Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in inhabitant householders

Number of voters:

about 150


22 Apr. 1717CRAGGS re-elected after appointment to office
20 Mar. 1718CRAGGS re-elected after appointment to office
15 Mar. 1720CHARLES TALBOT vice Prideaux, deceased
23 Mar. 1721DANIEL PULTENEY vice Craggs, deceased
7 Nov. 1721JOHN MERRILL vice Pulteney, appointed to office
12 Apr. 1722JOHN MERRILL
25 Aug. 1727THOMAS SMITH
 James Cooke
6 Feb. 1729MATTHEW DUCIE MORETON vice Smith, deceased
9 Feb. 1737SIR ROBERT COWAN vice Goddard, deceased
 John Boscawen
2 Mar. 1737JOSEPH GULSTON vice Cowan, deceased
 John Boscawen
28 Jan. 1742GEORGE COOKE vice Watts, deceased
10 Feb. 1747PENTON re-elected after appointment to office
 John Bligh
 John Kirrill
26 June 1751TREVANION re-elected after appointment to office

Main Article

In 1715 Tregony was a venal open borough. Its principal customers were the Treasury, who usually bought one seat, and wealthy London merchants, who competed for the other. The chief local interests were in Hugh Boscawen, created Lord Falmouth 1720, lord of the manor and chief government election manager in Cornwall; and John Trevanion of Carhayes, three miles away, also a government supporter. Another electoral factor was the Rev. William Bedford, vicar of Tregony, who acted as broker for the voters.

There was no contest till 1727 when a Treasury agent reported to Walpole

that parson Bedford has secured one hundred and fifty votes at Tregony (for one vote) at £5 each vote; I find he has been tampered with and some overtures have been made to him by a merchant in London, who proposeth to disburse the money, make his wife a present of plate, and prefer his son Thomas Bedford to the command of a ship of 40 guns; this proposition is so far agreeable, I see he is fixed in this single resolution (viz.) if his son Thomas Bedford cannot be by you made a lieutenant of a man of war, you must put an equivalent into his hands, in lieu of the lieutenancy; otherwise as he has been by Mr. [Nicholas] Vincent deceived by promises, he will not now trust to any man’s honour and this he tells me he wrote to you about.1

The Treasury secured one seat but the other was contested between two merchants, both government supporters: James Cooke, who had been returned in 1722, and John Goddard, probably the London merchant who had ‘tampered’ with Bedford. On 14 Aug. Richard Edgcumbe, returning from an election tour in Cornwall, informed Newcastle that ‘every election will go as desired, Tregony excepted, where Jack Trevanion is in danger of losing Mr. Cooke; he has written to Boscawen to help him’.2 Cooke was defeated.

On 28 Nov. 1732 Goddard, then in Spain on a government mission, wrote to Sir Charles Wager, first lord of the Admiralty, that he had heard that Lord Falmouth

is very busy ruining all he can my interest in the borough of Tregony, which he would I believe find very difficult to effect, if I was at home, as I humbly apprehend it more in my way than his Lordship’s to serve the town, a great part of whose inhabitants depend on the woollen manufacture.3

In 1734 Goddard was returned unopposed with his son-in-law, Henry Penton, another government supporter.

In October 1740 Thomas Pitt, the Prince’s Cornish election manager, reported that the 2nd Lord Falmouth, whose younger brother had unsuccessfully contested the borough at two by-elections in 1737, ‘declares he will carry the election if it costs him £5,000. The success seems to be certain, but the expense will be great’. In the event Falmouth gained one seat for the Opposition by a compromise with Penton,4 retaining it at a by-election in 1742. But in 1747 two candidates put up by the Prince of Wales at a cost of £10505 were defeated by two ministerial candidates supported by Lord Falmouth, who had returned to the Administration and was ‘soliciting votes in person ... publicly going about from house to house for that purpose’.6 In the 2nd Lord Egmont’s electoral survey, c.1749-50, Tregony is described as ‘in Lord Falmouth and Trevanion’.

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. J. Wolrige to Walpole, 1 July 1727, Cholmondeley (Houghton) mss.
  • 2. SP Dom. 36/1, ff. 147-8.
  • 3. Cholmondeley (Houghton) mss.
  • 4. Chatham mss.
  • 5. HMC Fortescue, i. 119-21, 127.
  • 6. CJ, xxv. 449.