Cardigan Boroughs

Single Member Borough

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the freemen of Cardigan, Aberystwyth, Lampeter, and Atpar

Number of voters:

about 4,000


6 May 1754John Symmons 
20 Apr. 1761Herbert Lloyd 
24 Mar. 1768Pryse Campbell 
13 Jan. 1769Ralph Congreve vice Campbell, deceased1950
 Sir Herbert Lloyd1704
31 Oct. 1774Sir Robert Smyth1488
 Thomas Johnes980
 Johnes vice Smyth, on petition 7 Dec. 1775 
12 June 1780John Campbell vice Johnes, vacated his seat 
14 Sept. 1780John Campbell 
22 Apr. 1784John Campbell 

Main Article

Cardigan and Aberystwyth were controlled by the Pryses of Gogerddan; Lampeter by the Lloyds of Peterwell. Atpar was no longer of importance during this period: its corporate structure was destroyed in 1741, and by 1774 the number of its freemen had fallen to two.

Thomas Johnes sent wrote to Newcastle about the constituency on 18 Jan. 1760:1

Mr. Pryse, the present candidate for the county of Cardigan, has the absolute command of the town, and nothing but an immoderate expense can ever give him the least uneasiness in the borough.

The Gogerddan and Peterwell interests, rivals in both county and borough, usually managed to compromise matters. In 1754 John Lloyd was returned for the county and John Symmons, the Gogerddan candidate, for the borough; and in 1761 John Pugh Pryse took the county seat and Herbert Lloyd the borough. By 1768 Lloyd had become unpopular in Cardiganshire; and Pryse, himself standing for Merioneth, proposed his relative Pryse Campbell for the borough. Mass creations of freemen by both sides took place, but Lloyd declined the poll.

He came forward again at the by-election of January 1769. Pryse joined the leading gentry of Cardiganshire, Lord Lisburne, and William Powell of Nanteos, in a coalition to keep out Lloyd. After Powell’s son had refused to stand they found a candidate in Ralph Congreve, a wealthy stranger, who after a hard-fought contest won by over 200 votes.

In November 1773 Pryse gave offense by selecting his relative Sir Robert Smyth, a stranger, as candidate for Cardigan at the forthcoming general election. Pryse’s death in January 1774 weakened the anti-Peterwell coalition, which had lost much of its point after Herbert Lloyd’s death. Thomas Johnes put forward his son on the Peterwell interest, now controlled by John Adams, Lloyd’s nephew and heir. Smyth obtained a majority on the poll, but Johnes was seated on petition.

Exceptional circumstances explained this triumph of the Peterwell interest, and its success was only temporary. When in May 1780 Johnes vacated his seat to stand for Radnorshire, the Gogerddan interest regained the Cardigan seat and held it unopposed at the next two general elections.

Author: Peter D.G. Thomas


  • 1. Add. 32901, f. 359.