Available from Boydell and Brewer
Right of Election:
in the freemen
Number of voters:
|19 Apr. 1660||EDWARD MONTAGU I|
|16 Aug. 1660||HON. GEORGE MONTAGU vice Edward Montagu, called to the Upper House|
|Sir Francis Vincent, Bt.|
|6 May 1661||SIR FRANCIS VINCENT, Bt.|
|HON. GEORGE MONTAGU|
|3 Nov. 1670||EDWARD MONTAGU, Lord Hinchingbrooke vice Vincent, deceased|
|(Sir) Arnold Braemes|
|1 Feb. 1673||SIR EDWARD SPRAGGE vice Hinchingbrooke, called to the Upper House|
|Election declared void, 6 Feb. 1673|
|11 Feb. 1673||SIR EDWARD SPRAGGE||153||106|
|PAPILLON vice Spragge, on petition, 16 Jan. 1674|
|3 Mar. 1679||THOMAS PAPILLON||201|
|JOHN STRODE II||113|
|Double return of Stokes and Strode. STOKES declared elected, 1 Apr. 1679|
|14 Oct. 1679||THOMAS PAPILLON||221|
|John Strode II||14|
|1 Mar. 1681||THOMAS PAPILLON||216|
|John Strode II||1|
|4 Apr. 1685||ARTHUR HERBERT|
|10 Jan. 1689||SIR BASIL DIXWELL, Bt.|
Throughout the period Dover, the largest of the Cinque Ports, displayed remarkable independence of the government interest. In 1660 Edward Montagu I was entrusted with the writ; but the gallant admiral’s return was by no means plain sailing. The jurats expressed delight at the honour intended for the borough, but could not conceal that ‘some less considerate persons may be somewhat pre-engaged’. His chief rival was Arnold Braemes, a local gentleman who had been an active Cavalier, but eventually they seem to have agreed to join their interests. The mayor, in a formal letter to Montagu, pointed out the urgency of government help for the repair of the pier, adding that no less than 52 families in the town were owed money by the Admiralty. With some assurance of payment, they would be ready and willing to carry out repairs to the fleet, then lying in the Downs. It seems clear that there was a contest, but the names of the unsuccessful candidates are not known. When Montagu was created Earl of Sandwich he wrote to the corporation in favour of his cousin George Montagu. But on 29 June a correspondent wrote to Samuel Pepys that ‘there was a great party made for Sir Francis Vincent’, lieutenant-governor of the castle, who had been recommended by the Duke of York. However, the mayor and alderman, fortified by a letter from the newly appointed lord lieutenant of Kent, ‘promised all to stand for Mr Montagu’. The Duke professed himself ‘unwilling to disoblige either in this business’. Vincent and Montagu were both made freemen on the day of the election; the latter was returned, but the poll has not survived. On 20 Mar. 1661 the corporation resolved that ‘if any freeman tries to make any party or parties among the freemen for the electing of mayor or Members of Parliament, he shall lose his freedom’. It is probable, therefore, that the general election six weeks later, in which Vincent and Montagu were returned, was uncontested, though Vincent alone was nominated by the Duke. But on Vincent’s death in 1670 the churchman Braemes contested the seat with Edward Montagu’s son, Lord Hinchingbrooke, who stood as the court candidate with the support of the local ‘fanatics’. Religious animosities had been exacerbated by a turbulent mayoral election. On 24 Oct. 1670 the clerk of the passage, holding the most responsible position in Dover under the crown, wrote to ask (Sir) Joseph Williamson whether Braemes was regarded as ‘a fit person’ by the Court. A week later he wrote again:
Let me know whether I shall be prejudiced by voting for Sir Arnold Braemes. I believe we shall have as much trouble in choosing a burgess as we had a mayor, and if the nonconformists and those excommunicated have a vote, which I desire to know, Lord Hinchingbrooke will carry it. The fanatics increase daily.
