II. The Politics of Members

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

The uncritical assumption of nineteenth-century historians that the party system as they knew it in their own time was directly prefigured in the politics of the Restoration, should not be allowed to blind us to the most significant development in parliamentary history during this period. Factions and groupings had always existed, but these were by their very nature temporary and partial. Sir Richard Temple named three such groups in the Commons in 1668, the Clarendonians, the anti-Clarendonians, and the Presbyterians. But the bulk of the House, he admitted, was composed of ‘the less active country gentlemen’, who defied political classification. Less than ten years later Shaftesbury could label every Member, with a very fair degree of accuracy, as either ‘vile’ (court) or ‘worthy’ (country). By 1671 a placeman like Sir Edward Dering could refer to the court party, though he may have meant by this little more than the caucus summoned at the beginning of the session to draw up a parliamentary timetable. The first politician to acknowledge the existence of the two sides of the House was, ironically enough, Sir Thomas Meres, scarcely a model of party loyalty or consistency. On 7 Feb. 1673 he was reported as saying ‘there is no difference of a motion for the King’s supply from that side the House or this; both equally loyal’, an indication that Members were already sitting by party. The speech strikes a defensive note, but on the 22nd he again made a distinction between ‘the plain country men’ and ‘the fine men about the town’.

This speech was something sharply reflected on by Secretary Coventry, as if Sir Thomas Meres had now and often heretofore laboured to make a distinction in the House between the country gentlemen and the courtiers, whereas there was none, nor ought to be none; and often used the words ‘of this side of the House, and that side’, which were not parliamentary.1

Thus it would seem that at least by the early ’70s contemporaries believed that a ‘court party’ and a ‘country party’ existed, though everyone professed to deplore the fact. Henry Coventry, in his criticism of Meres, looked back, as did many others, to a vanished and largely imaginary parliamentary past, usually associated with the reign of Elizabeth, when it was assumed that an entire harmony existed between the Commons and the monarch. In the period following the Restoration the idea of party in anything like the modern sense was not respectable. To government supporters, opposition was ‘factious’, and those in opposition were ‘fanatics’ or favourers of ‘fanatics’, not unlike those who had earlier brought down the monarchy. To those opposing the Government, its supporters were often vilified as placemen or pensioners, or at best dupes of the Court, unlike the good, plain country gentlemen, whose votes were cast not on expectation of royal or ministerial favours, but on the principle that their programme was for the good of the nation. Leaving epithets aside, it may be said in very general terms that during the Restoration period, as in all others, some men were by temperament inclined to favour ‘order’ and ‘tradition’, and others to favour ‘liberty’ and ‘innovation’, or to put it another way, there were those who felt that the royal prerogative must be protected, and others who were more anxious to preserve the liberties and power of Parliament. But these predilections could and did change, when, for example, to continue to support the party of ‘liberty’ after the exclusion crisis might seem to threaten order unduly.

But if the existence of parties is accepted, another question must be asked. Who were members of these parties, and how great was their commitment? Here one has to depend upon a variety of sources. First of all there is the direct evidence given by the Members themselves, either in speeches in the House (in sessions where speeches were reported) or by tellerships in important divisions, and chairmanships in important committees, or in their letters or other documents. Then there are the opinions of friends or enemies, revealed in correspondence or in the satirical poems and pamphlets of the period, in which, of course, there must be allowance for bias. Considerable evidence as to a Member’s political stance can also be derived from the dates of his appointment to, retention in, or dismissal from office, especially the commission of the peace or the lieutenancy.2 Division lists would, of course, be the best evidence, but on only three occasions, fortunately on important measures, were there any attempts to compile such lists. Finally, there are the lists drawn up by ministers and by those hostile to the Court.3

Especially in the case of the ministerial lists, a substantial amount of wishful thinking is evident. But these sources seldom reveal the degree of commitment to one party or the other, since party discipline, as we know it to-day, did not exist.4 A Member might vote for certain government measures, such as supply, and against the Court on others, or he might support the Court in one Parliament and the Opposition in another. In the long Cavalier Parliament he might move from a firm commitment to the Court to an equally firm commitment to the Opposition or vice versa. During this period there were vital issues at stake, issues which aroused the passionate concern of Members, and when these issues were raised in the House or at elections, ‘party’ loyalty could be overcome by conviction. Men could, and frequently did, change their minds. And it should be remembered that when routine matters were debated and decided—in other words, for most of the business to come before the House—there was no division between Government and Opposition. The lack of discipline is strikingly revealed in the number of absentees when divisions were called. There was never a ‘full House’, nor anything near a full House. The problem facing the leaders of both parties was how to get their supporters to Westminster, and, once there, to get them into the House to vote. This absenteeism was deplored, and frequent calls of the House were ordered, but few absentees were punished. Bills for the better attendance of Members were proposed, but none reached the statute book in this period.

With these qualifications in mind, however, an attempt has been made to assign party labels to the Members of each Parliament. No claim to absolute accuracy is made; it will be noticed that in many biographies the word ‘probable’ has been used, but to avoid bewildering complications in the tables the ‘probable’ have been counted with those Members whose politics were more certain. Furthermore, many Members could be labelled ‘usually Court’ or ‘usually Opposition’, since, as has been pointed out, the structure of parties was far from monolithic.

It is now necessary to go back and trace, as far as is possible, the development of parties, since the issues which divided the Membership were not the same in all seven Parliaments, or indeed during the long Cavalier Parliament. Two generalizations can be made. Until about 1673, dislike and fear of Protestant dissenters were paramount in the minds of most Members, except, of course, in those of dissenters or former dissenters. Memories of the Civil Wars and Interregnum were still fresh, and many feared ‘what has been, may be’, and while this feeling waxed and waned, it persisted. The other fear, endemic since Elizabeth’s reign, was of Roman Catholicism. To this was coupled alarm at the increasing power of France. The slogan of ‘no Popery and wooden shoes’ was a powerful one, and when this was transferred to the domestic scene because of a growing suspicion that the ministers, and perhaps even the monarch, had absolutist designs, it became difficult for the Government to govern.

In the Restoration Convention, the ‘healing Parliament’, there was no opposition party such as existed in later Parliaments. Apart from a handful of die-hard republicans, most of whom did not last long in the House, there was no opposition to the restored monarchy, though it was welcomed with varying degrees of enthusiasm. For example, evidence of discontent with the Court just before the dissolution is found in the division on the bill allowing London to defray the cost of decorating the city for the Restoration celebrations, when 56 Members voted against the second reading. But the major issue which divided the Membership in this Parliament was the nature of the religious settlement, and consequently the division has been made on the basis of religious affiliations, though of course no permanent settlement was achieved in 1660. It is notable that despite the last ordinance of the Long Parliament which disqualified from election Cavaliers and their sons unless they had ‘manifested their good affection to this Parliament’, 52 such men were returned at the general election or shortly thereafter, Sir Thomas Widdrington’s motion of 27 Apr. to expel them having failed to find a seconder. If a less technical view is taken of Members, eligibles as well as ineligibles, whose families were known to have been royalist or anti-royalist supporters in the Civil Wars and Interregnum (about half the Membership), 144 Anglicans and 14 non-Anglicans came from royalist families and 113 non-Anglicans and 37 Anglicans came from families who had supported the other side. Neither religious group was monolithic: there were rigid Anglicans who wanted a return to an almost Laudian Church and low church moderates who were prepared to make some concessions to the non-Anglicans. Also, on the other side there were rigid Presbyterians who wanted a full-blown Presbyterian settlement, and moderates who were willing to accept a modified episcopacy. There were also serious differences between Presbyterians and Independents, but by and large the broad division between Anglicans and non-Anglicans seems the most useful for an analysis of this Parliament.

After the Restoration the management of the Parliament was entrusted to Clarendon.

That the King might be the more vacant to those thoughts and divertisements which pleased him best, he appointed the chancellor and some others to have frequent consultation with such Members of the Parliament who were most able and willing to serve him, and to concert all the ways and means by which the transactions in the Houses might be carried on with more expedition, and attended with the best success. These daily conferences proved very beneficial to his Majesty’s service, the Members of both Houses being very willing to receive advice and direction, and to pursue what was directed, and all things were done there in good order, and succeeded well.5

Clarendon perhaps minimized Charles’s role, and the degree of willingness of the Commons to receive ‘direction’ may be questionable, but some sort of management was necessary to carry on the business of the House. Among the Members ‘who seemed most able and willing to serve’ the King were (Sir) Job Charlton, (Sir) Heneage Finch, (Sir) Edward Turnor, and, though not a very active committeeman, Roger Palmer, who was later to demonstrate his loyalty to Charles II in quite another fashion. There did not seem to be a single manager for the non-Anglicans, though there probably were consultations behind the scenes, especially among the Presbyterians. Arthur Annesley, however, as president of the Council of State, was the virtual leader of the House until the actual Restoration, and later became a placeman. Other spokesmen were Sir Thomas Widdrington, the irrepressible William Prynne (also a placeman), and the veteran Sir Thomas Erle, who had been a member of every Parliament, except Barebones’, since 1614.

The Court had reason to be pleased with the elections to the Cavalier Parliament. No less than 108 Cavaliers who had actually been in arms for the King in the Civil Wars were returned at the general election or early by-elections, along with 16 sons of Cavaliers. With these can be counted the 34 Cavaliers or their sons who had been returned to the Convention and were re-elected in 1661. And if to these are added those, or their families, who had been royalist sympathizers, this Parliament deserved its name. Despite this ‘royalist’ majority, however, there were, as Dr Witcombe has pointed out, a sizeable group of Members who were to be the leaders of the Opposition, of whom some were apparently in opposition in the early sessions.6 Clarendon was again entrusted with the general management of Parliament. He chose Sir Hugh Pollard as leader of the Lower House. They, with the leading ministers, had daily meetings with Members

who had always served the King... and with those they consulted in what method to proceed in disposing the House... to what should be most necessary for the public... and all this without any noise, or bringing many together to design, which was and ever will be ungrateful to Parliaments.7

Clearly Clarendon perceived the necessity for discretion, but this did not preclude management. This is evident in his preparation for the repeal of the Triennial Act in 1664 . Before the session began a list was prepared bearing the names of those courtiers, office-holders and others who were dependent on the Court because of favours or ‘boons’ and who might be expected to vote for repeal: in other words a list of a court party. In the preceding year, however, Sir Henry Bennet had advised the King that if he and such Members as Thomas Clifford and (Sir) Winston Churchill be admitted to the chancellor’s ‘advisory committee’, affairs would be better managed. Clarendon demurred, but Charles insisted, and in effect, a second court party, generally favouring toleration, and less discreet in its recruiting methods, came into existence. ‘The loyal country Member, anxious to please the King, might well be in doubt as to what course he should pursue.’8 It was this second court party which was largely responsible for bringing down the chancellor.

The dismissal of Clarendon, followed by the administration (if it can be so described) of the Cabal, meant that politics were again in a state of flux. On the one hand, the ‘Clarendonians’, who were supported by the majority of ‘the less active country gentlemen’ were persistent in their Anglicanism, opposed to toleration, alarmed by the growth of French power, commercial as well as military, and suspicious of French and Catholic influences at Court. Thus what might be called the ‘true’ court party was opposed to the policies of the King and his ministers, but it was this group, lulled by Charles’s acceptance of the second Conventicles Act and ignorant of the secret terms of the Treaty of Dover, which provided the most generous supply of the reign. This was aided by the defection to the Court of the ‘apostates’, former leaders of the ‘country’ party. Preceded by Sir Thomas Littleton, who was made joint treasurer of the navy in 1668, in the autumn of 1670, Sir Robert Howard, Edward Seymour, Sir Richard Temple, Sir Robert Carr and Sir Frescheville Holles ‘openly took leave of their former party to head the King’s business’.9 These defections naturally shocked the country party. In 1672 an anonymous satirist wrote

These patriots malcontent did plot
Their country’s good, till they had places got.
Bluster’d and huff’d till they were officer’d,
But then o’ th’ country more the Devil a word.10

Apart from support of a more tolerant attitude towards dissenters, there seems little in the matter of principle which inspired this switch. Certainly Seymour and Temple were place-seekers, and all of them were appointed to office except for Holles, who was given £3,000 at the end of the session. It cannot be said, however, that all Members who moved from support of the Opposition to support of the Court did so because they wanted places. Matters of principle could be involved, and many Members, who were opposed to certain court measures, such as toleration, sincerely desired to co-operate with the King, and when he seemed to abandon that policy, were anxious to support him.

The onset of the third Dutch War and the issuing of the Declaration of Indulgence in 1672 were to find the court party in complete disarray when Parliament met in February of the next year. These actions by the King, taken when Parliament was not in session, greatly aggravated the already existing fears of France and Popery, and emphasis on the royal prerogative in the Declaration perturbed even court supporters who, though moderate, were still Members of a Parliament whose constitutional powers they were unwilling to surrender.

