weakness’ of the opposition ‘where they think themselves strongest’, but he feared it might ‘affront the landed interest’. Instead, he chose Canon Rogers, who represented ‘his father’s [John Rogers of Penrose] and Lord De Dunstanville’s interest, both of whom are great landed proprietors’. Amidst rumours that certain individuals were determined to press Wynne Pendarves’s candidature, an ‘immense concourse assembled in front of the [assize] hall’ at Bodmin for the nomination meeting. Pole Carew and Rogers introduced Vyvyan, who emphasized that ‘all his interests were centred in Cornwall’, asserted that his principles were ‘completely independent’ and promised to oppose the government’s liberal commercial policies if they threatened the mining industry. Penhallow Peters, claiming to represent the ‘free and spontaneous’ opinion of the ‘yeomanry’, nominated Wynne Pendarves, and he was seconded by the conveyancer Hugh Snell of Callington, who had ‘come to the meeting accompanied by a large body of freeholders’ ready to go to the poll. Wynne Pendarves stated that he ‘deeply regretted’ the earlier announcement by his committee, but explained that ‘at that time he was not aware of the extent of the public feeling in his favour’. He now realized that he could have entered into a contest against ‘the long purse of [Vyvyan], which had called into active exertions almost every professional man in the county’, and while admitting that he was in ‘embarrassed [financial] circumstances’, he still had ‘the means of an honourable, but what some might call an humble, independence’. He reaffirmed his commitment to ‘liberal principles’, but felt ‘bound’ not to stand on this occasion and said that if he were elected he would immediately vacate the seat. Vyvyan dismissed the calls for him to release Wynne Pendarves from his pledge, which Colonel Jonathan Passingham described as a ‘ruse’, since many of Vyvyan’s supporters were absent. Peters declared that he would persist anyway because ‘the yeomanry knew their rights and their strength’ and ‘will never allow two Members to be thrust on them by the aristocracy’. The sheriff, John Enys of Enys, called for a show of hands, which was reportedly ‘at least five to one’ in Wynne Pendarves’s favour, although Enys declined to call it. That evening, Peters and Snell were persuaded to abandon their plan and Vyvyan was returned unopposed at Lostwithiel next day.18

Wynne Pendarves immediately published an address promising to stand at the general election, which ‘cannot be far off’, and he embarked on a lengthy canvassing tour, establishing committees in each of the hundreds. On completing his campaign in June 1825, he claimed to have secured the support of the ‘great body of independent freeholders’ and condemned the alleged attempts by his opponents to ‘control the suffrages’ by manufacturing votes among their ‘meanest dependents’. Tremayne, who was privately adamant that ‘I cannot ... coalesce’ with Vyvyan, issued an address, 7 Feb., expressing his hope that after ’18 years faithful service’ he ‘might have been only nominally engaged in the impending contest’, and he regretted the rejection of Vyvyan’s offer by the Wynne Pendarves camp. A member of the latter group retorted, in a letter to the press, that Tremayne’s professed neutrality meant nothing when ‘his own friends and relatives’ were ‘leagued in determined hostility against us’. In April, Tremayne told Pole Carew that he thought it would be impossible for himself and Vyvyan to be re-elected ‘without expense and trouble far beyond what I am inclined to bestow’, but he confided to his father his suspicion that Vyvyan was ‘weaker than water and never can or will go to the poll’. He had therefore ‘taken means to prevent further expense being incurred on my part’ and intended to ‘rest quietly on my oars watching events for a month or two’. At the end of the parliamentary session he announced that, as the dissolution was ‘probably still distant’, he ‘shrank ... from the labour and ... irritation of a protracted canvass’ and would wait until the election to discover whether the county still wanted him as its representative. Vyvyan had meantime relied on attorneys to canvass for him while he was absent at Westminster. One of them, J. Corkhill of Wadebridge, reported that he had ‘upwards of 30 clients on whose votes I depended’, who were ‘for the present ... "snatched up" by Mr. Pendarves’, but he was ‘happy to find ... the dawning of a reaction’ in favour of Vyvyan and was sure that ‘before long I shall be able to bring back my poor misguided clients to their senses’.19 That summer the West Briton observed that the ‘independent interest’ had returned one Member for 50 years and were resolved to do so again, whereas the ‘aristocratic interest’ seemed prepared to ‘hazard’ Tremayne’s position for the sake of their ‘great object’ of monopolizing the representation. In September Vyvyan, anticipating an imminent dissolution, canvassed Helston as a possible safe retreat, lamenting that he had ‘not been supported as I expected’ and that ‘had Tremayne acted boldly and supported the party which brought him forward as a public man, Pendarves would never have had the advantage which he now is likely to enjoy’. A little later, he toyed with the idea of standing aside in favour of another candidate, who might offer with Tremayne in order to prevent the ‘Redruth radicals’ from returning a Member. However, this suggestion was ‘positively rejected’ by Tremayne, and an exasperated Vyvyan was ‘really at a loss how to act’: Tremayne would ‘not coalesce’ and evidently wished for ‘no contest’. In the event, Vyvyan made an ‘arrangement’ with Falmouth to continue nursing the county, and the latter proposed to raise a subscription of £5,000 to support him; the arrangement may also have involved the promise of a seat at Truro, where Falmouth was the patron, should Vyvyan be defeated in the county. During the winter of 1825-6 he embarked on what the West Briton described as a ‘treating tour’, entertaining his supporters ‘at 5s. a head at various places’, and he delivered his ‘usual flaming speeches’, warning of the danger of being ‘overwhelmed by Papists’ and denouncing Wynne Pendarves as a supporter of Catholic emancipation.20 At the same time, Wynne Pendarves’s cause was probably boosted by the emergence of a widespread anti-slavery movement in Cornwall. Meetings were held in many towns to organize petitions to Parliament, with Wynne Pendarves chairing those at St. Ives and Camborne, and an East Cornwall Anti-Slavery Society was founded at Bodmin, in which Colman Rashleigh was a prime mover.21 As the canvassing frenzy continued through the early months of 1826, Tremayne’s friends feared that he was being ‘lost sight of’, and John Buller* of Morval deplored his ‘unhandsome treatment’ by ‘the gentlemen of the county’. Buller approached Sir Charles Lemon, the son of the late Member, and Colman Rashleigh, in the hope of reaching an agreement to secure Tremayne’s seat, but nothing came of this immediately and comments in the West Briton indicate that