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 inhabitant freeholders1

Number of voters:

38 in 1667; 65 in 16792


 Roger Heath  
 James Gresham  
27 Mar. 1661JAMES GRESHAM  
  Double return. GRESHAM and CHUTE seated, 17 May 1661. EVELYN and MORRICE declared elected, 20 May 1661  
7 June 1675SIR WILLIAM MORE, Bt. vice Morrice, deceased 17
 Sir Philip Lloyd 12
7 Feb. 1679SIR WILLIAM MORE, Bt. 24
 Francis Dorrington 3
30 Aug. 1679SIR WILLIAM MORE, Bt.2133
 Francis Dorrington1034
  Double return of Gresham and Onslow. ONSLOW declared elected, 11 Nov. 1680  
 DORRINGTON vice More, on petition, 11 Nov. 1680  
21 Feb. 1681SIR WILLIAM MORE, Bt.  
 Denzil Onslow  
 Francis Dorrington  

Main Article

The Mores of Loseley were lords of the manor of Haslemere, and their bailiff acted as returning officer. Sir William More was under age at the first two elections of the period, and the family interest was managed by his uncle James Gresham, who lived outside the borough but within the tithing of Haslemere. In 1660 he stood as a Royalist with Roger Heath of Shalford, the recorder of Guildford, and obtained from the bailiff Yalden an indenture duly signed and sealed, and witnessed by seven other ‘burgesses’. But it was never presented, for Yalden had also executed an indenture in favour of a local yeoman, Richard West, and his brother-in-law John Westbrooke, who had been an active militia officer under the Rump, and this return was attested by 23 signatures. At the dissolution of the Convention Westbrooke prudently removed himself to his wife’s property in a remote part of Sussex. Nor did West stand again; but he canvassed on behalf of Thomas Morrice, an exciseman of humble origin, whom he is said to have passed off as a Privy Councillor. Heath, who died in May, also dropped out, and Gresham was accompanied by Chaloner Chute, a Hampshire lawyer with an urgent personal need for a seat in Parliament. The other candidate was George Evelyn of Wotton, a respectable Surrey squire of moderate views. Although Gresham obtained an order from the Privy Council to investigate West’s activities, he again failed to secure a majority on the poll. In desperation, he ordered the new bailiff, Jackson, to make a double return. This does not survive, but on 17 May 1661 the Commons resolved that Gresham and Chute should be allowed to sit on its merits. Three days later, however, Evelyn and Morrice took their place on the merits of the election. The franchise was declared to reside in the inhabitant freeholders, and Job Charlton reported to the House that ‘the bailiff of Haslemere said that, if they had but five voices, he would have returned Mr Chute and Mr Gresham, and that it lay in his little pate to return whom he pleased’. Jackson was ordered into custody, but his spirit of feudal devotion cannot have been altogether distasteful to the Cavalier Parliament, for on the following day, ‘appearing to be a very ignorant person, and craving the pardon of the House’, he was released. Gresham, too, was not completely crushed, for he obtained a commission of charitable uses and compelled West to deliver up the charter, of which he had somehow obtained possession.3

Richard Dereham, a lawyer who had just been appointed receiver of recusants’ forfeitures, was the first candidate in the field on Morrice’s death. He acquired promises of two votes, but probably only as a speculation. Meanwhile Gresham had engineered an invitation to More from 23 out of the 28 qualified electors. When he visited the borough, however, he found that he was expected to consider their loyalty in their rent, or at least in the heriots due on the tenants’ deaths. On his refusal to accept this condition, a more formidable court candidate made his appearance. This was the clerk of the Council, Sir Philip Lloyd, ‘a mere stranger [who] came down with great provisions of wine ... and declared openly among the freeholders that he was sent down by the King to obtain an election’. Suitably enough, ‘he lodged his provisions and made his entertainments’ in the King’s Arms, where his agent told a voter ‘that he would give him more gold than ever he had seen in his life’. At £5 a head he met with remarkably little success; he could not detach more than half-a-dozen of More’s voters to add to the landlord of the inn and the two votes he acquired from Dereham, though he made his total up to 12 by polling an excommunicated freeholder and three faggot voters. With only one voter abstaining, More had a clear majority. When Lloyd was asked ‘why he would venture so much money upon an attempt against a gentleman in his own town, which was so unlikely to succeed’, he replied that he did so ‘in the hope to raise or improve his fortune’, and apparently threatened a petition. A witness with conscientious scruples about perjuring himself before the elections committee was assured that ‘they might lie in the Parliament House as fast as they would, for there was no swearing there’. But after putting More to the expense of printing a summary of his case for distribution to Members, Lloyd must have decided to cut his losses, for no petition was received.4

