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 paying scot and lot

Number of Qualified Electors:

at least 275 in 16951

Number of voters:

at least 250 in 1695


6 Dec. 1694HON. PHILIP BERTIE vice Hyde, deceased 
24 Oct. 1695HON. CHARLES BERTIE202
 Sir Pury Cust124
2 Apr. 1711CHARLES BERTIE vice Bertie, deceased 

Main Article

Politically, Stamford was dominated by two neighbouring Tory families, the Berties of Uffington and the Cecils of Burghley, each of whom usually took one seat. The lord lieutenant of Lincolnshire, the 3rd Earl of Lindsey (Robert Bertie†), described Stamford’s corporation to James II in 1688 as ‘steady in their loyalty’, and indeed some of its members refused to support the Revolution with the result that a serious riot occurred on the day of the coronation, 13 Apr. 1689. Information was sent to the Earl of Stamford that,

the mayor and other disaffected people, seeing their neighbours very merry, sent for the water-engine and for the militia . . . Mr Wick, an alderman, went to remonstrate with them and they knocked him down and the mayor fetched one of the bell ropes from the church and attempted to hang him. The mayor and his brother were heard to bid the militia load with ball for those that were assistant to King William and Queen Mary were rogues and rebels.

The mayor, Thomas Hawkins, and his brother, George, were arrested. After this violent episode, politics in Stamford appears to have assumed a quieter aspect, and there were, at most, two contests during the period.2

In 1690 the 5th Earl of Exeter (John Cecil†), was recorder of the borough. Since none of Exeter’s sons was of age, the family seat went to their friend William Hyde of Langtoft. He was returned with Hon. Charles Bertie I (Lord Lindsey’s younger brother), who continued to represent Stamford in every Parliament until his death in 1711. After the 1690 election Bertie wrote that he had secured the seat ‘though with a pretty smart expense’ and was happy to say he had ‘put by a fanatic, which is the greatest service I can do my country’. A later description of Sir Pury Cust as representing ‘the fanatic party’ suggests that it might have been he who was Bertie’s opponent although this cannot be confirmed, nor is it known whether the contest went to a poll.3

Hyde’s death in 1694 created an opportunity for another member of the Bertie family. On 26 Nov. Hon. Peregrine Bertie I* wrote to his brother, Lindsey:

My nephew Philip [Bertie, one of Lindsey’s younger sons] being resolved to stand at Stamford in the room of Captain Hyde, and it being the advice of myself and all his friends he should try his fortune in it in case my Lord Burghley [John Cecil*] should not stand, I question not but your interest will help him to carry it, for my brother, Charles, though he has not declared yet, will be for him.

A possible opposition candidate appeared in the form of Sir Pury Cust, eldest son of Sir Richard Cust, 1st Bt.†, head of a well-established Stamford family. On 29 Nov., however, Peregrine Bertie wrote to Lindsey that he was

very glad to hear Stamford is so inclined to choose my nephew, Philip. I was afraid that my lord of Exeter would have set up his son [Burghley], but he declines it, and I believe Sir Pury Cust will not be very willing to enter into battle with so great a family, for I told him he must expect, if he stood, to spend £500 or £600 in the election. He would have fain made a bargain with my nephew to spend nothing and then I suppose would have treated them privately at his own house, and I suppose you have interest enough with Sir Richard Cust to make him make his son lay it down, and then my nephew will come in easily.

In the event Cust did not stand, Philip Bertie was returned unopposed, and his election expenses came to the rather lower figure of £251 10s. 4d.4

At the 1695 election Cust forced a poll against the Berties. Afterwards, a tale of Cust’s double dealing was related by one of the local inhabitants, Basil Ferrar. It seems that Cust had written to Hon. Charles Bertie I that he might be chosen whenever he pleased, without opposition. On coming into town to thank Cust, Bertie had ‘found things otherwise than he expected, which you may well think would vex him, for he and his nephew, Mr Philip Bertie, never in the least thought of any opposition’. Moreover, as high sheriff, Cust tried to surprise the Berties by commanding the mayor on a Saturday to proclaim an election for the following Monday. The mayor, however, refused to co-operate despite threats of being reported to the Lord Keeper Somers (Sir John*). The election was proclaimed for Thursday instead and Ferrar wrote, ‘I cannot describe to you with what vigour the business was carried on, on both sides . . . three days we turned the ale down merrily and the fanatic party triumphed much over us, being very confident of carrying the day against us’. To Ferrar’s satisfaction, both Berties were elected, with 25 voters left unpolled. William III’s visit to Burghley shortly afterwards caused more excitement and Ferrar wrote scornfully that ‘our opposites tell us he is to lie at Sir Pury Cust’s . . . and that he is to inspect the poll; you may judge their heads are out of order’. Ferrar was also concerned about the mayor’s possible misbehaviour towards the King, as ‘I am sure he is such a figure of a mayor as the King will not meet with in all his progress’. The defeated Cust alleged in his petition, presented on 4 Dec. 1695 but subsequently withdrawn, that the Berties had procured their return by ‘gifts and other unlawful practices’.5

