Cardiff Boroughs


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 freemen of Cardiff, Aberavon, Cowbridge, Kenfig, Llantrisant, Loughor, Neath and Swansea

Number of voters:

145 in 1661


20 Apr. 1660BUSSY MANSEL 
  Double return. MANSEL declared elected, 27 June 1660 
 Robert Thomas105
May 1661[WILLIAM] BASSETT vice Lloyd, chose to sit for Radnorshire 
 THOMAS seated on petition, 15 June 1661 
25 Feb. 1679(SIR) ROBERT THOMAS 
 Thomas Stradling 
5 Sept. 1679(SIR) ROBERT THOMAS 
16 Mar. 1681BUSSY MANSEL 
24 Mar. 1685FRANCIS GWYN 

Main Article

Although the earls of Pembroke are said to have controlled most of the Glamorgan boroughs, there is no evidence of a Herbert candidate in any of the elections. In 1660 there was a double return of the Cavalier Herbert Evans, an ambitious young man of royalist sympathies who enjoyed the dominant interest in Neath, and Bussy Mansel, who had been one of the leading figures in South Wales during the Commonwealth. The bailiffs of Cardiff, who were the returning officers, absented themselves, ‘for which they pretended the great concourse of people’; but the sheriff of Glamorgan, with the mayor of Cardiff and the portreeves of Aberavon, Kenfig, Loughor and Swansea procured about 120 signatures for Mansel. Evans’s return was unsigned and claimed the support only of the two aldermen of Neath and 15 ‘burgesses’. Edward Turnor reported from the elections committee on 27 June that Mansel was duly chosen, and the House agreed without a division.1

Mansel’s record during the Interregnum precluded him from standing in 1661, and the election was contested by two Cavaliers. Sir Richard Lloyd, a court lawyer from North Wales, was a friend of Evans, who was now sheriff and constable of Cardiff Castle. He was returned in his absence, although outpolled by the local candidate, Robert Thomas, by two to one. Lloyd, who claimed that ‘he knew nothing of his election till that he was advertised thereof by letter’, chose to sit for Radnorshire. Although Thomas had very properly notified him of his intention to petition, the House was not officially apprised of it, and ordered a new writ on 24 May. The by-election was rushed through, perhaps to prevent the nomination of another courtier, and Thomas’s friend, William Bassett, was returned. But on 15 June Job Charlton reported in favour of Thomas’s petition, and the House ordered Bassett’s indentures to be removed from the file. Thomas’s interest was probably based on Cowbridge, where he had formerly resided, and, although he was in opposition for most of the Cavalier Parliament, he secured the removal of the court of great sessions from Cardiff to Cowbridge in 1666. Two years later Sir Edward Mansel gained control of Kenfig by purchase from the 5th Earl of Pembroke.2

Thomas stood as an exclusionist in both elections of 1679. In February he was opposed by a kinsman of Sir Edward Stradling, who had recently succeeded Evans as constable of Cardiff Castle. Thomas was declared elected ‘by the greater number who gave their voices’, including both the Mansels, the bailiffs and aldermen of Cardiff and Cowbridge, and the portreeves of Kenfig and Loughor. Stradling petitioned, but the elections committee did not report. Thomas was re-elected in September ‘with the whole assent and consent’ of the Cardiff voters, ‘and also with the assent and consent of the out-boroughs’. His indentures were again signed by the Mansels, and though the wording of the indenture suggests a contest the identity of the other candidate is not known. But in 1681 Thomas, whose financial circumstances had become desperate, gave way to Bussy Mansel. It seems clear that he regained his seat without opposition, though two indentures were returned in consequence of a municipal dispute at Cardiff. One was signed by Mansel’s step-son, Sir Edward Stradling, and another Tory as bailiffs of Cardiff, and also by the bailiffs of Cowbridge, while the other described a certain Benjamin Browne, who had held office in 1679, as junior bailiff, but was signed officially only by the portreeves of Kenfig and ‘Lanbusall’ and the bailiffs of Llantrisant.3

After the next municipal elections at Cardiff it was deposed that Richards, one of the new bailiffs, had declared that ‘he would vote for the Mansels against any in the country’, and, perhaps less credibly, ‘that he would serve the Mansels against the King’. But in the autumn of 1682 it was reported that the next pair of bailiffs were ‘both very honest men and approved by all the gentlemen of the loyal party’, and the 8th Earl of Pembroke (Thomas Herbert) suggested that the return of the sessions from Cowbridge would be a fitting reward. Swansea and Neath were the first Glamorgan boroughs to suffer a quo warranto. Their new charters in 1684 gave the steward of the manor and the constable of the castle respectively the power of selecting the officials from a list presented by the corporation. In 1685 Francis Gwyn, a local landowner who had made good use of his government post to cultivate an interest at Cowbridge since the sale of the Thomas estate, was returned on the recommendation of Sir Leoline Jenkins. Cardiff received a new charter in 1687, in which Browne and Richards, who had presumably become Whig collaborators, were named to the corporation, and Neath was threatened with another quo warranto, but escaped by a humble submission to the King’s pleasure, though six aldermen, the town clerk and two common councilmen were removed. Gwyn was recommended by Sunderland for re-election, but in 1689 Sir Edward Mansel’s son was returned, apparently with the consent of all the boroughs except Loughor.4

Author: Leonard Naylor


  • 1. L. B. John, ‘Parl. Rep. Glam.’ (Univ. Wales M.A. thesis 1934), p. 11; H. Nicholas, County Fams. of Wales, ii. 591-4; SP 29/398/185; CJ, viii. 75.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1666-7, p. 61; 1670, p. 652; CJ, viii. 271; Cartae Glam. 2232.
  • 3. CJ, ix. 570.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1682, pp. 77, 474; Jan.-July 1683, p. 100; 1683-4, p. 163; 1684-5, pp. 94, 256; 1687-9, pp. 253, 276; Bodl. Carte 234, ff. 126-7; J. H. Matthews, Cardiff Recs. i. 96; PC2/72/635.