St. Ives


Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Background Information

Right of Election:

in inhabitants paying scot and lot

Estimated number qualified to vote:

499 in 18311

Number of voters:

316 in 1830


3,526 (1821); 4,776 (1831)2


 Sir Walter Stirling, bt.146
 Robert Williams Meade89
26 May 1821SIR CHRISTOPHER HAWKINS, bt. vice Graham, vacated his seat 
 William Alexander Mackinnon122
 Charles Frederick Williams4
 John Ellis2
29 Feb. 1828CHARLES ARBUTHNOT vice Hawkins, vacated his seat 
10 June 1828ARBUTHNOT re-elected after appointment to office 
 James Halse152
30 Apr. 1831JAMES HALSE 

Main Article

St. Ives, a prosperous seaport and market town situated on the western angle of a ‘fine bay’ on the Bristol Channel, in the north-west of the county, was ‘large but irregularly built’, consisting of ‘narrow and intricate’ streets. Its principal sources of employment were in the pilchard fishery, the most extensive in Cornwall, and the neighbouring tin and copper mines; in 1830 both industries were said to be ‘flourishing’, but they were prone to fluctuations. The construction of a pier and lighthouse in the 1760s had made St. Ives a safe haven for shipping, and it became an important centre for the ‘foreign and coasting trade generally’. A ‘substantial and commodious market house’ was erected in 1832 at a cost of £1,000.3

The borough and parish were coextensive. Local power was exercised by the corporation, an exclusively Anglican body which consisted of a mayor, the returning officer for parliamentary elections, and ten other aldermen, elected for life from among the resident freemen. Theoretically there was also an indefinite number of freemen, but in fact there were none in 1831 and only two in 1834. Although the franchise was vested in the rated inhabitants, control of the corporation was important as the rates could be manipulated for ‘electioneering purposes’. Sir Christopher Hawkins of Trewithen, the lord of the manor and recorder, and Samuel Stephens of nearby Tregenna Castle, were the most powerful property owners in the town, but William Harry Vane†, 3rd earl of Darlington, the lord of the manor of Ludgvan, had some influence. There was also an ‘independent’ party headed by the attorney, mining venturer, town clerk and alderman, James Halse. In 1818 Halse opened the St. Ives Consols tin mine, and he sought to establish his own interest in the borough by creating the village of Halsetown, within the constituency boundary, to accommodate his miners; by 1831 50 houses had been built. Since 1806 Hawkins had returned one Member and Stephens had returned himself, except in 1812 when he was ousted by William Long Wellesley, a nephew of the duke of Wellington, standing on the independent interest. Religious Dissent was a potent force in St. Ives, which boasted the largest Methodist chapel in Cornwall.4

In early February 1820, following the death of George III, anticipations of an imminent dissolution prompted a flurry of electioneering activity. Halse canvassed on behalf of two candidates, who proved to be James Graham, previously Whig Member for Hull, and the Irish barrister Lyndon Evelyn, a Tory, while Colonel Robert Meade of county Cork introduced himself to the borough. In a surprise development the sitting Members, Stephens and the London banker Sir Walter Stirling, whom Hawkins had returned since 1807, issued a joint address announcing their intention of canvassing the electors. Hawkins’s attorney, John Edwards of Truro, condemned the ‘atrocious’ conduct of Stirling, but claimed to have suspected ‘for a year or two’ that he aspired to ‘render himself independent of you ... by degree’. He warned that the junction with Stephens was ‘the first fruit of the frequent correspondence between [Stirling] and your soi-disant friends’, and that ‘the evil ... subsisting at St. Ives is ... inveterate, it defies even the first law of nature’. It is possible, however, that Stirling had acted from fear that Hawkins, a secretive and unpredictable man who often kept his own agents in the dark, was behind Meade’s candidature, the truth of which cannot be ascertained. When the dissolution was announced the Whig banker Pascoe Grenfell* offered, and it was thought likely that he would bring with him a colleague from Penzance. Meade was reportedly the ‘popular candidate’ and his return was considered ‘beyond doubt’, whereas Stephens and Stirling were ‘very unpopular’.5 To the disgust of Francis Jenkyns, Hawkins’s steward, he learned on 24 February that Stirling’s candidature was to be endorsed after all. Jenkyns complained that Stirling had made himself ‘so obnoxious ... through his agent’, one Ferrand, treating Hawkins’s friends in an ‘unhandsome and dishonourable manner’, that it was ‘with much difficulty your tenants have been prevailed upon to support him ... they appeared like men going to the gallows’. He regretted that Hawkins had not offered himself as his friends had ‘evinced a disposition’ to support him and he ‘would have succeeded’. Canvassing returns at the beginning of March suggested that Halse’s party would carry ‘one if not both’ seats, while Stephens was said to be ‘endeavouring to fortify himself’, as he now stood ‘alone’; Halse was ‘looking on and profiting’ by his opponents’ errors. Both Edwards and Jenkyns flatly refused to work in the borough on Stirling’s behalf.6 On the eve of polling Stephens and Grenfell withdrew (the latter was returned for Penryn) and the election, ‘contrary to general usage’, was conducted in one day, with Graham and Evelyn being returned ahead of Stirling and Meade. Graham declared that ‘his principles were independent’ and that he would ‘oppose all encroachments on the rights and privileges of the people, as well as all extravagant or unnecessary grants of the public money’. Evelyn returned thanks and Stirling ‘also addressed the electors’. A draft account of Hawkins’s election expenses shows that a dinner costing a guinea per head was provided for the electors, who also received unspecified payments; Stirling’s bill for entertainment amounted to £160. Jenkyns observed to Hawkins that it was ‘certainly a mortifying circumstance, that with all your property and influence in this borough your interest should have been so undermined by pretended friends’. He had ‘long foreseen what the event would be, and I have faithfully warned you’.7