It was Sir Thomas Osborne, later Earl of Danby, who was to attempt to create the ‘third’ court party. In 1669-70, at this time a follower of Buckingham, he had hoped to provide a stable majority for the Court based on a policy of friendship with France and confirmation of the Anglican ascendancy, though with some concessions to the dissenters and Roman Catholics. He constructed an elaborate list, consisting of government officials in the Commons, supporters of the Duke of York and his friends, the Duke of Buckingham and his friends, and finally a group of Members who had ‘for the most part voted for supplies to his Majesty’. The 291 Members named on this list would indeed have provided a stable majority, but the coalition never came into being. Clarendonians and Yorkists would not work with Buckingham, and the whole scheme came to nought. It was not until Osborne became lord treasurer in 1673, after Clifford had been forced out by the Test Act, that he began a systematic effort to organize a court party. He felt that he could build such a party by promoting two policies popular in the Lower House: a resolute Anglicanism and a firm opposition to France, both, of course, contrary to the secret desires of his master. But Danby, as he soon became, did not rely on Cavalier ideology alone. In order to secure a reliable majority for the Court in the Commons he adopted tactics which foreshadowed the organization of all court parties in the eighteenth century. Assisted by the two secretaries of state, Henry Coventry and (Sir) Joseph Williamson, and at a lower level by Sir Richard Wiseman, he organized the counting of heads, the systematic and extensive use of royal patronage, and whipping, which had hitherto been practised only haphazardly. Like Clarendon before him, he made use of court ‘caucuses’ to determine tactics. In 1675, when the attempt was made to impeach him, Sir Edward Dering described a meeting of eight Members of the court party at Hamden House, where Danby told them that ‘he would be there every night about eight of the clock while the Parliament did sit, and should be glad to meet us there’. These meetings apparently lasted throughout the session, and on at least one occasion Members of the Upper House were also present.11 The improvement of the royal finances (largely the work of Danby) enabled pensions and salaries to be paid regularly for the first time in the reign, and the amounts spent on the management of the Commons rose sharply; Sir Robert Howard claimed that Danby’s expenditure from secret service for 1676-9 exceeded £300,000.12 Whereas Clifford had believed in bringing over the leading men of the Opposition (such as William Garway and Thomas Lee) at a high price, Danby, according to Burnet,

reckoned that the major number was the surer game; so he neglected the great men, who he thought raised their price too high, and reckoned he could gain ten ordinary men cheaper than one of those.13

This policy may have produced votes in the Commons, but the ‘ordinary men’ were no match for the ‘great men’ in debate. Pensions, titles, offices and compliments from the King were all used to win over Members and to ‘fix’ doubtful supporters, but so many of the placemen had life patents that they were scarcely amenable to discipline. Nevertheless, the strength of Danby’s position in 1675 was shown by the failure of his opponents to impeach him, admittedly on rather weak grounds. In the crucial vote on 28 Apr. they could muster only 105 votes against the treasurer’s 181. Although Danby had demonstrated his Protestant and anti-French stance by arranging for the marriage of Princess Mary and William of Orange in 1677, in the next year the ambiguous foreign policy forced on him by the King saw the erosion of his majority in the House. The production of Danby’s letters to Ralph Montagu, instructing him to ask for a French subsidy, was sufficient in the heated atmosphere of the Popish Plot to destroy it. By his own count, made in May 1678, he had 219 supporters in the Lower House, and his enemy Shaftesbury calculated that there were 266 Members in the court party, but in the crucial vote on 19 Dec. the division was 179 to 116 against him, and Charles was forced to prorogue and then to dissolve Parliament. It is notable that even on so important an issue as this, only about half the Members were present. It may be inferred that most of the absentees were those who had been reckoned as court supporters. The following table shows the political stance of Members returned at by-elections during the ministries of Clarendon, the Cabal and Danby. It should be noted that the number of court supporters decreased gradually, but the number of those on the other side increased dramatically, from only a third in the first period to almost half in the second, and to more than half in the third.

 1661-67 1668-73 1674-78
 112120113
Court685952
Opposition moving to Court661
Opposition173456
Court moving to Opposition21214

 

For those Members who opposed measures put forward by the Court there was, of course, no formal machinery for creating any opposition party, whether loyal or disloyal. It is unfortunate, but quite understandable, that no lists of the Opposition in the Cavalier Parliament similar to those of the court party have survived except for that drawn up by Shaftesbury in 1677-8, arguably the most reliable of all such lists, and having the advantage of covering both sides of the House. Earlier in the Parliament effective spokesmen for the Opposition can be identified and like-minded Members would naturally follow their lead. As on the court side, there were ‘consultations’. On 3 Nov. 1673 Sir Thomas Player, not yet a Member, wrote to Secretary Williamson:

On Wednesday night [30 Oct.] there was a great meeting of Parliament men about uniting, there having been jealousies among the country gentlemen since the business of Lord Clifford [d. 17 Oct. 1673]. Thursday morning the House sat, and by what was done in reference to the address to the King about stopping the Duke of York’s match, I perceive the union was complished.14

The ‘union’ produced a vote of 184 to 88 that an address be presented against the consummation of the duke’s marriage with the Catholic Mary of Modena. It is not unreasonable to suppose that similar ‘consultations’ took place among leaders of the Opposition, though probably on a smaller scale, both before and after 1673. There was no one leader of the Opposition, such as Shaftesbury was later to become, but in a sense this sort of leadership was not essential, since Members could usually unite on a set of principles. They were mainly negative: opposition to French power abroad and French influence at home, opposition to Catholic tendencies at Court, and fear of a standing army, with its attendant threat of absolutism. And this group could depend upon many country gentlemen who were habitually ‘agin the government’; suspicious of ministers, whatever their politics, and disapproving of an extravagant and immoral Court.

It was these principles (or prejudices) rather than any central organization which produced an opposition majority in the first Exclusion Parliament. Members of the Opposition were also subjected to pressure from foreign governments, if ‘pressure’ is the word for the financial inducements (sometimes lavish) offered by ambassadors, especially Barilion, the French envoy. It is doubtful, however, whether these produced any substantial change in a Member’s political stance. Even without the bribes, such men as Ralph Montagu and William Harbord would have pressed for the disbandment of the army and the impeachment of Danby. Macaulay wrote:15

It would be unjust to impute to them the extreme wickedness of taking bribes to injure their country. On the contrary, they meant to serve her: but it is impossible to deny that they were mean and indelicate enough to let a foreign prince pay them for serving her.

According to Shaftesbury’s view, upwards of 300 Members were ‘worthy’ or ‘honest’. More important, perhaps, was the return of those who had led the Opposition in the Cavalier Parliament. In the opening weeks the Commons pursued the same objectives as had dominated the closing days of the last Parliament: the attack on Danby who, though in the Tower, had been given a pardon, a pension and a promotion in the peerage by the King, and a vigorous prosecution of the Popish Plot. It was this second objective which led to the main business of this Parliament and of the two which followed, namely the exclusion of the Duke of York from the succession. This extreme position had the effect of detaching the more moderate leaders of the Opposition, three of whom—(Sir) Henry Capel, William Lord Cavendish, and Henry Powle—had been appointed to the reconstituted Privy Council in April. Their policy was for ‘expedients’ or ‘limitations’ to constrain a Catholic monarch rather than an alteration to the succession, but they and their ‘loyalist’ colleagues, while active in debate, could not muster enough votes to defeat the exclusionists in the crucial division on the second reading of the bill on 11 May. Only 17 Members whom Shaftesbury had classified as court supporters voted for the bill, whereas 28 of the Members whom he had listed as ‘honest’ voted against it. Nevertheless, it is clear that Shaftesbury was the unquestioned leader of the opposition party, working in the Commons through William, Lord Russell, and his secretary Thomas Bennett. His acceptance of the presidency of the new Privy Council, which might have provoked the accusation of careerism against other politicians, could not apply in Shaftesbury’s case. He was clearly not seeking royal favour, but the support of a majority of Members in the Commons, to which he could bring an unrivalled knowledge of the political nation.

The elections to the first Exclusion Parliament can be regarded as a spontaneous reaction against the Court; the elections to its successors cannot. While local interests were still important, there is abundant evidence of an organized campaign under the direction of Shaftesbury. He now had a definite party platform: exclusion. This was advertised as the only means of preserving the liberties, property and religion of Englishmen, and those who opposed it could be denounced as favourers of Popery and arbitrary government; no distinction between these two evils being possible. Pamphlets, such as One Unanimous Club of Voters, giving the names of pensioners, courtiers and office-holders for whom not to vote, were widely distributed, and the burgeoning weekly newspapers were almost all on the side of the Opposition. These more than matched the utterances from the pulpits stressing the duty of obedience to duly constituted authority, and the warnings of ‘’41 is here again’ uttered by court supporters. Many reports emphasized the fact that elections had been ‘free’ in the sense that no money had been spent by the candidates, but that on the contrary they owed their election to their ‘honest’ (i.e. anti-Catholic) principles, and were feasted by the electors. The result was a comfortable majority for the Opposition. To use this majority, however, Shaftesbury needed a Parliament. On 15 Oct. 1679 he was dismissed from the Council, and two days later, when the two Houses assembled according to order, Charles pro-rogued them until 25 Jan. 1680. Successive prorogations postponed their meeting until October. During this period Shaftesbury had to sustain and increase support for exclusion and maintain the coherence of his party. When it became clear that the King intended a further prorogation in January, Shaftesbury took the lead in organizing a mass campaign of petitions to the King asking that Parliament be summoned. Printed forms were distributed throughout the country and hundreds of petitions were presented, with thousands of signatures. A royal proclamation was issued forbidding tumultuous petitions as conducive to rebellion, but little heed was paid. There were, to be sure, addresses abhorring the petitions, but these did not attract the same massive support. But while the petitions had no effect on the King, they served to keep the pot boiling and the issue before the nation, as did the elaborate ‘Pope-burnings’ financed by the Opposition. In this Shaftesbury was aided by the exposure of the sham Meal-Tub Plot which attempted to transfer the blame for the plan to assassinate the King from the Catholics to the ‘Presbyterians’, i.e. the opponents of the monarchy, and by the ‘discovery’ of an Irish Plot, a counterpart of the plot by Oates. When Parliament finally met in October 1680, it was clear that the tide was running strongly towards exclusion. Even some leading Members, such as (Sir) Henry Capel and Sir Francis Winnington, who had voted against the first exclusion bill now spoke in favour of the second. There was little that the opponents of the bill could do to halt the tide. Their argument that a successor should be named, an attempt to smoke out the supporters of Monmouth, failed, and the renewed offer by the King of ‘limitations’ on the powers of a Catholic monarch failed to shake the exclusionists. The third reading of the bill passed without a division, but was thrown out on its first reading in the Upper House. In the Commons the Opposition turned to other grievances, but all were linked with exclusion, ‘as of absolute necessity for the safe and peaceable enjoyment’ of the Protestant religion. The addresses for the removal of evil counsellors, the impeachments of Edward Seymour and Scroggs, the bill for the uniting of Protestants with the Church of England, even a supply for the defence of Tangier, were all explicitly associated with the danger presented by a Catholic successor. And on the last day of the session the House resolved that whosoever advised his Majesty to prorogue

this Parliament, to any other purpose than in order to the passing of a bill for the exclusion of James Duke of York, is a betrayer of the King, the Protestant religion, and of the kingdom of England, a promoter of the French interest and a pensioner of France.16

But it was prorogued on 10 Jan. 1681 and dissolved eight days later.

The elections to the third Exclusion Parliament, summoned to meet at Oxford on 21 Mar., were preceded by the continuing spate of pamphlets and newspapers which had been resumed at the beginning of the previous Parliament. Most of them contained the familiar warning against Papists and pensioners, the implication being that anyone who would not support exclusion must be one or both of these. On the side of the Court, however, the propagandists were increasing their efforts. Their main line was that the exclusionists were attempting to alter the constitution of England, and they were prepared to take up arms to do so, in other words ‘’41 is here again’. One novel feature of the elections was the large-scale issue of ‘instructions’ to newly-elected Members. These were first issued to the exclusionists but the practice was quickly picked up by the Court. The former naturally called for exclusion, the extirpation of Popery, frequent Parliaments, the reform of elections and the legality of petitioning. Court supporters were ‘instructed’ to continue the investigation of the Popish Plot, but also to defend the established Church against dissenting ‘fanatics’ and to protect the legal authority of the monarchy. Many acceptance speeches were printed in newspapers or in pamphlet form, and since most of the press was on the side of exclusion, the ‘loyal’ speeches were less widely noticed. The whole operation was a propaganda exercise; the Members were ‘told’ to do what they already intended to do. The instructions were, however, useful in debate to justify exclusion as being the clearly expressed will of the electorate. On 26 Mar. 1681 Sir Robert Clayton said

We can discharge our trust no better than to observe directions of those that sent us hither. We, who represent the City of London, have received an address from the body of that city in the matter of the bill for excluding the Duke of York. I could heartily wish that some expedient may be found rather than that bill; but if there be none, I must pursue my trust and humbly move that a bill may be brought in to disable James, Duke of York, from inheriting the imperial crown of this realm.

