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:

42 in 1693


28 Apr. 1692JOHN HUNGERFORD vice William Thompson, deceased 
11 Dec. 1693ARTHUR INGRAM, Visct. Irwin [S] vice Francis Thompson, deceased24
 Edward Bernard182
15 Apr. 1695SIR CHARLES HOTHAM, Bt., vice Hungerford, expelled the House 
28 Oct. 1695ARTHUR INGRAM, Visct. Irwin [S] 
 John Hungerford 
26 July 1698ARTHUR INGRAM, Visct. Irwin [S] 
10 Jan. 1701ARTHUR INGRAM, Visct. Irwin [S] 
26 Nov. 1701SIR CHARLES HOTHAM, Bt. 
 John Hungerford 
 John Hungerford 
22 Nov. 1707JOHN HUNGERFORD vice Squire, deceased 
2 July 1712HUNGERFORD re-elected after appointment to office 

Main Article

The right of election at Scarborough was in the corporation only, which consisted of two bailiffs, two coroners, four chamberlains and 36 capital burgesses. On occasion attempts were made to forward the claims of the freemen to vote in elections, but at no point during this period were such claims successful. Owing to the reliance of the borough’s MPs on the corporation for their election to Parliament, it was not unusual for them to receive various requests from the corporation.3

In 1690 William I and Francis Thompson, whose family had purchased the advowson and held lands in the borough, were returned after treating the corporation in several alehouses. In January 1692 the corporation requested that William Thompson recommend a new recorder to replace the deceased Richard Buckle. Thompson himself died the following month, thereby necessitating a by-election. Although there was some talk of a contest, John Hungerford, a Tory lawyer who was cursitor of Yorkshire, was returned unopposed. However, a contest did occur at another by-election in December 1693, necessitated by the death of Francis Thompson. Viscount Irwin [S], who was vice-admiral of Yorkshire, was opposed by Edward Bernard, a common councilman. The election was keenly contested, as was reported by one of Irwin’s supporters:

I tell you, the opposition against us was great, and objections many. A new writ came to us from the new sheriff, which if Mr Bernard could, would have prevented the knowledge of it to us, and kept us in the dark. But Mr Blanchard demanded it, cried it two market days, Thursday and Saturday, for the election to be Monday, which was yesterday.

The correspondent went on to report that once Bernard realized he had been defeated in the corporation vote, ‘he would have begun with the populacy, and for a free vote, but not a freeman would speak or desire it’. Thereafter Irwin ‘was carried on men’s shoulders. The tide was not down, but the men waded through it and his lordship then rode admiral at sea’, after which they all went to an alehouse. Although it was still reported that Bernard intended on ‘getting freemen’s hands, and to make some disturbance’, the general feeling was that Irwin was ‘safe against all such attempts, for both the bailiffs signed the indenture (though Mr Ford unwillingly), and the return from the sheriff we shall take at York’. The cost of the election to Irwin was £679 12s. 9d., plus £50 given ‘for the use of Scarborough corporation’ in November, when they had admitted Irwin as a freeman. Following the election, Irwin pressed for his friends in London to ‘obstruct’ any petition until Irwin’s arrival after Christmas, and indeed Bernard did not petition. Irwin also requested that the Marquess of Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) be solicited to help secure his appointment as governor of Scarborough Castle, with the power of making any relevant appointments to offices or places there, on the grounds that such an appointment ‘would be very much for my interest in the town’. Shortly afterwards Irwin was appointed governor. The concerns of the corporation arose once more in January 1695, when they wrote to Irwin to request that he prepare an address to the King expressing their view that the excise on leather would not be as hard upon corporations as ‘chimney money’. In yet another by-election, in April 1695, Sir Charles Hotham, 4th Bt., whose mother was a Thompson, replaced Hungerford, who had been expelled for taking a bribe from the East India Company.4