there was still suspicion of possible Tory ‘tricks’. Despite the efforts of some of his supporters, Tremayne obstinately refused to act until the general election, and at one point in early March he professed himself ‘wholly indifferent to the event’, as it seemed that ‘far the greater part of my constituents’ were ‘more anxious to keep ... Vyvyan an MP ... than to keep me in’.22 By the time of the dissolution in June Vyvyan had established a network to support his campaign, involving a central committee, secretaries in each of the hundreds and parish leaders, who were responsible for organizing relays of coaches and horses to transport voters to the poll and the provisioning for them. An undated canvassing list in the papers of Pole Carew, a member of the central committee, gave 2,033 promises to Vyvyan, 1,783 to Tremayne and 956 to Wynne Pendarves.23 Tremayne received a requisition from ‘about 1,300’ freeholders, headed by Buller, who expressed their admiration for his ‘genuine English independence and integrity of character’ and their belief that he ‘ought not to be involved in the expense of a contest’. The signatories included ‘all those gentlemen of consideration in the county’ who supported Vyvyan and ‘a very great proportion’ of those pledged to Wynne Pendarves. Trevanion and Colman Rashleigh did not sign the requisition but announced their willingness to give a vote to Tremayne; Peter refused to follow suit because of his hostility to parliamentary reform. Tremayne agreed to appear at the nomination meeting but emphasized that ‘I decline entering into the unlimited expense of a contested election’. Vyvyan confirmed his candidature and Wynne Pendarves’s ‘general committee’ declared their readiness to stand a poll. Election posters associated Vyvyan and Tremayne with the cause of ‘loyalty’ and Wynne Pendarves with that of ‘liberty’, and one Tory production, mocking ‘Neddy Lackbrains’, harked on Wynne Pendarves’s financial difficulties and implied that he was a closet Catholic. There was ‘so vast a concourse of people’ for the nomination meeting at Bodmin that hustings had to be erected outside the assize hall, the ‘open space’, according to the Tory report, being ‘almost filled by a strong body of Pendarvite freeholders ... mustered with infinite pains and expense’. Tremayne was proposed by Buller and the Rev. William Molesworth of St. Breoke, who hoped the electors would not ‘disgrace themselves’ by abandoning him. He defended his voting record on retrenchment and Catholic relief, explaining that he had abstained on the latter in 1825 as he thought a ‘compromise’ might eventually be necessary, and admitted that ‘perhaps ... he was wrong’ not to have conducted a full canvass of the county the previous year. Vyvyan, whose sponsors, Pole Carew and Coryton, struggled to obtain a hearing, vindicated his parliamentary record and stressed that his future support for ministers was conditional on their policies. He repudiated the ‘abstract principles of political economy’ and said he regarded ‘the home trade as our most important consideration’. His reiterated opposition to Catholic relief prompted cries of ‘No Popery’ from his supporters. Wynne Pendarves was introduced by Peter, who deplored Tory attempts to raise the anti-Catholic cry and warned that the election would decide ‘whether Cornwall was to ... rank as an independent county or ... sink into the state of a rotten borough’, with ‘representatives imposed on it by the aristocracy’; William Rashleigh, a ‘friend and relative’, seconded. He accepted Peter’s description of him as a ‘temperate, but ... steady and consistent reformer’, who opposed ‘ministerial extravagance’, supported ‘every practicable reduction of taxation’ and had an ‘intimate acquaintance with ... local interests’. He approved of the government’s commercial policies and favoured a modified form of agricultural protection and the gradual abolition of slavery. However, he declined to express an opinion on the Catholic question, beyond promising to listen to the arguments and ‘give a conscientious vote’ when it was raised in Parliament. The sheriff, Thomas Daniell of Trelissick, called the show of hands in favour of Tremayne and Wynne Pendarves, but Vyvyan demanded a poll. That evening, to the ‘surprise’ of many, Tremayne announced his retirement, having ‘ascertained beyond a doubt that my re-election would be impracticable without an expense ... I had resolved to decline’. There remains confusion as to what agreement, if any, had existed between Tremayne and the other candidates for sharing the cost of transporting split voters. The Gazette lamented that he had ‘literally thrown away’ his seat and left an opening for the ‘subscription candidate’. It was rumoured that an ardent supporter, John Gould, intended to nominate Tremayne anyway, and Molesworth privately hoped that Vyvyan would do the decent thing and retire, pointing out that by ‘his refusal to release ... Pendarves from his pledge on the first election, he jeopardized ... Tremayne’s seat’. Lostwithiel, five days later, presented ‘a scene of life and bustle ... not ... witnessed for more than 30 years’: ‘upwards of 2,000 horsemen ... comprising the ... bulk of the substantial yeomanry’, entered the town in procession with Wynne Pendarves, while Vyvyan, anxious to remedy his poor showing at Bodmin, brought up ‘a considerable number of persons’ in carriages from the west of the county and ‘about 150 individuals on horseback ... from different places’, whose procession ‘had a very good effect’. He allegedly also had a ‘hired phalanx of bludgeonmen’, marshalled by a local saddler named Hambly, who ‘did their utmost to cause a riot’ by striking their opponents’ horses. The hustings were erected in front of the hotel, where ‘a vast crowd’ gathered ‘decorated with the colours of the ... candidates’. In the event there was no opposition, and Vyvyan and Wynne Pendarves were introduced by the same individuals, declared elected, ‘girt with swords in the usual form’ and chaired. Vyvyan declared that he was confident of representing the county ‘for many years’, and Wynne Pendarves claimed to have been returned by ‘the unbought and spontaneous voices of the largest body of freeholders ever before assembled in this county’. There was insufficient accommodation for all those who wished to attend the dinners given at the respective party headquarters that evening.24 Privately, Vyvyan regretted the ‘anomalous position’ in which Tremayne had ‘placed himself’, insisting that even ten days before the election he would have ‘taken a bet on Tremayne beating Pendarves out of the field’. His election expenses consisted mainly of ‘attornies’ charges’, and he thought he would be ‘fortunate if I am clear for £7,000, including everything’. De Dunstanville, after consulting Falmouth, proposed to raise a secret fund, possibly through annual subscriptions, and to sound out Tremayne as to whether he would stand again with a promise of pecuniary support, in order to ‘rescue our county from the very disgraceful position in which it is now placed’. He later suggested that Vyvyan be included in the arrangement, but it is unlikely that anything came of it.25