Edwards and his brother immediately set about scutinizing the rating list and the poll for evidence of partiality by the mayor, Paul Tremearne. They subsequently informed Hawkins that ‘objections may reasonably be made to seven of those who voted for ... Halse’s candidates, and it may be not unfairly contended that eight who tendered for ... Stirling were improperly rejected’. It was unfortunate that polling had ‘terminated so soon, for if it had continued one day longer five would have been added to ... Stirling’s list, which would have very much lessened our difficulty’. It was equally unfortunate that disputable cases had not been ‘minutely canvassed and argued before the returning officer’, which might have produced stronger evidence of bias. Further inquiry revealed that several of Stirling’s voters had been ‘excused from paying the rates for poverty on their own application to the magistrates’, and several more were not bona fide occupiers. A petition against the return was therefore considered to have little chance of success unless evidence of corrupt practices could also be presented. Meade claimed to have such proof, but he demanded payment of £500, half of his expenses.8 In the event, three petitions were sent to the Commons in May, from Stirling, Meade and five electors, all accusing Tremearne of partiality and Graham, Evelyn and their agents of bribery, corruption and treating. Meade failed to enter into recognizances, but a committee was appointed, 8 June, to consider the other petitions. Jenkyns reported that Captain William Trewhella and James, Roger and Thomas Hearne had been subpoenaed, ‘as they were ... Halse’s most active friends’. It was generally assumed in St. Ives that the Members would be unseated: Stephens prepared for a canvass and Hawkins was assured that his friends were ‘on the watch’ and expected Stirling and an unnamed ‘other gentleman’ to ‘make their appearance amongst us as soon as possible’. However, the committee confirmed the return of Graham and Evelyn, 20 June 1820, although it was judged that Captain George Dunn, one of Halse’s agents, had committed perjury. Hawkins was told that the outcome had ‘thrown a gloom on all your friends’ in the borough, whereas ‘your opponents are almost frantic with joy’.9 He responded by gathering evidence of corrupt practices by Halse and used this to bring a prosecution against him in the nisi prius court. Witnesses attested that 5s. tickets had been distributed to voters and that bribes of £30 had been offered to individuals if they switched their votes. Halse was acquitted in April 1821, but this marked the beginning of several years of litigious feuding between him and Hawkins, who each brought various indictments against the other and their agents. In March 1825 Halse obtained convictions for perjury against three of the witnesses used by Hawkins, but in 1826 he reportedly complained that his legal battles had cost him £10,000.10 The original proceedings against the Members and Halse did bring some result for Hawkins, as Graham, who lacked the financial resources to withstand another challenge, vacated his seat in May 1821. According to newspaper accounts, Graham resigned for the ‘avowed purpose’ of bringing in Lord Normanby*, the son of the 1st earl of Mulgrave. When the by-election writ arrived, Normanby was ‘already in the field’ and had completed his canvass. Hawkins left London immediately while a canvass commenced on his behalf, and, though a ‘severe’ contest was predicted, ‘many chances’ were said to be in his favour. The day before the poll Normanby, ‘finding that he had no prospect of success’, withdrew and departed for London, leaving Hawkins to be returned unopposed. It was thought that Graham had seriously misjudged the mood of the electors, who resented the ‘simple recommendation of a stranger’ and preferred to return a local candidate. A Whig newspaper reported that ‘no principles or feelings but such as are local had any influence on the occasion’.11 On 19 Oct. 1822 the justices and inhabitants met at the town hall and agreed a memorial to the treasury against the removal of the Falmouth packet station, which would be ‘pregnant with ruin to a large portion of the population of Falmouth and its neighbourhood’.12 The inhabitants sent petitions to both Houses for repeal of the coastwise coal duty, 24 Mar. 1823, and the corporation and inhabitants petitioned the Commons for repeal of all coal duties, 16 Feb. 1824.13 Anti-slavery petitions were forwarded to the Commons by the inhabitants, 1 May 1824, 28 Feb. 1826, the latter after a public meeting at which ‘a great proportion’ of those present were ‘respectable females’.14 The Anglicans and Dissenters sent an anti-Catholic petition to the Lords, 11 May 1825.15