For the first time ‘limitations’ were spelled out, Sir John Ernle proposed a regency under Princess Mary, leaving James only the title of King, ‘which was much enlarged and insisted on by Sir Thomas Littleton’, but it met with no favour, and the motion for the third exclusion bill passed without a division, though according to Sir Edward Dering there were ‘about twenty negatives’. But Charles, now assured of a French subsidy, could assert his independence, and one week after he had summoned it, he dissolved what was to be his last Parliament. Shaftesbury and his followers had badly misjudged the King’s determination to preserve the hereditary succession, and with no need for a supply Charles could rule, for a time at least, without Parliament, thus denying the Opposition a forum, though few contemporaries, if any, realized that this denial would last until the end of the reign.

When the strength of the Opposition became apparent, Charles had begun an extensive regulation of the county bench and the deputy lieutenancies, which continued until at least the spring of 1682.17 With the government of the counties in the hands of reliable men, he now turned to the municipalities. The Corporation Act was still in effect, but after the powers of the commissioners lapsed in 1663, enforcement had been lax and sporadic. It was rightly suspected that many members of corporations were dissenters who had not been forced to take the required oaths, and could not be relied upon. The ignoramus verdict returned by the Middlesex grand jury in Shaftesbury’s trial for treason, packed by the Whig (as they can now be called) sheriffs, must have demonstrated to Charles the need to reassert control, not only in London, but over the officers of other towns as well. The device of issuing writs of quo warranto against municipalities was not new; several had been issued earlier in the reign, indeed one of the articles of impeachment against Clarendon was that he had issued writs ‘against most of the corporations of England’—a palpable exaggeration. But the scale of the operation begun in 1680 was massive, and was directed against all types of corporate bodies, including trading companies. The primary aim was royal control at the municipal and company levels, but the Government could not have been unaware of the advantage to be gained at elections. The charters of 99 parliamentary boroughs (returning 195 Members) were remodelled before the elections to James II’s Parliament, and the fear of quo warranto proceedings may have brought others into line. But the remodelling of the charters is not the only explanation of the rout of the Whigs in the 1685 elections. A genuine fear had been aroused that some of them were willing to take up arms. This was fortified by the alleged Rye House Plot to assassinate Charles and his brother, and exploited by Tory newspapers, pamphlets and ballads. Men rallied to the crown and contemporaries noted that the old Cavalier spirit had revived. A ballad published shortly after James II’s accession is typical. It describes how two Englishmen travelling on the continent were reviled for the execution of Charles I:

When we was a-walking along in the street
Both men, wives and children and all we did meet.
They gathered up stones and at us did fling
Crying ‘rebels of England, you murdered your King’.18

The Court, however, did not neglect to take measures to ensure a good House. Sunderland wrote to most of the eminent Tories possessing electoral interest urging them to stand themselves or to put foward suitable candidates, and the result seems to have produced the most loyal Commons of the period, the Whigs being reduced to a rump. The management of the House was given to two Scotch peers, Lord Middleton (Charles Middleton) and Lord Preston (Richard Graham), though at first little management seemed to be required. The House voted James for life the same revenues as his brother had enjoyed, and the invasions of Argyll and Monmouth were followed by additional grants, accompanied by fervent protestations of loyalty. But events were to destroy the seemingly impregnable majority. The traditional fear of a standing army, which James now commanded, a fear greatly increased by the appointment of Catholic officers, meant that James did not receive the subservience he expected. On 13 Nov., when the House met after the summer adjournment, they rejected a motion that a supply for the additional forces be immediately considered, and turned instead to that part of the King’s speech in which he justified his employment of the Catholic officers. A tactfully worded address was prepared, but in it the Commons made it quite clear that continuing the employment of those officers meant dispensing with the Test Act, ‘the consequence of which is of the greatest concern to the rights of all your Majesty’s dutiful and loyal subjects’, and they begged the King to allay their ‘apprehensions’ and ‘jealousies’. A supply of £700,000 was then voted, a generous compromise, but James was convinced that his primary objective, the repeal of the Penal Laws and Test Act, could not be achieved in this Parliament, and he prorogued it and later dissolved it. James had failed to understand that Tory devotion to Church and King was in that order, and that devotion to the second could be weakened or destroyed by any threat to the first.

To secure a House of Commons which would endorse his policies, James now began an electoral campaign, much the most elaborate and systematic of the period. It was abortive in that the elections for which it was intended were never held, but certain features are significant as bearing on the elections to the 1689 Convention.19 To discover which likely candidates would support repeal of the Penal Laws and Test Act in Parliament or on the hustings, deputy lieutenants and justices of the peace were asked to declare their positions on the matter. On the basis of the answers, the lieutenancies and the commissions of the peace were drastically reconstructed.20 The result was, to a degree, a reversal of the reconstruction undertaken in 1679-82. Tories were turned out, Roman Catholics and dissenters put in. A good many Whigs were among those restored or appointed. In other words James was turning not only to his co-religionists, but to his former enemies. Since many of the dissenters were of relatively low status, the Anglican squires were outraged at the loss of office and standing in the communities in which they rightly regarded themselves as the natural leaders. More important from the electoral point of view, James, like his brother before him, saw the pressing need to ensure the reliability of the municipalities. New charters were issued to 32 parliamentary boroughs, and the corporations of no less than 95 others which had been remodelled in the previous reign were packed with men who were expected to support his policies. These alterations of the corporations had been made possible by the appointment of paid agents who visited the towns and reported on the political situation in each, suggesting reliable candidates for local office and for Parliament. The activity of these agents was another reason for the alienation of the Tory gentry; almost 200 had been appointed to office under Charles II’s charters, of whom the majority were now dismissed. The final phase of the campaign was the recommendation by the Court and its allies of suitable candidates. It seems that 171 recommendations were made in all, by no means ensuring a majority; but to them the Court must have assumed there would be added a goodly number of Members, favourable to James’s policy, who would be returned without a formal recommendation. Since the election was never held, the result of James’s campaign must remain in the catalogue of ‘historical ifs’, but it is at least a possibility that it would have succeeded, and with it the establishment of absolutism in England. It is certain that it led to the formation of what can be called a ‘country’ Tory Party.

There was no organized campaign before the elections to the Revolution Convention; indeed if there had been anyone to organize one, there would have been no time between the issuing of the writs at the end of December and the elections in January, held under the old franchises before the new charters had been granted. Also, there was no single issue on which they could be fought, such as had been uppermost in the minds of the electors before the second and third Exclusion Parliaments. Although James had fled, the succession had not been settled, so there was no clear-cut choice between the supporters of James and the supporters of William. Many candidates did not know what attitude they would take once in the Commons, and the matter was curiously muted during the campaign. James’s electioneering had some effect. Of 171 MPs recommended as court candidates in 1688, a total of 66 were returned to the Convention at the general election, almost evenly divided between 31 Whigs and 27 Tories, though seven of the latter had been recommended by Lord Bath, whose nominees were accepted by the electors only if they were Cornishmen and Protestants. A few Members complained that a court recommendation was a positive disadvantage. Robert Price maintained that it had cost him his seat at Weobley; Charles Bertie complained that it had ‘entirely lost my interest in that corporation’ of Stamford; an exaggeration since he was, in fact, returned in 1689. William Leveson Gower suspected a more Machiavellian reason for the recommendation, asserting that it had been made ‘on purpose to keep me out’, Newcastle-under-Lyme.

When the Convention met on 22 Jan. 1689, the Whigs, in a comfortable majority, won the first round by electing Henry Powle Speaker. Friends of Edward Seymour, who had expected to be chosen, alleged that Powle’s election to Parliament was questionable, but failed to oust him. The Tories won the next round by postponing the debate on the state of the nation until 28 Jan., presumably to delay a decision on the succession. This debate produced the famous resolution which declared that James having ‘abdicated’, the throne was ‘vacant’. The Tories refused a division; those words could mean different things to different Members, and the resolution which was sent to the Lords for their concurrence did not name a successor. The Whigs, of course, were united. Having tried to exclude James in 1679, they had no reason to change their minds ten years later. The Tories were divided. Their difficulty stemmed from the doctrines of non-resistance (which many of them had just violated) and of the divinely instituted right of hereditary succession. A small group hoped to restore James on conditions, thus apparently preserving the doctrines intact. A larger group favoured a regency under Mary, either temporary or during James’s lifetime, leaving him the title of King without its powers. Arguments against the impracticability of this arrangement were the same as had been brought forward in the Exclusion Parliaments. Nevertheless, on 5 Feb. on the motion to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant, 151 die-hard Tories and the two tellers supported it, and all were black-listed as a result. Concurrently with the question of the succession, the Commons had been considering their grievances and plans for constitutional reforms. On 29 Jan. a committee had been appointed to bring in the ‘heads of things which are absolutely necessary for the better securing of our religion, laws and liberties’. Their report on 7 Feb. constituted a lengthy indictment of James and a statement of the ‘ancient rights and liberties’ of the nation. This was the statement which was to become the Declaration of Rights and eventually an Act of Parliament. There were more than twice as many Whigs as Tories on the committee, and Sir George Treby, an influential Whig, was chairman. The Declaration as a whole, when it finally emerged, was a Whiggish statement in that it changed the nature of kingship. But many clauses were agreeable to the Tories as they condemned certain of James’s actions which had affected them as well as the Whigs. They too had objected to the use of the suspending power, the abuse of the dispensing power, the standing army, the ecclesiastical commission, and to James’s interference in elections during the preceding year. It was accepted without a division and it is significant that it was presented to William and Mary before they were proclaimed king and queen.

An issue which was even more divisive and intractable than the succession involved the reversal of judgments illegally or irregularly made during the previous reign, and the punishment of those officials who were guilty of misdoings, not only under James, but also under Charles II. The reversal of the attainders of such men as William Russell and Algernon Sidney were quickly despatched, but the decision which offenders should be excepted from the bill of indemnity or general pardon was more difficult, and, in fact, could not be decided in this Parliament. In his message of 25 Mar. William urged the Commons to a swift passage of the bill with only such exceptions as should ‘seem necessary for the vindication of public justice, the safety of their Majesties, and the settlement and welfare of the nation for the future’. The House appointed a committee to discover how the Restoration Convention had handled the matter, but nothing substantive was done until mid-May. The Tories hoped that the procedure adopted would be immediate agreement on who should be excepted from a general pardon; the Whigs (or most of them), who were more interested in punishing offenders than pardoning them, successfully insisted that the method of proceeding should be to name the crimes under which exceptions should be made. Accordingly on 23 May ten ‘heads’ were named (two more were added later) under which exceptions should be made. These closely followed the clauses in the Declaration of Rights, and would have inevitably increased the number of exceptions from the bill. But an even wider scope for the Whigs’ desire for revenge was attempted on 2 Jan. 1690. After John Somers had reported from the committee on the bill for restoring corporations, it was resolved in a thin House to add a clause (wrongly named the ‘Sacheverell Clause’ by historians) which would have barred any municipal official who had had a part in the surrender of the charters from holding municipal office for a period of seven years. This would have given control of many municipalities to the Whigs and have given them almost certain control in the Commons. The Tories, who felt that the passage of the clause would mean their ruin, mustered their forces. They were fortified by the knowledge that they had the support of the King, and perhaps they counted on the support or abstention of the more moderate Whigs. In a series of divisions, on compromises offered by their opponents, they had narrow but increasing majorities; on 10 Jan. the clause was lost without a division, and the bill restoring corporations was sent to the Lords. The Tories had won a clear victory with the rejection of the clause; they were granted another by the King. The Whigs had resumed the discussion of ‘heads’ in the indemnity bill; on 23 Jan. they were reported and proved to be essentially the same as those decided on in the previous May. William, disgusted with the Whigs’ implacable desire for revenge, had had enough. He prorogued Parliament on 27 Jan. and ten days later dissolved it. It was not until the next Parliament, when a different political climate prevailed, that a royal Act of Grace was passed. Only 31 persons were excepted, and no one was executed. The sensible policy of moderation had prevailed.

We turn now to a consideration of the Members’ politics seen in terms of their age, education, religion, family, constituency and geographical location.