Early in 1827 Vyvyan was instrumental in encouraging parish petitions for the maintenance of agricultural protection, which he presented to the Commons.26 In May, following a meeting at Falmouth of those interested in the pilchard fishery, a deputation was sent to the president of the board of trade, Huskisson, and joined by the Members, to press for the continuance of the export bounty.27 A few petitions were sent up from non-parliamentary boroughs in 1827 and 1828 for repeal of the Test Acts, but the issue aroused remarkably little passion in the county, perhaps because of Methodist ambivalence towards the church and old Dissent.28 Penhallow Peters chaired a meeting at Truro, 21 May 1828, which agreed to organize a requisition for a county meeting to warn of the ‘inevitable ruin’ of agricultural and mining interests, because of the proposed withdrawal of small bank notes. However, this evidently received insufficient support and Vyvyan, who circularized his friends to send memorials to the borough Members on this subject, had a discouraging report about the prevailing state of opinion in the county, which seemed averse to upsetting the ‘present system’; only a handful of petitions were forwarded to the Commons.29 In January 1829 the Gazette declared that the ‘Protestant spirit of the West of England’ had been ‘awakened’, and numerous parish, district and borough meetings were held to express opposition to Catholic emancipation. Peter and Colman Rashleigh took the lead in the pro-Catholic movement, and a few counter-petitions were signed, but their attempts to intervene at other meetings were frustrated either by the chairmen or by the fact that they were held on the same day. On 24 February Vyvyan presented 16 hostile petitions, containing 9,000 signatures, which he claimed reflected the general feeling of Cornishmen; Falmouth later presented them to the Lords. However, Wynne Pendarves, in bringing up the pro-Catholic petitions, complained that many of the meetings had been improperly conducted and that the signatures attached to the anti-Catholic petitions included those of schoolboys and other ineligible persons. He also questioned why no county meeting had been held. Vyvyan voted against the Wellington ministry’s emancipation bill and became a prominent figure in the ‘revolt of the Ultras’. Wynne Pendarves supported the bill, despite Tory murmurings that he had misled the county as to his opinions at the last election. Loyal addresses were sent to the king in March 1829 from Falmouth (including a separate one from 200 ladies), Mylor, Padstow, Penzance, Redruth and elsewhere, asking him to withhold assent from the ‘Popery restoration bill’.30 The sheriff, Collins, chaired a meeting of the mining interest at Truro, 3 Mar. 1830, when Falmouth carried resolutions against the free importation of copper for smelting, and a memorial to the treasury was organized in favour of a protective duty. Others present included Peter, Sir Charles Lemon and Colman Rashleigh, who moved a vote of thanks to Falmouth.31 Almost simultaneously Collins rejected a requisition, signed by seven magistrates and ‘upwards of 400 owners and occupiers of land’, for a meeting to consider relief from distress, retrenchment and reform, as ‘he did not see ... the names of the clergy, or of the principal freeholders, to such an extent as could alone justify endangering the unanimity and peace of the county’. Consequently, eight magistrates convened a meeting at Bodmin, 22 Mar., which was chaired by Gully Bennet of St. Columb. Peter and Walker moved petitions to Parliament, in which it was asserted that ‘agriculture and trade’ had been ‘reduced to a state of ... unexampled difficulty’. This was ‘more immediately attributable’ to the ‘accumulated debt and taxes’ weighing on the people, which had been ‘rendered doubly ... oppressive by a contracted currency and diminished means of payment’. Unless a ‘rigid system of economy and retrenchment in every department of state’ was adopted, and further tax reductions offered, the economic pressure was likely to ‘dissolve all bands and endanger all orders of society’. Nothing could be achieved without an unspecified measure of reform, to create a Commons ‘responsible to and having no interest distinct from the great body of the people’, which would provide ‘security against future abuses’. Penhallow Peters proposed a clause relating to tithes reform, but this was withdrawn because it was not in the requisition. The petitions were ‘carried unanimously’ and forwarded to Lord Radnor and Wynne Pendarves, but for some unexplained reason they did not reach London for presentation until 14 June. Although the West Briton reported that the ‘attendance of the yeomanry was very respectable’, it admitted that few of the gentry had been present, which showed an unfortunate ‘want of sympathy’. Predictably, the Gazette dismissed the proceedings as a ‘complete failure’, claiming that only ‘about 250 men, women and children’, mostly curious inhabitants, had mustered ‘on a Saint Monday’ in fine weather. It alleged that the meeting had been organized by the ‘least influential members of the old band’, while the ‘heads of the party’, such as Colman Rashleigh, had been ‘shy of appearing’ and made their excuses.32 The following month a petition from the hundred of West for relief from distress was forwarded to Vyvyan by the Liskeard attorney Peter Glubb. He reported that the farmers were ‘almost universally in a tottering state’, owing to ‘increasing poor rates and other parochial burdens’, and he predicted that some ‘must break down and become paupers’; ‘the end will be bad and I fear the crisis is not far distant’.33

At the dissolution in the summer of 1830 reports that Tremayne might stand, or that Valletort might come forward ‘on the aristocratic interest’, were soon discounted and it was anticipated that Vyvyan and Wynne Pendarves would be returned unopposed. An address was published by the Truro Anti-Slavery Society urging the electors to withhold support from any candidate who refused to commit himself to early abolition. The attendance for the nomination meeting at Bodmin was ‘not very numerous’, although ‘most of the leading gentlemen’ were present. Vyvyan was proposed by Coryton, who praised the ‘conspicuous part’ he had taken in the campaign for economy and retrenchment and hailed him as ‘the guardian of the rights and liberties of the people’; Nicholas Kendall of Pelyn seconded. Wynne Pendarves was sponsored by Walker and Peter, who welcomed the revolution in France, praised the ‘patriot king’ William IV and hoped Britain and France would become allies in ‘spreading religion, order, virtue, civilization and happiness over the uttermost parts of the Earth’. Vyvyan provided a lengthy review of recent events, in which he lamented that ‘the constitution of 1688 had been broken in upon by those who were ... considered its firmest supporters’ and condemned the dictatorial tendencies of