Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the corporation

Number of Qualified Electors:


Number of voters:



25 Feb. 1690Sir John Cutler, Bt. 
 Nicholas Glynn 
28 Nov. 1693Hon. Russell Robartes vice Cutler, deceased 
29 Oct. 1695Hon. Russell Robartes 
 John Hoblyn 
1 Aug. 1698Hon. Russell Robartes 
 John Hoblyn 
9 Jan. 1701Hon. Russell Robartes 
 John Hoblyn 
4 Dec. 1701Hon. Russell Robartes 
 John Hoblyn 
28 July 1702John Hoblyn 
 John Grobham Howe 
2 Dec. 1702Hon. Russell Robartes vice Howe, chose to sit for Gloucestershire 
19 May 1705John Hoblyn 
 Hon. Russell Robartes 
17 Dec. 1706Thomas Herne vice Hoblyn, deceased 
 Sir John Leake 
13 May 1708Hon. Russell Robartes21
 John Trevanion21
 Hon. Francis Robartes18
 Thomas Hoblyn111
20 Oct. 1710Hon. Russell Robartes 
 Hon. Francis Robartes 
8 Sept. 1713Hon. Francis Robartes 
 Thomas Sclater 

Main Article

The corporation, consisting of 12 aldermen (including the mayor) and 24 common councilmen, possessed a strong interest at Bodmin. Its income from tolls and corporate lands was said to be worth £200 p.a. However, the corporation had to share electoral power with the 2nd Earl of Radnor (Charles Bodvile Robartes†), whose seat at Lanhydrock lay in the adjacent parish to the south. The Glynns of Glynn in the neighbouring parish of Cardinham to the east also had an interest, as did the Hoblyns, who held the manor of Bodmin Francis. The borough periodically petitioned the Commons over matters of economic import, but these had no discernible effect on local politics.2

In 1690 Sir John Cutler, a wealthy London merchant whose daughter had married Radnor, was returned with Nicholas Glynn. Upon Cutler’s death in 1693, Radnor’s Whig brother, Hon. Russell Robartes, succeeded him. In 1695 Glynn was reported as likely to lose out as ‘Lord Radnor treats at an extravagant rate and the good liquor has more force than any other consideration’, and he seems to have desisted without a poll. Robartes and John Hoblyn, a Tory lawyer, whose family held the post of town clerk on a quasi-hereditary basis, were returned, as they were at the next three general elections. The corporation’s role may be seen in the payment of £87 14s. 11d. in 1698 for food and other election expenses.3

At the general election following the accession of Queen Anne, John Grobham Howe, feeling threatened in Gloucestershire, was returned for Bodmin on the recommendation of Bishop Trelawny of Exeter, who had apparently received a request for his interest from the Cornishman William Jane, regius professor of divinity at Oxford. Upon Howe’s choosing the county seat, Hon. Francis Robartes, Radnor’s uncle and a Court supporter, was returned. He was re-elected with Hoblyn in 1705. Hoblyn’s death precipitated a by-election in 1706, which saw Sir John Leake* defeated by Thomas Herne, a merchant. Leake petitioned on 17 Jan. 1707 setting out that

the election is in the magistrates, common council, and scot-and-lot men: that at the election, the town clerk proposed Thomas Herne, Esq. for their burgess, and one of the magistrates proposed the petitioner; and thereupon the town clerk called over the mayor’s name and his own, and the magistrates, and common council, of whom Mr Herne had a majority; and the town clerk directed the mayor to declare Mr Herne elected, and immediately hurried out of the hall, without taking any votes of the scot-and-lot men, although they desired to poll for the petitioner, yet their names, to the number of 80, were taken down; by whom, and the magistrates that voted for the petitioner, he had a great majority, and ought to have been returned; and, to that end an indenture subscribed by the petitioner’s voters was tendered to the mayor, to be annexed to the precept, but he refused the same and hath returned Mr Herne.

Leake was given leave to withdraw his petition on the 25th, prompted no doubt by the prospect of little success, the franchise he was championing being wider than that used even in 1685. At the general election of 1708 Russell Robartes defeated Thomas Hoblyn, the town clerk and overseer of the tin coinage, while John Trevanion, a Tory, defeated Francis Robartes. At the general election of 1710, Francis Robartes’ wife wrote to her ‘cousin’ Robert Harley* offering him the disposal of one seat, either at Bossiney or Bodmin. Francis Robartes, who was returned with his nephew Russell Robartes, and with the support of Thomas Hoblyn, appealed to Harley to save Hoblyn from a threat of dismissal from his stannary post. In 1712, Trevanion (now knight of the shire) noted of Bodmin in his assessment of Cornish interests: ‘one of the Robartes; the other I have often carried’. With Russell Robartes resident in Paris to avoid his creditors at the time of the 1713 election, Francis Robartes was returned with Thomas Sclater, a wealthy Cambridgeshire Tory, who may have owed his election to Harley’s extensive political network.4

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley


  • 1. Post Man, 18–20 May 1708.
  • 2. Bodl. Willis 9, f. 163; Polsue, Complete Paroch. Hist. Cornw. i. 97–98; W. P. Courtney, Parlty. Rep. Cornw. 235.
  • 3. Courtney, 236–7; Cornw. RO, Carew Pole mss CC/FF/1, Lady Mary Carew to John Triese, 5 Nov. 1695; Maclean, Trigg Minor, i. 224.
  • 4. W. A. Speck, Tory and Whig, 54; HMC Cowper, iii. 14; Add. 70255, Lady Anne Robartes to Harley, 10 Aug. 1710, Francis Robartes to same, 28 Oct. 1710, Russell Robartes to same, 18 May 1714; 70314–15, Trevanion’s list.