Available from Boydell and Brewer
Right of Election:
in the freemen
Number of voters:
|2 Feb. 1715||ARTHUR CHAMPERNOWNE|
|22 Apr. 1717||SIR JOHN GERMAIN vice Champernowne, deceased|
|29 Dec. 1718||CHARLES WILLS vice Germain, deceased|
|30 Apr. 1719||WILLS re-elected after appointment to office|
|23 Mar. 1722||CHARLES WILLS|
|22 Aug. 1727||SIR CHARLES WILLS|
|20 May 1730||SAYER re-elected after appointment to office|
|25 Jan. 1732||SIR HENRY GOUGH vice Sayer, deceased||61|
|26 Apr. 1734||SIR CHARLES WILLS||49|
|7 May 1741||SIR CHARLES WILLS||46|
|25 Jan. 1742||SIR JOHN STRANGE vice Wills, deceased|
|2 July 1747||SIR JOHN STRANGE||57|
|18 Jan. 1750||SIR JOHN STRANGE re-elected after appointment to office|
A memorandum on Totnes drawn up in 1747 for Pelham points out that ‘the mayor with a majority of the aldermen present in court have the power to make what number of freemen they think fit’, so that ‘whoever hath the majority of aldermen must in consequence prevail’.1
Under Walpole the corporation was managed by George Treby, recorder of Totnes 1734-42, who secured a majority of the aldermen with the help of government patronage. The Duke of Bolton also had an interest, derived from an estate near the town. After 1715 one seat was always filled by ministerial nominees. For many years the other was held by General Wills, on the Duke of Bolton’s recommendation. On Wills’s death in 1742 the solicitor-general, Sir John Strange, was returned, thus giving the ministry both seats.
After Treby’s death at the end of 1742 his opponents were allowed by neglect to gain a majority of the aldermen, with the result that a local country gentleman, Browse Trist, who in 1741 had stood unsuccessfully for the borough, was elected recorder in 1747. At the general election that year the corporation, under Trist’s influence, ‘agreed to choose one ministerial man, the other a country gentleman’, namely Charles Taylor, who was returned with Strange, defeating the other ministerial candidate, William Cayley. Pelham, however, was assured by his agent that ‘with proper care, time, and management’ the situation could be ‘soon set right’,
for my information further tells me, that the searcher’s place split, with a gunner’s and tide waiter’s place, are enjoyed by five of the aldermen ... and it was his opinion if the provost marshal’s place ... had been rightly applied since both Members might have been effectually secured.
In fact Trist soon went over to the Government, ousting Taylor in 1754.
Author: Shirley Matthews
- 1. ‘The Corporation of Totnes’, Newcastle (Clumber) mss, on which the above account is based.