Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Number of Qualified Electors:


Number of voters:

at least 5,983 in 1710


12 Mar. 1690Sir John Guise, 2nd Bt. 
 Sir Ralph Dutton, Bt. 
 James Thynne 
18 Nov. 1695Sir John Guise, 2nd Bt. 
 Sir Ralph Dutton, Bt. 
 Thomas Stephens I 
11 Dec. 1695Stephens vice Guise, deceased 
 Sir John Guise, 3rd Bt. 
3 Aug. 1698John Grobham Howe 
 Sir Richard Cocks, Bt. 
16 Jan. 1701John Grobham Howe1709
 Sir Richard Cocks, Bt.1389
 Sir Ralph Dutton, Bt.12481
3 Dec. 1701Maynard Colchester2529
 Sir Richard Cocks, Bt.2418
 John Grobham Howe14752
6 Aug. 1702Maynard Colchester2536
 John Grobham Howe2370
 Sir John Guise, 3rd Bt.23943
16 May 1705Sir John Guise, 3rd Bt.2450
 Maynard Colchester2443
 John Grobham Howe2385
 Sir Ralph Dutton, Bt.19124
12 May 1708Matthew Ducie Moreton2472
 Sir John Guise, 3rd Bt.1926
 Sir Richard Cocks, Bt.12195
25 Oct. 1710John Symes Berkeley3184
 Matthew Ducie Moreton2987
 John Howe2900
 Sir John Guise, 3rd Bt.28946
23 Sept. 1713John Symes Berkeley2322
 Thomas Stephens II2265
 Thomas Charles Tracy, Visct. Tracy [I]2222
 Matthew Ducie Moreton22227

Main Article

Reflecting on the 1690 election in Gloucestershire, Viscount Weymouth (Thomas Thynne†), whose brother James* had just been defeated there, was struck by the infusion of ‘party’ into the campaign, observing that the only competitive element in previous elections had been ‘affection to the persons standing’. This observation is substantially borne out by Gloucestershire’s electoral history in the post-Restoration decades when candidates of like-minded Whiggishness appeared almost routinely in opposition to one another. A prevailing trend, however, was the emergence of a particularly enduring tradition of deference towards the Whig Guise and Dutton families which continued into the 1690s. There were few elections in the reigns of William iii and Anne when neither a Guise nor a Dutton was a candidate. Partisanship on manifestly political lines, coming significantly into play in 1690 with a religio-ideological division of voters into Churchmen and Dissenters, was thus something new to the county. Hitherto, Toryism had never been strongly promoted among the freeholders, but with party rivalry now assuming greater permanence, it became less feasible for Whigs to oppose each other in the kind of three-cornered contests seen previously. In a county which by reputation was notoriously Whiggish, the Tory interest was slow to develop into an electoral force. Where they did succeed, initially, much was owed to the personality of John (Jack) Grobham Howe, a Tory of national rather than purely local standing, whose propensity for controversy and aggression stood Gloucestershire’s languid Tories in good stead. Yet Tory gentlemen were reluctant to set up as candidates, and it was not until the safe prospects of 1710 that they fought the election on the full basis of a joint candidacy and with aristocratic backing.8

