Available from Boydell and Brewer
Right of Election:
in the freemen
Number of Qualified Electors:
Number of voters:
at least 242 in 1708
|25 Feb. 1690||SIR WILLIAM STRICKLAND, Bt.|
|25 Oct. 1695||SIR WILLIAM STRICKLAND, Bt.|
|28 July 1698||WILLIAM PALMES|
|THOMAS WORSLEY I|
|9 Jan. 1701||SIR WILLIAM STRICKLAND, Bt.|
|25 Nov. 1701||SIR WILLIAM STRICKLAND, Bt.|
|24 July 1702||SIR WILLIAM STRICKLAND, Bt.|
|16 May 1705||SIR WILLIAM STRICKLAND, Bt.|
|11 May 1708||WILLIAM PALMES||142|
|THOMAS WORSLEY II||119|
|Double return. PALMES and STRICKLAND declared elected, 14 Dec. 1708|
|20 Nov. 1709||STRICKLAND re-elected after appointment to office|
|9 Oct. 1710||WILLIAM PALMES|
|Thomas Worsley II|
|3 Sept. 1713||HON. THOMAS WATSON WENTWORTH|
Malton was a ‘small market town’ which had no corporation, and was governed instead ‘by a bailiff who, with the burgesses of the borough, elect the Members of Parliament’. When Celia Fiennes visited it in 1697, she described it as
A pretty large town built of stone, but poor. There is a large market place and several great houses of gentlemen round the town. There was one Mr Palmes [William] that married a relation of mine, Lord Eure’s coheiress, who is landlady of almost all the town . . . There is the ruins of a very great house which belonged to the family, but they not agreeing about it caused the defacing of it. She now makes use of the rooms off the out buildings and gate-house for weaving and lining cloth, having set up a manufactory for linen which does employ many poor people.2
The dominant interest in the borough belonged to William Palmes, lord of the manor through his wife. In 1690 and 1695 Palmes and his son-in-law, Sir William Strickland, 3rd Bt., were returned unopposed. At the 1698 election Strickland stood down, possibly for health reasons, and Palmes was returned with Thomas Worsley I, who had represented Malton under James II and whose Hovingham estates lay near the borough. At the next four elections Strickland and Palmes were returned. In 1708, however, Thomas Worsley II, son of the MP in 1698, stood jointly with Thomas Harrison, another Yorkshireman, against Palmes and William Strickland, Sir William’s son. There was a double return, so that all four candidates petitioned. Worsley and Harrison alleged that they had been duly elected and returned by the proper officer, William Barton, bailiff of the borough, to whom the precept was directed. Palmes and Strickland, however, had supposedly persuaded Nathaniel Harrison to act as borough bailiff, ‘who, without any precept, proceeded to a separate poll, and polled many illegal voters, and procured them to sign the indenture, and prevailed with the sheriff to annex the same to his return’. Palmes and Strickland, on the other hand, claimed that Nathaniel Harrison was the proper bailiff, but that the machinations of William Barton, ‘a busy attorney’ in the town, helped by Daniel Copley, seal-keeper to the high sheriff, had secured custody of the precept, to which an indenture returning Worsley and Harrison was appended. The case was heard at the bar and Palmes and Strickland were declared elected.3
By the time of the by-election of 1709, necessitated by Strickland’s appointment to office, Palmes was deeply in debt as a result of frauds in the Exchequer, and his having to pay the resulting debt to the crown. This prompted Thomas Worsley II to see if he could make an agreement with Palmes to replace Strickland. Worsley’s father requested the advice of Sir Thomas Frankland, 3rd Bt.* (whose daughter was about to marry Worsley). Frankland pointed out in his reply that the greatest difficulty in contesting the Malton election lay in the financial circumstances of the lords of the manor:
As to what you mention of that estate [Palmes’] falling into other hands, it is unavoidable, for I believe the whole family is reduced to the last distress, and if Mrs Palmes’ caprice does not make her refuse her consent the estates must be sold, so that I do not see they can make any agreement to be depended upon.
In the end Worsley did not stand, and Strickland was returned unopposed. However, Worsley did contest the 1710 election, losing out once more to Palmes and Strickland. John Aislabie* wrote to Robert Harley* that ‘there is a petition against Palmes and Strickland at Malton, a very just one if it is proper to prosecute it, one of the petitioners is son-in-law to Sir Thomas Frankland and it will be referred to him whether to prosecute it or no’. Frankland believed that due to the ‘complexion of the House’, Strickland and Palmes ‘cannot hope for much favour’, though he also felt that Worsley should not ‘bring in a cause wherein we must expect partiality in order to succeed’. Two petitions were presented, one from Worsley and the other from ‘the out-freeholders and borough men’ of Malton, saying that William Barton was the proper bailiff, but that Nathaniel Harrison had assumed that office and behaved with great partiality towards Palmes and Strickland, refusing legal votes on Worsley’s behalf. However, the petitions were never heard. Before the 1713 election the electoral interest in the borough was altered by the sale of the manor of Malton to Hon. Thomas Watson Wentworth, son of Lord Rockingham (Edward Watson†). At the ensuing election Wentworth was returned unopposed with Strickland, while in 1715 Strickland lost his seat when Wentworth stood jointly with his son, Thomas. Thereafter the borough elections were dominated by Wentworth nominees.4
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Ivar McGrath
- 1. Post Man, 18–20 May 1708.
- 2. J. Taylor, A Journey to Edinburgh, 67; Bodl. Willis 15, f. 125; Journeys of Celia Fiennes ed. Morris, 93.
- 3. Post Man, 18–20 May 1708.
- 4. Quinn thesis, 109–10; N. Yorks. RO, Worsley mss ZON 13/1/303, 311, Frankland to Thomas Worsley I, 11 Aug. 1709, 19 Oct. 1710; HMC Portland, iv. 617.