Wellington, whom he likened to Polignac. The metropolitan police force was thus ‘a species of gendarmerie like that of France’. He also criticized the government’s adherence to free trade policies, such as the abolition of fish bounties, the importation of copper ore and the Sale of Beer Act, which had ‘increased the haunts of disorderly persons’. He called on the Whigs to join with the Ultra Tories to resist Wellington’s attempt to ‘concentrate all power in himself’, and maintained that he had no objection to the formation of a Whig government. Wynne Pendarves said that he regretted having differed from some of his constituents over Catholic emancipation, but he anticipated ‘beneficial results’ from the ‘amicable settlement’ of the issue. He welcomed the government’s leaning towards free trade but wanted them to go further, by repealing the duty on coastwise coal. He thought ministers had been ‘tardy’ on the question of slavery and promised to ‘use every effort ... to promote measures calculated to abate this flagrant injustice’. He pledged support for ‘every proposal for a constitutional reform in the representation’ and ‘rejoiced’ at the revolution in France. Before the proceedings ended, Molesworth expressed dismay that Cornwall had only ultra candidates to choose from, representing ‘two extreme parties’, and that no one like Tremayne was offering on ‘moderate and independent principles’. At Lostwithiel next day Coryton and Kendall again introduced Vyvyan, and Walker and Peter, after sponsoring Wynne Pendarves, declared their willingness to endorse Vyvyan, since he ‘professed so great a regard for liberty’. On being declared elected, Vyvyan said he would be ‘ever ... mindful’ of the principles of liberty and would oppose any attempt to restore the Bourbon monarchy, but he could not pledge himself on the question of reform. Wynne Pendarves emphasized that he was ‘bound to no party’ and that his ‘first object’ was a ‘temperate and judicious’ measure of reform, because once the people were ‘fairly represented, ministers, however arbitrarily disposed, would be rendered harmless’. Four days later at Bodmin, an address of congratulations to the king was moved by Falmouth and De Dunstanville and received the ‘hearty concurrence’ of Peter and others.34

In October 1830 the anti-slavery campaigner William Blair of Bristol conducted an extensive tour of Cornwall, holding meetings in many towns where he exhorted his listeners to do their duty and organize petitions; Wynne Pendarves and Peter joined him at the meeting of the East Cornwall Anti-Slavery Society at Bodmin. Large numbers of petitions were consequently forwarded to Parliament in the winter of 1830-1.35 The ‘Swing’ riots made little impact in Cornwall, apart from a couple of isolated incidents at Morval and St. Winnow, and in December 1830 the West Briton reported that the ‘utmost tranquillity prevails throughout this county’, observing that though wages were ‘not high’ there was plentiful employment in the mining districts. Vyvyan gathered information from various correspondents and was reassured that ‘no predisposition’ to rioting existed amongst the miners. The only serious disturbance was at the fishing port of Mevagissey, where a ‘mob’ tried to prevent the shipment of a cargo of corn; but the ‘Mevagissey men’ were ‘a violent and lawless set ... and in most respects of a very different character from that of the Cornish generally’. The eastern agricultural district was ‘tolerably quiet and peaceable’, but the labourers were complaining of a ‘want of sufficient employment and wages’ and the ‘rack renters’ were struggling to ‘raise the rents, tithes and parochial charges’. As George Kingdon of Launcells House observed, ‘nothing will do but well-timed concession’ by landlords with regard to rents, ‘coupled with firmness and proper decision of character’ at any hint of disorder. The magistrates in the hundreds of East and Stratton took the precaution of preparing lists of suitable special constables, so that any trouble might be ‘put down promptly’. Early the next year more ‘symptoms of discontent’ were manifested by the miners, who were angry at the way the abundant grain harvest was being exported by the corn factors, creating local shortages, and attempts were made to stop shipments from Padstow, Wadebridge and elsewhere. The ‘first open collision between capital and labour in Cornish industrial history’ took place at this time, with a strike by copper miners in the St. Blazey district.36 In January 1831 a requisition for a meeting to express support for Lord Grey’s ministry, particularly with regard to parliamentary reform, was signed by ‘17 magistrates, several clergymen and above 700 gentlemen, merchants, farmers and inhabitant householders’. It was rejected with ‘great reluctance’ by Collins, on the ground that ‘in a time of public commotion’ he could not ‘hazard’ the peace of the county by raising a subject ‘likely to agitate and inflame’; ten magistrates therefore summoned the meeting. On 19 January ‘numerous bodies of horsemen’ entered Bodmin from all directions, including ‘upwards of 1,000 ... from the Liskeard side’, and hustings were ‘hastily erected’ outside the assize hall. Trevanion presided and a petition was moved by Colman Rashleigh, who rejoiced that reform was ‘now ... the universal cry of the country’, and seconded by Peter, who argued that ministers needed support from the ‘temperate and intelligent portion of society’ to help them overcome ‘opposing factions’. Walker, John Rundle of Tavistock and others spoke in support and the petition was carried ‘unanimously’. It drew attention to the ‘notorious’ fact that ‘a very large majority’ of Members were ‘indebted for their seats to undue influence ... corrupt purchase and ... the arbitrary interference and nomination of peers’, and claimed that only two of the 20 Cornish boroughs had ‘even the semblance ... of free election’. This ‘perverted ... state of things’ was to blame for the country’s ‘severe sufferings and increasing discontents’. It was hoped that the government would ‘correct the inadequate and partial distribution of the elective franchise ... establish the right of voting upon just and uniform principles ... shorten the duration of parliaments and regulate the cost, time and mode of elections’, so as to ‘render the ... Commons ... the faithful organ and representative of the just wishes and true interests of the people’. Only by this means could they ‘avert from these shores the destruction which has already befallen or is yet impending over the unreformed governments of continental Europe’. After the vote, ‘a number of gentlemen and ... the respectable yeomanry’ dined at Oliver’s. Copies of the petition were circulated throughout the county and it was ‘signed by upwards of 10,000 persons, including a great majority of the freeholders, especially in the eastern districts’; it was presented by Wynne Pendarves, 14 Feb., and lord chancellor Brougham, 18 Feb.37 The government’s reform bill proposed to disfranchise 12 Cornish boroughs and partially disfranchise