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:



 Sir John Playters, Bt.  1937
 Sir Robert Davers, Bt.  17792
4 Nov. 1695SIR GERVASE ELWES, Bt.   
10 Aug. 1698SIR SAMUEL BARNARDISTON, Bt.  2624
 LIONEL TOLLEMACHE, Earl of Dysart [S]  2571
 Sir Gervase Elwes, Bt.  1060
 Sir Thomas Felton, Bt.  947
22 Jan. 1701SIR SAMUEL BARNARDISTON, Bt.  2010
 LIONEL TOLLEMACHE, Earl of Dysart [S]  1932
 Sir Samuel Clarke, Bt.  8293
10 Dec. 1701LIONEL TOLLEMACHE, Earl of Dysart [S]   
5 Aug. 1702LIONEL TOLLEMACHE, Earl of Dysart [S] 22162172
 SIR DUDLEY CULLUM, Bt. 21292060
 Sir Robert Davers, Bt. 20752008
 Sir Samuel Barnardiston, Bt. 1807418315
9 May 1705LIONEL TOLLEMACHE, Earl of Dysart [S]  2877
 Sir Dudley Cullum, Bt. 23862318
 Sir Samuel Barnardiston, Bt.231062269722868
3 Dec. 1707LEICESTER MARTIN vice Dysart, became a peer of GB   
 Richard Mosse   
5 May 1708SIR THOMAS HANMER, Bt.   
18 Oct. 1710SIR THOMAS HANMER, Bt.  3463
 Sir Philip Parker, Bt.  20349
16 Sept. 1713SIR THOMAS HANMER, Bt.   

Main Article

The ‘slow proceedings’ of the Suffolk Tories were looked upon as one of the major causes of their defeat in 1690. After one of the sitting Members, Sir John Rous, 2nd Bt., had declined to stand, the way had been left clear for the two Whig candidates, Sir Samuel Barnardiston, 1st Bt., and Sir Gervase Elwes, 1st Bt. It was only in the last fortnight that their Tory opponents ‘appeared’: first Sir John Playters, 4th Bt., and then Sir Robert Davers, 2nd Bt., ‘set up by the Duke of Grafton and the gentlemen . . . at Bury’. Barnardiston, a Presbyterian, enjoyed the support of the Dissenters, and the result of the election was seen by Tories as a victory for the ‘fanatic rabble’ or ‘our country rabble’ over ‘the better part of the county’:

for excepting Lord Cornwallis and knights Sir Thomas Barnardiston [2nd Bt.*], Sir Joseph Brand, Sir Philip Skippon*, Sir Robert Broke [1st Bt.†] and Sir Adam Felton [3rd Bt.*] I cannot hear of any other person of considerable note that struck in with them. The whole number of the gentry, with the Duke of Grafton and Lord Jermyn [Thomas†] were in a great body on the other side.

Another Tory wrote that Cornwallis, the lord lieutenant, had ‘nobody but rabble and relations’ with him, ‘his own [militia] captains and deputy lieutenants against him, most of which will send in their commissions’. At the poll the Tories were abused as papists, their clerical supporters as ‘black-coated rogues’, and ‘upon the naming of Playters, some of them would cry out, a Prince of Wales, a Church papist’. Playters petitioned against Barnardiston on 2 Apr. Elwes, not being a Dissenter, was less obnoxious to the Tories, and there was little to justify the petition, which was subsequently dropped.10

The Whig stranglehold, which Humphrey Prideaux was regretting in 1693, was tightened even further the following year by a purge of the commission of the peace, in which many prominent Tories were removed, including Playters, Rous and Sir Robert Kemp, 2nd Bt.† According to Edmund Bohun, another of the dismissed justices, this was a blow ‘at the whole Tory party in our county’:

They struck out the most active men, but left the trimmers and those that would not act at all; and put in Whigs of mean estate and education, or gentlemen of little or no spirit. So that the getting the government into their hands was the apparent end of this alteration.

