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

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the burgage-holders

Number of voters:

about 190


2 Mar. 1668HON. THOMAS TUFTON vice Lowther, deceased
3 Jan. 1681HON. SACKVILLE TUFTON vice Richard Tufton, called to the Upper House
25 July 1689HON. WILLIAM CHEYNE vice Musgrave, deceased

Main Article

The small town, or rather village, of Appleby was in every sense dominated by its castle, owned, together with some 40 burgages, by the dowager countess of Pembroke until her death in 1676. Contested elections were unthinkable in her time, and Lady Pembroke was described by (Sir) Daniel Fleming as being ‘as absolute in that borough as any one in any other’. In 1660 the townsmen elected two Yorkshiremen, Sir Henry Cholmley and Christopher Clapham, who had assisted her in disputes with her tenants. But in the following year, probably on advice from her most trusted friend, Sir John Lowther I, she nominated his son, together with John Dalston, who had been his second-in-command in the royalist army. On the younger Lowther’s death in 1668 no fewer than seven candidates offered themselves for the vacancy. Lowther’s father would have been glad to see his cousin Anthony Lowther, from one of the Yorkshire branches, keep the seat in the family, while Clapham apparently hoped to resume his parliamentary career. Another Yorkshire aspirant, Humphrey Wharton, had no known connexion with the borough, while the names of two local gentlemen, Sir Richard Sandford and Richard Brathwaite, were also mentioned. The townsmen would probably have preferred Henry Sidney because of the patronage he could offer; but as a prospective court candidate he was altogether eclipsed by the strenuous campaign of the Cumbrian-born Joseph Williamson. Lady Pembroke, ‘well plied with letters’ on his behalf, replied firmly (though not in the brusque epigram attributed to her by Horace Walpole) that her own family had first claim, and Thomas Tufton, her grandson, was duly returned.1

On Lady Pembroke’s death the Tufton family succeeded to her interest, but they did not reside permanently in the north, and when Sir John Lowther III understood that they had a mind to name both Members in 1679 he wrote: ‘I do all I can to hinder that’. At both elections Richard Tufton and Anthony Lowther were returned. As the first was inclined to the Court and the second to the country, they probably paired for the division on the exclusion bill, and their relations were sufficiently harmonious for them to join in a gift of £40 to the poor after the autumn election. When Tufton succeeded as 5th Earl of Thanet his brother Sackville was returned unopposed, but at the cost of £150, a poor bargain, since the second Exclusion Parliament was prorogued a week later. It is hardly surprising that Thanet, who ‘cares not what he spends’, rejected an approach from Alan Bellingham for his nomination at the general election, even though Anthony Lowther had declined to stand again. ‘My lord says he will bring in both his brother Tufton and [Sir Roger] Strickland, or at least bring in Strickland absolute and have the approbation of such other as the town will recommend to him.’ Sir John Lowther II told his namesake that Richard Howe had been invited to oppose the crypto-Catholic Strickland. Howe and Sir John Lowther III had married sisters, so that ‘the nearness of his relation to you would look like your single nomination; but he will not stand’. Eventually another Lowther kinsman, Sir John Bland, was returned with Sackville Tufton to the Oxford Parliament.2

The corporation, which produced loyal addresses approving the dissolution of Parliament, abhorring the ‘Association’ and the Rye House Plot, and congratulating James II on his accession, was strongly Tory, and Thomas Tufton, who became head of the family as 6th Earl of Thanet in 1684, struck up an alliance with (Sir) Christopher Musgrave against the Lowthers. Consequently Bland was replaced in the 1685 Parliament by Musgrave’s son Philip. Nevertheless the Government imposed a new charter on the borough, nominating Lord Thanet as recorder, and reserving the usual power to remove officials by order-in-council. Soon after Sir Christopher’s dismissal from government office Thanet’s secretary wrote to Fleming: ‘In case either of the former Members should decline standing again (as he [Thanet] has some reason to think one of them will) he should be very willing to recommend you at Appleby, and to assist you with his interest there’. But Fleming had little appetite for a seat, preferring to retain his friendship with the Lowthers, who were much affronted at being ousted from their interest in the borough. Meanwhile the Government attacked the Musgrave interest in the corporation. Quo warranto proceedings were instituted, and on 4 June 1688 the new charter was surrendered. It is somewhat surprising therefore to find Sunderland recommending the sitting Members as court candidates on 15 Sept.; but Philip Musgrave had not gone out of office with his father, and may have been more compliant over the Government’s religious policy. The surrender of the charter had never been enrolled, and it was restored in October when the Dutch invasion was imminent, and Sir Christopher elected mayor. Tufton, an army officer, was apparently unwilling to stand, and Lord Thanet gave his support to Philip Musgrave and Richard Lowther, though Sir John Lowther II hoped for a seat for his own son. With the tide running strongly for the Whigs when Musgrave died in the summer, his father had to endure the mortification of returning a renegade Tory, William Cheyne, an outsider who owed the seat to the expenditure of £2,200 by the Hon. Thomas Wharton. He did not sign the indenture, but the election was not questioned, though there may have been opposition from one of the Cumberland Lowthers.3

Author: Leonard Naylor


  • 1. North, Lives, i. 181; CSP Dom. 1667-8, pp. 174, 190, 196, 219; G. C. Williamson, Lady Anne Clifford, 190, 204, 255, 402; SP29/233/85.
  • 2. Westmld. RO, D/Ry 2129 Lowther to Fleming, 30 Jan. 1679; Cumb. RO, LW2/D10, Lowther to Lowther (draft), 22 Jan. 1681.
  • 3. Westmld. RO, 3129, Whitfield to Fleming, 9 Sept. 1687; 3371, Lowther to Fleming, 5 Dec. 1688; 3405, Sir John Lowther II to Fleming, 22 Dec. 1688; Appleby memo. bk. 1662-85; London Gazette, 28 July 1681, 8 June 1682, 16 Aug. 1683, 9 Mar. 1685; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 254; 1687-9, p. 276; Nicolson and Burn, Westmld. and Cumb. i. 316-17; Yale Univ. Lib. Osborn mss 71/6/20, Lowther to Lowther, 29 Dec. 1685; Cumb. RO, LW2/D10 Lowther to Thanet, 9 July 1689; Sir Richard Steele, Wharton Mems. (1715), 31.