The 1690 campaign got under way in a confused and disorganized fashion. At the time of the dissolution only one of the outgoing Members, Sir John Guise, 2nd Bt., had decided to seek re-election. A dispute of some sort between Guise and Sir Ralph Dutton, 1st Bt., fellow Whig knights of the shire in the Convention, obstructed their joint candidacy for the new Parliament, and may have been the reason for Dutton’s exit. Several gentry indicated an interest in this seat, namely Sir Duncumbe Colchester†, Sir Samuel Astry, Sir Robert Atkyns† and Viscount Dursley (Charles Berkeley*), the Earl of Berkeley’s heir, but the real initiative was taken by James Thynne, acting in the Tory interest and abetted by his aristocratic brother. Thynne’s hopes were quickly encouraged by widespread promises of support, not least from the retiring Member Dutton, coupled with intimations that the supporting interests of the other gentlemen were negligible by comparison. Even though there was an expressed preference among the gentry not to declare their ‘second voice’ until they had formally convened, Thynne was optimistic that the decision would be in his favour. He boasted to his brother Weymouth that ‘whosoever joins with him [Guise] I know must carry it, and if Mr John [Grobham] Howe who acts all for him is not very false to me, I have reason to believe I shall be the man’. By 8 Feb. Thynne’s calculations seemed to be in disarray with the news that Guise and Dutton appeared to have patched up their differences and jointly intended to oppose any third candidate. However, the next few days allowed him time to ponder the situation in the light of a poorly attended and inconclusive meeting of gentlemen at Gloucester on the 7th, from which Dutton had been absent. He surmised that any arrangement between Dutton and Guise was still highly tenuous and the rapid progress that he himself had already made left him room to bargain with either. ‘I think I have them both at my command’, he informed his brother on the 11th, ‘for I have brought Sir John Guise to civility and Sir Ralph to be willing that I should propose a joining with him’. Equally, if the three of them stood singly, ‘I do not in the least fear it for Sir Ralph is so despised by the gentlemen for behaving himself so pitifully to Sir John Guise; and Sir John is so enraged for his not having joined him with him [sic] that he must be the meanest of men if he join him’. Thynne’s avowed intention ‘to serve the Church’ probably deterred either of the two Whigs from engaging in a formal arrangement with him, but was used by them as a pawn in their own personal quarrel, the substance of which it has not been possible to determine. He failed to lure Dutton on to his side despite ‘having said all that could be said to show him how low he was like to bring himself in the esteem of the understanding part of the county’, and finding that Dutton had ‘got into the [Whig] party as much as any of them’. Most disconcerting of all were the signs of ‘party’ attachment to Dutton and Guise that were prevalent among the clothiers of the mid-county. In the Bristol area, Robert Henley*, Thynne’s chief agent there, encountered considerable antipathy among the voters and warned Weymouth: ‘the best service I can do for him in Bristol is to keep those at home that will be for the others’. Thynne was nevertheless sustained by his brother’s assurances of support from county grandees, most notably the Duke of Beaufort (Henry Somerset†), the Earl of Berkeley and Lord Dursley, and on 11 Feb. circularized the county gentry that he intended to stand. It was not until later in the campaign that Guise and Dutton began to contest jointly. At a gathering of militia officers on 6 Mar., a week before polling was due to commence and attended by both Whig candidates, Sir Duncombe Colchester declared his expectation that all officers assist their cause ‘or it would endanger the loss of their commissions’. Sir Duncombe was snubbed, however, when his second-in-command answered, apparently echoing the sentiments of many others present, that ‘for his commission he was ready to give it up, but for his voice he would keep to himself’. The summoning of militiamen caused much irritation, and Thynne made it his business in the final days of his campaign to expose its purpose. Although his impression was that Dutton and Guise had been ‘fearful and sluggish’, and certainly ill-concerted, he was not confident of victory. On 14 Mar., the third day of polling, after a reasonable showing in his favour and a ‘pretty good appearance’ of clergy, there were ‘such sholes come in . . . on their sides’ that he conceded defeat. There was afterwards some sharp recrimination between Thynne and his brother Weymouth, the latter claiming that Thynne had lost through his ‘own faults’ and Thynne denying the charge on the premise that ‘your information of so great assistance from all those great and powerful men’ encouraged him to stand. He insisted that Beaufort, ‘whether from a suspicion of my principles or want of interest’ failed to procure him much-needed support from the Bristol region or from the Forest of Dean, while ‘Lord Berkeley’s and Lord Dursley’s friends and tenants were all against me’. In a letter of 14 Mar. he insisted that ‘Lord Dursley’s letter did not procure me six voices and I had not more from Lord Berkeley’s tenants’ and that it was only ‘the pains I took myself’ which produced positive effects. Weymouth blithely dismissed all of this with the observation that ‘if gentlemen’s tenants will not follow their landlords, it is what happens in all places, but I am sure my Lord Berkeley’s stewards were very hearty’. Thynne had spent £800 ‘to show my zeal for Church and government’, though he claimed he might have saved £500 had not polling commenced on a fast-day, which kept many of his voters away and required him to incur hospitality and other expenses a second day before the likelihood of his losing became apparent. He did not stand for the county again.9