The Cecils reclaimed their traditional seat in 1698. Exeter’s eldest son, Lord Burghley, who succeeded his father as recorder of Stamford in 1697 (and to the earldom in 1700), was returned for Rutland, and it was his younger brother, Hon. William, who took one Stamford seat while Charles Bertie retained the other. The sitting Members were returned unopposed at the first and second elections of 1701. For the former, Bertie found reason to thank the 2nd Earl of Nottingham (Daniel Finch†), to whom he wrote on 23 July, ‘I no sooner arrived at Uffington, but I found a gracious testimony of your lordship’s kindness got thither before me and which came in the very tempestuity of time to treat my mayor and aldermen of Stamford with’. Local politics were only marginally more eventful. The King’s confirmation of the election of a town clerk was delayed by a dispute between two candidates, which was resolved in July when one of them, John Blackwell, withdrew his objection against the other, Richard Wyche. In 1702 Ferrar was looking forward to the celebrations planned in the town for Anne’s coronation, and there appears to have been no repeat of the disturbances of 1689. Some two years later, in October 1704, the victory at Blenheim occasioned enthusiastic congratulations from Stamford, and Bertie made enquiries about having the address printed in the Gazette, ‘as well as the rest of our neighbours, for we long to see ourselves in print on this glorious occasion’.6

Bertie was returned unopposed at the 1705 election, while Cecil retired in favour of his brother, Hon. Charles. In 1710 the Marquess of Granby (John Manners*), eldest son to the 1st Duke of Rutland (John Manners†), considered standing for Stamford, but gave it up in favour of Leicestershire, leaving Cecil and Bertie to be returned. The same year Stamford sent a suitably Tory address to the Queen, decrying ‘traiterous, schismatical and anti-monarchical principles and immorality, vice and profaneness’. In 1711 Bertie died and was replaced by his son, Charles Bertie III. The town dutifully sent up an address of thanks for the terms of the peace in 1712, and followed this up in 1713 with thanks for the peace itself. The latter address (presented by both MPs) took the opportunity for a side-swipe at the Whigs, ‘who must prefer the cunning of a faction to the quiet and safety of their own country’. It was rumoured in 1713 that Exeter had offered to bring in the Hon. John Noel* for Stamford, an offer which was apparently not taken up, as Cecil and Bertie were again returned, and continued to represent the borough until well into the next reign.7

Authors: Paula Watson / Sonya Wynne


  • 1. Magdalene, Camb. Ferrar mss FP 289, Basil to Thomas Ferrar, 26 Oct. 1695.
  • 2. Stamford ed. A. Rogers, 71–72; Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1882), 146; CSP. Dom. 1689–90, pp. 61, 123–5.
  • 3. Univ. of Illinois, Misc. Engl. Docs. (unfol.) Charles Bertie to Mr Hubbard, 2 Mar. 1689–90.
  • 4. HMC Ancaster, 436–7; Lincs. AO, Ancaster mss 3 ANC 8/1/17, election expenses, 1694.
  • 5. Ferrar mss FP 289, Basil to Thomas Ferrar, 26 Oct. 1695.
  • 6. Add. 28891, f. 339; 29588, f. 106; 40775, f. 6; CSP. Dom. 1700–2, pp. 385, 395; Ferrar mss FP 292, Basil to Thomas Ferrar, 22 Apr. 1702; London Gazette, 9–12 Oct. 1704.
  • 7. HMC Rutland, ii. 190; Oldmixon, Hist. Addresses, ii. 305; London Gazette, 26–28 June 1712, 9–12 May 1713; Bodl. Carte 117, f. 441.