 

POLITICS AND AGE

In the Restoration Convention the differences in age groups are significant. Fifty-nine per cent of the Anglicans were under 40 as opposed to only 39% of the non-Anglicans, and at the other end of the scale only 13% of the Anglicans were over 50, against 30% of the non-Anglicans. This agrees with the opinion of contemporaries. On 7 Aug. 1660 a correspondent of Sir Richard Leveson wrote

Here is a complaint of the Court that the young men absent themselves from the House, and by that means give the old men, who are most of them Presbyterians, the advantage.21

At the general election of 1661 there were few differences in age between those who were solidly Court or solidly in Opposition. The figures for those crossing the floor of the House, however, present some significant variations. The proportion of younger Members—those in their twenties and thirties—who joined the Opposition was substantially larger than those who moved to the Court, while the reverse is true of Members in their forties. At the end of the Cavalier Parliament nearly one-third of the Opposition were below 41 years of age as against less than a quarter of the Court party, and more than half of that party were aged over 50 as against 41% of the Opposition. As might be expected, the elderly were less likely to welcome change. In the three Exclusion Parliaments the only significant difference appears in the division on the first Exclusion bill. Almost half of those marked as absent were 40 or under, and two-fifths of those voting for the bill were in this age group while only a little more than a third were opposed. In James II’s Parliament the main strength of the decimated Whig party (53%) was in the under 41 age group, though the Tories had a 6% advantage of those in their thirties. In 1689 there was no significant difference between the under 41 and over 50 age groups, but the proportion of Tories in their twenties was almost double that of the Whigs and court Tories.

POLITICS AND AGE 1660

 Total Anglican Non-Anglican
 548262286
 %%%
Under 21*1*
21-30192613
31-40283224
41-50292730
51-60161220
61-704*7
71 and over2*3
Age unknown223

 

POLITICS AND AGE 1661 GENERAL ELECTION

 Total Court

Moving from

Opposition to

Court

Opposition

Moving from

Court to

Opposition

 522297449582
 %%%%%
Under 2122222
21-301615141721
31-403029322639
41-502726332921
51-601517111612
61-7066472
71 and over12010
Age unknown34412

 

POLITICS AND AGE AT THE END OF THE CAVALIER PARLIAMENT

 Total Court Opposition
 511†274237
 %%%
Under 21*10
21-309712
31-40171519
41-50242326
51-60273122
61-70151714
71 and over545
Age unknown341
†Four seats were vacant at the dissolution.

 

POLITICS AND AGE 1679 (Mar.)

 Total

Against

Exclusion

For

Exclusion

Absent
 522137218167
 %%%%
Under 211*12
21-3017131820
31-4024222326
41-5026312622
51-6020202118
61-708969
71 and over1021
Age unknown2422

 

POLITICS AND AGE 1679 (Oct.)

 Total Court Opposition
 530220310
 %%%
Under 21121
21-30171817
31-40232324
41-50252326
51-60202021
61-709107
71 and over212
Age unknown333

 

POLITICS AND AGE 1681

 Total Court Opposition
 502193309
 %%%
Under 21***
21-30181917
31-40242225
41-50272628
51-60202021
61-708106
71 and over
2*2
Age unknown232

 

POLITICS AND AGE 1685

 Total Tory Whig
 52546857
 %%%
Under 21222
21-30171812
31-40252339
41-50232514
51-60202017
61-709910
71 and over213
Age unknown232

 

POLITICS AND AGE 1689

 Total

Whig and

Court Tory

Tory
 551319232
 %%%
Under 21*11
21-30141019
31-40273024
41-50262723
51-60181621
61-7010109
71 and over332
Age unknown332

 

POLITICS AND EDUCATION

A few generalizations can be made about the connexions between a Member’s education and his political stance. The proportion of those with both a university and a legal education was always somewhat greater in the opposition parties, except in 1689. The proportion of Oxford men follows the same pattern except in 1660 when the balance was even, and in the second and third Exclusion Parliaments when, curiously enough, it was slightly higher in the court party, and in 1689 when the proportion of Oxonians supporting the Government was substantially greater. The proportion of Cambridge men in each party was remarkably balanced except in 1689 when more could be found among the Whigs and court Tories; the ‘radicalism’ of Cambridge and the ‘conservatism’ of Oxford were not apparent in this period.22 The proportion of Members with only a legal education was also balanced, as was the proportion of those with no higher education, except in James II’s Parliament when only 17% of the Whig minority was in this group. Since the proportion for the whole membership of this Parliament (29%) was not substantially different from that in other Parliaments, it is clear that in this Parliament the Whigs were a small but highly educated group.

 

POLITICS AND EDUCATION 1660

 Total Anglican Non-Anglican
 548262286
 %%%
Oxford272727
Cambridge222223
Oxford and Cambridge111
Academic and legal education363239
Legal education only202120
No English university or legal education262626

 

POLITICS AND EDUCATION 1661-78

 Total Court

Moving

from

Opposition

to Court

Opposition

Moving

from

Court to

Opposition

 85944965205140
 %%%%%
Oxford3028293331
Cambridge1919231823
Oxford and Cambridge11001

Academic and

legal education

3027183031
Legal education only1716251516

No English university

or legal education

2929263027

 

POLITICS AND EDUCATION 1679 (Mar.)

 Total

Against

Exclusion

For

Exclusion

Absent
 522137218167
 %%%%
Oxford36283940
Cambridge16151518
Oxford and Cambridge*080
Academic and legal education29233229
Legal education only14151315
No English university or legal education28323021

 

POLITICS AND EDUCATION 1679 (Oct.)

 Total Court Opposition
 530220310
 %%%
Oxford323431
Cambridge181718
Oxford and Cambridge*81
Academic and legal education292631
Legal education only141314
No English university or legal education292730

 

POLITICS AND EDUCATION 1681

 Total Court Opposition
 502193309
 %%%
Oxford343732
Cambridge181619
Oxford and Cambridge111
Academic and legal education302931
Legal education only141315
No English university or legal education272728

 

POLITICS AND EDUCATION 1685

 Total Tory Whig
 52546857
 %%%
Oxford343244
Cambridge171718
Oxford and Cambridge*10
Academic and legal education272539
Legal education only141414
No English university or legal education293117

 

POLITICS AND EDUCATION 1689

 Total

Whig and

Court Tory

Tory
 551319232
 %%%
Oxford343236
Cambridge182014
Oxford and Cambridge**0
Academic and legal education302927
Legal education only141216
No English university or legal education293127

 

POLITICS AND RELIGION

The effect of Members’ religion on their political attitudes in the 1660 Convention has been mentioned on pages 31-32. The settlement of the Church was the only issue really dividing the Commons, and for this reason the Parliament of 1660 has been analyzed on religious rather than political lines. It should be noted, however, that while non-Anglicans might differ from their Anglican colleagues on religion, on other important matters, such as the indemnity bill, the abolition of the court of wards and the disbandment of the army, there was a willingness to compromise. If the old party lines—Royalists and Parliamentarians—had been maintained rigidly, the very real achievements of this Parliament would not have been possible.

In the Cavalier Parliament a clear pattern of religious and political affiliations emerges: the greater a Member’s commitment to Anglicanism the more likely he was to support the Court, while the more positive his dissent from the Established Church the more likely he was to be in opposition. This is of course to be expected, but even among conformist Presbyterians and dissenters a substantial proportion were in or went into opposition. Most such Members favoured some degree of toleration for Protestant dissenters, and for them the second Conventicles Act of 1670 proved a major stumbling block. Others were repelled by the luxury and immorality of the Court and deeply suspicious of Popery in high places. All the Roman Catholics were court supporters except Sir John Coventry, whose move into opposition was probably an attempt to disguise his faith. He voted for exclusion in the next Parliament.

By the time of the first Exclusion Parliament political attitudes had polarized along religious lines with almost no dissenters or erstwhile dissenters voting against Exclusion. Those few who did were men like Sir Richard Haddock who depended for their livelihood on government office or who had ties of personal loyalty to the Duke of York. The Court derived almost all its support from Anglicans; even among this group more Members were absent from the division on the first exclusion bill than voted against it, a reflection of the dilemma in which such MPs were placed by the conflicting pulls of loyalty to the crown and distrust of a Popish heir to the throne. The figures for the second and third Exclusion Parliaments suggest some hardening of attitude among Anglican MPs towards the Court. Perhaps more Anglicans had come to favour exclusion; possibly some of them were emboldened to take a politically popular attitude by the knowledge that in any event Charles II would never assent to the bill. Parallel with this movement of Anglicans and probable Anglicans towards Opposition is a slight movement of conformed Presbyterians and dissenters towards the Court. Lack of hard evidence for political attitudes, particularly for the brief 1681 Parliament, means that such apparent trends have to be treated with caution: the figures undoubtedly include many men who were reluctant to commit themselves.

James II’s Parliament is in striking contrast to those which preceded it. In the three Exclusion Parliaments a quarter of the membership was composed of Presbyterians and Independents of one kind or another; in 1685 it was only 5%. This is not surprising: the record of dissenters in the Exclusion Parliaments ensured that few of them would be elected in 1685 in the teeth of a massive Tory reaction. In fact only 13 of the 26 Presbyterians and Independents elected were Whigs (as was the solitary unbeliever, the Hon. Thomas Wharton); the other 13 largely consisted of men such as Sir Richard Haddock and Sir Anthony Deane whose loyalty to James II was never in doubt. The very small number of Roman Catholics or crypto-Catholics elected was an early indication of the fact that the bulk of the political nation still held Popery in deep dislike and suspicion, and that loyalty to James did not imply sympathy for his religion. The religious and political divisions of the 1689 Convention were very much the same as those of the three Exclusion Parliaments. The proportion of dissenters elected of one kind or another rose to 18%, and of these 97 Members only seven opposed the transfer of the crown to William and Mary, a fairly damning comment on James II’s attempts to gain their co-operation for his religious policy. The great majority of the 232 Tories, 190 or 82%, were Anglican; the proportion of Anglicans among the Whigs and Court Tories (136, or 43% of the total of 319) was markedly smaller. This is hardly surprising: the high Anglicans were firmly attached to the principle of hereditary monarchy and James II’s apparent attempt to subvert the Established Church had placed them in an appalling dilemma. The less committed Anglicans or low churchmen had much less difficulty in combining constitutional principles with political pragmatism and accepting the new regime.

 

Key for below 6 Tables:

Angl. - Anglican

Prob. Ang. - Probable Anglican

Presb. - Presbyterian

Prob. Presb. - Probable Presbyterian

Presb. conf. - Presbyterian conformed

Ind. - Independant

Prob. Ind. - Probable Independent

Ind. conf. - Independent conformed

R. Cath. & crypto-Cath. - Roman Catholic and crypto-Catholic

 

POLITICS AND RELIGION 1661-78†

 Total Angl.

Prob.

Angl.

Presb.

Prob.

Presb.

Presb.

conf.

Ind.

Prob.

Ind.

Ind.

conf.

R. Cath.

& crypto-

Cath.

 859520152162587483015
 %%%%%%%%%%
Court526347016300131793
Moving from Opposition to Court88560110070
Opposition2412318864407575630
Moving from Court to Opposition161616620182513137

†The number of unbelievers in each Parliament is so small that they have not been included in the tables.

 

POLITICS AND RELIGION 1679 (Mar.)

 Total Angl.

Prob.

Angl.

Presb.

Prob.

Presb.

Presb.

conf.

Ind.

Prob.

Ind.

Ind.

conf.

R. Cath.

& crypto-

Cath.

 5222701172016449152 
 %%%%%%%%%%
Against Exclusion2637220020132050
For Exclusion42244985757089734850
Absent3238291525271113320

 

POLITICS AND RELIGION 1679 Oct.

 Total Angl.

Prob.

Angl.

Presb.

Prob.

Presb.

Presb.

conf.

Ind.

Prob.

Ind.

Ind.

conf.

R. Cath.

& crypto-

Cath.

 530253129232046918271
 %%%%%%%%%%
Court42643200150112250
Opposition58366810010085100897850

 

POLITICS AND RELIGION 1681

 Total Angl.

Prob.

Angl.

Presb.

Prob.

Presb.

Presb.

conf.

Ind.

Prob.

Ind.

Ind.

conf.

R. Cath.

& crypto-

Cath.

 5022401292218391018231
 %%%%%%%%%%
Court3860260013022220
Opposition583668100100851008978100

 

POLITICS AND RELIGION 1685

 Total Angl.

Prob.

Angl.

Presb.

Prob.

Presb.

Presb.

conf.

Ind.

Prob.

Ind.

Ind.

conf.

R. Cath.

& crypto-

Cath.

 525410832471575
 %%%%%%%%%%
Tory899382025711004057100
Whig117171007529060430

 

POLITICS AND RELIGION 1689

 Total Angl.

Prob.

Angl.

Presb.

Prob.

Presb.

Presb.

conf.

Ind.

Prob.

Ind.

Ind.

conf.

R. Cath.

& crypto-

Cath.

