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

Right of Election:

in the inhabitants not receiving alms

Number of Qualified Electors:

110 in 17021

Number of voters:

107 in 1704; 115 in 17052


22 Feb. 1690ROBERT HYDE  
20 Apr. 1691JOHN BERKELEY, Visct. Fitzhardinge [I] vice Chafin, deceased  
26 Oct. 1695ROBERT HYDE  
22 Dec. 1697HENRY LEE vice Morley, deceased  
 Reynolds Calthorpe I  
25 July 1698SIR JAMES HOWE, Bt.  
 Robert Hyde  
 George Morley  
6 Jan. 1701SIR JAMES HOWE, Bt.  
 George Morley62 
 MORLEY vice Calthorpe, on petition, 13 May 1701  
24 Nov. 1701GEORGE MORLEY  
18 July 1702SIR JAMES HOWE, Bt.81 
 Henry Killigrew60553
 Thomas Jervoise20 
 Robert Hyde2 
 Morley’s election declared void, 27 Nov. 1702  
 George Morley494 
11 May 1705GEORGE MORLEY72 
 Sir James Howe, Bt.56 
 Charles Wither325 
7 May 1708SIR JAMES HOWE, Bt.  
 Reynolds Calthorpe I  
 CALTHORPE vice Howe, on petition, 12 Feb. 1709  
7 Oct. 1710EDMUND LAMBERT80 
  Double return of Calthorpe and Morley, MORLEY declared elected, 2 Dec. 1710  
15 May 1711HENRY LEE WARNER vice Morley, deceased  
 Richard Jones  
 Edmund Lambert  

Main Article

Hindon shared with Stockbridge the undesirable distinction of having been the subject of an attempt at disfranchisement, provoked by the flagrant bribery practised at the elections of January 1701 and 1702. The comparatively lowly social status of many of the electors was tendered by contemporaries as an explanation for their susceptibility. The village itself was a sorry sight, ‘a single street of thatched houses, whose only amenities were the elm trees growing in the street, serving in wet weather in lieu of a market house’, and the vote rested, in the words of a Commons’ decision of 1660, with the ‘burgesses’ or ‘freemen in general’, which in practice meant the inhabitants. The venality of this electorate was not especially obvious at the beginning of the period. Robert Hyde, one of the outgoing Members in 1690, was re-elected unopposed, and with him a fellow Tory, Thomas Chafin I. The Whig Sir Matthew Andrews*, who leased the manor of Hindon from the bishop of Winchester and thus enjoyed a considerable interest, did not put up a candidate at this election, but on grounds of party affiliation alone it is likely that Chafin’s successor at a by-election in 1691, Lord Fitzhardinge, was Andrews’ nominee. Fitzhardinge, like Andrews himself, was a Court Whig. In 1695 Hyde was once more accompanied by a Tory, Charles Morley. As chancellor of the diocese of Winchester, Morley may have been able to avail himself of Andrews’ assistance; more important, he also had a proprietary interest of his own through his lease of a neighbouring manor in East Knoyle. The by-election caused by his death in 1697 brought a contest, and a whiff of corruption. The candidates were the Whig Reynolds Calthorpe I, standing for a borough his late father-in-law had once represented, and the Tory Sir James Howe, 2nd Bt., whose seat at Berwick St. Leonard was only a mile away. But Howe, after ‘pretending’ to stand himself, and spending ‘a great deal of money in treats’, as Calthorpe subsequently alleged, withdrew at the last minute and ‘set up’ his brother-in-law, the Kentish Tory Henry Lee, instead. Calthorpe submitted a petition against Lee only to let it drop, and in the general election of 1698 he may have forged a temporary alliance with Howe to defeat Hyde and Morley’s Tory brother George. Hyde and George Morley petitioned against both Howe and Calthorpe, on the grounds of ‘indirect and unlawful practices’. However, the petition mentioned other, unidentified candidates, so it is possible that Calthorpe had had another partner. Whatever arrangement might have existed between Calthorpe and Howe, it had certainly been broken by January 1701, when Calthorpe put up on his own against Howe and George Morley (Hyde having been diverted elsewhere). Both a supporting petition from several of Morley’s agents, and his own petition dwelt on the bailiff’s ‘arbitrary’ behaviour in turning away qualified votes for Morley and in refusing a request for a scrutiny. At the hearing, however, these charges were left very much in the background. To begin with Morley based his case on a reinterpretation of the franchise, which he claimed was restricted to scot-and-lot payers. He had not taken this stance at the poll itself, though there is a suggestion that it might have been considered. In spite of the patent weakness of his evidence, his own witnesses admitting that no such qualification had been insisted on within living memory, the committee agreed with him. This was too much for the House to accept, and the resolution endorsing the scot-and-lot vote was rejected and the petition recommitted. An instruction that the committee determine the right of election was reversed the next day with the order that the franchise was not to be considered, the House having already determined it. The committee reported on 13 May. Morley kept to the same tack, now seeking to re-interpret ‘burgesses’ as ‘burgators’ or burgage holders, and producing an indenture from Charles II’s reign on which the word ‘burgators’ appeared. Again the testimony of the ‘votesmen’ on both sides confirmed that the undisputed practice in the borough had been to poll the inhabitants, and this time the committee accepted it. After an inconclusive re-examination of the polling lists on the basis of the inhabitant franchise, Morley turned to what was to prove the most powerful element in his case: his detailed evidence of bribery against Calthorpe’s agents in over 20 instances. Each of these electors had received £1 for his vote, with the exception of one witness, who had been paid another £5 beforehand and was to have a retainer of £2 a year afterwards, so long as he continued in Calthorpe’s interest. All in all, Calthorpe’s principal agent, a Mr Burlington, had spent some £70 in the borough. The defence to these charges was feeble. Counter-accusations against Morley, more of treating than outright bribery, failed to strike home, and the suggestion that payments on Calthorpe’s behalf constituted simply an extension of his previous and continuing acts of ‘charity’ in the village, were swept aside. Most damaging was the admission, in a ham-fisted attempt to acquit the Member of any personal responsibility, that Calthorpe, had been informed of this expenditure before the poll, and had rebuked Burlington for what he had done. Even a fellow Whig like Sir Richard Cocks, 2nd Bt.*, was outraged at this barefaced ‘corruption’: ‘the bribery’, he recorded in his diary, ‘was proved at the committee and owned by Mr Calthorpe. I moved to have the agent voted guilty of endeavouring by distributing money to have Mr Calthorpe to be returned, but the House would not hear of it.’ Calthorpe was ‘put out without a division’.6