eight others, drastically reducing the number of borough seats in the county from 40 to ten. In response to a requisition signed by ‘15 or 16 magistrates, several clergymen and nearly 1,200 respectable freeholders and inhabitants’, the sheriff, Tremayne, convened a meeting at Bodmin, 23 Mar., to express support for the bill. The Gazette claimed that despite the ‘unusual pains’ taken ‘by a profuse distribution of inflammatory handbills’, the attendance ‘did not justify the expectations’ of the reformers, but the West Briton emphasized the ‘number of gentlemen and ... better class of ... yeomanry’ who were present. Letters were read from Vyvyan, condemning the bill, and from Wynne Pendarves, supporting it. Peter, in moving an address of thanks to the king, dismissed the ‘ridiculous’ objections of the ‘borough faction’ and maintained that the bill would ‘add stability to the throne’ by ‘enlisting new recruits in the cause of the constitution’. He also praised it for aiming a ‘deadly blow at corruption’, and likened Britain to ‘an eagle renewing her mighty youth’. Reform was no ‘panacea’, but he thought it would lead to a reduction of taxes and might ‘by degrees remove many causes of poverty and open fresh facilities and rewards to honest talent and perseverance’. Sir Rose Price of Trengwainton, a former Vyvyanite, seconded him and the address was ‘carried by acclamation’, with ‘only one hand ... held up against it’. A petition to the Commons was proposed by Trevanion, who saw in the bill ‘a resting place for all reformers’, seconded by Colman Rashleigh, who found in it everything he wanted except shorter parliaments, and similarly carried. The address was forwarded to Grey, and the petition presented by Wynne Pendarves, 28 Mar.38 Early in April the Rev. Francis Hext of Helland and five other magistrates, two of them his relatives, organized a requisition for a meeting to oppose the bill and consider an alternative measure, based on resolutions contained in public letters addressed by Hext to Vyvyan. This was abandoned in favour of a private meeting in Truro, where, according to Collins, he managed to ‘get the subject out of the hands of some injudicious persons’. A petition to the Commons was ‘unanimously adopted’, which rejected ‘all hasty and theoretical experiments’ and warned that the bill made ‘so wide and fundamental a change in our representative system’ as must ‘tend to the destruction of that balance of power ... in the three branches of the legislature upon which alone depends the preservation of our rights and liberties as subjects’. It added a vague but ‘earnest wish that such abuses as have arisen may be corrected’. The petition was signed by ‘33 magistrates and 800 freeholders’ in ‘two days’ and forwarded to Vyvyan, but he was unable to present it before the dissolution.39 At the dinner in Bodmin after the county meeting in March, it was suggested that if a general election took place a second reformer might be brought forward in conjunction with Wynne Pendarves; Peter indicated that if measures were taken ‘to return him free of expense, he should not refuse’. An ‘engagement was immediately drawn up’ to raise a subscription, and several meetings were subsequently held to form hundred committees, which were to organize the conveyance of freeholders to the poll at no expense to the candidates. In late March Lemon told Pole Carew that he had been approached to stand, with the reformers proposing to ‘withdraw all other claimants in my favour’. He was ‘anxious to ascertain what prospect of support I have amongst my own friends and connections’ before committing himself, as he was unwilling to offer ‘unless I can obtain the support of a party in the county sufficiently strong to give me personal weight without reference to any present and accidental principle of excitement’. A few days later he abandoned the idea, ‘from a consideration of some circumstances in the county politics, in which I do not wish deeply to engage’.40 Following the dissolution in April Vyvyan, denying that he was an ‘enemy to all reform’, offered with Valletort, who explained that he had been induced to come forward by the reformers’ attempt to monopolize the representation, adding that in ‘any other circumstances’ his being the heir to a peerage would have ‘prevented’ him from standing. Their supporters met at Bodmin, 29 Apr., to form a ‘committee of management’ and enter into a subscription, to which £20,000 was apparently pledged. In a subsequent address, Valletort gave an ‘unqualified contradiction’ to reports that he and Vyvyan had received money from a society in a London ‘supposed to exist for the purpose of influencing elections’. Wynne Pendarves came forward as a ‘uniform and zealous supporter’ of the reform bill, and Peter expressed his willingness to stand if desired or to support another candidate. According to the West Briton, it was the ‘avowed determination of the anti-reform candidates to render the contest ... as expensive as possible’ that led a meeting of the reformers, chaired by Colman Rashleigh, 29 Apr., to ask Lemon to stand in place of Peter, who admitted that ‘pecuniary resources were wanting’. Lemon, it was observed, had ‘inherited the liberal principles of his father, with his fortune’. He emphasized, when accepting the invitation, that he was ‘zealously interested in the cause of reform but a man of no party’. A reform poster deplored the fact that ‘the name of Cornwall and corruption is become synonymous’ and urged the freeholders to ‘rescue your county from indelible disgrace’. Referring to Vyvyan’s warning in the Commons that the reform bill would endanger the interests of savings bank account holders, it retorted that a ‘corrupt’ Parliament had reduced the interest on these accounts ‘at a blow’ and advised that ‘if you wish to preserve your little savings for the comfort of old age or to contribute to the happiness of your offspring, vote for reformers’. The Truro Anti-Slavery Society issued a similar address to that of the previous year.41 Local newspapers agreed that the attendance for the nomination meeting at Bodmin ‘exceeded what was ever before witnessed in Cornwall’. Wynne Pendarves and Lemon entered the town at the head of ‘upwards of 1,000 horsemen’, and over ‘5,000 persons’ gathered in the rain outside the assize hall, with the reformers wearing laurel leaves in their hats. Vyvyan was introduced by Coryton and Pole Carew, Wynne Pendarves by Colman Rashleigh and Sir William Call of Whiteford House, Valletort by Francis Rodd of Trebartha and Collins, and Lemon by Walker and Buller. Vyvyan, who was received by ‘a storm of ... groaning and hissing’, warned that the reform bill would increase the number of Catholic Members, ‘drew a picture of the ravages of civil war’ if it was passed, and supported an ‘adjustment’ of tithes and the ‘gradual abolition’ of slavery. Wynne Pendarves said he was ‘not surprised at the attempt to raise the No Popery cry’, and maintained that despite the reduction in Cornwall’s seats it would be ‘better represented as strangers would no longer be