East Looe


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 the freemen

Number of voters:

Number of voters: 40-50 in 17151


27 Jan. 1715JOHN SMITH
2 Dec. 1718HORATIO WALPOLE vice Bateman, deceased
12 Apr. 1722JOHN SMITH
27 Oct. 1722WILLIAM LOWNDES vice Walpole, chose to sit for Great Yarmouth
21 Jan. 1724GEORGE CHOLMONDELEY vice Smith, deceased
17 Feb. 1724SIR HENRY HOGHTON vice Lowndes, deceased
22 May 1727GEORGE CHOLMONDELEY, Visct. Malpas, re-elected after appointment to office
20 Feb. 1735SAMUEL HOLDEN vice Trelawny, ineligible to sit
27 Nov. 1740HENRY LEGGE vice Holden, deceased
1 July 1747JOHN BULLER
26 Dec. 1751GASHRY re-elected after appointment to office

Main Article

The controlling interest at the Looes was that of Sir John Trelawny, 4th Bt., of Trelawne, who placed the seats not occupied by himself or his brother Edward at the disposal of the Administration, in return for an allowance of £500 p.a. and £1,000 in election years.2 In 1735, when he was in deep financial difficulties, his brother, who had become ineligible for a seat by accepting a commissionership of customs, paid the creditors and took over the estates, which he mortgaged to his friend and patron Sir Charles Wager, first lord of the Admiralty. In 1737, when there was a vacancy for West Looe, Wager wrote to Benjamin Keene:

My friend Mr. Trelawny ... does not forget the obligations he has to you for your great civilities to him. As he has the interest at Looe entirely, he mentioned you again for a member, but Sir Robert Walpole is for those that can attend,

and the new solicitor-general, John Strange, was chosen.3 After 1737, when Edward Trelawny was appointed governor of Jamaica, the boroughs were managed in his absence by Wager’s friend, Francis Gashry. At the general election of 1741, Wager wrote to the mayor of East Looe:

I have the favour of your letter of the 19th signed by the mayor and magistrates of both towns by which I find it will be agreeable to you to choose Mr. James Buller [nephew of Edward Trelawny] at one of the towns, as captain [Harry] Trelawny [cousin and brother-in-law] hath desired from Governor Trelawny. I was therefore glad of the ... opportunity ... I had ... to recommend Mr. Gashry to the borough of Aldeburgh in Suffolk.... There will be room for Mr. Buller to be chosen in his room and neither he nor I will be the less friends to the corporation or less serviceable to them upon any occasion than we were before, so that I hope there will be no uneasiness on that account and therefore they will be unanimous in choosing Mr. Buller and the other gentlemen that have been mentioned. I was told it was proposed to choose the Governor for one, but all governors of plantations are excluded from being chosen by an Act of Parliament. Therefore that cannot be. I have very great regard for Governor Trelawny and for all the family as well as that of Mr. Buller.4

In the event, Wager was chosen with Keene for West Looe, and Buller, although he was a Tory, with Gashry for East Looe. At subsequent elections Edward Trelawny allowed the Administration to nominate the candidates in return for suitable payment to himself.5

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Cox, Magna Britannia (1738 ed.), i. 342.
  • 2. Namier, Structure, 321.
  • 3. 25 Feb. 1737, Add. 32794, f. 161.
  • 4. 25 Mar. 1741, East Looe Town Trust.
  • 5. Edw. Trelawny to Francis Gashry, 19 July 1753, Vernon-Wager mss in Lib. of Congress.