In November 1701 Howe did not stand, and Morley and Calthorpe were chosen without a contest, but at the 1702 election, party conflict and wholesale bribery reappeared. The main candidates were two Tories, Howe and Morley, and two Whigs, Thomas Jervoise, who had recently purchased Andrews’ lease of the manor, and his brother-in-law Admiral Henry Killigrew*. Hyde also received two votes, but he concentrated his efforts on the county, for which he was successful. Jervoise had the benefit of Calthorpe’s support as well as his own interest, but a preliminary calculation by his supporters showed him trailing a long way behind the other three, who were neck and neck. This forecast was largely borne out by the election result, the only major change being that Howe had achieved a clear first place for himself. It took a scrutiny to separate Morley and Killigrew, and, as on this occasion the bailiff’s sympathies were with the Tories, it was Morley who was returned. Jervoise’s rivalry with Morley was such that, although he and Killigrew had been returned elsewhere, he immediately set about marshalling evidence for a petition. A list of the burgage holders drawn up for him (showing that he was himself the ‘proprietor in fee simple’ of 27 of the 51 burgages) may imply that he was thinking of adopting Morley’s unsuccessful tactic from the previous year, but if so he did not persist with it. He and his agents were also interested in proving the partiality of the bailiff, but the main thrust of their complaints came from the testimony they were able to collect of bribery by Morley himself and others of his party. In total Morley had expended about £100 in buying votes, at between £1 and 30s. apiece, though two men said they had been offered only ‘half a crown a day for leaving their mowing to come to the election’. A few witnesses implicated Howe as well, but although Jervoise drafted a petition against Howe, he decided to concentrate his fire on Morley instead. Disregarding the efforts of local Tories such as Hyde and Edmund Lambert to keep the matter from reaching Parliament, Jervoise proceeded by the unusual method of presenting to the House an information of bribery against Morley and seven of his ‘agents’ (including the bailiff) and three days later it was ordered that the charge would be heard at the bar. This did not prevent Morley from countering with accusations of his own against the Whigs, who had almost certainly been guilty of the same vice themselves, one of Jervoise’s men having reassured him before the poll that ‘your election will be easily secured when an opportunity serves privately to give them [the voters] a light of some things (I presume you know my meaning) . . .’. On 27 Nov. the charge, together with a petition against Morley’s election from some self-styled ‘unbribed burgesses’, was heard at the bar. Jervoise’s witnesses convinced the House, and Morley was unseated. In the opinion of Bishop Burnet, Morley would have suffered the further indignity of having his offence named in a vote, as ‘the proof was so full and clear’, had not the Tories taken pity on one ‘of their own party’. But there were other repercussions. The borough had already gained notoriety after the 1701 case: early in 1702, in a debate on the Malmesbury election, one of the petitioners there had denied that a sum of £300 offered in his name had been a bribe, since, as he said, ‘he might have been chose[n] at Hindon for £40’. A second scandal so soon after the first roused the Commons to action. It was unfortunate in these circumstances that Jervoise seems to have introduced his evidence by recalling to MPs previous resolutions to punish electoral bribery and ‘corrupt practices’: ‘if once bribery is a means to get into this House’, ran a draft of a speech which survives in his private papers, ‘what can we expect but an utter subversion of our liberties?’ The upshot was an order for a bill to disfranchise Hindon, with the original intention of adding its Members to the county representation, but this was later modified in the light of a petition from some of the inhabitants which blamed the ‘corruption’ of the poorer voters for ‘the disgrace’ the entire electorate ‘now labour under’. The bill as passed by the Commons merely ‘regulated’ the franchise qualification, excluding those within the parish who did not contribute to scot and lot, and bringing in as well all the £5 freeholders from the surrounding hundred (an adaptation of an idea mooted in an earlier bill in 1701 to stop bribery at elections). It was sent up to the Lords, but was dropped there. No new writ was issued while the bill was pending, and it was not in fact until November 1704 that a by-election was held for Morley’s seat. By that time Jervoise too had been dislodged from Plympton on petition, and he and Morley contested the vacancy. The bailiff, who was apparently of a Tory persuasion, favoured Morley, but could not prevent Jervoise’s election. The majority of the corporation, according to one contemporary, chose Jervoise out of fear ‘that he would create them new troubles’ if rejected and cause a further scrutiny of their electoral practices. For once there was no petition.7

