Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in resident freemen paying scot and lot

Number of voters:



13 Apr. 1722HENRY MOORE, Earl of Drogheda
23 Aug. 1727THOMAS HALES
12 May 1741WILLIAM O'BRIEN, Earl of Inchiquin
1 July 1747RIDGEWAY PITT, Earl of Londonderry

Main Article

The chief natural interest at Camelford was that of Francis Manaton, a Tory, recorder of the borough, but in 1715 and 1722 the Vincents (Henry and Nicholas), the government electoral agents in Cornwall, were able to secure both seats. By 1727 Governor Thomas Pitt had been able to establish an interest for one seat through his steward, John Phillips, attorney in, deputy-recorder, and several times mayor of Camelford. Though cursed by Governor Pitt as ‘the greatest villain as ever was employed’,1 Phillips remained connected with the Pitts, for whom he was able to gain both seats in 1734. On the death of Francis Manaton in 1735, Thomas Pitt, grandson of Governor Pitt, became recorder. In 1738 a friend of the Manatons commented:

Four parts in five of the tenements in Camelford belong to [Manaton’s son], but let out in leases upon lives. The freemen have all a vote, but they must likewise be inhabitants. Pitt is recorder and consequently has a great hand in making new freemen, which the corporation can do when they please. But Edgcumbe [the Government’s manager for the Cornish boroughs] by weight of metal outdoes Pitt. The Manaton interest is quite low upon all accounts but being landlords, are so able to turn people out of their houses by not renewing, or troubling them if in arrears.2

Thomas Pitt, now the Prince of Wales’s electoral manager in Cornwall, reported c. Oct. 1740:

Mr. Phillips (Mr. Pitt’s steward) is the present mayor and the leading man in the borough. Mr. Pitt has declared for both members on the country [i.e. opposition] interest. 22 out of 29 of the voters have declared themselves in Mr. Pitt’s interest and ‘tis thought will stand firm by him. But if any of them should be bought off, the mayor and a majority of magistrates, who are now attached to Mr. Pitt, may create new freemen. Mr. Edgcumbe has been very busy in the town ... but has met with but little encouragement. He asks but for one member, but has hitherto been able to gain only 7 out of 29 votes.3

In 1741 again, and in 1747 when he looked on the borough as ‘quite secure’ with ‘no appearance of any disposition to oppose’, he was able to return both Members. But in October 1748 he wrote:

His Grace of Bedford is become the terror of the West. Having recently purchased Mr. Manaton’s estates at Newport and Camelford, he has, under the management of Charles Phillips [M.P. Camelford 1768-74, John Phillips’s son], attacked Sir William Morice and intends ... under the same agent, to do me the same favour at Camelford. Phillips’s behaviour, since I have been in the country, has been very suspicious ... I am at work to defeat him ... but the ungrateful villain has worked underground something too long.4

After the Prince’s death in 1751 Pitt, now in desperate financial straits, leased his interest to the Government, leaving the Phillips family to make their own terms with the Administration and with Bedford.5

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. HMC Fortescue, i. 68.
  • 2. Dr. J. Vigan to Hen. Fox, 27 Jan. 1738, Hen. Fox. mss.
  • 3. Chatham mss.
  • 4. HMC Fortescue, i. 110, 113-14, 132.
  • 5. Sam. Martin to Hen. Pelham, 8 Oct. 1753, Newcastle (Clumber) mss; Namier, Structure, 337-8.