returned’. He favoured a ‘fair and equitable commutation’ of tithes and the abolition of slavery. Valletort, who struggled to be heard, admitted that ‘some reform must now be granted’. Lemon pledged himself to the principle of the bill but not its details, and he promised to ‘bring to the poll every freeholder willing to support him’. The show of hands was declared for Wynne Pendarves and Lemon, but their opponents demanded a poll. Afterwards, Vyvyan challenged Wynne Pendarves as to whether he was being subsidized by the Whig Loyal and Patriotic Fund, which the latter denied, although he added that ‘if he was to be borne down by a stock purse of the aristocracy ... he might receive some’. Five days later at Lostwithiel, a ‘long range of booths ... for each of the nine hundreds’ was erected near the hustings and there was a ‘very full assemblage of freeholders’. Vyvyan was again proposed by Coryton and Pole Carew, and Valletort by Collins and Glanville. Wynne Pendarves was sponsored by Colman Rashleigh, who urged the electors to ‘follow the example of their Devonshire brethren’, and Thomas Agar Robartes of Lanhydrock, and Lemon by Walker and James Wentworth Buller, Member for Exeter. Polling commenced at 3 o’clock and by the end of the day Wynne Pendarves and Lemon led with 213 and 212 votes respectively, to Vyvyan’s 100 and Valletort’s 96. On the second day Wynne Pendarves and Lemon increased their respective totals to 711 and 706, while Vyvyan had 395 and Valletort 354. Ebrington, one of the triumphant Whig candidates in the Devon election, appeared and spoke that evening. On the third, the supporters of reform ‘continued to crowd to the poll in considerable numbers’, many of them having ‘lodged in the neighbouring towns and villages’, and at the end of the day Wynne Pendarves had 1,156 votes, Lemon 1,146, Vyvyan 604 and Valletort 532. Nevertheless, the Tories insisted that they were confident of ultimate success. Such was the interest in the proceedings that ‘some gentlemen at Falmouth ... trained a carrier pigeon for the purpose of conveying there, every evening, the state of the poll’. On the fourth, the ‘bustle was kept up throughout the day’, and during the afternoon ‘a long train of carriages arrived from the west’, containing ‘about 250 freeholders on the popular side’ under the direction of Captain Chenhalls of St. Just; at the close, Wynne Pendarves had 1,542 votes, Lemon 1,524, Vyvyan 794 and Valletort 714. It became apparent on the fifth day that ‘the anti-reformers had exhausted their votes’, whereas the reformers ‘continued to press forward in two of the booths’, for the hundreds of East and Penwith. At 5 o’clock, reportedly after ‘much hesitation’ on Vyvyan’s part, he and Valletort announced their retirement. Vyvyan appeared on the hustings and claimed that his canvassing returns had shown 1,700 promises of support, a figure now exceeded by the reform candidates. Valletort attributed his defeat to the fact that some influential families who were opposed to reform had ‘for personal and family reasons ... supported his opponents’. This was certainly true in the case of De Dunstanville, and the Gazette observed that the substitution of Lemon for Peter had greatly strengthened the reformers’ cause in this respect. Wynne Pendarves and Lemon were declared elected and girt with ‘swords and spurs, pursuant to ancient custom’. Before the chairing, Wynne Pendarves declared that the ‘eyes of all England have been fixed upon us’ and that the reformers had triumphed against ‘a large portion of the aristocracy, including most of the proprietors of our numerous boroughs’; he congratulated the electors on the ‘peaceable manner’ of the contest. Celebratory meetings were afterwards held in towns all over the county.42 The West Briton claimed that the reformers had had ‘500 unpolled votes’ in Truro and the district to the west, and another 200 each around Lostwithiel and in the hundred of Pydar. Agar Robartes’s steward reported that even if the county had polled out, the Tories could not have mustered more than 1,100 votes. One of the Tory subscribers, Gordon Gregor of Trewarthenick, confessed in his diary that ‘we had few [left] to bring up’, and in his opinion it had been ‘useless to commence’ the contest as the candidates ‘never ... had a shadow of chance from the beginning’. He later observed that the ‘Tory party’ had been ‘on the decline since ... 1826’, when, if it had only ‘made Tremayne the first object, we should have stood on very different ground from what we do at present’. No pollbook has survived, but a list of the votes cast for the candidates in each hundred, published in the West Briton, suggests that the reformers had large majorities in all areas except Kirrier, where Vyvyan’s estate was situated, and East, Mount Edgcumbe’s stronghold.43 Wynne Pendarves and Lemon reportedly spent about £12,000 on the contest, and it is known that Tory expenses amounted to at least £15,000, of which Vyvyan paid £5,000 and Valletort £1,000.44

In September 1831 Peter organized a requisition for a meeting to petition the Lords in favour of the reintroduced reform bill, but this was withdrawn owing to the shortage of time. Instead, a petition was circulated, maintaining that the ‘same ardent spirit of reform’ in the country ‘continues without abatement’, which attracted 6,575 signatures, including those of ‘upwards of 40 magistrates’ and ‘more than three-quarters of the freeholders’, in four days; it was forward to Grey for presentation, 3 Oct.45 Following the bill’s rejection, Tremayne convened a meeting by requisition at Bodmin, 26 Oct., when, according to conflicting accounts, ‘the substantial yeomanry came forward with ... alacrity’, or no more than ‘7-800’ people attended. Peter and the young Sir William Molesworth† of Pencarrow moved an address to the king, deploring the ‘open contempt of public ... opinion’ by the Lords, but insisting that ‘as Englishmen or reformers’ they would not ‘rush into violence and despair’, as they had faith in Grey’s ministry, and asking that the royal prerogative be used if necessary to ensure the bill’s passage. Colman Rashleigh, who had recently been awarded a baronetcy, acknowledged that the peers had a ‘valuable’ constitutional role to play, as a ‘patrician barrier’ between the pretensions of the crown and ‘popular passions and caprice’, but they were now opposed to both and had forgotten that their privileges were ‘a trust for the benefit of the people’. However, he was confident that through peaceful means the reformers could ‘call into operation the energies of public opinion’ and ‘remove the delusions of our opponents’. Valletort, amidst a ‘torrent of groans and hisses’, defended the Lords from the charge of self-interest, claimed that the ‘present not large meeting’ proved there had been a ‘reaction’ against reform, and warned that it would lead to the repeal of the corn laws. Lemon countered his arguments, insisting that the agricultural interest would ‘retain its due weight in the representation of the country’ and denying that those who had voted for reform