St. Ives


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 1690-98; in the corporation 1698-1702; in inhabitants paying scot and lot 1702-15

Number of Qualified Electors:

over 220 in 1690-8 and 1702-15; 16 in 1698-1702

Number of voters:

at least 195 in 1705


10 Mar. 1690James Praed 
 William Harris 
 John Hawles 
29 Oct. 1695James Praed 
 John Michell 
2 Aug. 1698Sir Charles Wyndham 
 James Praed 
 Sir Henry Hobart, Bt. 
16 Jan. 1701James Praed 
 Benjamin Overton 
 John Pitt 
4 Dec. 1701Sir John Hawles 
 James Praed 
 John Pitt 
27 July 1702James Praed 
 Richard Chaundler 
 John Pitt 
 Pitt vice Chaundler, on petition, 8 Dec. 1702 
21 May 1705Sir Bartholomew Gracedieu157
 John Borlase122
 James Praed97
 John South131
17 May 1708John Praed 
 John Borlase 
 John Hopkins 
 John South 
21 Oct. 1710John Hopkins 
 John Praed 
 John Borlase 
8 Sept. 1713Sir William Pendarves 
 John Hopkins 
 Jonathan Elford 
 Lord Harry Powlett 

Main Article

At the beginning of the period the principal interests at St. Ives were those of the Praeds of Trevethoe, a local family who held two of the lesser manors and who assiduously treated the voters, and Sir John Maynard*, who had taken over the Nosworthy interest in the impropriation of the local church and with it the great tithes on pilchards and herrings, which could be manipulated for political purposes. The Powletts, dukes of Bolton, were lords of the principal manor of Ludgvan Lese and as such received an annual rent from the corporation. The recorder under the recent charter of James ii was the 1st Earl of Bath, a Tory.2

In 1690 Praed was returned with William Harris, who had an estate at Kenegie and who had married into the local family of St. Aubyn of Clowance. Presumably he was also favoured by the ailing Maynard. The defeated candidate, John Hawles, was presumably backed by the 1st Duke of Bolton (Charles Powlett†). On 1 Apr. 1690 Hawles petitioned, claiming that the right of election lay with the corporation, but that the mayor had returned his opponents on a wider inhabitant franchise. Furthermore, he maintained that if the franchise was wider than the corporation, he had a majority of those electors paying scot and lot. After renewing his petition on 11 Oct. 1690 and 31 Oct. 1691, Hawles withdrew it on 1 Jan. 1692. Meanwhile Maynard’s death in October 1690 saw his interest in St. Ives pass to his widow, who in November 1691 married the 5th Earl of Suffolk (d. 1709). Nothing is known about the election of 1695 other than that Praed was returned unopposed with John Michell I, a Whig from Dorset, who may have been nominated by either Suffolk or Bolton, or indeed both.

By 1698 it seems clear that the Duke of Bolton had recovered his interest and ensured control of the returning officer so that the election could be held on the corporation franchise. In May Benjamin Overton wrote to Lord Winchester (Charles Powlett I*) concerning a promise made by Bolton six months previously to bring him in for St. Ives. However, despite Overton’s plea to be remembered and his own claims, as a customs commissioner, to an interest through the customs house, he was passed over in favour of Sir Charles Wyndham, of whom it was later said ‘lord duke has had him chosen at St. Ives’. Praed took the other seat. However, the inhabitant franchise was championed by Sir Henry Hobart, 4th Bt.*, who, as he had married Maynard’s granddaughter and coheiress, had some claim to his interest. Unfortunately, Hobart was unable to test his right before the Commons, being killed in a duel shortly after the election. Nevertheless, on 14 Dec. 1698 a petition from several inhabitants was presented alleging that

the right of election of Members to serve in Parliament for the said borough is in the inhabitants not receiving alms; and the petitioners as such demanded to be polled, at the last election for Sir Henry Hobart, but the mayor, in an arbitrary manner, refused to let them be polled, declaring that by the late King James’s charter, the right of election was in the mayor, capital burgesses, and assistants only, and that he would suffer no other to be polled.

This petition was renewed on 16 Nov. 1699, but on the 29th the House was informed that it differed from the one presented in the previous session. On 14 Dec. the House agreed with a resolution from the committee of elections that it was ‘not the same in substance’ and no further proceedings were taken.3

Bolton’s death in February 1699 saw Lord Winchester elevated in his place. The new duke was able to strengthen his interest in the borough when he was elected to replace the Earl of Bath as recorder in July 1700. Early in January 1701 one of Robert Harley’s* correspondents correctly predicted Overton’s election at St. Ives, where he was joined by Praed. On 14 Feb. 1701, the defeated candidate, John Pitt, petitioned, claiming that the mayor had refused to hold the election according to the inhabitant franchise, restricting it to the corporation. A motion to hear the case at the bar was negated and Parliament was dissolved before any determination could be reached. Pitt’s championship of the wider franchise suggests that he had taken over Hobart’s interest, especially as he had married Lady Diana Howard, daughter of the Earl of Suffolk by his first marriage (Mary Maynard being her stepmother). In December 1701 Hawles appears to have replaced Overton as Bolton’s candidate and he was returned with Praed. John Ellis* informed George Stepney on 12 Dec. that the Gazette had wrongly reported that a Mr Basset had been returned for St. Ives. This may have been Francis Basset*, whose aunt later married Praed (1706). The only other candidate known to have stood was Pitt, who petitioned on 3 Jan. 1702, referring back to the previous determinations of the Commons in 1660 and 1661 which had favoured the wider franchise. Again there was not time to report on the petition before the dissolution following the death of William III.4