In 1695 Guise and Dutton stood again, although some of the Whigs, being ‘emulous’ of Guise, set up Thomas Stephens I of Lypiatt against him. Both Members, and Guise in particular, had assiduously courted the cloth-makers by their efforts to improve legislative protection of the local cloth industries, and this had its effect in the election results, Guise being chosen, according to his son (Sir John, 3rd Bt.), ‘with great majority and applause’. However, the day after the results were declared, 19 Nov., Guise died unexpectedly from a brief illness, whereupon Stephens and his friends ‘thought their game more sure and immediately sent their emissaries into all places to make interest for him’. Guise’s son, the new baronet, was incensed at this disrespect to his father, and was persuaded by ‘zealous friends’ to oppose Stephens though himself not yet 19 years of age. He began canvassing ‘in all places’ as soon as his father’s funeral was over, anxious ‘to maintain that popularity my father had gained’. The alignment of forces on each side turned out to be unfortunate for Guise, and would adversely affect his political standing in the county for the rest of the decade. Whereas the majority of the Whigs, including the sheriff, gave their support to Stephens, Guise enjoyed the support of all the Tories but only a small body of Whigs particularly attached to his family. On the fourth day of polling, the sheriff, Thomas Ridler, concluding that the vote was likely to go against Stephens, suddenly retired from Gloucester on pretext of some quarrel, leaving several hundred voters still to be polled, some three-quarters of whom were supporters of Guise. The poll was then conducted by the under-sheriff until ordered by his superior to adjourn the poll 20 miles away to Wootton-under-Edge. When the voting continued to go very much in Guise’s favour a further adjournment was ordered, this time to Bisley, Stephens’ own locality, where the poll was concluded. The sheriff himself, according to Guise’s subsequent petition, was absent from the casting up, but his agents, finding Guise ahead of his rival, ‘struck off all whose votes were taken during the abdication and the free miners of the Forest of Dean’, ensuring a majority for Stephens. In his memoirs Guise stated that he was put off petitioning when his uncle ‘Jack’ Howe refrained from mobilizing the forces of the emergent Country party on his behalf, refusing to vouch for him to Robert Harley* as a potential supporter. Guise did in fact have a petition presented on 8 Jan. 1696, complaining of shrieval partiality, though it may well have been due to Howe’s machinations that the elections committee was denied the opportunity of hearing it; a motion to hear it on 28 Feb. was defeated and the case was never reported. Guise later estimated that the election cost himself and Stephens about £1,000 each.10

The campaign of 1698 opened in July with six candidates: the sitting Members Dutton and Stephens; Howe and another Tory, Thomas Chester of Almondsbury; and the Whigs, Guise and Sir Richard Cocks, 2nd Bt., of Dumbleton. Guise, whose finances were still suffering the effects of his and his father’s campaigns in 1695, soon withdrew, making over his interest to his uncle, Howe. In the early stages, the ‘odds of the bets’ ran for Howe and Chester. The contest was fought to a poll, won by Howe and Cocks, though which of the originally named candidates also participated has not been ascertained. It was reported that ‘Jack Howe had 300 voices for knight of the shire . . . more than all of the rest of the candidates though he hath not a foot of land in the county’. But what must have seemed more incongruous than Howe’s meagre landed qualification was the fact that he as a Tory, albeit a renegade Whig, should have taken first prize in a county whose Whiggishness had been significantly underlined in its subscription of a staggering 12,000 or so signatures to the Association only two years previously. There was an angry scene in the Commons in February 1699 when Howe, riled at Cocks’s assumption of superiority in questions involving the opinions of the county tenantry, delivered a withering put-down: ‘[since] that gentleman is pleased to tell me of the number of his tenants, I desire to know who has most votes, he or I’.11

Preparation for the next election began in November 1700. At this early stage Harley interceded in an effort to guarantee that the seats were secured on a ‘Country’ footing. The initiative for Harley’s involvement may well have come from Jack Howe, who now ranked as one of Harley’s chief lieutenants in the Commons. Howe certainly had good grounds for calling for Harley’s assistance. Besides his mediocre landed qualification as a knight of the shire, his relations with his fellow-knight, Cocks, had never been good, and he was clearly determined to do all in his power to block Cocks’s re-election by finding a suitable Whig partner. Weymouth, having played no very obvious part in the county’s elections since 1690, was now enlisted by Harley to induce a Whig cousin, Thomas Stephens I, to stand jointly with Howe. Although Howe was agreeable to the arrangement, Stephens naturally feared his standing among the Whigs would suffer through such an association, and so declined, subsequently declaring instead his full support for Cocks. Guise, determined to end the years of ostracism between himself and the county’s Whigs, now disowned his uncle Howe and also declared himself for Cocks. Howe’s thoughts of an alignment with the former Whig MP Dutton turned out to be wishful thinking on his part, for although their partnership was espoused by the new Duke of Beaufort, Dutton insisted at the poll on standing singly. As a correspondent explained to Harley after the election, ‘the far greater number of the freeholders gave but single votes, by which means through his own folly Sir Ralph Dutton lost it, for he, by obliging his friends to give single votes, impelled many of Howe’s supporters (above 400) to vote singly for Howe’. Denied these crucial second votes, Dutton lost while Cocks managed to outsmart Howe’s apparent design to see him ousted. The partisan atmosphere in the county thus proved far too strong to promote Harley’s and Howe’s grandiose scheme for uniting a Whig and a Tory on a ‘Country’ slate.12