Gresham strengthened his interest in the borough by presenting a set of almshouses in 1676. At the first general election he and More, for the court party, were returned with 24 votes each. Francis Dorrington, a London merchant who had acquired an estate in the neighbourhood, received only three votes, as ‘having no title or capacity to stand there for an election’. In August, however, he joined forces with Denzil Onslow of Pyrford, one of a family particularly obnoxious to More, in the country interest. At the hustings the bailiff Rapley declared Onslow and More elected, but the senior seat was yielded to the latter out of regard for his rank. On scrutiny, however, he reduced Onslow’s vote to 13, leaving him one vote behind Gresham, and three weeks later he made out another return accordingly. Rapley told the elections committee that he had acted on instructions from Gresham, ‘who informed him there was no danger in so doing’. Apparently the elections committee, under Sir George Treby, ignored both sets of figures, and accepted an unofficial poll, giving a majority of one to Onslow and Dorrington. As the ‘persons chargeable’ to hearth-tax totalled only 46, and at least 65 must have voted, it seems clear that the resolution of 1661 limiting the franchise to freeholders was ignored. Nevertheless the House concurred, and Gresham never stood again. In 1681 More was returned with George Woodroffe, another court supporter. A joint petition from Onslow and Dorrington was not reported owing to the abrupt dissolution of the Oxford Parliament. It is hardly surprising that the borough, under the guidance of the sitting Members, hastened to produce a loyal address approving the reasons for the dissolution. Onslow hit back by prosecuting Rapley at Kingston assizes for a false return. When defending counsel pointed out that Onslow was ineligible under the Act of 1413 because he was not ‘free, resiant, and dwelling within the borough’, Lord Chief Justice Pemberton ruled that ‘little or no regard was to be had to that ancient statute’, and became ‘very angry’ when the creation of faggot votes by Gresham was described as ‘part of the constitution of our government’. Onslow was awarded £50 damages.5

After More’s death in 1684 the Loseley interest languished for many years. A loyal address from the ‘freeholders and inhabitants’ congratulated James II on his accession, and promised to elect well-affected men and no exclusionists. Woodroffe was duly returned a few days later with another Tory, Sir George Vernon. In September 1688 the King’s electoral agents reported that ‘the election is doubtful, the persons not named’. Onslow regained his seat in the Convention as junior colleague to an obscure local Tory, White Tichborne.6

Author: J. S. Crossette


  • 1. CJ, viii. 254.
  • 2. Swanton and Woods, Bygone Haslemere, 185.
  • 3. Swanton and Woods, 160, 164; Somers Tracts, viii. 272; Manning and Bray, Surr. i. 40; Surr. RO (Guildford) 985; PC2/55/ 161; CJ, viii. 253-6.
  • 4. Cal. Treas. Bks. iv. 694; Surr. RO (Guildford) 763/13, 18, 21, 24, 36; Somers Tracts, viii. 272.
  • 5. Swanton and Woods, 160, 186, 370-1; J. S. T. Turner, ‘Surr. Pol. in Later Stuart England’ (Newcastle Univ. M.Litt. thesis, 1969), 29-30; Somers Tracts, viii. 271-3; CJ, ix. 650, 707; Luttrell, i. 88.
  • 6. London Gazette, 5 Mar. 1685; Duckett, Penal Laws (1882), 250.