In the 1702 election Richard Chaundler was returned on the interest of the Duke of Bolton together with Praed. John Pitt, the defeated candidate, ‘recommended by Busvargus’s master [presumably Suffolk]’, petitioned on 24 Oct. 1702, stating that 170 of the inhabitants had offered to vote for him, but that John Hicks*, ‘made mayor by the Duke of Bolton’s order’, had ignored the rulings of 1660 and 1661 and admitted only the corporation vote. The committee reported on 8 Dec. that, having examined old indentures and witnesses, they resolved that the franchise did not lie in the inhabitants not receiving alms and that Chaundler was duly elected. The House amended the resolution on the franchise so that it lay in those inhabitants paying scot and lot and, having undermined the case of the sitting Member, negated the resolution that Chaundler was elected in favour of returning Pitt. Mayor Hicks was then ordered into custody as ‘guilty of making a false return’.

With the franchise now settled, St. Ives experienced its first four-way contest in 1705. Nothing is known about the election other than the polling figures which gave the London merchant, Sir Bartholomew Gracedieu and John Borlase a clear majority over the Tacker, Praed, in third place. John South, an Irish MP and revenue commissioner, trailed in last with a derisory vote. Gracedieu had no local ties and was probably the nominee of Suffolk while Borlase had local estates. South may well have been Bolton’s candidate. On 12 May 1708 it was reported that ‘the election for St. Ives will be on Monday next where Mr Borlase and Mr [John] Praed, one recommended from the Duke of Bolton and another from the Earl of Suffolk, and people are of a various judgment as it always happens where there is they say above 220 electors’. As Hopkins was acknowledged in 1710 to be the candidate of Stamford and Sir John Hobart, 5th Bt.†, it seems likely that he had Suffolk’s interest in 1708, and that South was again Bolton’s nominee. According to an inhabitants’ petition presented on 25 Nov., Praed, ‘by corrupt and illegal practices’ procured 30 votes and ‘thereby gained a majority upon the poll’. However, neither Hopkins nor South petitioned and the inhabitants withdrew their petition on 23 Dec. 1709, coincidentally only a fortnight after Suffolk’s death.5

At the general election of 1710 Hopkins was returned with Praed, defeating Borlase, whose petition alleging the partiality of the mayor for Hopkins was referred on 5 Dec. to the committee of elections together with a supporting petition from ‘several inhabitants’ claiming that they had been denied their right to vote. In 1712 John Trevanion*, in his analysis of Cornish interests, believed that one seat belonged to ‘the tithes’ (the old Maynard interest increasingly controlled by Hobart) and the other to Praed. In August 1713, Hobart, now aged 19 and travelling in France, wished to recommend his companion Walter Plumer†. Plumer was quite clear about the basis of Hobart’s interest: ‘an estate near St. Ives . . . by virtue of which one Member is always chose . . . My Lord Stamford, his uncle [in 1691 he had married Maynard’s other granddaughter and coheiress], has hitherto always wrote to Sir John and recommended to him a person which Sir John has approved’. However, Hobart was unhappy with Hopkins’ voting record and sought to drop him. Stamford was able to dissuade the young man by suggesting that ‘if he should set up a new man so late, it might hazard losing the election’. Thus Hopkins was returned with Sir William Pendarves, a local Tory who had donated communion plate to St. Ives. A petition of Jonathan Elford*, alleging corruption on the part of Hopkins, and a petition of Lord Harry Powlett†, son of the 2nd Duke of Bolton, alleging bribery on the part of Pendarves, supported by an inhabitants’ petition, all presented on 5 Mar. 1714, produced no result before the dissolution. In 1715 Powlett and Hobart defeated Pendarves ‘and a friend’ by a majority of almost two votes to one.6

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley


  • 1. Daily Courant, 26 May 1705.
  • 2. J. H. Matthews, St. Ives, 42, 45, 289, 291, 338.
  • 3. Bolton mss at Bolton Hall, D16, Overton to Winchester, 3 May 1698, D20, Ld. William Powlett to same, 11 Sept. 1698.
  • 4. Matthews, 293–4; HMC Portland, iv. 10–11; Add. 7078, f. 60.
  • 5. Add. 28051, f. 236.
  • 6. Add. 70314–15, Trevanion’s list; 33573, f. 272; Polsue, Complete Paroch. Hist. Cornw. ii. 254; NLW Brogyntyn mss 1499, Pendarves to [Mrs Godolphin], 1 Feb. 1715 (Holmes trans.).