Williamson’s reply does not survive, but Hinchingbrooke was elected, amid ‘great disorders and tumults... occasioned under pretence that the freemen of the said town are debarred of their rights of giving their votes for burgesses in Parliament.’ But the Duke of York apparently succeeded in composing the differences between jurats and freemen.1
When Hinchingbrooke succeeded to his father’s peerage in 1672 four candidates declared their intention of standing, though two of them soon withdrew. The nonconformist interest was gained by Thomas Papillon, a devout London merchant and victualling contractor who had purchased an estate nearby. He asked Sir Thomas Littleton, 2nd Bt., his business partner, to approach the Duke of York, as lord warden of the Cinque Ports, but on 27 Jan. 1673 Littleton replied that the Duke was ‘unwilling to give any letter on your behalf, [being] resolved to leave the town this time their full liberty’. Literally, this may have been the case, for the court candidate, Sir Edward Spragge, relied upon his ‘very true friend’ John Strode II, who had succeeded Vincent as lieutenant-governor, and was in full control of the government interest. Nevertheless Spragge’s chances were not reckoned high, until Lord Chancellor Shaftesbury issued the writ during the recess and the mayor created 52 new freemen gratis. Spragge visited the town on the day of the election, when 47 of the new electors duly voted for him, to the derisive cry of ‘No faggots!’ This was just sufficient to tilt the balance against Papillon, and the result was repeated when the writ was declared invalid by the House, even though several of Spragge’s friends were ‘out of town’. Papillon at once petitioned, and the ‘old crew’ confidently predicted that Spragge would never take his seat. In this they were correct; the elections committee would not hear the case while he was absent on active service, and on 11 Aug. he was killed at the battle of Texel. Papillon renewed his petition in the next session, and on 16 Jan. 1674 the House agreed to disallow the votes of the new freemen, and declared him elected.2
Although the three Exclusion elections were all contested, two determined opponents of the Court were returned throughout. Montagu retired from political life and Papillon was joined by William Stokes, a local tradesman and a prominent figure on the corporation. In February 1679 they achieved a comfortable lead over Strode and Henry Teddeman, a naval officer of an old Dover family. But Strode persuaded the deputy mayor and some 17 others to sign another indenture, and petitioned the House on the grounds that Stokes as mayor had illegally returned himself. The elections committee ignored this contention and reported in favour of Stokes, because his return was authenticated by the corporation seal, and the House concurred. There was widespread abstention, but no serious opposition in the second election of 1679, Strode, who stood down, receiving only 14 votes. Papillon estimated his expenses, including ‘a handsome treat’ for the freemen, at under £60. On 16 Apr. 1680 the Privy Council ordered an investigation into alleged violations of the Corporations Act in Dover. Stokes and Papillon undoubtedly enjoyed the support of the dissenters, and their majority was reduced in 1681, but only marginally. The third candidate, a Mr Denew of a Canterbury family, received 60 votes, but again most of the court supporters must have abstained. They were strong enough in May to present without the corporation’s approval one of the first addresses approving the dissolution of Parliament.3
Quo warranto proceedings commenced in 1682, after two mayors had been declared elected for the year 1682-3, one by the Church party, the other by the dissenters. The charter was declared forfeit, and 128 inhabitants signed a loyal address declaring their abhorrence of dissenters and the Rye House Plot. A new charter was ordered on 30 May 1684, much to the joy of the Tories in the town, who complained that ‘all true loyalists could never have any justice in Dover till now, for William Stokes, the late mayor, and his factious party always by threats and other contrivances kept them under hatches’. The new charter appointed the 2nd Duke of Albemarle (Christopher Monck) as high steward and Strode as recorder. The 1685 election was probably uncontested; the King, as lord warden, nominated Admiral Arthur Herbert, and the second seat went to William Chapman, the lawyer who had procured the charter. Dover seems to have given James II little trouble till near the end of his reign. On Strode’s death, Edward Hales II became governor, but he did not reside, being also lieutenant of the Tower. The mayor elected in September 1688 was immediately removed by order-in-council, but his successor lasted for only six weeks, whereupon Stokes resumed his term of office which had been interrupted in 1684. He was unable to prevent the seizure of the castle by 30 townsmen on 8 Dec., who held it for William of Orange until he sent an officer to take over. At the general election, Papillon regained his seat, accompanied by another local Whig, Sir Basil Dixwell, who had played a prominent part in the Revolution.4
Author: Basil Duke Henning
- 1. Pepys Diary, 18 Apr., 2 June 1660; Bodl. Carte 73, ff. 236, 357, 360, 369, 382, 386, 397; CSP Dom. Add. 1660-85, p. 5; 1670, pp. 494, 506; Dover corp. minute bk. 1603-73, ff. 205, 210; S. P. H. Statham, Hist. Dover, 126; Adm. 1745, ff. 2v, 33v, PC2/63/99, 103.
- 2. CSP Dom. 1672, p. 553; 1672-3, pp. 510, 542; 1673, p. 13; Add. 21948, f. 304v; Kent AO, Papillon mss; Add. 34152, ff. 9, 10.
- 3. J. B. Jones, Annals of Dover, 385; CJ, ix. 573, 580; Kent AO, Papillon mss; Papillon Mems. 147-8, 179; Dom. Intell. 17 Oct. 1679; CSP Dom. 1679-80, p. 519; 1680-1, p. 506; Smith’s Prot. Intell. 7 Mar. 1681; Luttrell, i. 79; J. R. Jones, First Whigs, 37, 102.
- 4. CSP Dom. 1682, pp. 386, 543; 1684-5, p. 25; SP44/335, ff. 136-8; Kent AO, NR/AE p. 50; J. B. Jones, 309; Statham, 293-4; London Gazette, 25 Oct. 1683; PC2/72/730, 733, N. and Q. (ser. 3), vi. 1.