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:

48 in 1661


11 Apr. 1661(SIR) JOHN TALBOT  
17 Feb. 1679SIR THOMAS SLINGSBY, Bt.  
 Sir John Hewley  
26 Aug. 1679SIR THOMAS SLINGSBY, Bt.  
 EDWARD OSBORNE, Visct. Latimer3416
  Double return of Fawkes and Latimer. FAWKES declared elected, 21 Mar. 1689  

Main Article

The franchise at Knaresborough was derived from the burgage tenements, variously estimated from 82 to 88; but plural voting was not allowed, and during this period temporary transfers for electoral purposes became the practice. The strongest burgage interest was held by William Stockdale, who represented the borough throughout the period. ‘For Knaresborough Mr Stockdale must be one’, Sir John Reresby was told during the exclusion crisis, ‘because he sends them weekly newspapers.’ But the Slingsbys of Scriven were almost as formidable; they held few burgages at this time, but they owned the advowson and other property in the town, and enjoyed a strong deference vote as the leading gentry family in the area. Although the forest of Knaresborough remained part of the queen mother’s jointure, the crown interest in the borough had lapsed.1

The Slingsby estate was sold after the execution of the first baronet for treason against the Protectorate in 1658, and bought by his cousin Slingsby Bethell on behalf of the family. At the general election of 1660 Bethell nominated his brother Henry as a stop-gap. By 1661 Sir Thomas Slingsby had regained Scriven; but as sheriff his candidature for a Yorkshire borough would have been of doubtful propriety, and he preferred raising the rents ‘to a great height’ rather than improving his interest, which he placed at the disposal of his brother-in-law Sir John Talbot. Sir George Savile was informed by his Yorkshire agent that a contest was expected, since Thomas Hutton of Popplewell was of

good esteem at Knaresborough by his command of the free school there, and living so near there; but Sir Thomas Slingsby is the greatest, being landlord to most of the burgesses for grounds, though not for their tenements.... However, certainly none will oppose Mr [John] Hervey, being recommended by the queen.

The voters excused themselves from this unwelcome courtier on the grounds that he had not been regularly recommended through the queen mother’s high steward, and by 16 Mar. the situation was clear:

I am informed from Knaresborough that Sir John Talbot, upon Sir Thomas Slingsby’s interest, and Mr Stockdale will stand there and will carry it... There are only 48 persons that are electors there, and 20 of them are tenants of Mr Stockdale, and all tenants of Sir Thomas Slingsby.

Hervey probably transferred himself before the poll to Hythe, where he was returned on the lord warden’s interest.2

Slingsby was elected knight of the shire in 1670, but he was too much of a courtier to be acceptable in the exclusion elections. He stepped down to the family borough, but even here he faced opposition. On the day before the poll in February 1679 Sir William Frankland wrote that ‘Sir John Hewley is drinking hard at Knaresborough against Sir Thomas Slingsby’. For this election 22 burgageholders (12 of them women) conveyed their property to qualified voters. Slingsby himself, who owned four burgages, installed faggot voters in three of them. He was returned with Stockdale to all three Exclusion Parliaments. He did not vote in the division on the bill, which Stockdale supported.3

At the general election of 1685 Slingsby stood successfully for Scarborough, of which he was governor, leaving the seat in the family borough to his son Henry, also an army officer. Stockdale was one of the few Whigs to sit in James II’s Parliament. The royal electoral agents in September 1688 expected the sitting Members, ‘both good men’, to be re-elected. Sunderland ordered Slingsby, who had succeeded to the baronetcy, to stand; but he withdrew from political life at the Revolution. No opposition was offered to Stockdale at the general election of 1689, but the other seat was contested by Thomas Fawkes, an active officer in the West Riding militia, and Danby’s son Lord Latimer (Edward Osborne), although both seem to have been Tories. Latimer, with the assistance of Sir Henry Goodricke, spent £80 on the election and achieved a double return by the transfer of 18 burgages. The bailiff submitted a double return accordingly; but John Birch from the elections committee reported after Latimer’s death in Fawkes’s favour, and the House agreed.4

Authors: Paula Watson / Virginia C.D. Moseley


  • 1. Northern Hist. iii. 75, 96-99; Sheepscar lib. Leeds, Mexborough mss 14/150, Smith to Reresby, no date.
  • 2. Notts. RO, DDSR221/96, Turner to Savile, 27 Feb., 16 Mar. 1661.
  • 3. HMC Astley, 41, 42; Northern Hist. iii. 98.
  • 4. Duckett, Penal Laws (1882), 102; CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 275; Eg. 3336, f. 140; CJ, x. 57.