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:

over 1,000 in 1677


13 Apr. 1660SAMUEL JONES 
17 Mar. 1677SIR RICHARD CORBET, Bt. vice Jones, appointed to office754
 Edward Kynaston I866
22 Aug. 1679SIR RICHARD CORBET, Bt. 

Main Article

The chief interest in Shrewsbury was in the corporation, consisting of 24 aldermen and 48 common councilmen. The mayor, who acted as returning officer, was chosen annually from the aldermen. The corporation controlled the roll of freemen and hence the franchise. As usual the freedom could be obtained by birth, service, or purchase; counting only the first, there were said to be over a thousand freemen living in or near the borough. The inclusion of suburban liberties gave several country gentlemen estates within the borough boundaries. At the general election of 1660 two cousins from a family long prominent in municipal life were returned. Thomas Jones was town clerk, while Samuel Jones, a much more enthusiastic supporter of the Restoration, had set up, not very successfully, as a country gentleman in Northamptonshire. He was replaced in 1661 by Robert Leighton, a local gentleman who had avoided commitment in the Civil War, while Thomas Jones was re-elected with the help of ‘the Presbyterian party’. He was removed as town clerk by the commissioners in 1662 on the grounds that he and his friends had tried to evade the Corporations Act by having ‘sequestrators and persons who had been in arms against the King’ chosen to the corporation. The mayor, nine aldermen and 12 common councilmen were also dismissed. Further purges followed, and in 1664 a new charter was granted.1

Jones subsequently became more amenable to the Court, and was promoted to the judicial bench in 1676. The country candidate at the subsequent by-election was Sir Richard Corbet, who was supported by his uncle Lord Newport and the Hon. Henry Herbert. He was opposed in the court interest by Edward Kynaston of Hordley, who resided at Albrightlee within the borough liberties, and had been named to the corporation in the 1664 charter. Corbet had a fortnight’s start, and Kynaston could hope to make headway only ‘by expense ... which he attempted very liberally for three quarters of a year’. He was said to have offered £5 a vote, despite the size of the electorate. Each candidate is said to have spent £1,000. Owing to the long recess no writ could be authorized until 16 Feb. 1677. A shrewd observer thought that Kynaston, ‘sure of the rabble party that wants money’ would win unless Corbet could ‘outwit the drinking party and prevail with the mayor to make a return’. The mayor, a dependant of Newport’s, required little persuasion; he

1) became Sir Richard’s great agent and solicitor and went from house to house to procure votes for him; 2) he made 40 free on purpose and on express condition that they should vote for him; 3) money was given to some to vote for Sir Richard; 4) money was given to others that would not be for Sir Richard to keep them out of the way, that they might not vote for Mr Kynaston; 5) some were taken up and sent to gaol the night before the election, and kept there without any cause of action till the election was over, then released.

The poll lasted three days, closing when Kynaston claimed a lead of 112, and so raised no objections, ‘though he had many more there ready to poll.’ But on the scrutiny ‘witnesses on oath and counsel [were] heard with so much deliberation that it lasted twelve days longer’. By this time Kynaston’s majority had been turned into a deficit of 90.

Mr Kynaston then, seeing that few of those he had yet to examine had any colour of pretence to vote, attended no longer at the examination, which however was carefully finished, Sir Richard having above 150 more voices.

Corbet was returned and Kynaston was unable to lodge his petition until 23 May 1678. No report had been made before the prorogation, and it was renewed on 31 Oct., again without result.2

The colourless Leighton did not stand again. Corbet and Kynaston were returned to all three Exclusion Parliaments, probably pairing for the bill. In defiance of social precedence the electorate gave Kynaston the senior seat in 1681 over the exclusionist Corbet. A loyal address, couched in moderate terms, was sent in response to the King’s declaration of his reasons for the dissolution. The corporation resolved ‘unanimously’ in the summer of 1684 to surrender its charter, and entrusted the negotiations for renewal to Thomas Jones, now lord chief justice. Kynaston was active in remodelling the corporation, which was reduced to 12 aldermen and 24 common councilmen, with the usual power of removal reserved to the crown. A loyal address was sent to congratulate James II on his accession. Corbet had died in 1683, and at the general election of 1685 Kynaston was returned with Sir Francis Edwards, one of the new aldermen who was also the town clerk’s brother. In January 1688 Kynaston was removed from the corporation by order-in-council, together with the recorder (the Earl of Shrewsbury), the steward (Robert Price), five aldermen, and eight of the common council. As lord lieutenant Lord Chancellor Jeffreys proposed three minor country gentlemen for court candidates. Of these Edward Gosnell of Rostell, a newcomer from London, had served as mayor in 1682-3 and had just been restored to the corporation; but he was no Whig collaborator and desired to be excused. The others were both sons of parliamentarian colonels, Rowland Hunt of Boreatton (probably a Presbyterian) and George Clive of Walford. Edwards, one of the quiet, mild sort, had remained on the corporation despite his open disapproval of the King’s ecclesiastical policy, and in September he announced that he would stand for the borough with Lord Newport’s brother Andrew. The old charter was restored in the following month, and Newport and Edwards were elected to the Convention as Tories.3

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Owen and Blakeway, Shrewsbury, i. 405-9; CSP Dom. 1678, p. 35; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 4), i. 296-7; iv. 62-63; VCH Salop, iii. 265.
  • 2. Herbert Corresp. (Univ. of Wales, Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xxi), 227; CSP Dom. 1678, pp. 35-36; VCH Salop, iii. 265.
  • 3. London Gazette, 1 Aug. 1681, 23 Feb. 1685; Owen and Blakeway, i. 492-4, 498-9; PC2/72/567; Duckett, Penal Laws (1883), 185; R. Gough, Hist. Myddle, 85, 144; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 3), x. 263; (ser. 4), xii. 211; PRO 30/53/8, f. 69.