Over the next few months Howe was much vilified in print as francophile and Jacobite, which gave rise to a tide of criticism against him in the county. In May 1701 it was reported that his constituents had gone so far as to warn him in a letter that unless he supported the war he could not expect re-election. His attempts at self-justification were ill received at a meeting of magistrates in August, though in October he managed to prevail on Gloucestershire’s grand jury to accept his wording of an address pledging support for the war. However, as Under-Secretary James Vernon I* informed the Duke of Shrewsbury, the overall effect was equivocal:

It is worded strongly enough in relation to France and the Prince of Wales but the House of Commons is brought in as having given the county great satisfaction by the resolutions they had taken about alliances and the reducing the power of France, which his Majesty had so well approved of. Mr [Maynard] Colchester, one of the justices and colonel of the militia told him he did not understand his mixing things together that had no connexion; but since his design was to draw the county in to applaud their representatives he would tell him they were so ill-satisfied with his being one that they would not choose him again.

In addition to Howe, the ensuing election campaign was fought with five other candidates in the ring, of whom only three can be identified: the Whigs Colchester, Cocks and Dutton. With his credit already severely diminished, and with the national anti-Tory mood particularly strongly reflected in the county, Howe began to despair of retaining his seat. It was afterwards claimed that the Whigs had sent ‘five portmanteaus stuffed full of libels’ into the county, telling of Howe’s having taken French money and spoken disrespectful words against the King. On 22 Nov. it was reported that he had been to see the King, had made ‘a long speech of many excuses of some things he may have said or done’, and obtained a promise of nomination as high sheriff, seeing that he ‘was not likely to come in’. Despite mounting odds, he nevertheless remained in the fray, and as the poll drew close, it was thought that with the number of candidates still at six, ‘such division . . . will be favourable to Howe’ on whose behalf the Weymouth family were known to be ‘great sticklers’. At the last minute, Dutton stood down, transferring his interest to Cocks and Colchester, and thereby helping to inflict a devastating defeat upon Howe.13

Following the accession of Queen Anne a few months later Howe set to work to claim his place in the new Tory dawn, not least to take all positive steps to re-enter Parliament. At the end of March 1702 he was voted foreman of the grand jury, which had convened to draft a loyal address, by 19 votes to Guise’s four. One Tory commented that Cocks could no longer claim with any truth that ‘all the gentry were against Mr Howe’. Having thus drawn together a ‘party’ of supporters, Howe enjoined them to put their hands to an address of his own devising which, as very quickly became apparent, ‘contains matters different from the common sort now on foot’. The address made particular mention of the ‘great hardships’ and the ‘designs of unjust and wicked men’ the Queen had suffered and endured in the previous reign, and was presented by Howe himself around the beginning of April. According to Burnet, the Queen received it ‘in so particular a manner that it looked like owning the contents thereof to be true’. But when published along with the other county addresses in the London Gazette, its strong partisan tone was seen as a reprehensible attack on the memory of the late King, and when Anne was apprised of the widespread offence her acceptance of it had caused, she quickly repudiated it. Howe’s action so infuriated the Whigs in Gloucestershire that they sent up a second address with a different form of words and some 200 signatures, which was presented to the Queen by the Earl of Berkeley, the lord lieutenant, and the two Members on 28 Apr. Howe lamented to his friend Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) that though his initiative had briefly ‘raised the spirits of our friends and much damped the enemy, . . . we now begin to sink and they to rise’. He was already canvassing for the county in May though oddly no partner was found for him. The Whigs fielded Maynard Colchester and Guise, the latter’s support for Cocks in the last two elections having restored his credibility with the Whig elite. Their chief support was Lord Berkeley who did all in his power to thwart Howe’s campaign. Towards the end of June Howe complained to Nottingham that ‘the adversary is so zealous and confident of success in all parts’; and in his next letter on the 28th that ‘Lord Berkeley declares openly against me’, while on 7 July he was writing: ‘I find in passing through the country my Lord Berkeley is rather more zealous and violent against me this than last election.’ He was especially aggrieved by Berkeley’s deliberate procrastination in fulfilling Nottingham’s promise to reinstate him to his colonel’s rank in the militia. To make matters worse, Berkeley had ‘taken all the advantage he can against me by summoning the militia while in other hands’. The commission was finally granted around the middle of July, though Berkeley seems to have achieved his purpose in blunting Howe’s chances of success, for his position appears to have remained highly uncertain right up to the eve of polling. When the books were closed Colchester had obtained first place. Guise was just 24 votes ahead of Howe, but the high sheriff, presumably under persuasion by supporters of Howe, conducted a scrutiny in which about 80 of Guise’s votes were discounted on the grounds that they had been tendered by ‘vagabonds’, as Howe called them, who had dishonestly sworn themselves to be 40s. freeholders. The smaller number of votes struck off on Howe’s side left him with a majority over Guise of 47 (although a later account of the scrutiny credited Howe with a lead of 122). The sheriff then declared Howe elected and returned him with Colchester. In a self-satisfied outburst to Nottingham, Howe hoped his success would ‘prove a deliverance at length from the yoke of a party which is ten times more violent and villainous, if possible, in this than any other part of England, as well as more numerous’. For Guise this was ‘the finishing stroke’ in what for him had been an equally arduous contest; as he recalled in his memoirs, ‘whatever power could contrive to defeat my election was done’. He petitioned on 24 Oct. against the sheriff’s ‘very partial’ conduct and questioned the legality of the scrutiny. Burnet commented, with reference to this case, that it could certainly be argued that the sheriff had exceeded his powers, for in law it was understood that the oaths of those who had falsely sworn themselves 40s. freeholders remained sacrosanct until proven in court to be perjurious. If, however, it were acknowledged that sheriffs could discount votes on the spot, such a procedure would place county elections wholly within the power of the Court, the sheriff being an appointee of the crown. The case was heard at the bar on 19 Nov. The legality of the sheriff’s action was never properly determined for as soon as counsel had withdrawn on the question of the scrutiny, and before progress could be made on the merits of the election, (Sir) Simon Harcourt I took advantage of the Tory majority and moved that Howe had been duly elected. The result went easily in Howe’s favour, by 221 votes to 90.14