 551326124161629614162
 %%%%%%%%%%
Whig and Court Tory5842721001008610010081100
Tory425828001400190

 

POLITICS AND FAMILY TYPE

In the analysis of politics and family type in the Restoration Convention two features stand out. Members from noble families were four times as likely to be Anglicans as those from humble families, and there were nearly twice as many Anglicans who were nobly born as non-Anglicans. This is not surprising: naturally social status would be reflected in religious affiliation. In the Cavalier Parliament, taken as a whole, this distribution of nobly-born Members is again apparent: 22% of those crossing the floor of the House from Opposition to Court were noble, as against 14% moving in the opposite direction. But perhaps the most significant feature of the table is that the Opposition drew its main strength from those who came from minor gentry and merchant families, more of whom crossed the floor to the Opposition than to the Court. These proportions were maintained throughout the period, except that in James II’s Parliament the proportion of nobly born in the tiny Whig minority was slightly greater than that on the Tory side. In 1689 this was reversed, marking a return to the earlier pattern. The only family type to show a constant pattern throughout the whole period, even in 1685, was the small group of Members coming from lawyer families: a majority always supporting the Court.

 

POLITICS AND FAMILY TYPE 1660

 Total Anglican Non-Anglican
 548262286
 %%%
Noble10137
Major gentry313131
Minor gentry424043
Merchant999
Lawyer443
Humble537

 

POLITICS AND FAMILY TYPE 1661-78

 Total Court

Moving

from

Opposition

to Court

Opposition

Moving

from

Court to

Opposition

 85944965205140
 %%%%%
Noble141622814
Major gentry3431364341
Minor gentry3836364341
Merchant762116
Lawyer34032
Humble44324

 

POLITICS AND FAMILY TYPE 1679 (Mar.)

 Total

Against

Exclusion

For

Exclusion

Absent
 522137218167
 %%%%
Noble12171011
Major gentry32312834
Minor gentry39344438
Merchant1071310
Lawyer2413
Humble4732

 

POLITICS AND FAMILY TYPE 1679 (Oct.)

 Total Court Opposition
 530220310
 %%%
Noble121510
Major gentry323431
Minor gentry383540
Merchant12914
Lawyer232
Humble453

 

POLITICS AND FAMILY TYPE 1681

 Total Court Opposition
 502193309
 %%%
Noble121311
Major gentry323231
Minor gentry393840
Merchant12914
Lawyer232
Humble342

 

POLITICS AND FAMILY TYPE 1685

 Total Tory Whig
 52546857
 %%%
Noble121214
Major gentry333328
Minor gentry393846
Merchant8810
Lawyer442
Humble440

 

POLITICS AND FAMILY TYPE 1689

 Total Whig and Tory Court Tory
 551319232
 %%%
Noble13159
Major gentry313034
Minor gentry414042
Merchant111112
Lawyer332
Humble221

 

POLITICS AND FAMILY AGE

In the Restoration Convention the age of a Member’s family had little effect on either his religious affiliation, or, presumably, his politics. In the Cavalier Parliament a large proportion of those supporting the Court came from families which had been prominent in the medieval period. In the three Exclusion Parliaments again the proportion of Court supporters from ancient families was greater than that in the Opposition, whereas the proportion of those from families of Tudor origin was less. This pattern was repeated in 1685, but in 1689 the balance was more even, except that a somewhat larger proportion of Tories came from Tudor families.

 

POLITICS AND FAMILY AGE 1660

 Anglican Non-Anglican
 262286
 %%
Medieval3532
Tudor4747
Stuart1821

 

POLITICS AND FAMILY AGE 1661-78

 Court

Moving from

Opposition

to Court

Opposition

Moving from

Court to

Opposition

 44965205140
 %%%%
Medieval43383831
Tudor41483949
Stuart16142321

 

POLITICS AND FAMILY AGE 1679 (Mar.)

 Against Exclusion For Exclusion Absent
 137218167
 %%%
Medieval453241
Tudor314040
Stuart252819

 

POLITICS AND FAMILY AGE 1679 (Oct.)

 Court Opposition
 220310
 %%
Medieval4535
Tudor3138
Stuart2426

 

POLITICS AND FAMILY AGE 1681

 Court Opposition
 193309
 %%
Medieval4234
Tudor3441
Stuart2425

 

POLITICS AND FAMILY AGE 1685

 Tory Whig
 46857
 %%
Medieval4126
Tudor3351
Stuart2623

 

POLITICS AND FAMILY AGE 1689

 Whig and Court Tory Tory
 319232
 %%
Medieval3739
Tudor3439
Stuart2930

 

RESIDENTIAL RELATIONSHIP

The analysis of a Member’s residential relationship to his constituency yields some interesting figures. As might be expected, practically all county Members were resident in the counties which they represented. The exceptions, never more than seven in any one Parliament, were either Welsh MPs like Robert Bulkeley, Visct. Bulkeley of Cashel, and the Hons. Henry and Thomas Bulkeley, whose family influence in their county of origin was more or less paramount, or men whose close connexions with the Government gave them exceptional influence, such as Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper or Henry Hyde. For most county Members, residence in their constituency was a prerequisite for election. An examination of the politics of county Members gives some support to the theory that there was a natural cleavage between Court and Country. In the 1660 Convention a slightly larger number of county MPs were Anglicans than non-Anglicans (50 as opposed to 43). During the Cavalier Parliament the number of county MPs in Opposition (72) began to draw level with those supporting the Court (94), while in the three Exclusion Parliaments twice as many county Members were in Opposition as were government supporters. However, 30 county Members were absent from the division on the first exclusion bill, which suggests that the figures for the two subsequent Exclusion Parliaments should not be treated as evidence of firm political commitment. This caveat applies also to the 1685 Parliament when the proportion of Tory to Whig county MPs was sharply reversed (84 as opposed to 9). Many Members elected as Tories subsequently went into opposition; however, the vast majority of county MPs elected as Tories would seem to suggest that the ‘Tory reaction’ of 1681-5 was a genuine one, and not merely the result of rigging borough franchises. The 1689 Convention saw a return to the earlier pattern: nearly twice as many county MPs were Whigs or Court Tories than Tories.

At a time when over three-quarters of all MPs were country gentlemen, it is to be expected that only a small proportion of borough MPs would actually live in the towns they represented. In fact most lived nearby or at least in the same county. Of the carpet-baggers, those borough MPs having no residential connexion with their constituencies, the majority, at least at the time of their election, were always government supporters. This trend is most marked in the Cavalier Parliament and in 1685, reflecting the Government’s concern to secure the election of loyal and able spokesmen. Perhaps the most notable stranger of the period was Samuel Pepys, who did sterling work as a government spokesman for naval affairs and could be said to have some professional connexion with his constituency, Harwich. The same applies to Sir Anthony Deane and William Penn. Other strangers who initially owed their election to government influences nursed their constituencies and acquired an interest there in their own right. Such was Joseph Williamson, whose senior position in the administration could be said to entitle him to a seat in the Commons. But many carpet-baggers on whose behalf government influence was exercised owed their election to their personal connexions with the King: it is hard to see what special abilities entitled Thomas Chudleigh, Sir Charles Scarburgh or James St. Amand to a seat in the Commons. The parliamentary careers of such men were usually brief and undistinguished. The case of borough MPs who opposed the Government and were strangers to their constituencies is somewhat different. Sir Thomas Armstrong’s election was due to the patronage of a major opposition figure, in this instance Monmouth. Others came from families who had a preponderant influence in the boroughs for which they sat: Edward and the Hon. Robert Russell and John Thynne are examples. Most borough Members however, had some sort of residential connexion with their constituencies. The only Parliaments in which substantial differences between the residential relationships of the parties can be observed were the first Exclusion Parliament and that of James II . Those Members voting for exclusion had a closer residential relationship with their constituencies than did those voting against, and in 1685 a large proportion of the small Whig minority were either residents or lived nearby.

 

RESIDENTIAL RELATIONSHIP: BOROUGH MEMBERS23 1660

 Total Anglican Non-Anglican
 451212239
 %%%
Old resident131213
Recent resident649
Nearby resident (old)303129
Nearby resident (recent)777
Property in or nearby9810
Former resident232
Resident in county181917
Stranger151714

 

RESIDENTIAL RELATIONSHIP: BOROUGH MEMBERS MEMBERS24 1661-78

 Total Court

Moving from

Opposition to

Court

Opposition

Moving from

Opposition

 69636450168114
 %%%%%
Old resident10710177
Recent resident54454
Nearby resident (old)2825283034
Nearby resident (recent)55485
Property in or nearby8681111
Former resident22611
Resident in county192220189
Stranger2429201029

 

RESIDENTIAL RELATIONSHIP: BOROUGH MEMBERS25 1679 (Mar.)

 Total

Against

Exclusion

For

Exclusion

Absent
 422112174136
 %%%%
Old resident17101919
Recent resident3323
Nearby resident (old)34283737
Nearby resident (recent)4354
Property in or nearby1012711
Former resident2321
Resident in county17201615
Stranger14201310

 

RESIDENTIAL RELATIONSHIP: BOROUGH MEMBERS26 1679 (Oct.)

 Total Court Opposition
 431186245
 %%%
Old resident161517
Recent resident352
Nearby resident (old)323033
Nearby resident (recent)666
Property in or nearby989
Former resident212
Resident in county151516
Stranger182115

 

RESIDENTIAL RELATIONSHIP: BOROUGH MEMBERS27 1681

 Total Court Opposition
 405165240
 %%%
Old resident151416
Recent resident333
Nearby resident (old)333334
Nearby resident (recent)574
Property in or nearby889
Former resident212
Resident in county171716
Stranger171817

 

RESIDENTIAL RELATIONSHIP: BOROUGH MEMBERS28 1685

 Total Tory Whig
 42938148
 %%%
Old resident121118
Recent resident442
Nearby resident (old)323048
Nearby resident (recent)546
Property in or nearby668
Former resident222
Resident in county19214
Stranger212310

 

RESIDENTIAL RELATIONSHIP: BOROUGH MEMBERS29 1689

 Total

Whig and

Court Tory

Tory
 453258195
 %%%
Old resident131411
Recent resident343
Nearby resident (old)322935
Nearby resident (recent)667
Property in or nearby989
Former resident223
Resident in county201722
Stranger151911

 

TYPES OF BOROUGHS AND THE POLITICS OF THEIR MEMBERS

Though the size of the historic English and Welsh counties varied, the franchise remained the same. The size of borough electorates also fluctuated enormously : Shaftesbury had only 12 electors in 1685, Westminster some 25,000 voters in 1679 . For the convenience of analysis, borough franchises have been divided into two kinds, select and open. Select boroughs include corporations (where the franchise was in the hands of a self-recruiting oligarchy) and burgages, where ownership of a tenement (or tenements) conferred the right to vote. In these boroughs the franchise was attached to fixed units of property and could not be increased or diminished. Open boroughs include those in which the freemen, inhabitants, householders, or those paying scot and lot were entitled to vote.

The following tables analyze these types of franchise in relation to the size of the borough: one with an electorate of 51 to 500 is called medium, one with an electorate of over 500 large. Small boroughs (under 51 electors) have been treated as a single category, irrespective of the type of franchise. In these boroughs the small number of electors made them more vulnerable to pressure or persuasion. In small freeman boroughs the corporation’s right to create freemen gave it an often preponderant influence; in other small boroughs the local landlord or employer frequently had a predominant interest. St. Germans is a good example. The borough consisted of two manors, one owned by the Eliot family and the other leased by them from the bishop of Exeter. Although the electorate was made up of about 50 resident householders (thus making it technically an ‘open’ borough) the Eliot interest was absolute and there were no contested elections during the period. The universities have not been included in the tables because their franchise was sui generis and their Members too small in number to affect the political balance in any Parliament. With the exception of Thomas Thynne I, returned for Oxford University to the Cavalier Parliament in a by-election, and James Vernon, Monmouth’s steward, who not surprisingly voted for exclusion in May 1679 , they were all court supporters until the 1689 Convention, in which Tories could be considered the Opposition.

In the 1660 Convention non-Anglicans were returned in largest proportions for small boroughs. Probably not too much should be made of this since, as has been pointed out elsewhere, the non-Anglicans were not a politically homogeneous group. Anglicans and non-Anglicans were elected to all other types in more or less even proportions. The pattern is much the same for the Cavalier Parliament; no political group did disproportionately well in any particular type of borough. The exception to this was the success the Opposition had in large open boroughs. In London the honeymoon with the Court was brief, and all four Members returned at the general election of 1661 were opponents of the Court. In Gloucester two men opposed to the Government were returned (although one of them, Edward Massey, later went over to the Court). However, even in these large open constituencies (many of which, like London and Gloucester, had strong parliamentarian and dissenting traditions) opposition supporters were not elected in sufficiently large numbers to alarm the Government seriously.

