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

Number of voters:

111 in 1663; 33 in 1685


18 Apr. 1660JOHN CONNOCK I
  Double return. CONNOCK and ROBINSON seated, 5 May 1660
8 Apr. 1661JOHN HARRIS
18 May 1661BERNARD GRANVILLE vice Prideaux, chose to sit for Honiton
18 Feb. 1678SIR BOURCHIER WREY, Bt. vice Harris, deceased
20 Feb. 1679JOHN BULLER
 Sir Walter Moyle
 Edward Nosworthy I

Main Article

The corporation of Liskeard, consisting of the mayor and eight aldermen, controlled admission to the franchise, but the size of the roll of freemen in 1663 suggests that they were by no means unduly restrictive, and may account for the absence of an obviously dominant interest, though by the end of the period Sir Bourchier Wrey of Trebigh for the Tories and John Buller for the Whigs were dividing the borough. As a coinage town, Liskeard was also open to the influence of the warden of the stannaries.1

All the candidates at the general election of 1660 supported the Restoration. John Connock I was the nephew and heir of a prominent local Royalist, while his partner John Robinson II came from a west Cornish family of equal loyalty. Thomas Johnson, of Leicestershire origin, had served in the parliamentarian army and bought the manor of Liskeard for £3,500 at the sale of crown lands in 1651. As a major of horse in the regiment of George Monck he had declared for a free Parliament, but as a Presbyterian he may have been more acceptable than his Anglican rivals to the anabaptist mayor Hunt Greenwood. The result was a double return. Greenwood appears to have signed both indentures, but the borough seal was not affixed to Johnson’s return, and his rivals were allowed to take their seats. Johnson did not petition further, being assured by Sir John Granville (later 1st Earl of Bath and warden of the stannaries) that he would not forfeit his purchase, and in fact he and his son retained it on a moderate rent. Soon afterwards Greenwood resigned. In 1661 Lord Bath’s brother-in-law, Peter Prideaux, was returned with John Harris, whose father had represented the borough as a Royalist in the Long Parliament. When Prideaux chose to sit for Honiton he was replaced by Bath’s brother, Bernard Granville.2

On Harris’s death in 1677 his seat was taken by Wrey, whose family had long been associated with the borough. A soldier and a strong supporter of the Court, he is not known to have stood in the Exclusion elections. At the first election of 1679 all the candidates were reckoned by Shaftesbury as opponents of exclusion. However, Connock’s son, who defeated (Sir) Walter Moyle, may have enjoyed Bath’s support; he voted for the bill, but went over to the Court before the next election. His colleague Buller, who had been driven out of Saltash by the Granville interest, was made of sterner stuff. In the autumn he divided the borough with the recorder, (Sir) Jonathan Trelawny, who was also elected for East Looe. Before the second Exclusion Parliament met the corporation received a circular letter from the Privy Council, reminding them that all borough officials should have qualified themselves under the Corporations Act. On 7 June they replied that the present mayor, recorder, aldermen, steward and town clerk had all taken the necessary oaths, but, ‘being not well satisfied that the grand inquest, commonly called the 15, have done the like, [we] did think fit ... to dismiss them’. This may have sufficiently intimidated Buller to prevent him from drawing the attention of the Commons to Trelawny’s multiple seats, and he was never called on to choose between them. In 1681 he defeated another exclusionist, Edward Nosworthy I, but died before the Oxford Parliament met. Nosworthy’s petition was presented on the day on which it was dissolved.3

The corporation produced a loyal address approving the King’s reasons for the dissolution, but without the common seal, and no further address followed. In August 1684 a writ of quo warranto was issued against the corporation, who duly surrendered their charter. The replacement in the following March nominated Bath as recorder, with a mayor and eight aldermen as before, and reserved to the crown the usual power to replace officials by order-in-council. The franchise was vested in the corporation and 24 nominated freemen, at least one-third of whom were non-resident Tories of such prominent families as the Granvilles, Robartes and Trelawnys. At the general election a few weeks later Wrey was returned as knight of the shire for Devon; but Liskeard elected his brother Chichester, an army officer, and Connock’s son, one of the new aldermen. The alteration in the electorate was not allowed to pass without protest. The jury of the court leet found that the old freemen ought to take part in elections ‘according to ancient custom and usage’, and demanded that the nonresident freemen should contribute to borough rates and taxes. The corporation followed the example of Launceston in 1688 by undertaking to elect any Protestant Cornishmen approved by Bath, who accordingly nominated Connock and Sir Bourchier Wrey. Another list proposed Connock and Chichester Wrey or another army officer, Capt. Edward Harris. In June the Privy Council ordered the removal of the mayor, three aldermen and five freemen, including Bishop Trelawny, who was in the Tower. A further purge followed in September, when three more aldermen and seven freemen were dismissed. Most of them were Tories, including Sir Bourchier Wrey and the bishop’s brother Charles Trelawny; but the Whig Lord Mohun and the placeman Nicholas Courtney were also deprived of the franchise. Wrey joined the Prince of Orange in November, and was returned to the Convention with Buller ‘of our free assent and consent unanimously’.4

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. G. R. Lewis, Stannaries, 44-45, 106; J. Allen, Hist. Liskeard, 59, 294.
  • 2. Allen, 468-9; CJ, viii. 12.
  • 3. Allen, 270-1, 372-7; CJ, ix. 712.
  • 4. London Gazette, 18 July 1681; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 66; 285, 330; Duckett, Penal Laws (1882), 379; (1883), 214, 216; PC2/72/694, 735.