At the general election of 1695 Hotham and Irwin defeated Hungerford. Irwin provided entertainment for ‘the freemen and common councilmen promiscuously’, even though the freemen were not allowed to vote. At the end of the following year the corporation wrote to the two MPs requesting to be informed which charters had been granted to corporations, and desiring their help in securing a renewal of Scarborough’s own charter. In April 1697 the corporation sent a petition to the King via Hotham for a new charter, setting out that their method of electing bailiffs and other officers differed from ‘the easy method’ practised by other corporations, to the great prejudice of the ‘peace and welfare’ of the town. They therefore wanted a new charter ‘by the name of the mayor, alderman and burgesses’ of Scarborough. However, the application was not successful.5

Irwin and Hotham were unopposed at the general elections in 1698 and January 1701. However, at the second 1701 election Irwin did not contest Scarborough, having been returned for the county. At Hotham’s request, Irwin wrote to the Scarborough corporation recommending that the Whig William Thompson II, son of Francis, succeed him as MP. On 22 Nov. Hotham wrote to Irwin requesting that he attend the election the following week, as Hungerford was standing against Thompson, and there appeared to be ‘a greater inclination’ towards Hungerford than might have been expected. Hotham felt that Irwin’s presence would ensure victory for Thompson. Although it is not certain that Irwin attended the election, Hotham and Thompson were returned.6

At the 1702 election Hotham transferred to Beverley, which allowed Hungerford to be returned with Thompson. In 1705 there were three candidates: Hungerford, Robert Squire of York, a Tory, and Thompson. Hungerford toured the borough at the head of ‘three or four score freemen’, who undertook to choose him for life if he could get their right to vote admitted. Only members of the common council were polled, however, and the bailiffs returned Thompson (who had one more vote in the corporation than Hungerford) with Squire. Petitions were presented from the freemen and from Hungerford, claiming that he had been elected by a majority of legal votes, but they made no progress in Parliament. Hungerford was returned unopposed at a by-election on Squire’s death and shared the representation of the borough with Thompson in 1708. At the general election of 1710, Thompson wrote to the 4th Lord Irwin, who had succeeded to the viscountcy in 1702:

from some of my friends at Scarborough he had heard that Mr Cholmley [Hugh] had sent to desire them to make him free in order to his election there, but finding both Mr Hungerford’s friends and mine so united, he declined coming there as he designed and they say is setting out for London.

There was no contest and Thompson and Hungerford were again unopposed in 1713 and 1715.7

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Ivar McGrath


  • 1. Quinn thesis, 38.
  • 2. W. Yorks. Archs. (Leeds), Temple Newsam mss TN/C6/416, A. Todd to John Roades, 12 Dec. 1693.
  • 3. Defoe, Tour ed. Cole, 656; A. Rowntree, Scarborough, 90; Quinn, 36–39; Bodl. Willis 15, f. 110; G. R. Park, Parl. Rep. Yorks. 179.
  • 4. N. Yorks. RO, Scarborough bor. recs. DC/SCB/II/1/3, common hall mins. 1664–96, ff. 123, 136; Worsley mss ZON 13/1/59, Mary Palmes to Thomas Worsley I*, 31 Mar. 1692; Temple Newsam mss TN/PO10/3, Ralph Chetham to Irwin, 19 Nov., bill for £50 and election expenses, Nov. TN/C6/416, Todd to Roades, 12 Dec., Irwin to [?], [12], 16 Dec. 1693; HMC Var. viii. 73–74.
  • 5. HMC Var. 80; Add. 70018, ff. 94–95; Scarborough bor. recs. DC/SCB/II/1/4, common hall mins. 1696–1743, 4 Dec. 1696, 16 Apr. 1697; CSP Dom. 1697, pp. 109–10.
  • 6. Temple Newsam mss TN/C9/72, 155, Hotham to Irwin, 28 Aug., 22 Nov., TN/C9/134, William Thompson to same, 13 Nov. 1701.
  • 7. Univ. Kansas Spencer Research Lib. Moore mss 143 CC, James Craggs I* to Arthur Moore*, 19 May 1705; Add. 29584, f. 93; Quinn, 43.