The Exclusion Parliaments present a very different picture. The elections in March 1679 were conducted in the highly charged atmosphere produced by the Popish Plot, and the electorate was subjected to heavy propaganda. Courtiers were cried down and ‘honest men’ cried up, and the result was an electoral disaster for the Court. Even in the small boroughs, less than a third of the MPs elected opposed exclusion, and in the larger boroughs the proportion was nearer a quarter. The larger the electorate, the smaller the proportion of anti-exclusionists elected: of the 72 Members sitting for large open boroughs only 22 voted against the bill. The number of MPs elected for such boroughs who were absent from the division on the bill was fairly high, but this can have been small consolation to the Court, for even if all the 57 absent MPs who had been expected by contemporaries to vote against the bill had actually done so, it still would not have been defeated. All the London Members voted for Exclusion (Sir Thomas Player moved the bill) as did both Members for Liverpool and one of the Gloucester MPs (the other, William Cook, was absent from the division). Even Bristol, usually amenable to government influence, elected two men whom Shaftesbury rated ‘worthy’ (although in the event neither of them voted for the bill). Members elected for medium open boroughs were unlikely to be absent, which meant that the Government did better in them, but so did the exclusionists.

The political nation was now divided on the single issue of exclusion, an issue of such crucial importance that in many if not most constituencies it overshadowed local interests. The elections to the second and third Exclusion Parliaments were the first in which MPs were returned on something resembling a modern political platform, and were again disastrous for the Court. The trend observed in the first Parliament is even more pronounced, with court supporters being elected in largest proportions for small boroughs, and smallest for large open boroughs. London returned the same four opposition Members to all three Exclusion Parliaments. Even in large open boroughs where anti-exclusionists or moderates succeeded in being elected the Commons sometimes sabotaged the result: Sir Robert Cann, MP for Bristol, was expelled from the second Exclusion Parliament for expressing disbelief in the Popish Plot, while Francis Wythens, MP for Westminster, was expelled from the same Parliament for presenting an address abhorring a petition for the sitting of Parliament, and an exclusionist was elected in his place. It is hardly surprising that only 16 court supporters were elected by boroughs with large open franchises for the 1681 Parliament.

Between 1681 and 1685 borough charters were remodelled on an extensive scale, as a result of which 99 boroughs could be relied upon to elect Tories to James II’s Parliament. However, the massive Tory majority returned to the 1685 Parliament cannot merely be ascribed to government manipulation of the borough franchises, for in that case one would expect Whigs to fare best in large open boroughs. In fact only four Whigs (Anthony Bowyer, Hector Philipps, Richard Dowdeswell II and Sir Thomas Byde) were elected for such boroughs, and Whigs fared best in the small select constituencies where they had a controlling interest (as John Maynard I did at Bere Alston, or Thomas Turgis at Gatton). Even in the 1689 Convention the Tories did surprisingly well in large open boroughs. This Parliament saw a return to the earlier pattern of 1660 and 1661, with Whigs and Tories being elected in more or less the same proportions for all types of borough.

POLITICS AND CONSTITUENCY TYPE 1660

 Total County Small

Medium

select

Medium

open

Large

open

 548931234721467
 %%%%%%
Anglican484843474749 
Non-Anglican525257535351

 

POLITICS AND CONSTITUENCY TYPE 1661-78

 Total County Small

Medium

select

Medium

open

Large

open

 8591571937433199
 %%%%%%
Court525254515443
Moving from Opposition to Court71084511
Opposition242522242230
Moving from Court to Opposition161316201815

 

POLITICS AND CONSTITUENCY TYPE 1679 (Mar.)

 Total County Small

Medium

select

Medium

open

Large

open

 522961104719372
 %%%%%%
Against Exclusion262630192722
For Exclusion424637384539
Absent322833432939

 

POLITICS AND CONSTITUENCY TYPE 1679 (Oct.)

 Total County Small

Medium

select

Medium

open

Large

open

 530951094520572
 %%%%%%
Court423249444238
Opposition586851565862

 

POLITICS AND CONSTITUENCY TYPE 1681

 Total County Small

Medium

select

Medium

open

Large

open

 502931034519166
 %%%%%%
Court382550424224
Opposition627550585876

 

POLITICS AND CONSTITUENCY TYPE 1685

 Total County Small

Medium

select

Medium

open

Large

open

 525911344118962
 %%%%%%
Tory899186789194
Whig119142296

 

POLITICS AND CONSTITUENCY TYPE 1689

 Total County Small

Medium

select

Medium

open

Large

open

 551941065221579
 %%%%%%
Whig and Court Tory586459585852
Tory423641424248

 

INTERESTS IN BOROUGH ELECTIONS

A Member has been considered to have been returned on a proprietary interest when he (or his family or his wife’s family) owned a majority of the burgages, or, as lord of the manor, appointed the returning officer. At Newton, for example, the Legh family held a majority of the burgages and in 1661 acquired the lordship of the manor and borough. There was only one contest during the period, an unsuccessful challenger appearing in 1685, and the family controlled the borough until its disfranchisement in 1832. At St. Germans, where the franchise was vested in about 50 resident householders, the Eliot family, owners of one manor and lessees of the other, had an unshakeable grip on the borough which they retained until the Great Reform Act. The Luttrells owned the manor of Minehead, and, except for a period when the heir was a minor, could always be sure of one seat. Henry Powle was returned for East Grinstead in 1681 on the interest of his fiancée, the dowager Countess of Dorset, though the Sackville interest was split on this occasion . As can be seen, more Members were returned on their natural interest than on any other: in other words, they were men who, as natural leaders in their communities, could expect to be elected. Natural interest was based on the ownership of substantial property in or near a constituency, or on a long-standing family connexion with the borough, or a combination of both. Examples are the Dillingtons at Newport, the Waldegraves at Sudbury and the Masters of Cirencester. It was quite possible to re-establish an interest which had lapsed. The Coningsby family of Hampton Court, Herefordshire, for example, had first sat for the shire in the mid-sixteenth century, and acquired a good interest at Leominster in Elizabeth’s reign. Humphrey Coningsby was a candidate in 1661, but was denied the poll on the ground that he was in prison for debt. His son Thomas, however, was returned to the second Exclusion Parliament and retained his seat in the following 11 Parliaments ‘whether absent or present, without trouble or expense’. It was also possible for a Member originally returned on some other interest to develop a natural interest of his own. Charles Kerr, 2nd Earl of Ancram [S], was returned for Wigan in 1661 on the interest of the Earl of Derby, to whom he was related through his mother. By the time of the election to the second Exclusion Parliament he had acquired a large interest for himself among the freemen, so that the withdrawal of Derby’s support could not prevent his election. Roger Bradshaigh II said of him that his constituents were ‘daily more obliged in many particulars than any town that I have known hath been to any burgess that ever served them, not only in time of Parliament, but every day in the interval of every Parliament’. Another example is Joseph Williamson, the secretary of Lord Arlington (Sir Henry Bennet). He was elected on Arlington’s interest at Thetford at a by-election in 1669, and carefully nursed his constituency. He helped to secure the passage of a bill to improve the navigation of the river Ouse which proved a source of great profit for the corporation, built a fine house in the town, and enlarged the guildhall at his own expense. He was returned at every election, except 1689, until his death in 1701. A somewhat different case was that of Henry Guy. He was a favourite at Court, and by 1667 was one of the excise farmers for Yorkshire. He began to ingratiate himself with the corporation at Hedon, though he never acquired any property in the town, and in 1669 took out his freedom in the borough. On this occasion he presented the corporation with a silver cup and salver, a silver mace and a copy of the statutes of England. He also made a gift of £20 p.a. to the corporation in perpetuity, of which £5 was assigned to the mayor, the returning officer. He came in for Hedon at a by-election in 1670, and was returned to all subsequent Parliaments during this period.

Government interest prevailed in those constituencies where the crown had the virtual nomination to one or both seats. These were ports such as Harwich, Portsmouth and Rochester where there were many dockyard workers and other officials dependent on the Government for their livelihood. Government control, however, was far from absolute; at a by-election at Harwich in 1664, for example, the Duke of York’s nominee, an Admiralty lawyer, was rejected by the corporation, which returned Capel Luckyn, the son-in-law of Sir Harbottle Grimston, whose family had a good interest in the town. The Cinque Ports were a special case. The lord warden had exercised the right to nominate one Member for each port as early as 1563. In 1624 the claim was made that ‘the lord warden doth commonly recommend 14 burgesses [i.e. all the Members for the then seven ports] to Parliament, seldom or never denied him, unless it be upon some great distaste betwixt him and the Ports’.30 This, however, had always been a rule more honoured in the breach than the observance, and during this period several of the ports showed remarkable independence, especially Seaford. The council of state instructed Edward Montagu I to take charge of the 1660 elections, but while he himself was returned at Dover, all his nominations were rejected. At the general election for the Cavalier Parliament the new lord warden, the Duke of York, succeeded in placing five nominees, but in the 12 subsequent by-elections the Court was successful in only six. Apparently (and understandably) no nominations were made for the three Exclusion Parliaments. In 1685 the tide turned, only Seaford, where the corporation had firmly rejected the lord warden’s claims to nominate one Member two years earlier, remaining inviolate. Government influence, as opposed to interest, on elections can be seen where pressure was brought to bear by crown officials. Robert Werden was returned at Chester in 1673 following a recommendation of the Duke of York, and Robert Foley’s election at Grampound in 1685 seems to have been due to the recommendation of his brother-in-law Lord Keeper Guilford (Sir Francis North). The Court could also ‘borrow’ the interest of a supporter. For example, when a seat was desired for Sir Edward Dering in 1670, application was made to the Duke of Newcastle, and on his interest Dering was returned for East Retford where he was ‘totally a stranger’.

Corporation interest existed in boroughs where the corporation controlled the franchise, either directly or through its power to create freemen, or by manipulation of the scot and lot roll. The most obvious exercise of this interest occurred when a member of the corporation was returned, usually the recorder or deputy recorder. During the period there were 77 such returns. Examples are Roger Pepys and William Alington at Cambridge, and William Yorke at Devizes. Wells returned its recorder at every general election except that for the Cavalier Parliament. But it was a common practice for country gentlemen to canvass members of the corporation when their support was necessary or helpful, and there were many boroughs where the interest was shared, the corporation filling one seat, and a member of a nearby gentry family occupying the other. This arrangement was not always harmonious. At Lichfield, for example, the corporation played a key role in elections; but, although they were persistently hostile to the Biddulphs whose estate lay just outside the city, the family could not be prevented, except in James II’s Parliament, from holding one seat throughout the period. In some boroughs, moreover, the corporation was itself controlled by a local country gentleman, as was the case in Truro, where Hugh Boscawen secured the return of his brother to five Parliaments.

Members returned on ‘other interests’ include those whose elections were due to the interest of a friend or to being in the service of a great man. Sir Philip Mainwaring, a neighbour of Richard Legh, was returned for Newton where the Legh interest was unshakeable. John Alleyn, who replaced Heneage Finch at Mitchell in 1660 when he chose to sit for Canterbury, probably owed his election to Finch, who had great respect for his legal abilities. The Hon. Arthur Annesley and the 2nd Earl of Carbery had married sisters, and it was on Carbery’s interest that Annesley was returned for Carmarthen. Edward Norton, whose sister had married William Trenchard, was elected for Westbury on the latter’s interest. John Clarke II, Hugh Potter and Robert Scawen, all in the service of the Percy earls of Northumberland, were returned for Cockermouth on the Percy interest.

A Member might well be elected on more than one interest, which is reflected in the tables by the totals of some columns exceeding 100%. Paulet St. John for example fortified his natural interest at Weymouth by securing the interest of the corporation. The Hon. Anthony Ashley’s return at Weymouth in 1670 was due to the joint personal and government interest wielded by his father, the Earl of Shaftesbury, as was that of John Man three years later. Geoffrey Palmer was returned on the interest of his mother’s Roman Catholic relations, strengthened by the government influence which his father, the attorney-general, could bring to bear.