In March 1822 Hawkins’s new steward, Lieutenant Edward Roberts, promised to ‘devote the whole of my time to getting your affairs in a regular train’. He advised that rents should be collected promptly, observing that ‘being lenient to your tenants in this place had no good effect but the contrary, for those who were most in arrears to you were your greatest enemies’. He proposed to survey the properties and carry out repairs, in the belief that by ‘drawing a nice line of distinction’ between enemies and friends and ‘attending to the interest and comfort of the latter’, he might ‘convince the former what they may expect should they feel disposed to join you’. By June 1824, when he asked Hawkins to ‘convert and grant’ certain leases in order to ‘make friends’, he was confident that ‘nothing can stand better than your interest does at present’.16 In September Edwards predicted that ‘a contested election’ was ‘most certain’ at the dissolution, and there was much speculation as to the likely candidates. A canvass by Roberts gave Hawkins a commanding majority of 330 votes to Halse’s 141, with 18 for Stephens and 127 doubtfuls. He explained to Hawkins that if Stephens offered ‘many would give one voice from you doubled to him’, but Halse was ‘liable to the same loss’; the doubtful votes were ‘open to each party’. This assessment was based on the assumption that Hawkins offered with a friend, but it would ‘materially differ if you were to introduce a stranger’. Edwards cautioned that while Hawkins might be ‘strong amongst the tinners’, he must ‘greatly exceed them’ in the town ‘to counteract the Quay Gents’. He was anxious that a ‘second man’ should be named and favoured Winthrop Mackworth Praed* of Trevethow, the scion of a local family who had sold their interest in the borough to Hawkins; the latter would not be drawn, however. Halse was thought to have ambitions to stand himself, but he seemed unprepared with another candidate to replace Evelyn, who was retiring. One reason for this, Edwards suspected, was that any such candidate would be ‘well assured of a sharp contest, and a petition, if he should chance to be returned by a small majority’, which was ‘no pleasant prospect, especially as the Parliament is likely to be a short one’. Although ‘Squire’ Stephens allowed his son Lewis to canvass, there were doubts whether he would risk a contested election.17 Edwards advised Roberts to prepare at once ‘to meet the enemy’:

The rates must first of all be carefully examined and all our friends should be called upon to pay, for payment for them at the eve of an election is to be avoided if possible. We have the rates in our power, so that there will be no difficulty about seeing how the rating is. The overseers, also, should not give credit on the rate for money not paid, for when they come to be examined, the figure cut by them will not be a good one.