As the 1705 election approached, and as Whig prospects began to improve, there arose some dispute among the Whig gentlemen over whether Guise or Cocks would be the more suitable partner for Colchester. After losing in 1702 Guise had purposely stationed himself at Gloucester, taking up residence at the bishop’s palace there, so that he could improve his public profile by being ‘in the centre of all the business of the county’. Several influential Whigs nevertheless viewed the so far unsuccessful baronet with misgiving: Lords Hervey (John*) and Somers (Sir John*), for instance, while admitting that he would ‘act upon the same honest bottom’ as Cocks, did not feel he had the mettle to ‘speak those bold and timely truths we all want to hear again uttered there’. In the end, however, it was Guise who stood. Howe put up again on the Tory side, and in an unusual development was joined by Dutton. Dutton had not forgiven his Whig brethren for having ignored his pretensions to stand, even though the ‘ill state of his affairs’ no longer made him a viable choice, and so had resolved to throw in his lot with the Tories. According to Guise, ‘nothing of violence was done in the management of this election’ except for one particular episode. In an effort to undermine their opponents’ morale, Dutton, with Howe’s connivance, trumped up an accusation of fraud against one of the leading Whig activists, John Prinn. Until Dutton had fallen under Howe’s influence, Prinn, a barrister, had been Dutton’s steward, and was now accused of defrauding his ex-employer of £42,000. Placed under arrest, he was paraded through Gloucester’s streets to the city gaol the day before polling was due to begin, but was quickly bailed by Guise with the assistance of John Hanbury, one of the city Members. Dutton and Howe were defeated, but though Howe complained of being abandoned by his ‘old friends’ who ‘stayed at home and kept many with them’, he was only 58 votes behind Colchester’s position in second place. His interest in the county’s Tory politics waned thereafter, as ill-health prevented him from standing in any future election. As Guise later recalled, it had been the admission of Whigs into the government which ‘made my election the more easy, for by this means we had a sheriff who did me justice’. Prinn was later proved innocent, and Guise soon afterwards obtained for him the receivership of taxes for the county.15