An examination of the politics of Members in relation to their electoral interests produces few surprises. In the Restoration Convention the figures show that the proportion of Anglican Members returned on natural interest is somewhat larger than that of non-Anglicans, but non-Anglicans returned on corporation interest was double that of Anglicans. It is significant that of the 22 recorders or deputy recorders returned for boroughs where they held that office (an unusually large number at a general election), 19 were non-Anglicans. This number accounts for more than a quarter of those returned on that interest. It will be observed that in the Cavalier Parliament the proportion of those elected on corporation interest was about equal on both sides of the House, but the proportion of opposition Members returned on a proprietary interest was double that of the court party. As might be expected the interest and influence of the Government was exerted on behalf of men who were expected to support it, but even so a surprisingly large number later defected. In the three Exclusion Parliaments the efficacy of government interest declined sharply, and naturally was used only on behalf of its supporters. At the vote on the first exclusion bill the great majority of those enjoying proprietary interest either voted for the bill or were absent, but in the two subsequent Parliaments the Court regained some ground. James II’s Parliament presents a different picture. As a result of the Tory reaction and the Court’s electoral campaign the proportion of Tories returned on government interest or influence accounted for just over a quarter of that party. Corporation interest, which tended to return court supporters even to the Exclusion Parliaments, was again favourable; not surprisingly considering the issuing of the new charters at the end of the previous reign. On the other hand, the tiny Whig party was largely made up of Members with safe seats where they enjoyed either a proprietary or a natural interest. Examples were Edward and William Ashe (Heytesbury), Richard Hampden (Wendover) and William Stockdale (Knaresborough). The most interesting feature of the election to the Revolution Convention is not the decline in government interest, but the fact that it was used at all. There is no concrete evidence that William himself proposed candidates, though he may have suggested to Sir Robert Holmes, governor of the Isle of Wight, that he find a seat at Yarmouth for the Hon. Fitton Gerard, a younger son of the Whig Earl of Macclesfield, who had accompanied him in the invasion. However, in the constituencies where government interest existed, it was used by those wielding power locally. Thus Christopher Musgrave, who secured the peaceful withdrawal of the Roman Catholic soldiers from Carlisle, resumed the governorship and was ‘unanimously elected’ with Jeremiah Bubb, an officer in the garrison who had assisted him. At Launceston, William Harbord, who as auditor-general had controlled the duchy of Cornwall interest, returned from exile in Holland, and was not only elected himself, but brought in his brother-in-law, the only occasion in this period when two outsiders were chosen. At Queenborough Robert Crawford, deputy governor of Sheerness, was a court candidate in 1688. He was returned both at that abortive election and again to the Convention. Granted that he had local interest through his wife, it is improbable that it was strong enough to secure his election in 1689. At Plymouth the Earl of Bath was both governor and recorder, and secured the return of his younger son at an early by-election. No efforts are known to have been made to nominate candidates for the Cinque Ports before the general election, but at a by-election in August the Hon. John Beaumont, governor of Dover Castle to whom the writ had been sent, was elected despite ‘the opposition of the sheriff and the country gentry’.

By the beginning of this period very few Members received wages from their constituencies.31 Evidence of venality, i.e. that votes were actually purchased, is hard to find, and even harder to verify. Almost certainly it existed. Before the contested by-election at Aldborough, a tiny burgage borough, in 1673, Sir John Reresby was advised to

endeavour privately to gain some of the borough men [i.e. burgage holders] by depositing money into other hands for them (as their wives), and if you have a trusty borough man, let him seem wavering and try if they will offer him money.

This last piece of advice was to get evidence of bribery against his opponents if the case came before the committee of elections and privileges. After a by-election at Dartmouth, the defeated candidate, Sir Nathaniel Herne, alleged that Josiah Child had bribed eight voters, that eight or more had been granted interest-free loans, that money had been offered to others, who refused it, and that £500 had been promised to the corporation. In 1681 a visitor described Stockbridge, a scot and lot borough with fewer than 50 voters, as

a small pitiful place, whose great advantage of late is choosing burgesses, to which they invite and encourage any man that will spend his money, and at last the choice is him they think will die sooner that they may choose again.

In fact, there had been no by-elections in the Cavalier Parliament and all the Members elected before 1681 except one were alive and well, the average life expectancy for all Members after election being 1486 years. But a charge of bribery had been raised after the elections to the second and third Exclusion Parliaments, and again after the by-elections to the Revolution Convention, when William Montagu was accused of offering four guineas a vote and William Strode II five guineas. The election was declared void, and a debate followed on the question whether Stockbridge should be disfranchised and two more knights be chosen for the county, but this alarmed the House. ‘I hope at this time of day’, said Sir William Williams, ‘that we shall not alter the constitution of England.’ It was ordered that the debate should be adjourned, and no more was done in the matter. The case of Winchelsea is a curious one. There were three candidates at the by-election occasioned by the death of Francis Finch in August 1677: Sir John Banks, Sir Nathaniel Powell and Cresheld Draper. Banks was returned by the mayor, and Draper petitioned. Charges of bribery were brought by Banks, but the committee of elections and privileges reported in Draper’s favour and he was seated. An account headed ‘Winchelsea Expenses’ in Banks’s ledger showed a net expenditure of more than £4,500, the greatest part being incurred during the time of the campaign. Years later, Draper was alleged to have spent £11,000 on the election, and in fact at his death mortgages of £13,000 were outstanding. Therewere only 12 men who voted at the election; it is improbable that such vast sums could have been used only for ale. After the 1681 election at Winchelsea, however, The True Protestant Mercury reported that the

election was done in the absence of the persons elected [Cresheld Draper and Sir Stephen Lennard] without one penny charge, and the inhabitants are resolved for the future that true merit shall be the only standard which shall govern their choice.

The conduct of subsequent elections does not indicate that this admirable resolution was scrupulously followed.

In the following tables the University seats are excluded.

 

INTERESTS IN BOROUGH ELECTIONS 1660

 Total Anglican Non-Anglican
 451212239
 %%%
proprietary interest9710
Natural interest313527
Government interest000
Government influence000
Corporation interest221428
Other interest192117
Venality000
Interest unknown222519

 

INTERESTS IN BOROUGH ELECTIONS 1661-78

 Total Court

Moving from

Opposition

to Court

Opposition

Moving from

Court to

Opposition

 69636450168114
 %%%%%
Proprietary interest866139
Natural interest3432403636
Government interest792*6
Government influence810217
Corporation interest1516141912
Other interest2119221424
Venality22431
Interest unknown1716181518

 

INTERESTS IN BOROUGH ELECTIONS 1679 (Mar.)

 Total

Against

Exclusion

For

Exclusion

Absent
 422112174136
 %%%%
Proprietary interest1011115
Natural interest43454242
Government interest4904
Government influence1301
Corporation interest21211823
Other interest16201515
Venality*200
Interest unknown1591716

 

INTERESTS IN BOROUGH ELECTIONS 1679 (Oct.)

 Total Court Opposition
 431186245
 %%%
Proprietary interest878
Natural interest393839
Government interest370
Government influence130
Corporation interest192018
Other interest171816
Venality*0*
Interest unknown191522

 

INTERESTS IN BOROUGH ELECTIONS 1681

 Total Court Opposition
 405165240
 %%%
Proprietary interest999
Natural interest393740
Government interest250
Government influence120
Corporation interest192118
Other interest171916
Venality120
Interest unknown191622

 

INTERESTS IN BOROUGH ELECTIONS 1685

 Total Tory Whig
 42938148
 %%%
Proprietary interest6325
Natural interest333054
Government interest16180
Government influence10110
Corporation interest17196
Other interest212313
Venality**0
Interest unknown10108

 

INTERESTS IN BOROUGH ELECTIONS 1689

 Total

Whig and

Court Tory

Tory
 453258195
 %%%
Proprietary interest8106
Natural interest373738
Government interest333
Government influence***
Corporation interest161518
Other interest201922
Venality*10
Interest unknown191918

 

POLITICS: GEOGRAPHICAL FACTORS

The geographical distribution of seats remained the same throughout the period,and indeed was not very different from that of medieval times. Its most strikingfeature was the relative over-representation of the South West, an anomaly whichwas to persist until the first Reform Act. Between 1660 and 1690 practically allcounty MPs lived in their constituencies and the great majority of borough Members lived in or near the boroughs for which they sat, or at any rate in the same county, so that data on the geographical location of MPs’ parliamentary seats apply also (with very minor modifications) to their residences. Analysis of Members’ politics in relation to the geographical location of their constituencies reveals that during this period support for, or opposition to, the Government wasnot concentrated in any particular area or areas but was spread fairly evenly throughout the country. Examination of the individual Parliaments reveals some slight variations in the overall pattern: the most striking feature of the 1660 Convention is the proportion of Anglican MPs who came from the West: 26 of the 39 MPs who sat for Western constituencies were Anglican, perhaps a legacy of Charles II’s campaign there nine years earlier, although it should be remembered that unreconciled Royalists were, strictly speaking, ineligible to stand for the Convention.

The figures for the Cavalier Parliament do not suggest a correlation between a Member’s politics and the area in which his constituency was situated. The slightly higher proportion of MPs from the South West who were in, or went into, opposition is probably a reflection of Shaftesbury’s electoral influence. This pattern persists in the first Exclusion Parliament, when 76 of the 151 MPs sitting for South Western constituencies voted for exclusion. Thirty-seven MPs (or 47%) returned for constituencies in the Midlands voted for Exclusion, but this is not markedly higher than the average (44%). The West is the only area in which geographical location seems to have had a significant influence on political behaviour: 19 of the 36 Members from this area were absent from the division on the first Exclusion bill. During the second and third Exclusion Parliaments the even geographical distribution of support for the Government and the Opposition reappears. In James II’s Parliament the most striking feature is the concentration of Whigs in the South East, although the figures for the earlier Parliaments would suggest that this probably reflects the Government’s inability to manipulate the franchises in an area where there was a relatively high proportion of proprietary boroughs, rather than any marked concentration of Whig opinion. In the 1689 Convention, for which elections were held under the old borough charters, geographical area seems to have have no significant relation to the Members’ politics, the only exception being the Cinque Ports, all but one of whose MPs were Whigs or Court Tories. Here James’s purge of the corporations had served to strengthen Whig support which was already quite strong.

The following are the regions into which the country has been divided for this analysis:

NorthCumberland, co. Durham, Lancashire, Northumberland, Westmorland, Yorkshire
MidlandsBedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Rutland, Staffordshire, Warwickshire
EastCambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk
WestCheshire, Herefordshire, Monmouthshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire
South EastHampshire, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey, Sussex
South WestCornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire
Cinque PortsDover, Hastings, Hythe, New Romney, Rye, Sandwich, Seaford, Winchelsea
WalesAnglesey, Breconshire, Caernarvonshire, Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Glamorganshire, Merioneth, Montgomeryshire, Pembrokeshire, Radnorshire.

 

CONSTITUENCY: GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION 1660

 Total Anglican Non-Anglican
 548262286
 %%%
North131115
East131312
Midlands151416
West7105
South East151515
Cinque Ports342
South West303030
Wales435

 

CONSTITUENCY: GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION 1661-78

 Total Court

Moving from

Opposition to

Court

Opposition

Moving from

Court to

Opposition

 85944965205140
 %%%%%
North131591012
East1314141114
Midlands1513191916
West761265
South East1414191111
Cinque Ports44043
South West3028253037
Wales55292

 

CONSTITUENCY: GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION 1679 (Mar.)

 Total

Against

Exclusion

For

Exclusion

Absent
 522137218167
 %%%%
North13131016
East13181210
Midlands15111716
West76411
South East16161517
Cinque Ports3225
South West29283522
Wales5654

 

CONSTITUENCY: GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION 1679 (Oct.)

 Total Court Opposition
 530220310
 %%%
North121511
East121312
Midlands151119
West768
South East161815
Cinque Ports333
South West292929
Wales554

 

CONSTITUENCY: GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION 1681

 Total Court Opposition
 502193309
 %%%
North131710
East131312
Midlands16820
West749
South East151714
Cinque Ports333
South West293128
Wales573

 

CONSTITUENCY: GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION 1685

 Total Tory Whig
 52546857
 %%%
North131311
East12137
Midlands151614
West774
South East151330
Cinque Ports334
South West303026
Wales555

 

CONSTITUENCY: GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION 1689

 Total

Whig Court

Tory

Tory
 551319232
 %%%
North131313
East131213
Midlands161713
West776
South East161714
Cinque Ports35*
South West292435
Wales545

 

POLITICS OF NEW MEMBERS

The politics of Members entering the House for the first time varied considerably from Parliament to Parliament, in each case reflecting the political climate of thetime. Anglicans having been largely denied access to the Commons during the Interregnum, it is understandable that in 1660 three quarters of the new Members were Churchmen or probable Churchmen. In the Cavalier Parliament the trend was towards the Court, though this was reversed in by-elections during Danby’s administration,32 and it is significant that the number of new Members who went into opposition was double that of those crossing the floor in the opposite direction. The figures for the three Exclusion Parliaments reflect the sizeable gains of the Opposition, and the strength of the Tory reaction and the success of the Government’s electioneering policies was strikingly evident in the elections to James II’s Parliament. In 1689 support for the Revolution was demonstrated by the fact that more than half of the new Members were Whigs or their allies.

 

POLITICS OF NEW MEMBERS 1660

 246
 %
Anglicans73
Non-Anglicans27

 

POLITICS OF NEW MEMBERS 1661-78

 513
 %
Court60
Moving from Opposition to Court7
Opposition18
Moving from Court to Opposition14

 

POLITICS OF NEW MEMBERS 1679 (Mar.)

 235
 %
Against Exclusion21
For Exclusion41
Absent37

 

POLITICS OF NEW MEMBERS 1679 (Oct.)