Noting that Halse could ‘get on no new voters’ except by appeal ‘against a new rate’, the overseers had to be ‘as frugal as possible with the money they collect, for an advance of money to overseers, who can make a rate when they choose, does not look pretty on the eve of an election’: the ‘more correct every transaction is ... where the rates are concerned, the better’.18 In September 1825, when a dissolution seemed imminent, Hawkins and Mackworth Praed jointly canvassed the borough and Halse ‘canvassed for both’ seats, but in November Mackworth Praed decided not to offer. Up to this point, Hawkins may not have intended to stand himself, as he had already been in communication with William Mackinnon, formerly Tory Member for Dunwich, who had agreed to pay ‘1,000 guineas annually beginning from the day of the return, or ... £3,000 at once for the entire term’.19 By April 1826 Hawkins, who had published a pamphlet defending his pro-Catholic opinions, was warned that it would be a ‘dangerous experiment’ to attempt to carry both seats, as ‘some are already grumbling about Popery, and it would be no difficult thing to blow it into a flame’. He was advised to reconcile himself to Halse’s return, and not risk his own seat, as Halse had ‘very discreetly concealed from the folks of St. Ives his own sentiments on the question, so that he can ... raise the war whoop whenever he chooses’.20

Shortly after the dissolution was announced in May 1826, Lewis Stephens and F. Stevens Wallis of Sandhill House retired from the contest. Hawkins, who instructed Roberts to secure Stephens’s second votes, ‘lest there should be an opening for a third party’, was assured that there had been ‘no alteration in our friends since you canvassed with Mr. Praed’ and that ‘with plumpers and singles you will have upwards of 300’; it was ‘next to impossible they can beat you’. Mackinnon, a stranger to the borough, commenced his canvass ostensibly ‘independent of all parties’, but it soon became obvious that he had ‘connected himself with Hawkins’. In fact, Hawkins, who believed that Stephens was ready to sell his estate, had concluded a secret agreement with Mackinnon which stipulated that if the latter purchased the property he would sell it to Hawkins ‘for the same sum ... not to exceed £17,000’. From this total, £3,000 was to be deducted on each occasion that Mackinnon was returned for the borough, ‘free of all expense whatever, direct or indirect either during or after the election, as in the event of a petition’.21 Accounts of the election proceedings are thin, but Hawkins, Mackinnon and Halse were the candidates and polling lasted for two days. The mayor, Tremearne, had recently died, and Alderman James Anthony, an ally of Hawkins, took it upon himself to act as returning officer. At the end of polling on the second day, with Hawkins and Halse ahead, the London attorney John Ellis, who had acted for Meade in 1820, ‘protested with great force against the proceedings as illegal’. He maintained that Hawkins and Halse were ineligible to stand, the former because he was recorder and the latter because he was the town clerk with responsibility for administering oaths to the candidates (Halse had appointed a substitute). Hawkins apparently responded by inviting Ellis to offer himself as a fourth candidate and ‘transferred two votes to him’, so that if the election return was annulled Mackinnon and Ellis ‘might be entitled to claim the seats’, whereupon Halse countered by asking the barrister Charles Williams to come forward and ‘transferred to him four votes’; Hawkins and Halse were then declared elected. In his printed address, Halse condemned the ‘powerful combination of interests’ which had opposed him, claiming that Anthony had rejected ‘the votes of a great number of my respectable friends’, and complaining of unspecified ‘circumstances ... which for the recorded atrociousness of their character ... we can never cease to remember and deplore’. Hawkins took this to refer to himself and challenged Halse to a duel, but the latter refused to fight.22 Mackinnon afterwards lamented to Hawkins that ‘had the Tregenna estate voters supported me as they ought and as they were bound’, he would have captured the second seat. He attributed this failure to the influence of Stephens’s agents and of his brother Augustus, the collector of customs, who had become ‘favourable to Halse’ once they realized that ‘I was joined by your friends’. Roberts reported that ‘some tenants of Mr. Major’ who had voted against Hawkins had ‘received notices to quit the land at Christmas’. Hawkins asked Roberts to arrange a dinner for his friends, but was anxious that it should be ordered ‘in some other name and not in mine’, and with no explicit promise of payment by him, so that Halse could not ‘take any advantage’. He proposed that a guinea should be spent on food and drink for each double voter and half a guinea for each single.23 Mackinnon inspired a petition against Halse’s return, on the ground that he was disqualified from standing as town clerk, which was presented to the Commons in the names of ten electors, 4 Dec. 1826. There was initial optimism in the Hawkins camp that Halse would either be ousted or would resign beforehand, but Mackinnon subsequently learned that the case was unlikely to succeed and the petition was discharged after the petitioners failed to enter into recognizances, 8 Feb. 1827.24 The sale of the Tregenna estate to Mackinnon fell through, owing to the indecision of Stephens and the opposition of his brother and son.25 At the end of 1827 the prolonged state of paralysis within the corporation was ended by an agreement between Hawkins and Stephens, whereby each nominated one new alderman and a third was appointed who was mutually acceptable, and Stephens became mayor. As Mackinnon noted, this arrangement had the merit that it kept ‘Halse’s interest in the background’, and in the event Stephens’s election was approved by all parties ‘to prevent greater difficulties’.26