Bohun was sure that ‘the whole Whig party acted as consent, at once, in this affair’, although he singled out Sir Robert Rich, 2nd Bt.*, Henry Heveningham* and Charles Whitaker* as the prime movers, while it is known from other sources that Lord Cornwallis had been pressing the government for more sweeping changes still. In 1695 the Tories did not contest the county, and in June 1696 Humphrey Prideaux reported that in Suffolk

the long struggle which hath been between the two parties . . . is now totally at an end, by the absolute victory which the Whig party hath got over the other. For they have not only carried all the elections from them in the last Parliament, but have also made them criminals for opposing them, having brought indictments of riot against them at the last assizes on this account, and by a packed jury . . . caused the bill to be found against them.11

In 1698 the picture changed dramatically. The Earl of Dysart, one of the leading Tories in the county but who had taken no part in elections since the Revolution, decided to reassert himself, while at the same time the Whig interest was split, Sir Samuel Barnardiston, a Country Whig, opposing Elwes, who supported the ministry. Dysart and Barnardiston joined forces and defeated Elwes and another Court Whig, Sir Thomas Felton, 4th Bt.*, by a massive majority. After the restoration of many of the excluded Tories to the commission of the peace in 1700, Dysart and Barnardiston repeated their success in January 1701. Sir Samuel Clarke, 1st Bt., a Whig related to Barnardiston by marriage, came in third place. The outgoing Members were re-elected in November, apparently without opposition; but at the 1702 election Barnardiston reverted to his party allegiance, and once again two Whigs confronted two Tories. The representation was divided: Dysart and the second Whig, Sir Dudley Cullum, 3rd Bt., were returned; Barnardiston came bottom of the poll.12

The following year Dysart replaced Cornwallis as lord lieutenant, and reportedly embarked upon a purge of ‘moderate’ men from the lieutenancy. In 1704 the county’s loyal address was strongly Tory in tone, coupling the triumphs of the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†) with those of Sir George Rooke*. Tollemache was removed in April 1705 in favour of the young, and Whiggish, 2nd Duke of Grafton, a move intended to influence the result of the forthcoming election. Nevertheless, Dysart and Davers, both of whom were Tackers, took both seats. After strenuous preparations, both sides appeared at Ipswich in impressive numbers. A Whig newspaper claimed that Cullum and Barnardiston, standing together again on the Whig interest, had been met a mile from the town by Grafton ‘with 13 . . . coaches full of gentlemen, 500 freeholders and Captain Boll with 24 ships’ standards or ensigns’, and that ‘the horse . . . placed in order and marched two and two . . . reached above a mile’. The Tories, on the other hand, put out that the ‘body of all the chief gentry and most reputable yeomanry of the county’ attended Lord Dysart and Davers, and that only a ‘scoundrel medley’ accompanied their opponents, ‘not . . . three gentlemen to head that herd’. The election was described by Dyer, who saw it as being carried

by a great majority, if you consider the terrible opposition that was made by the Low Churchmen, and their friends the fanatics of all sorts, supported by the Duke of Grafton, and the Lords Cornwallis and Hervey [John*]. But this victory is owing in a great measure to the diligence of the clergy, of which 80 went and polled in one body, and as great singly, being not advertised of the design. And to pin the basket, (Sir) Thomas Hanmer [II] brought in a body of 300 horse, at the sight of which the Duke withdrew from the window, and all was given up. And although the great cry of the Whigs was, and is, ‘no Tacker’, yet that is known to be the only word that is given out to the party.

Against this slogan the Tory supporters had shouted ‘no ’48, no Presbyterian rebellion, save the Queen’s white neck’.13

Hanmer was Grafton’s stepfather and, through his wife the dowager Duchess, enjoyed temporary control of the Euston estate; he also had a considerable position in his own right in the county. In 1705 he returned himself on the Grafton interest at Thetford. When Lord Dysart lost his seat as a consequence of the Act of Union of 1707, by which he became a peer of Great Britain, a local Tory, Leicester Martin, was brought in, but only until the next election. Hanmer then took his place and was returned unopposed with Davers. Barnardiston was dead and Cullum had retired from politics. There was a threat of opposition from Dr Richard Mosse, who had contested the by-election in 1707, but this did not progress beyond a preliminary canvass. One Suffolk Tory was disappointed at Mosse’s crying off since he hoped that, if more ‘such fellows’ were to put up for knights of the shire, Parliament might react by passing a ‘Qualification Act’. Suffolk did not fail the Tory cause, its address in 1710 in support of Dr Sacheverell being as warm as High Church opinion had expected: it was now widely regarded as a ‘loyal county’. Nevertheless the sitting Members were subjected to a challenge in the general election of that year. Sir Philip Parker, 3rd Bt.†, ‘upon Sir Walter Long’s [2nd Bt.†] kindness, who left him a good estate’, stood against Davers. Hanmer’s position was impregnable, but, as Hanmer told his friend Matthew Prior*, he was ‘teased and tired out of my life’ with efforts ‘to support my partner’. Parker was ‘scattering’ his money ‘at no rate’ and was ‘seconded by three [of] the greatest men in this county, who are content too for the forming an interest to stoop to the lowest’. Hanmer hoped for Prior’s intercession with William Penn for his help in influencing the votes of the Suffolk Quakers, of whom there were ‘a great many’. They ‘promise nobody, and preserve themselves indifferent, by which I conclude they have yet received no instruction from their leaders’. Prior reported success, but in fact the directions which were issued were in favour of Hanmer and Parker, and Hanmer referred the matter back to his friend to ‘trace the mystery’:

I make no doubt but you explained yourself to Sir William [sic], that Sir Robert Davers was to be the partner in the same interest with me, but whether he made himself rightly understood by his subordinate friends is the only doubt which remains with me. For it has been an artifice used even here in the country by that party to give it out that Sir Philip and I join, and with many ignorant people the trick obtained so far that it has cost me no little pains to undeceive them.
If Sir William therefore gave the word for me and my partner and they by wrong information believed Sir Philip to be so, this possibly may have occasioned the mistake; otherwise I see nothing that can clear Sir William of having equivocated with you.

With or without the Quaker vote, Davers was confident that he was in ‘no danger’, and so it proved. Parker gave various standard excuses for his defeat, which he considered

very honourable, for I had 1,800 single votes, and in the whole 2,100. It must have cost my adversary £1,800, for he gave a guinea a man for three days before the election to everyone who would vote for him. They used a great many unfair things, for they made freeholds with a bond of resignation after the election is over. 2,100 used always to carry it for Suffolk, and 600 single votes is the most that ever was known. Sir Thomas Hanmer did all he could for Sir Robert. They had above 3,000; ’tis thought the county has not above 5,000 in it, and several stayed at home for fear of the smallpox. I had the mob of my side and my appearance was greater. The sheriff played me all the foul play imaginable. Nobody disputes but I must be next [chose?], though elections are so chargeable that two are enough to undo any man . . . I had a great many gentlemen appeared for me.

Hanmer took pains to secure an amenable Tory sheriff for Suffolk in 1713. In July of that year Davers sent his sons ‘riding about the country to secure my election’, and to contradict the propaganda of ‘the faction’. He himself was accorded a tumultuous reception on his return to Suffolk after the dissolution, being met by a ‘cavalcade’ of ‘gentlemen, clergy and freeholders’, about 800 men on horse and on foot, ‘all with gilded laurel on their hats (with the letters T.H. and R.D.)’; and the two sitting Members were returned without a contest.14

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Murrell thesis, 164.
  • 2. Camb. Univ. Lib. Sel. 3.237/31.
  • 3. Suff. RO (Bury St. Edmunds), Barnardiston mss Ac.613/767.
  • 4. Essex RO (Chelmsford), Winterton (Turnor) mss D/DKW.02/10.
  • 5. Bean’s notebks.
  • 6. Daily Courant, 15 May 1705.
  • 7. Winterton (Turnor) mss D/DKW.02/10.
  • 8. W. A. Speck, Tory and Whig, 104.
  • 9. Daily Courant, 21 Oct. 1710.
  • 10. Bodl. Tanner 27, f. 110; BL, Verney mss mic. 636/44, Cary Gardiner to Sir Ralph Verney, 1st Bt.†, 19 Feb. 1689[–90] (Horwitz trans.); Sel. 3.237/26, 31, 34.
  • 11. Prideaux Letters (Cam. Soc. n.s. xv), 156, 175–6; Bohun Diary ed. Wilton Rix, 121, 124; L. K. J. Glassey, Appt. JPs, 115, 117, 118; Burnet, iv. 444; Hervey mss at Ickworth 46/12/1, Ld. Hervey’s diary 1695–1710 (Horwitz trans.).
  • 12. Sel. 3.237/31; Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 151; Glassey, 139–40; HMC Portland, iv. 27.
  • 13. Add. 17677 WWW, f. 317; London Gazette, 30 Nov.-4 Dec. 1704; W. Suss. RO, Shillinglee mss Ac.454/1162, Thomas Palmer to Sir Edward Turnor*, 26 Feb. 1704–5, John Hooke to same, 2, 30 Apr. 1705; G. Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 31–32; Speck, 104–5.
  • 14. Shillinglee mss Ac.454/1056, Hooke to Turnor, 23 Feb. 1708; Add. 70421, newsletters 2, 4 May 1710; 70222, Davers to Robert Harley*, 14 Oct. 1710, n.d. [recd. 10 July 1713]; 47026, ff. 33–34; 70220, Francis Coleman to Harley, 8 Sept. 1712; Cal. Le Neve Corresp. 68; HMC Bath, iii. 440–2; Post Boy, 25–28 July 1713.