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

Background Information

A single Member constituency

Right of Election:

in the corporation

Number of voters:



c. Apr. 1660SIR ANTHONY COPE, Bt.
 John Fiennes
1 Apr. 1661JOHN HOLMAN
17 Feb. 1679(SIR) JOHN HOLMAN
19 Aug. 1679(SIR) JOHN HOLMAN
5 Feb. 1681(SIR) JOHN HOLMAN
 Thomas Wise

Main Article

The freemen of Banbury claimed the franchise in this period on only one occasion, and though the assistants were reckoned part of the corporation they voted only at mayoral elections. On this narrow franchise the borough showed little sign of its notorious Puritanism in its representation, though John Fiennes was reported elected in 1660. The successful candidate, Sir Anthony Cope, came of a family which had frequently represented the borough under Elizabeth and James I, but had long freed itself of Puritan tendencies. In 1661 he secured the greater prize of the county seat and was replaced by John Holman, the son of a local landowner and a resident in the town. A cautious politician with possible dissenting sympathies, Holman retained his seat in the Exclusion Parliaments. In 1681 Thomas Wise, whose family had suffered for their royalism, was returned by the freemen, but his petition was not reported.1

Banbury sent a loyal address in 1683 abhorring the Rye House Plot, but this came too late to fend off quo warranto proceedings. Under the new charter the crown reserved the usual right to remove members of the corporation. The North interest, which was to become dominant in the following century, first appeared in 1685, when Lord Guilford (Sir Francis North), who had obtained the nearby Wroxton estate by marriage, procured the return of his brother, probably in alliance with the Dashwood interest. The borough was repeatedly regulated between November 1687 and September 1688. After the second purge on 3 Feb. 1688, a loyal address thanking James for the Declaration of Indulgence was presented. But it required a fourth regulation, removing seven aldermen, four burgesses and nine assistants, before Sunderland could recommend Wise to the lord lieutenant as court candidate. The surrender of the charter had not been enrolled, and the former corporation resumed office in October. At the general election they returned Sir Robert Dashwood, a moderate Tory, who had acquired an Oxfordshire estate by marriage, and was described in the return as ‘a member of this borough’.2

Authors: Leonard Naylor / Geoffrey Jaggar


  • 1. VCH Oxon. x. 74; Merc. Pol. 12 Apr. 1660; CJ, ix. 708; x. 599; CSP Dom. 1682, p. 133; Prot. Dom. Intell. 15 Feb. 1681.
  • 2. London Gazette, 6 July 1683, 5 Apr. 1688 A. Beesley, Hist. Banbury, 484, 503-4; SP 44/66/307-8; PC 2/72/535, 590, 667, 733; VCH Oxon. x. 89; CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 275.