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 corporation

Number of voters:



6 Apr. 1660JOHN CLAYTON16
 Thomas Kendall51
  Double return. CLAYTON and MOYLE declared elected, 4 June 1660 
26 Jan. 1668CHARLES SMYTHE vice Wrey, deceased 
3 Feb. 1670SILIUS TITUS vice Bulteel, deceased 
13 Feb. 1679SIR JOHN CAREW, Bt. 
29 Aug. 1679SIR JOHN CAREW, Bt. 
21 Feb. 1681SIR JOHN CAREW, Bt. 

Main Article

Lostwithiel was the administrative centre of the duchy of Cornwall, a sessions town, and the usual venue of county elections. The franchise in this period was limited to the corporation, consisting of seven ‘capital burgesses’ or aldermen (one of whom acted as mayor and returning officer) and 17 assistants. This body also nominated the stannators of Foymore. In 1660 Walter Moyle and John Clayton, a Yorkshire industrialist whom he had brought in for the borough in Richard Cromwell’s Parliament, stood jointly for re-election. A correspondent, probably basing his calculations on a household franchise, reported to Francis Buller that Moyle controlled 14 votes in the borough, whereas the second Lord Mohun, a Cavalier who had submitted to the Protectorate in 1656, controlled 18. Perhaps wisely, he did not propose any candidate; but opposition to Moyle and his partner came from the Presbyterian Lord Robartes, the recorder, who lived at Lanhydrock, two miles away. He nominated Henry Ford, a Devon squire with intellectual and political aspirations, and Thomas Kendall, a leading West India merchant who came from the most prominent family in the town. It was the opinion of Buller’s correspondent that Robartes could have carried one candidate, but not two; presumably Kendall, one of whose family was acting as returning officer, would have defeated the outsider Clayton in a straight fight. Seeing that he was outvoted on the corporation, Robartes ‘would have allowed the old way of electing housekeepers ... but there we were more too’. The mayor duly returned Clayton and Moyle, recording only the votes of the corporation; but ‘upon a promise to him made that, if it were adjudged a false return, he should be saved harmless’, he also agreed to return the eager Ford on a separate indenture. On 5 May the House resolved that ‘none of these persons ought to sit until the merits of the cause be determined’, and the mayor was summoned ‘to answer his misdemeanour in making an insufficient return’. A month later Edward Turnor reported from the elections committee that Clayton and Moyle were duly elected, and they were allowed to sit. The mayor was discharged further attendance or restraint on paying the serjeant’s fees.2

Before the next election Mohun had replaced Robartes as recorder, and two strong supporters of the Government were returned. The senior seat was occupied by Sir Chichester Wrey, who had been in arms for the King at the age of 14. His colleague, John Bulteel, secretary to Lord Chancellor Clarendon, was an outsider who was doubtless returned on the duchy interest. The Robartes interest reasserted itself on Wrey’s death, when Charles Smythe, a landless younger son from Kent, but brother-in-law to the head of the family, was returned. Presumably the mayor was copying the Newport indenture of 25 Mar. 1667, since he inadvertently gave the name of the late Member as Piers Edgcumbe. Bulteel died in 1669 and was replaced by the courtier Silius Titus, who presented a silver mace and oar to the corporation. The exclusion elections were dominated by Walter Kendall, who was able to bring in his brother-in-law Sir John Carew as senior Member, though they voted in different lobbies on the bill. No loyal addresses were produced in 1681-3, and the Lostwithiel charter was one of the trophies that the Earl of Bath collected in his 1684 campaign against the Cornish corporations.3

An address was sent to congratulate James II on his accession, and in the following month a new charter was received nominating Lord Bath as recorder. The general election followed, in which two strangers were returned. Sir Robert Southwell, an experienced official temporarily out of employment, recognized that he enjoyed his seat ‘by favour of my Lord Bath’. His colleague, Sir Matthias Vincent, was a nabob whose family was of Cornish origin. He died in 1687, and Southwell, who opposed the King’s ecclesiastical policy, migrated to Ireland. In April 1688 Bath recommended Kendall and Humphrey Courtney, a duchy official, as court candidates for the abortive Parliament. A rival list, probably produced by Edward Nosworthy II, nominated the Presbyterian Humphrey Nicoll and a certain James Mohun, whose relation to the peerage family is not known. An order-in-council in June removed the mayor and four of the capital burgesses, including Bishop Trelawny and (Sir) Joseph Tredenham, and four more followed in a second regulation in September. But, as in Fowey, the corporation would not accept any replacements who refused the sacramental test. The Robartes interest reasserted itself at the general election of 1689; two Tories were returned, Kendall and Francis Robartes.4

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Basil Duke Henning


  • 1. HMC Var. i. 336.
  • 2. Gilbert, Paroch. Hist. Cornw. iii. 170, 177; VCH Cornw. i. 535; Buller Pprs. ed. Worth, 117-19; HMC Var. i. 336; CJ, viii. 12, 55; F. M. Hext, Mems. Lostwithiel, 167-9; Cornw. RO, Lostwithiel bor. recs.
  • 3. Hext, 36, 167-8; CSP Dom. 1684-5, p. 245.
  • 4. London Gazette, 5 Mar. 1685; HMC Var. i. 328; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 94; 1687-9, p. 304; Duckett, Penal Laws (1883), 215, 216; PC2/72/694, 735.