Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the corporation

Number of voters:



(1801): 2,358


10 Feb. 1792 CHARLES INGOLDSBY PAULET vice Boscawen, appointed to office 
7 July 1802JOHN LEMON 
8 Feb. 1804 LEMON re-elected after appointment to office 
5 Mar. 1808 HON. CHARLES FREDERICK POWLETT TOWNSHEND vice Boscawen, called to the Upper House 
2 July 1810 WILLIAM JOHN BANKES vice Townshend, called to the Upper House 
9 Oct. 1812JOHN LEMON 
28 Apr. 1814 GEORGE DASHWOOD vice Lemon, deceased 
 Sir Richard Hussey Vivian11
 William Gosset11

Main Article

The Boscawens of nearby Tregothnan, Viscounts Falmouth, were recorders and patrons of Truro. In 1788 George Evelyn, 3rd Viscount, reached a compromise with Sir Francis Basset*, who had been contesting the borough since 1780, whereby Basset agreed to leave him in peace at Truro in exchange for the purchase of Falmouth’s property at Tregony. After this there was no contest until 1818, but it did not mean that Falmouth was secure. In 1790 the Duke of Leeds was informed that there was ‘a small opposition’ at Truro and that £9,000 had been offered to open the borough up. Alderman Thomas, for many years vice-warden of the stannaries, seems to have been the focus of it, as was his successor in the duchy office, John Vivian, later. In 1792 when Falmouth, who usually reserved one seat for family nominees and sold the other, agreed to bring in a friend of the government on condition that his kinsman Spencer Boscawen obtained a place, Charles Rashleigh alleged: ‘Col. Boscawen will I think succeed in getting his friend returned, but I fear Lord F. will never return another Member for that place. This is my opinion—and that it is entirely his lordship’s own fault.’1

Falmouth seems to have allayed any such fears by selling John Lemon a life interest in the seat in 1796, Lemon being presumably acceptable to his opponents at Truro. This would explain a letter the 4th Viscount wrote to Lord Liverpool, 26 Sept. 1812, that he was returning his brother-in-law Sir George Warrender and hoped to recover both seats ‘when engagements entered into with Col. Lemon shall cease to exist’, though the goodwill of the corporation would have to be consulted. Edward Pellew* proved a staunch friend to the Falmouth interest. Lemon was not free from anxiety: in October 1804 it was reported that there had been disputes at Truro which threatened Lemon’s seat ‘in future’, but they ended ‘in such a manner as to give him additional security’. In 1812, too, it was against Lemon that opposition was threatened. Augustus Cavendish Bradshaw* alleged that ‘Lord Yarmouth wanted him to go down to Truro to oppose Lemon, and promised him the Prince’s interest’. Falmouth had informed the prime minister, 26 Sept., that his ‘long-established interest in Truro’ was imperilled by ‘agents of the Prince Regent’ and solicited government support. On 18 Oct. he requested government patronage, or ‘the borough will in all probability be carried by persons whose support, if not unfriendly to government, will be very independent and unsteady’.2

There was no contest, but not long after he had recovered Lemon’s seat through the latter’s death, Falmouth wrote to the premier, 19 Oct. 1814, of

a second interference with my interest in Truro from the same quarter with which your lordship gave me reason to think at the time of the last dissolution of Parliament the then proceedings originated in error, and assured me they would not be repeated.

He received a reassuring reply from Liverpool on the 21st and on 25 Oct. wrote again, claiming that he had now secured his position by depriving his opponents of ‘the offices of trust and influence which they held only as my friends without difficulty’. He hoped now ‘to preserve what is certainly a very natural interest’. Ambitious of a peerage, he had further anxieties about Truro, of which he informed the premier, 15 Oct. 1815:

The party which has sprung up at Truro has practised every species of meanness to gain their end, and I am astonished that Lord Yarmouth should descend to patronize such conduct. I had yesterday a letter from one of my best friends there, stating that Mr Vivian had just called on him for the purpose of saying from Lord Yarmouth that the Regent had determined to deprive three of the corporation, the vice warden and two officers under him of their places, if they would not support Mr Vivian’s son.

Falmouth hoped that Liverpool would ‘discountenance such conduct’, but it continued.3

Vivian’s son, Sir Richard, was an equerry to the Prince Regent and the father was allegedly disgruntled because Falmouth had long declined his services at Truro. In January 1818, George Thomas junior, son of the vice-warden of the duchy, was elected to the corporation and a bid to oust him in King’s bench by the town clerk failed. Thomas senior, having quarrelled with Lord Yarmouth, resigned his office rather than support his nominees at the ensuing election. This was a source of embarrassment to Sir Richard Vivian, who nevertheless announced his candidature in May 1818, depending on the independent support of the townsmen. Falmouth named two new candidates, and his brother-in-law Warrender was criticized for not even taking leave of his constituents, thus showing that he regarded Truro as entirely the property of his ‘noble relative’. Warrender had certainly appealed to Lord Liverpool to stand by Falmouth, 24 Mar. 1818. At the nomination, George Thomas senior, proposing Tomline, one of Falmouth’s nominees, denounced Yarmouth’s interference and stated that he could not conceive what claims Vivian had on Truro. Vivian was proposed by Ralph Allen Daniell* and his father proposed Col. (Sir) William Gosset of Round Ward, Daniell’s son-in-law, as second string. Falmouth’s nominees defeated Yarmouth’s by one vote: the much-contested one of George Thomas senior. A riot ensued. Henry Bankes wrote ‘Lord Falmouth has just saved Truro from the grasp of the Duke of Cornwall and Lord Yarmouth by a neck’. A petition against the return was discharged because of an informality, but next time Lord Falmouth forfeited control.4

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Add. 28066, f. 36; Pole Carew mss CC/K/22, Rashleigh to Pole Carew, 13 Jan. 1792; PRO 30/8/134, f. 72.
  • 2. Prince of Wales Corresp. ii. 539; Add. 38249, f. 223; Sidmouth mss De Dunstanville to Addington, 28 Oct. 1804; Fortescue mss, Fremantle to Grenville, 31 [sic.] Sept. 1812; Add. 38249, ff. 223, 340.
  • 3. Add. 38458, ff. 194, 198; 38573, f. 58.
  • 4. Add. 38458, f. 227; R. Cornw. Gazette, 17, 31 Jan., 23, 30 May, 13, 20 June 1818; Colchester, iii. 52; CJ, lxxiv. 95, 399.