The first initiatives towards the next election were taken in July 1707 by the Whig gentlemen. A ‘great crowd’ was anticipated at the assizes that month in expectation that the candidates would be named. Those known to be interested were Cocks, Guise and Matthew Ducie Moreton, while Colchester, whose health had begun to fail, signified that he would not seek re-election. Agreement among the Whigs proved difficult, however, and in November it was reported that ‘there is six put in for the county of Gloucester’. One of these was Jack Howe’s son John, who sought the Tory vote, though with so many other candidates still in the field there was ‘great fear it will go against him’. Colchester’s lapse into dangerous illness early in December raised the possibility of an early trial of strength, and seems to have induced several candidates to pull out of the running. Nathaniel Stephens, son of the former Member Thomas Stephens, informed Harley in mid-December that ‘the stream at present [is] running high for Moreton and Guise’ while Cocks’s chances were reckoned poor. The election itself was contested by the three of them, Guise and Moreton having presumably secured the Whig recommendation, though it is not clear, and the results do not help to clarify, whether they actually stood in partnership. Cocks’s insistence on standing against them disrupted the general inclination to ensure that the county’s MPs were returned by a solid consensus of Whigs, and proved to his party beyond doubt that he was no longer a worthy choice as candidate.16

In 1710 Gloucestershire’s Tories began to mobilize well in advance of the dismissal of Lord Godolphin’s (Sidney†) ministry. Their high-flying address to the Queen, prompted by Sacheverell’s triumph and signed by ‘160 gentlemen’, was presented on 29 Mar. by the Tory MP for Cirencester, Allen Bathurst, and heralded a flood of similar such messages promising the election of representatives ‘religiously zealous for our holy Church’. The Gloucestershire address, widely publicized and ‘trawled up and down the London streets’ though denied publication in the London Gazette, was derided in the Whig press as having been ‘surreptitiously obtained’, the product of a grand jury ‘herded’ with Jacobites. The Tories themselves knew full well that to capture such a predominantly Whig county as Gloucestershire would be a true, if exacting, test of Tory strength, but found ways to promote their cause even before an election was certain. In June, for instance, it was put about that the pro-Whig lord lieutenant, Lord Berkeley, was about to be replaced by the High Tory Duke of Beaufort. At the end of the month ‘a great meeting’, attended by Beaufort, was staged in London to nominate the Tory candidates. Those chosen were John Symes Berkeley of Stoke, and Edmund Chamberlain of Stowe, near Lydney, who had presided over the grand jury meeting responsible for the county’s loyal address in March. Shortly afterwards, however, these arrangements were upset when Chamberlain withdrew. Amid continuing reports that Beaufort was to be made lord lieutenant, a large meeting of Tory gentlemen at the Gloucester quarter sessions ‘unanimously’ agreed on their candidates: Berkeley, and John Howe jnr. The Whigs had also mounted their campaign for the sitting Members, Guise and Moreton. In August they prepared an address reflecting on Sacheverell’s sympathizers ‘as dangerous persons for countenancing . . . a person that had been impeached by the Commons, condemned by the Lords and all approved of by the Queen from the throne, with an assurance of their loyalty and their endeavours to send up the same Members as before’. Rejected by the grand jury ‘and most of the justices of the peace and honest gentlemen’, it received support from several leading Dissenters, who did much to promote it among the spinners, weavers ‘and other mean people’, though it was never presented or printed. The Tories were at first sanguine of winning both seats, but by early September it was becoming clear that Tory canvassing was failing to attract votes for Howe on the eastern side of the county. It was understood that this was largely because Howe’s father had foolishly disobliged the Tory candidate, Sir Robert Jenkinson, 3rd Bt.*, at the February by-election in Oxfordshire, and not surprisingly Jenkinson, whose Gloucestershire estate was ‘much more considerable’ than his property in Oxfordshire, had forbidden his tenantry to support Howe. By the time of the dissolution on 21 Sept. it was generally thought that Howe would lose, while Symes Berkeley’s interest was thought too weak to carry him. Harley, meanwhile, had done nothing to realize Beaufort’s hopes of the lord lieutenancy, and when Lord Berkeley died on 24 Sept. the Duke became highly agitated. With prospects of a double Tory gain beginning to fade, he appealed to Harley for the office in the strongest possible terms: ‘For God’s sake think of Gloucestershire. If I have it not, that county is undone.’ He appealed to Harley again, this time at greater length, on 9 Oct., warning him that Whig rumours of the new Earl of Berkeley (James Berkeley*, Lord Dursley) being appointed were seriously undermining Tory morale. ‘I cannot help regretting’, he concluded, ‘that so many honest gentlemen are to be suppressed when they are using the greatest endeavours to support her [the Queen’s] undoubted hereditary right to that Church she is so zealous in inclination for.’ In the circumstances it is certainly feasible that Guise chose to exploit his connexion with the Duke of Somerset, currently a close ally of Harley, to the advantage of the Gloucestershire Whigs. Guise certainly had cause to resort to whatever expedients he could, since, as his memoirs relate, ‘when I stood . . . upon that interest [the Whig interest], I always found more difficulty in managing my friends than my opposers, which made me very doubtful as to the success of the election at this time, and what pains I took in it was to secure Col[onel] Moreton rather than myself’. Beaufort was appalled at Harley’s seeming procrastination, and more so at the news he received from the Duke of Shrewsbury a few days before polling began that