expected to derive material benefits from it. After the address was carried with four dissentient voices, Wynne Pendarves expressed his belief that ministers would propose a bill ‘not ... less efficacious than the last’ and that the Lords would ‘concede to the wishes of the people’. More than ‘100 gentlemen, merchants and farmers’ later dined at Oliver’s.46 Falmouth advised Wellington that he saw little chance of eliciting an anti-reform declaration and lamented that ‘this county, from being one of the most loyal, has now become the most radical in England’, for ‘although 19/20ths of the clergy and a large portion of the gentry are sound, the middle classes are too deeply infected to enable me to conquer their supineness’; in any case there was not ‘one leading, energetic, country gentleman, competent to the undertaking’. Hext tried to revive his alternative reform plan, which he elaborated in 12 resolutions published in the Gazette in December 1831. He proposed a limited redistribution of seats, so that ‘newer and no less important sources of wealth’ were represented, but that no borough should be completely disfranchised, the voting qualification in boroughs should vary according to the size of population and the 40s. county freehold franchise should gradually be replaced by a £10 qualification. Twenty magistrates and gentlemen endorsed this scheme, including Coryton, Glanville and Pole Carew, who saw in it a ‘rallying point for the Conservative party’ which might ‘enable them to get rid of the [reform] bill and yet preserve the public peace’. However, Falmouth, St. Germans, Valletort and others were unwilling to associate themselves with anything so specific, as it was likely to reveal divisions within the party’s ‘already reduced ranks’. Falmouth was scathing about ‘such a surrender of principle’, and advised that Hext had better confine his activities to the ‘eastern districts’ in order to ‘avoid a public disclaimer ... by gentlemen of weight and character in the west’. In February 1832, as the prospect of a large creation of peers to carry the revised reform bill mounted, Collins and Kendall organized an address to the king, ‘somewhat similar’ to that sent from Devon. By ‘strictly confining’ it to the magistracy, the address was intended to remain separate from Hext’s production and would hopefully ‘show a numerical superiority of that class of persons which must be regarded as the first in station, in intelligence and in landed possessions’. It asserted the ‘essential value of our independent peerage as a main safeguard of the throne, no less than the liberties of the freest people upon earth’, and thanked the king for the proclamation against political unions, which were attempting to ‘intimidate the legislature’. Mount Edgcumbe, Falmouth and St. Germans headed the list of 94 signatories, which included 38 clergymen, and it was forwarded to Vyvyan for presentation in late March.47 Following the resignation of Grey’s ministry in May, 3,178 ‘gentlemen, yeomanry and tradesmen’ signed a requisition for a meeting to address the king, asking him to reinstate the government and ‘by an immediate exertion of his ... prerogative in the creation of peers, enable them to carry the reform bill unimpaired and without further delay’. A supplementary requisition, with 81 names attached to it, favoured petitioning the Commons to withhold supplies. The sheriff, Edward Archer of Trelaske, said he would have agreed to the original request, but the latter was so ‘fraught with disrespect to my king and danger to my country’ that he felt bound to reject them both. Five magistrates therefore summoned a meeting for 23 May, but it was abandoned when Grey returned to office. Reform meetings were held at Penzance and Falmouth, 14 May 1832, and at the latter a political union was established. During the constitutional crisis Collins initiated another address to the king, praising his conduct, and Falmouth thought it was ‘worth half what we possess ... to make a stand’ against the ‘effects of a sanguinary revolution’; this too was dropped.48 The reform bill’s passage was marked by celebrations in towns all over the county.49

By the Reform Act, Cornwall was divided into East and West. Bodmin and Truro retained their representation, as did Penryn by being united with Falmouth, but Helston, Launceston, Liskeard and St. Ives each lost one Member and 13 boroughs were disfranchised. The county’s representation was therefore reduced from 42 to 14. At the general election of 1832 Wynne Pendarves and Lemon were returned unopposed for West Cornwall, and Molesworth and William Trelawny of Trelawne for the Eastern division. Wynne Pendarves sat for what was a Liberal stronghold until his death in 1853, and Lemon (with one brief interruption) until his retirement in 1857. The representation of East Cornwall was usually shared after 1837.50

Author: Terry Jenkins


  • 1. S. Drew, Hist. Cornw. (1824), i. 563-4, 591-4, 599-626; Pigot’s Commercial Dir. (1830), 133-4; J. Rowe, Cornw. in Age of Industrial Revolution, 114-304.
  • 2. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 40-41; E. Jaggard, Cornw. Politics in Age of Reform, 6-47; Wellington mss WP1/633/15.
  • 3. West Briton, 18, 25 Feb. 1820.
  • 4. Cornw. RO, Rashleigh mss DD/R(S)/1/1011, 1013, 1015; Carew Pole mss CC/M/53, letters from Mount Edgcumbe to Pole Carew, Feb.-Mar.; West Briton, 17 Mar. 1820.
  • 5. West Briton, 24 Mar. 1820.
  • 6. CJ, lxxv. 165, 176, 210, 224, 251; lxxvi. 90, 125, 246; lxxvii. 192, 204, 213; LJ, liv. 149; lv. 179.
  • 7. West Briton, 17, 24 Nov., 1-22 Dec.; R. Cornw. Gazette, 18, 25 Nov., 2-30 Dec. 1820, 6, 20 Jan. 1821.
  • 8. Cornw. RO, Tremayne mss DD/T/2571; Rashleigh mss 1/1029; Carew Pole mss CC/M/54, De Dunstanville to Pole Carew, 15, 20, 27 Feb., 5 Mar.; West Briton, 23 Feb.; R. Cornw. Gazette, 24 Feb. 1821.
  • 9. Carew Pole mss CC/M/54, C. Rashleigh to Pole Carew, 8 Mar., De Dunstanville to same, 12, 19 Mar.; West Briton, 9, 16 Mar.; R. Cornw. Gazette, 10-24 Mar. 1821; CJ, lxxvi. 245.
  • 10. West Briton, 1, 22, 29 Mar., 5, 26 Apr.; R. Cornw. Gazette, 30 Mar., 6 Apr. 1822; CJ, lxxvii. 192.
  • 11. West Briton, 7 Dec. 1821, 24 May; R. Cornw. Gazette, 25 May 1822.
  • 12. West Briton, 7 June; Cornw. RO, Johnstone mss DD/J/2104, Bolitho and Sons (Penzance) to Sir C. Hawkins, 7 June 1822; Tremayne mss 2657, 2663; CJ, lxxvii. 334.
  • 13. West Briton, 18 Oct., 1 Nov., 6 Dec. 1822.
  • 14. CJ, lxxviii. 162, 231, 264, 298; lxxix. 6, 14, 33, 54, 64, 81, 102.
  • 15. West Briton, 22 Oct.; R. Cornw. Gazette, 23 Oct. 1824.
  • 16. Cornw. RO, Pendarves mss DD/PD/211, St. Germans to Wynne Pendarves, 14 Dec., Pole Carew to same, 15 Dec.; Carew Pole mss CC/N/58, Mount Edgcumbe to Pole Carew, 20 Dec.; West Briton, 17, 24 Dec.; R. Cornw. Gazette, 18 Dec. 1824.
  • 17. R. Cornw. Gazette, 25 Dec. 1824, 8, 22 Jan. 1825; West Briton, 31 Dec. 1824, 7-21 Jan. 1825; Carew Pole mss CC/N/58, Vyvyan to Pole Carew, 1, 22 Jan. 1825.
  • 18. Carew Pole mss CC/N/58, Vyvyan to Pole Carew, 1, 22 Jan.; West Briton, 28 Jan.; R. Cornw. Gazette, 29 Jan. 1825.
