Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the freemen

Number of voters:

121 in 1681; 14 in 1685


22 June 1660HON. WILLIAM BRERETON vice Pym, chose to sit for Minehead 
  Double return. ROBARTES and ROUS seated, 16 May 1661 
8 Mar. 1673HON. FRANCIS ROBARTES vice Rous, deceased 
 ?Sir Peter Colleton, Bt. 
11 May 1685JOHN COTTON 
 Richard Duck 
15 Jan. 1689SIR PETER COLLETON, Bt. 

Main Article

The full name of this constituency was Bossiney, Trevenna and Tintagel; rather confusingly, the charter under which the franchise was claimed had been granted to the last of these communities, and for municipal purposes the borough continued to be known as Tintagel, though decay was so far advanced that the corporation had few functions except at elections. The dominant interest had been inherited from the Henders by the Robartes family of Lanhydrock, apart from Botreaux Castle, which went to an Exeter family, the Cottons. Tintagel was a crown manor, but the duchy of Cornwall appears to have exerted no interest in this period.1

All the Members elected in 1660 were outsiders returned on the interest of Lord Robartes. At the general election he nominated two younger sons of well-known Presbyterian families, Francis Gerard and Charles Pym. They were returned on separate indentures, but both were signed by the mayor, William Hender, presumably a kinsman of the patron. When Pym chose to sit for Minehead he was replaced by a London intellectual, William Brereton. Neither Brereton’s Cavalier father nor his radical friends would have served him well with Robartes, but he had married the daughter of the leading Presbyterian Royalist, Lord Willoughby of Parham. In 1661 Robert Robartes and Richard Rous, the patron’s son and nephew, were returned by Hender on separate indentures, although his mayoralty had expired in October. Another indenture in favour of Anthony Buller was signed by 29 of the ‘free burgesses and commonalty’. Though Buller had served the Protectorate, his politics were by now scarcely distinguishable from those of the Robartes family, and his candidature must be explained by the desire of some electors to open the borough. His rivals were seated on the merits of the return, and the matter was pursued no further. When Rous was succeeded by another son of Lord Robartes, Francis, in 1673, it must have seemed as though the spark of electoral independence had been snuffed out.2

At the dissolution of the Cavalier Parliament Francis Robartes moved up to the county seat, and his brother abandoned politics for diplomacy. The Robartes interest was represented in the first election of 1679 by John Tregagle, whose father had been steward of the family estate. The other seat was taken by William Coryton, a lawyer and a younger son; his grandfather had twice served as mayor of Tintagel, and he probably enjoyed the support of the corporation. He opposed exclusion, while Tregagle abstained; but neither was reelected in the autumn. Coryton transferred himself to the family borough of Newport, where he displaced his elder brother, but Tregagle, who was in trouble with the duchy over his accounts, never stood again, and died in the following year. Lord Robartes, now Earl of Radnor, substituted his grandson, Charles Bodvile Robartes, a youth of 19. It may have seemed to Shaftesbury, who had just been replaced by Radnor as lord president of the Council, that the borough was now vulnerable. One of his colonial associates, Sir Peter Colleton, had kinsmen of the Amy family on the corporation, and he may have stood as a country candidate with Locke’s friend, Narcissus Luttrell. But the new mayor, Ambrose Manaton, the first country gentleman to occupy that office in the period, was probably hostile. Robartes and Luttrell were elected, and Colleton’s petition never emerged from committee. Manaton was followed in the mayoralty by Edward and William Amy, who seem to have inflated the roll of freemen with outsiders, and in 1681 Colleton was returned with Robartes. This qualified success did not endure, and in July Robartes presented an address approving the dissolution signed by the mayor and 120 ‘free burgesses’.3

Tintagel elected another Tory country gentleman, Humphrey Langford, as mayor in the autumn of 1684, but this did not save their charter, which became one of the victims of the Earl of Bath’s celebrated campaign in the west country. The new charter of 4 Apr. 1685 gave the borough for the first and only time a regular corporation, consisting of mayor, recorder, six ‘capital burgesses’ and six freemen. Bath was named as recorder, and all the freemen were from county families. It was provided that new freemen should be elected in common council, and approved by the mayor and recorder, or their deputies. Robartes represented Cornwall in James II’s Parliament, and neither of the Members for Bossiney seems to have been attached to the family interest, though John Cotton, who had inherited Botreaux Castle through the other Hender coheir, was a relative. The second seat was taken by a placeman, John Mounsteven, from a minor local family. There was a contest with an outsider, presumably Richard Duck of Exeter (c.1656-95), whose petition was never reported. The corporation of Tintagel, like Launceston, undertook in 1688 to elect any Protestant Cornishmen approved by Bath, who accordingly recommended the sitting Members. Another list, probably produced by Edward Nosworthy II, nominated Silly’s son and grandson. After the Revolution Colleton regained his seat, and was accompanied in the Convention by a local Presbyterian squire, Humphrey Nicoll of Penvose.4

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. J. Maclean, Trigg Minor, iii. 191-206.
  • 2. Maclean, 210; CJ, viii. 250-1.
  • 3. Maclean, 210; CJ, ix. 638; London Gazette, 4 July 1681.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1684-5, p. 256, 1685, p. 106; Maclean, 206-7, Duckett, Penal Laws (1882), 379, (1883), 215, 216; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 310.