It is possible that Hawkins had not intended to retain his seat for long, as shortly after the 1826 general election John Norman Macleod* of Dunvegan Castle, Inverness-shire, was offered it, through intermediaries, for £4,250, including ‘all expenses’ and with ‘no canvass or personal appearance’.27 Nothing came of this, but in February 1828 Hawkins vacated and, at a meeting with his supporters, recommended the Tory minister Charles Arbuthnot as his successor. Hopes for a quiet return were dashed when the notorious ‘election general’, John Stanbury, and ‘Mr. Husband of Plymouth’, arrived to promote the candidature of Guy Lenox Prendergast, an East Indian civil servant who had briefly been Tory Member for Lymington. After an energetic canvass it was reported that they had obtained ‘promises of support from between 60 and 70 ... electors’, and they pledged their man to go to the poll. They were certainly ‘not sparing of good cheer’, as they paid the landlords and their servants ‘very freely’, provided a ‘fat ox’ for slaughter and crowned these ‘popular doings’ by distributing ‘a quantity of small silver’ amongst the populace. However, on election day Prendergast’s attorney, one Tyrrel, informed the electors that his client had withdrawn, having been ‘too late in the field’, but that he would offer at the next vacancy; Arbuthnot was then declared elected. Hawkins subsequently complained that his bill for public house expenses amounted to ‘£1,700 to £2,000’, as the publicans were charging whatever they liked, and he again asked for dinners to be arranged discreetly in order to avoid bribery charges, instructing that each voter be given a sovereign.28 In June 1828 another by-election was necessitated by Arbuthnot’s appointment as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster in the duke of Wellington’s ministry. The first candidate to appear was Long Wellesley who, ‘accompanied by a Mr. Earl James’, circulated a handbill reminding the electors of his old association with the borough; his canvass made ‘considerable progress’ while the ‘ground was unoccupied’. Next day Halse canvassed on behalf of one Blakemore, and Stanbury arrived to solicit votes for the wealthy London merchant James Morrison. Hawkins appeared in person to campaign for Arbuthnot, who remained in London. On the last day of canvassing Morrison, who had reputedly ‘provided 1,500 sovereigns to meet the necessary expenses of the contest’, entered the town, but on receiving an unfavourable report from Stanbury he departed immediately. Stanbury quickly followed, and several individuals who had ‘claims for former electioneering expenses were prevented from paying their respects’. Blakemore was detained in London and ‘his friends thought proper to resign the contest on his behalf’. On election day Long Wellesley declined the poll and Arbuthnot was declared elected, but the former then delivered a speech attacking Halse and urging the electors not to ‘remain in bondage’. He left the town hall ‘preceded by a flag on which the word "independence" was inscribed’, and canvassed the borough with a view to his future return. A committee of 30 was formed to watch over his interest, and it was said that the ‘ways and means had been amply provided and lodged in one of the Penzance banks’. Halse and Hawkins canvassed at the same time ‘to ensure the suffrages of the electors against the next general election’.29 In the nervous atmosphere prevailing at St. Ives later that year, Hawkins was warned that ‘a great struggle’ was likely at the next general election, that Stanbury was planning another visit to canvass ‘on behalf of a new candidate’, that Long Wellesley had secured ‘a great number of supporters’ and that Hawkins needed to canvass again those who had given promises after the June by-election.30 The Protestant Dissenters petitioned the Commons for repeal of the Test Acts, 25 May, 6 June 1827, and the inhabitants sent anti-Catholic petitions to both Houses, 6, 10 Mar. 1829.31 Arbuthnot of course supported the government’s emancipation bill, as did Halse, contrary to his previous opinions.