her Majesty is so far engaged and that the county of Gloucester is like to be so unfortunate to have a person govern them whose expression in a public assembly was that he should have representatives chose for that county as would nick the addressers. How, my lord, how unfortunate will it be to the gentlemen of the county who are, I may venture to say, three to one of the opinion of those that signed the address to find that they are to be punished for leading the way to the rest of the kingdom of assuring her Majesty that they would stand by her hereditary right and support her in maintaining those parts of her prerogative that her then ministers would have wrested from her into their own hands.

The Tories did remarkably well considering the adverse pressures upon them during the last weeks of the campaign. Berkeley achieved first place in a very close poll. Howe’s defeat had been widely predicted, though he, along with Guise, fell behind Moreton by only a small margin. One news writer reported that Howe managed to poll ‘more than ever his ancestors did, occasioned by their splitting of freeholds’. A Whig commentator concluded that Guise had been ‘thrown out . . . chiefly by the interest of the clergy, who were extremely provoked by him having said that the Church might as well be governed by presbyters as bishops’. Moreton was also supposed to have ‘said things much worse in another kind, but not so generally known, else he had gone the same way, and may yet perhaps by appeal, for he carried it by the foul practice of splitting freeholds’. Despite these electoral crimes, Moreton was not petitioned against. While the Tories had cause to be satisfied if not jubilant, they could hardly have been elated a month later when the much rumoured appointment of the staunchly Whig Lord Berkeley as lord lieutenant was finally made official.17

Berkeley’s enjoyment of the lord lieutenancy proved brief, however, for in March 1712 he was replaced by Beaufort. This belated appointment appears to have had less to do with a need to bolster Toryism in Gloucestershire than the ministry’s want of sufficient support in the Upper House. The Duke had made it clear to John Manley* the previous November that he had no intention of coming up to London for the foreseeable future: ‘if the ministers think they shall want friends in the House of Lords, I will not be wanting in my good advice; therefore will recommend them to the lord lieutenant of this county . . . and since he continues their favourite in this country, I am sure they don’t want me’. But having now acquired the government’s recognition of his suzerainty over the Gloucestershire Tories, Beaufort threw himself wholeheartedly into the 1713 election. The Tories put up John Symes Berkeley with a newcomer, Viscount Tracy [I], who had recently married into a Gloucestershire family, while the Whig candidates were Moreton and Thomas Stephens II, son of the 1695 Member. Before the decision was taken to select Stephens, Moreton issued an invitation to Cocks to stand with him, but this was declined. The Whig campaign was enthusiastically supported by the clothiers, chiefly, it seems, on account of their opposition to the ministry’s recent commercial treaty with France against which they had petitioned Parliament in June, and on the eve of the poll they were seen to represent a serious threat to Tory hopes of winning both seats. The results replicated the pattern of 1710. All four candidates achieved totals within a margin of 100 votes. Berkeley again took first place and the Whig Stephens came second. The moderate Whigs, and indeed some Tories, were said to be ‘much pleased’ at Stephens’ election, ‘the Dissenters and the violent Whigs’ disappointed at having lost a spokesman in Moreton. It was Moreton’s defeat which was the most surprising outcome of the election. Thomas Onslow*, an unsuccessful Whig contestant in previous elections at Cirencester, told him, ‘I think it was the least doubted of any election known to be controverted’. A group of Whig gentlemen took the somewhat unusual step of writing to him expressing sorrow that ‘by the partiality of the sheriff you were denied polling your men . . . by which means we are deprived of our liberties and properties’, and encouraging him to accept a borough vacancy if offered. However, despite the hint of electoral injustice, Moreton chose not to petition. The Hanoverian succession sent the Whigs scurrying to settle candidates for the inevitable election. Since Stephens was initially undecided, several gentlemen took the initiative of approaching Cocks, who was more than willing ‘to appear once more in public in order to take leave of my old friends, and to put a helping hand to part with some enemies to my country’. But his presumption offended many Whigs, and there was the suspicion that his somewhat idiosyncratic Whiggery would disable him from acting ‘against principle through private pique’. By October 1714, with the Tories ‘zealous to a high degree in the prosecution of their interest’, the Whig nomination had again been settled upon Stephens and Moreton, a partnership which had already demonstrated its capacity to appeal to the widest cross-section of Whig opinion. The re-appointment of Lord Berkeley as lord lieutenant the same month also helped point the way to a Whig victory in 1715.18

