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:

20 in 1698


24 Feb. 1679LIONEL TOLLEMACHE, Lord Huntingtower
5 Sept. 1679SIR JOHN DUKE, Bt.
23 Feb. 1681SIR JOHN DUKE, Bt.
17 Mar. 1685LIONEL TOLLEMACHE, Lord Huntingtower
11 Jan. 1689SIR JOHN DUKE, Bt.

Main Article

Under its Elizabethan charter the corporation of Orford consisted of the mayor, eight portmen, and 12 capital burgesses. The principal interest in the borough was held in this period by the Tollemaches, but the seats were not beyond the reach of other local gentry, notably Walter Devereux of Butley Priory, Sir John Duke of Benhall, and Thomas Glemham of Little Glemham. No contests are recorded.1

Before the general election of 1660 Devereux and his brother Edward were sworn in as freemen of the borough. Their elder brother, Viscount Hereford, was one of the six peers sent to Charles II at The Hague. The Tollemache interest went to Allen Brodrick, head of the royalist network to which the third baronet and his wife, Lady Dysart, belonged, and the principal confidant of Sir Edward Hyde, later Lord Chancellor Clarendon. The ‘worthy and bountiful benevolence’ of Lord Hereford in giving 20 loads of timber towards the repair of the town house and quay in August no doubt assisted the reelection of the sitting Members ‘with one accord and assent’ in 1661.2

Duke, who had established a useful interest with the corporation by serving as mayor in 1677, represented the borough as a country Member in all the Exclusion Parliaments. Financial embarrassment and loss of political influence forced the retirement of Devereux and Brodrick, respectively, and at the first general election of 1679 the senior seat was taken by Lady Dysart’s heir, Lord Huntingtower, who had succeeded to the Tollemache estate in 1669. The two Members voted in opposite lobbies on the exclusion bill, and in the autumn Huntingtower was replaced by the recorder, Henry Parker. Parker died before the next election, and was replaced in the Oxford Parliament by Glemham, probably an opponent of exclusion. Quo warranto proceedings began in 1684 ‘on purpose to set aside Sir John Duke’s interest, and to place some loyal gentleman in his room in case there should be a Parliament’. But this ‘good design’, in the words of a local clergyman, was endangered by a courtier, Sir Caesar Cranmer, the nephew and heir in reversion of Sir Henry Wood, who undertook to renew the charter at his own charge if they would elect him to the next Parliament.

I understand the gentleman has interest at Court to do it, and that he is himself a very loyal person; but he knows not that, if the persons he treats with will be put into the new charter, Sir John Duke must necessarily be chosen with him, whereas, if there be no charter at all and we are allowed a prescription to send burgesses (for we never sent by virtue of any charter), I can make sure of two loyal gentlemen, having sufficient interest in the greatest part of the scot and lot men. However, if the charter be to be renewed, either by this gentleman or my Lord Huntingtower or otherwise, there must be great care taken concerning the new portmen and freemen, for the poor town cannot supply sufficient and loyal men, but they must be made up out of the gentry in the country, who are first to be treated with.

A charter in accordance with these proposals was issued in February 1685, with the portmen increased from eight to 12 by the addition of local Tory gentlemen. Cranmer became a Roman Catholic about this time, and there is no evidence that he ever stood. Glemham was re-elected to James II’s Parliament with Huntingtower. In April 1688 the royal electoral agents reported:

Orford is a corporation, the election popular. The town belongs to the Lord Huntingtower and will choose such as your Majesty shall name, if recommended by his lordship. Lord Dover hath undertaken for this election.

Dover, the lord lieutenant, may have hoped that his fellow-convert Cranmer would be acceptable. The recorder and eight portmen were removed from the corporation in June; but by September the management of this borough had been put into new hands:

The town is under the influence of the Lord Huntingtower, who is proposed to stand here, and who can recommend another such as your Majesty shall nominate to be chosen. Alderman Osborn of Ipswich will take care that the election shall be accordingly.

The old corporation was restored in the following month, and Duke’s interest with it. It is not known whether Huntingtower stood at the general election of 1689, but Duke and Glemham were returned to the Convention.3

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. HMC Var. iv. 257.
  • 2. Ibid. 268-9; D. Underdown, Royalist Conspiracy, 269-70.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1683-4, pp. 307-8, 343; 1685, p. 46; R. E. C. Waters, Chesters of Chicheley, 459; Duckett, Penal Laws (1883), 227, 247; PC2/72/681.