  • 19. Carew Pole mss CC/N/58, Tremayne to Pole Carew, 30 Jan., 13 Apr., 10 May, 20 July; Tremayne mss 2742; Cornw. RO, Vyvyan mss DD/V/BO/44, Rev. R. Gurney to Vyvyan, 24 Mar., Corkhill to Grylls and Grylls (Helston solicitors), 6 Apr.; West Briton, 11, 18 Feb., 18 Mar., 6, 13, 27 May, 10 June, 22 July 1825.
  • 20. West Briton, 26 Aug., 23, 30 Sept., 11 Nov., 23, 30 Dec. 1825, 6, 27 Jan., 6, 13 Feb. 1826; Carew Pole mss CC/N/58, Vyvyan to Pole Carew, 29 Sept., 12, 25, 31 Oct., 18 Nov.; 59, Falmouth to same, 11 Dec. 1825.
  • 21. West Briton, 30 Dec. 1825, 27 Jan., 3-24 Feb., 3-24 Mar. 1826; CJ, lxxxi. 41, 106, 120, 181, 205, 211; LJ, lviii. 40, 56, 84, 85, 162, 299, 3321, 371.
  • 22. Carew Pole mss CC/N/59, letters to Pole Carew from Glasson, 14 Jan., Buller, 15 Jan., 27 Mar., Tremayne, 4 Mar., Glanville, 7 Mar., Pole Carew to Molesworth, 26 May; West Briton, 19, 26 May 1826.
  • 23. Carew Pole mss CO/CC/9-11.
  • 24. West Briton, 2-30 June; R. Cornw. Gazette, 3-24 June; Carew Pole mss CC/N/59, Molesworth to Pole Carew, 17 June 1826; A. de C. Glubb, When Cornw. had 44 MPs, 50-53 (election posters).
  • 25. Carew Pole mss CC/N/59, Vyvyan to Pole Carew, 16, 28 June, De Dunstanville to same, 23, 31 Aug., 3 Sept., 5 Oct. 1826.
  • 26. Carew Pole mss CC/N/60, Vyvyan to Pole Carew, 19 Feb. 1827; CJ, lxxxii. 149, 206, 293.
  • 27. West Briton, 18 May, 1 June 1827.
  • 28. CJ, lxxxii. 461, 520, 560; lxxxiii. 35, 96; LJ, lx. 118; Jaggard, 68.
  • 29. R. Cornw. Gazette, 24, 31 May; Vyvyan mss 47, Thomson to Vyvyan, 29 May 1828; CJ, lxxxiii. 367, 372, 392.
  • 30. R. Cornw. Gazette, 27 Dec. 1828, 3-31 Jan., 28 Feb., 7-28 Mar.; West Briton, 16, 23 Jan., 6-27 Mar. 1829; CJ, lxxxiv. 81, 120, 165; LJ, lxi. 18, 47, 74, 75, 91, 123, 130, 144, 184, 259, 266.
  • 31. West Briton, 5 Mar. 1830.
  • 32. Ibid. 12 Feb., 5, 12, 26 Mar., 25 June; R. Cornw. Gazette, 20, 27 Mar. 1830; CJ, lxxxv. 548; LJ. lxii. 714.
  • 33. Vyvyan mss 33, Glubb to Vyvyan, 29 Apr. 1830; CJ, lxxxv. 422.
  • 34. West Briton, 2-30 July, 6, 13 Aug.; R. Cornw. Gazette, 3, 31 July, 7, 14 Aug. 1830.
  • 35. West Briton, 8-29 Oct., 5 Nov. 1830; CJ, lxxxvi. 38-39, 53, 55, 60-61, 74; LJ, lxiii. 19, 30, 38, 40, 54, 56, 60, 70-71, 75, 77, 80, 82, 86, 89, 94, 100, 137, 163, 164.
  • 36. Vyvyan mss 33, letters to Vyvyan from Kingdon, 30 Nov., 3 Dec., Avery, 3 Dec., Coryton, 3 Dec., Petherick, 5 Dec.; West Briton, 3-24 Dec. 1830, 7 Jan., 18, 25 Feb. 1831; Rowe, 142-3, 246.
  • 37. West Briton, 31 Dec. 1830, 7-28 Jan., 4-18 Feb.; R. Cornw. Gazette, 15, 22 Jan. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 245; LJ, lxiii. 240.
  • 38. West Briton, 11-25 Mar.; R. Cornw. Gazette, 26 Mar. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 446.
  • 39. R. Cornw. Gazette, 19 Mar., 2-30 Apr.; Carew Pole mss CC/N/64, Collins to Pole Carew, 18 Apr. 1831.
  • 40. West Briton, 25 Mar., 1, 15 Apr.; Carew Pole mss CC/N/64, Lemon to Pole Carew, 30 Mar., 5 Apr. 1831.
  • 41. West Briton, 29 Apr., 6 May; R. Cornw. Gazette, 30 Apr. 1831; Cornw. RO, Mount Edgcumbe mss DD/ME/2949, election poster.
  • 42. West Briton, 6-20 May; R. Cornw. Gazette, 7-21 May 1831.
  • 43. Cornw. RO DD/G/1953/4, Gregor diary, 14 May, 27 Aug.; R. Instit. Cornw. HJ 1/15, Hamilton Jenkin letterbk. 19 May; West Briton, 27 May, 3 June 1831.
  • 44. Carew Pole mss CC/N/64, Deeble Boger to Pole Carew, 31 May; Vyvyan mss 47, Cornw. election subscriptions; West Briton, 17 June 1831.
  • 45. West Briton, 23, 30 Sept., 7 Oct. 1831; LJ, lxiii. 1037.
  • 46. West Briton, 14-28 Oct., 4 Nov.; R. Cornw. Gazette, 15, 29 Oct. 1831.
  • 47. Wellington mss WP1/1202/28; 1213/18; Carew Pole mss CC/N/64, Hext to Pole Carew, 13, 15 Nov., Lord Eliot to same, 16 Nov., reply, 17 Nov. 1831; 65, Falmouth to Pole Carew, 13, 20 Jan., Collins to same, 17 Feb., 1, 21 Mar. 1832; R. Cornw. Gazette, 24 Dec. 1831, 7 Apr. 1832.
  • 48. Carew Pole mss CC/N/65, Collins to Pole Carew, 15, 20 May, Falmouth to same, 16 May; West Briton, 18, 25 May; R. Cornw. Gazette, 19 May 1832.
  • 49. West Briton, 29 June, 6, 20 June 1832.
  • 50. Jaggard, 88-102.