Author: Andrew A. Hanham


  • 1. HMC Portland, iv. 14.
  • 2. Bean’s notebk.
  • 3. Post Man, 8–11 Aug. 1702.
  • 4. Flying Post, 19–21 May 1705.
  • 5. Post Man, 15–18 May 1708.
  • 6. Bean’s notebk.
  • 7. Glos. RO, Lloyd-Baker mss GD3549/73/2/295, Chancellor Lloyd to Bp. Lloyd, 26 Sept. 1713.
  • 8. Bath mss at Longleat House, Thynne pprs. 13, f. 249; Add. 28893, ff. 398–9.
  • 9. Thynne pprs. 13, ff. 242, 244, 246, 249, 254, 256, 257, 259, 261, 263, 265; 24, ff. 146, 178, 181, 182, 184–5.
  • 10. Guise Mems. (Cam. Soc. ser. 3, xxviii), 137–40, 143.
  • 11. CSP Dom. 1698, pp. 343, 377; Guise Mems. 143–4; J. Oldmixon, Hist. Addresses (1709), 197; Cocks Diary, 16–17.
  • 12. HMC Portland, iii. 629–30, 634–5; iv. 14; Add. 70019, f. 271; Beaufort mss at Badminton House, Coventry pprs., ‘Mr Hancock’ to Beaufort, 1 Jan. 1700[–1]; Guise Mems. 143.
  • 13. Add. 17677 WW, f. 254; Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 158; HMC Portland, iv. 27; Add. 70149, Lady Anne Pye to Abigail Harley, 29 Nov. 1701; Hants RO, Jervoise mss 44M69/08, Edward Chute to Thomas Jervoise*, 6, 9 Dec. 1701; C. Davenant, Tom Double Returned Out of the Country (1702), 13.
  • 14. Add. 70254, Robert Price* to Harley, 30 Mar. 1702; 29588, ff. 26, 33, 68, 74, 76, 81, 89, 140; 29579, f. 400; 17677 XX, ff. 282, 288, 293; 7078, f. 181; Burnet, v. 47–48; Strathmore mss at Glamis Castle, box 70, folder 1, bdle 3, newsletter 9 Apr. 1702; bdle 1, newsletter 22 Aug. 1702; London Gazette 9–13, 27–30 Apr. 1702; Surr. RO (Kingston), Somers mss 371/14/D8, Thomas Stephens to Bp. Fowler, 18 Apr. 1702; Guise Mems. 144–5; Liverpool RO, Norris mss 920 NOR 1/194, Thomas Johnson* to Richard Norris*, 19 Nov. 1702.
  • 15. Hervey Letter Bks. i. 199; Guise Mems. 145–6.
  • 16. Bodl. Ballard 31, f. 50; BL, Lothian mss, John Fisher to Thomas Coke*, 20 Nov. 1707; Add. 70259, Stephens to Harley, 13 Dec. 1707.
  • 17. Boyer, Anne Annals, ix. 159; Strathmore mss, box 75, bdle 6, newsletter 30 Mar. 1710; NLW, Ottley mss 2548, Edward Kingdom to Adam Ottley, 30 Mar. 1710; 2551, Charles Baldwyn to same, 12 Apr. 1710; Oldmixon, Hist. Addresses, ii. (1711), 19–21, 27–28; Ballard 31, f. 84; Add. 17677 DDD, ff. 452, 454; 70421, newsletters 1, 18 July, 10 Aug., 31 Oct. 1710; Huntington Lib. Stowe mss 58(6), pp. 151, 238–9; 58(7), p. 4; HMC Portland, iv. 611, vii. 17; Beaufort mss, Beaufort to Harley, 27 Sept. 1710; letterbk. 1, Beaufort to Glos. electors [1710], Beaufort to Shrewsbury, 10, 19 Oct. 1710; Christ Church, Oxf. Wake mss 23/209, Maurice Wheeler to Bp. Wake, 30 Oct. 1710.
  • 18. Beaufort mss, Beaufort to Manley, 7 Nov. 1711; Add. 70257, Beaufort to Oxford, 18 Sept. 1713; Ballard 31, ff. 118–19; Glos. RO, Ducie mss D340a/C22/1, Glos. gentlemen to Moreton, 12 Oct. 1713; 3, Onslow to same, 14 Oct. 1713; 10, Cocks to same, 17 Aug. 1714; 12, Richard Mariett to same, 4 Oct. 1714.