 118
 %
Court46
Opposition54

 

POLITICS OFNEW MEMBERS 1681

 60
 %
Court42
Opposition58

 

POLITICS OF NEW MEMBERS 1685

 272
 %
Tory95
Whig5

 

POLITICS OF NEW MEMBERS 1689

 187
 %
Whig and Court Tory56
Tory44

 

PARLIAMENTARY ACTIVITY33

Most Members who took their seats in the Commons made no recorded speeches, and only a minority justify the classifications ‘active’ or ‘moderately active’. Indeed the figures for committee activity may well be too high, since in the absence of committee attendance records it cannot be known whether an MP who was named to a committee actually sat on it unless there is some corroborative evidence. Some Members were named to so many committees that they could not possibly have attended every meeting of each committee. Sir Philip Warwick, writing of the Long Parliament, made this point:

Committees that in former times were named with great gravity and confined to select numbers, to the end that no man might have voices in the reports that were to be made back from the committee, but those who were named of the committee... are now enlarged that every one that comes in, but in the last hour of the day, when the heat of the service was over, received his penny, and his vote was as significant as anyone’s who had steadily attended the service. This facilitated designs very much: for some might vote in one afternoon at many committees when others necessarily must be fixed at one.34

Some Members’ committee service was no doubt perfunctory. On the other hand, there is evidence to suggest that MPs who were not appointed to committees by name but by some more general designation (such as ‘all the gentlemen of the Long Robe’, or all the knights and burgesses of a particular county) did sometimes attend the committees to which they were so appointed: there are even instances of such Members making reports. Furthermore there are a few cases of MPs reporting from committees to which they had not been appointed: Sir Charles Harbord on 26 June 1663 reported a bill to prevent butchers from selling live fat cattle, though he is not listed as being on the committee either by name or designation. In view of these complications the figures for committee activity should be treated as approximations. Similar caution should be exercised when examining the figures for speeches. The records are sparse until John Milward’s diary begins in September 1666, followed by Anchitell Grey’s in the next year. Grey’s reports are undoubtedly biased towards the Opposition, sometimes omitting speeches of court supporters, as, for example, that of Richard Colman (9 Nov. 1667) on Clarendon’s impeachment, which effectively demolished the first charge against the lord chancellor. No records of debates survive for the period before the adjournment of James II’s Parliament. The figures for speeches thus refer only to recorded speeches; they are probably too low and again should be treated as approximations.

When every allowance has been made for incomplete or biased evidence there still remains a large number of MPs whose parliamentary activity seems to have been minimal. There are a number of possible reasons for this. Some Members sitting for the first time may have felt diffident about taking part in the business of the House: William Aldworth and Sir Charles Scarburgh, for instance, who sat for the first and only time in 1685, were named to no committees and made no recorded speeches. In other cases absence abroad on diplomatic missions precluded much parliamentary activity: Sir Richard Fanshawe was appointed to only five committees between 1661 and 1666. There are a great many Members, however, whose apparent inactivity in Parliament has no obvious explanation. Sir William Thorold was named to only three committees during the 18 years of the Cavalier Parliament, while Gilbert Raleigh, who sat from 1661 to 1675, was appointed to no committees at all. James Hoste, who sat in all three Exclusion Parliaments, voted for the committal of the first exclusion bill but was otherwise completely inactive, while William Barker, who sat in the same Parliaments, voted for exclusion in the first and was named to two committees in the second. Since both these Members voted for exclusion, their inactivity cannot be ascribed to a reluctance to be involved in controversial matters. MPs who were apparently inactive in Parliament may of course have voted in divisions: John Fitzjames was named to only 17 committees in nine years, but it was noted that ‘he seldom fails in the House’ despite poor health. Christopher Philipson ‘attended the House very diligently’, but was named to no committees and apparently did not speak in the second Exclusion Parliament. This cannot be the case with all inactive Members. The total membership of the House at any given time was usually over 500, yet figures for divisions rarely add up to more than 300, and then only for the most important and controversial issues such as the impeachment of Clarendon, the miscarriages of the second Dutch War and of course exclusion; usually they are very much lower. Clearly many MPs voted seldom, if at all.

At the opposite end of the scale from these backwoodsmen is the small number of MPs who were very active on committees and spoke frequently. These were men who combined firm (though not necessarily immutable) political convictions, eloquence and a wide knowledge of constitutional and legal matters. The very active group among the court supporters was composed largely of government officials of the stamp of Thomas Clifford, Sir Edward Dering, Joseph Williamson and Sir George Downing. The very active members of the Opposition comprised a more miscellaneous group. Some were men like John Birch and John Maynard I, whose background predisposed them to be hostile to the Court; others, like Michael Malet and William Cavendish, were originally court supporters, but moved into opposition for various reasons. Some Members genuinely tried to steer a middle course between partisan extremes (notably Sir Richard Temple), while Edmund Waller I might genuinely be described as independent; but the very active MPs were usually the backbone of their respective parties, giving them whatever cohesion they had.

In the 1660 Convention it will be noticed that more than twice as many non-Anglicans were frequent speakers than Anglicans, and most Anglicans never spoke at all. The non-Anglicans had a larger number of experienced politicians, men like Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, the Hon. Denzil Holles, John Swinfen and Sir John Northcote. (Paradoxically, the two non-Anglicans who had played the most crucial role in effecting the Restoration, George Monck and Thomas Fairfax, 3rd Lord Fairfax of Cameron, were relatively inactive in the Convention, neither having much taste for the minutiae of politics.) Anglican MPs tended on the whole to have had less parliamentary experience. All were required to have demonstrated their good affection to the Commonwealth, but in many cases this consisted of a minimal gesture of conformity to a regime they found distasteful rather than active participation in affairs. There were exceptions of course: Edward Montagu I, one of the most active Anglicans in the Convention, had served the preceding regime in a very senior capacity. Nor was lack of parliamentary experience necessarily a bar to playing an active part in the Convention: Job Charlton, an Anglican and crypto-Royalist, had sat only in Richard Cromwell’s Parliament but he quickly established his claim to be considered among the front rank of politicians.

The proportion of active or moderately active Members rises in the Cavalier Parliament, although it is noteworthy that even in a Parliament lasting 18 years more than half the MPs were named to few or no committees, and more than two-thirds of them made no recorded speeches. Towards the end of the Cavalier Parliament both Court and Opposition began to draw up lists, the most important of which is Shaftesbury’s, which give some indication of Members’ political stance, allowance being made in some cases for malice or wishful thinking; but the politics of inactive MPs who sat only in the earlier part of the Cavalier Parliament can in many cases only be inferred. With the more active Members we are on firmer ground. Taken overall the figures show that court supporters were appointed to more committees, while opposition Members (even making allowance for some bias on Grey’s part) intervened more frequently in debate. The Opposition frequently initiated debates on matters which the Government would have preferred left undiscussed, particularly foreign policy and the sensitive issue of Roman Catholicism in high circles, which aroused the deepest suspicions of men like Michael Malet, Silius Titus and the otherwise moderate John Swinfen. On the other hand it required the unremitting efforts on the various financial committees of men like Robert Atkyns, Job Charlton, Sir Charles Harbord and Edward Seymour to secure the Government an adequate revenue.

The level of parliamentary activity drops quite sharply for the first Exclusion Parliament. It is lowest among those MPs absent from the division on the first exclusion bill, many of whom found the virulence of the exclusionists and the prospect of a Roman Catholic king equally alarming, and seem to have avoided attending the Commons or confined themselves to uncontroversial matters. The proportion of frequent speakers was highest among the opponents of exclusion. Senior government supporters like Henry and William Coventry and Joseph Williamson were fighting a desperate rearguard action against the bill; after the electoral disaster suffered by the Court, the supporters of exclusion had less need to argue their case. The level of parliamentary activity remains low for the second Exclusion Parliament. The majority of Members were probably still reluctant to involve themselves in controversial issues and court supporters were unwilling to draw attention to themselves. They may also have had difficulty in being named to committees. A low level of parliamentary activity did not necessarily imply indifferent or poor attendance; Sir Joseph Ashe was appointed to no committees in the first and second Exclusion Parliaments, but nevertheless assured his constituents that he had ‘been present when all our great businesses have been debated’. Assiduous though such men might be in their attendance, it was opposition activists like Thomas Papillon, John Dubois and William Sacheverell who directed the business of the House. This trend is even more marked in the 1681 Parliament. During its week-long existence Grey reported the speeches of only 11 court supporters as opposed to 32 of the Opposition, and only 6% of the court supporters were named to enough committees to be termed ‘active’.

In James II’s Parliament the pattern of the Exclusion Parliaments was reversed. The Tories had a much higher proportion of active committeemen than the Whigs, despite the fact that there were 272 Members sitting for the first time. As has already been mentioned there are no records of debates for the first period, so the figures for speeches are undoubtedly too low. The large proportion of newcomers among the Tories should not obscure the fact that James II had some very able and experienced men among his supporters, such as John Ernle, Sir John Trevor and Charles Kerr, 2nd Earl of Ancram, who were all seasoned politicians. The Whigs had Members of equal calibre (among them John Fagg I, John Maynard I and the Hon. Thomas Wharton), but their numbers were much smaller, and opposition to James II remained fairly muted until he attempted to dispense with the Test Act for Roman Catholic officers. Many Tories were thoroughly alarmed by what they saw as an attempt on the King’s part to subvert the Church of England, and if the figures for speeches were complete it might be found that the number of Tories who spoke was considerably higher. In the 1689 Convention the ratio of Whigs to Tories, and the pattern of parliamentary activity for the two parties, were very much the same as those of the Exclusion Parliaments. The Tories (who may now be considered the Opposition) were again a minority party, muted in debate and inactive on committee. Many of them probably found the business of the Convention distasteful and were reluctant to draw attention to themselves. The direction of affairs in the Commons passed into the hands of men like George Treby, John Wildman I, John Birch and, of course, William Sacheverell. Some of the most prominent Whigs had political experience which predated the Restoration, and felt for the first time that they had come into their own.

 

PARLIAMENTARY ACTIVITY 1660

 Total Anglican Non-Anglican
 548262286
 %%%
Very active323
Active435
Moderately active181917
Inactive545552
No committees212122
Frequent speaker749
Spoke262427
No speeches687164

 

PARLIAMENTARY ACTIVITY 1661-78

 Total Court

Moving from

Opposition

to Court

Opposition

Moving from

Court to

Opposition

 85944965205140
 %%%%%
Very active881377
Active9811712
Moderately active2627371929
Inactive5150405652
No committees670121
Frequent speaker7316711
Spoke3129492734
No speeches6368366655

 

PARLIAMENTARY ACTIVITY 1679 (Mar.)

 Total

Against

Exclusion

For

Exclusion

Absent
 522137218167
 %%%%
Very active8713
Active6883
Moderately active19182610
Inactive34382841
No committees33282843
Frequent speaker6963
Spoke18231911
No speeches77687685

 

PARLIAMENTARY ACTIVITY 1679 (Oct.)

 Total Court Opposition
 530220310
 %%%
Very active8311
Active638
Moderately active181223
Inactive161616
No committees526642
Frequent speaker667
Spoke141018
No speeches798575

 

PARLIAMENTARY ACTIVITY 1681

 Total Court Opposition
 502193309
 %%%
Very active000
Active15620
Moderately active*0*
Inactive16919
No committees698560
Frequent speaker*0*
Spoke9610
No speeches919489

 

PARLIAMENTARY ACTIVITY 1685

 Total Tory Whig
 52546857
 %%%
Very active775
Active894
Moderately active262619
Inactive302938
No committees292936
Frequent speaker**0
Spoke101014
No speeches909086

 

PARLIAMENTARY ACTIVITY 1689

 Total Whig and Court Tory Tory
 551319232
 %%%
Very active785
Active794
Moderately active192215
Inactive444346
No committees231831
Frequent speaker794
Spoke192116
No speeches747080

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Basil Duke Henning

End Notes

  • 1. Dering, 128.
  • 2. Appendix VII.
  • 3. These have been fully catalogued in A Register of Parliamentary Lists 1660-1761 (Leicester Univ. Hist. Dept. Occasional Pubs. no. 1), 79-87. In the biographies the list of Court supporters compiled between Nov. 1673 and Feb. 1674 has been designated the ‘Paston list,’ as it was found among the Paston mss in the British Library.
  • 4. A welcome exception was provided by Shaftesbury. Cf. K.H.D. Haley, ‘Shaftesbury’s lists of the lay peers and Members of the Commons 1677-8’, IHR Bull. xliii. 86-92.
  • 5. Clarendon, Life, i. 361.
  • 6. D. T. Witcombe, Chas. II and the Cavalier House of Commons., 4, n.1 Prof. J. R. Jones maintains (Restored Monarchy, 70) that ‘the rival factions within the Cavalier Parliament—the Court and the Country opposition—cannot be described as parties, because politics were largely contained within the restricted areas of Whitehall and Westminster’, and exc