Jervoise was more interested in standing for his county than for Hindon at the next general election, in 1705, and in his place probably recommended the young Charles Wither*, along with Reynolds Calthorpe. Morley also stood, as did Sir James Howe, 2nd Bt. While Calthorpe was chosen comfortably, Wither finished at the bottom of the poll. After this experience Jervoise left Hindon alone, and may well have sold his lease of the manor to Calthorpe, who in 1708 stood singly against two Tories, Howe and Lambert, and managed to get himself seated on petition, having raised the old cry of ‘bribery and . . . corrupt practices’. It was a similar story two years later: Calthorpe against Lambert and George Morley. Lambert was safe, and the struggle between Calthorpe and Morley was taken as far as the Commons, with a double return. On 2 Dec. 1710 Calthorpe and Morley were given leave to withdraw their petitions as, faced by a Tory majority in the House, Calthorpe ‘waived his election’. He did not stand in the by-election in 1711, when Henry Lee Warner, son of Henry Lee, was brought in, presumably by Howe. In 1713 Calthorpe put up his son, Reynolds Calthorpe II, and attracted a wealthy ‘stranger’, the Turkey merchant Richard Lockwood, as a partner for him. The borough had sent up a staunchly Tory address in 1712 in response to the communication of the peace terms, but the Calthorpes and Lockwood evidently believed that the peace itself and the French commercial treaty were vote-winning issues. The Flying Post reported from Hindon that

the Whigs, to show how justly they resented the 8th and 9th articles, as destructive to the woollen manufactures, in which this borough, and county, is so much concerned, advanced fleeces of wool on several standards. The Tories, to show their aversion to so beneficial a commodity, caused them to be pulled down and conveyed away; but the Whigs peacefully proceeded to vote, and chose Mr Calthorpe and Mr Lockwood.

Jervoise was given a more materialist explanation for the Whig success, namely that Lambert had ‘refused to be at an expense’. The other defeated Tory, Richard Jones, had been safely returned for Salisbury, leaving Lambert to petition against Calthorpe and Lockwood. Inevitably, accusations of bribery were to the fore. With Calthorpe’s unexpected death during the session the petition lapsed, and no new writ was issued before the dissolution.8

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Hants RO, Jervoise mss, ‘. . . a true list of the votesmen living in the borough of Hindon’ [1702].
  • 2. ‘Hindon poll’ [1705].
  • 3. Jervoise mss, poll [1702].
  • 4. Jervoise mss, poll [1704].
  • 5. Jervoise mss, ‘Hindon poll’ [1705].
  • 6. G. Holmes, Pol., Relig. and Soc. 6; VCH Wilts. xi. 86–87; xiii. 327, 334–5, 470, 506; Bodl. Willis 15, f. 62; Cocks Diary, 123.
  • 7. VCH Wilts. xi. 99; Jervoise mss, ‘. . . a true list of the names of the votesmen . . .’ [1702], poll, [1702], list of burgages, 10 Aug. 1702, George Stevens to Jervoise, 12 June, 3, 24 Aug., 7 Sept. 1702, Peter Terry to same, 9 Nov. 1702, Edward Slade to same, 1, 8, 15 Aug. 1702, ‘August 1702, strong evidence about Hindon’, draft of a speech, [c.Nov. 1702], poll [1704]; NLW, Penrice and Margam mss L455, Erasmus Lewis to Thomas Mansell I*, 27 Oct. 1702; Add. 27440, f. 143; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 241, 259; Burnet, v. 46; Cocks Diary, 193, 195; HMC Lords, n.s. v. 202–3; Speck thesis, 300; London Gazette, 16–20 Nov. 1704.
  • 8. London Gazette, 9–12 Aug. 1712; Flying Post, 10–13 Sept. 1713; Jervoise mss, James Harris to Jervoise, 30 Oct. 1713.