Hawkins’s death in April 1829 led to a major shift in the balance of political forces at St. Ives. Halse moved decisively in early 1830 to secure control of the corporation, obtaining a quo warranto information against one Millett, who had been ‘improperly elected’ to succeed Hawkins as recorder; Millett disclaimed and Halse’s newphew, Edwin Ley, was appointed, 24 Apr. At the same meeting, four aldermen were chosen on Halse’s interest to ‘supply other vacancies in the corporate body’, a step that had been ‘long delayed from the previous state of parties in the borough’, whose ‘dissensions’ had ‘brought the corporation to the verge of dissolution’. On 7 May, following a writ of mandamus, the corporation met again to appoint a successor to Stephens, who ‘in consequence of the collision of parties had held over and was in the third year of his mayoralty’; the attorney Richard Hichens, Halse’s brother-in-law, was elected.32 On the other hand, Hawkins’s property was sold for £57,200 later that month to Long Wellesley, with Morrison advancing most of the money on the understanding that they would share the representation.33 Long Wellesley was ‘joyfully received by the inhabitants’, who lit bonfires in his honour, 28 June, and next day he issued an address confirming his ownership of the Hawkins estate and declaring his candidature at the impending general election. Halse arrived to begin his canvass, 10 July, and his cause was boosted by support from Darlington (now the 1st marquess of Cleveland), who had instructed all his tenants to vote accordingly. Morrison entered the town nine days later and his carriage was drawn through the streets by his supporters, who had erected a ‘triumphal arch’. It was generally considered that Long Wellesley’s position was secure and that the ‘chief struggle’ would be between Halse and Morrison. ‘General Hall and Sir W. Scott’, the latter presumably the former Member for Carlisle, made a brief appearance in the town but, seeing ‘no opening’, they ‘speedily took their departure’. Long Wellesley left early to concentrate on his contest for Essex and was represented by ‘General Sir C. Doyle’, who was expected to fill the seat if required. No newspaper accounts of the election proceedings have been found, but Long Wellesley (who was defeated in Essex) and Morrison were returned ahead of Halse; 316 were polled, of whom ‘more than 80 were plumpers’ for Halse. In a printed address, Halse expressed bitterness at his rejection, having been ‘a most useful benefactor’ who had endeavoured to ‘promote trade and employment’ in the town, and he declared that ‘all connection’ with those who had opposed him ‘must now terminate’. He hoped that ‘reason and good sense’ would prevail and promised to ‘rescue you from thraldom and ... return into your service’ at the next election.34

The Methodists sent an anti-slavery petition to the Commons, 10 Nov., as did the Independents to the Lords, 17 Nov. 1830.35 A petition of the freeholders, occupiers of land and rated inhabitants, complaining of the ‘absolute state of pauperism’ affecting many agriculturists and labourers, and calling for ‘peremptory measures for the amelioration of tithes’ and a ‘judicious reform’ of Parliament ‘conducive to the public weal’, was presented to both Houses, 14, 15 Feb. 1831.36 In March the Grey ministry’s reform bill proposed to enfranchise the £10 householders but to reduce St. Ives’s representation to one seat; Long Wellesley and Morrison supported it. A memorial was sent to the home office by the churchwardens and overseers on behalf of the electors, 15 Apr., in which it was pointed out that the borough consisted of ‘a town population and a country population’, and claimed that the total population had ‘greatly exceeded’ 4,000 in 1821 but had been underestimated in the census return by what ‘must have been ... an omission therein of the country population’. It was therefore argued that St. Ives should retain both Members.37 By late March Halse had been invited by the electors to stand at the next election, and there was ‘not the least doubt’ that he could carry the second seat for a friend (‘should the reform measure not pass’), as the people were ‘heartily sick of the late change and their present connection’. No further explanation was provided, but Mackworth Praed later referred to the way in which Long Wellesley had ‘made great promises of employment and support, and left the poor wretches who believed him to beggary and the parish’.38 At the subsequent dissolution Long Wellesley and Morrison retired and were returned for Essex and Ipswich respectively. On Halse’s arrival, 23 Apr., his carriage was ‘met about a mile from the town and drawn into it ... amidst the acclamations of thousands and the waving of handkerchiefs by the ladies from the balconies and windows’. His ‘friend’, the celebrated author Edward Lytton Bulwer, a supporter of the reform bill, was given a similar reception five days later. A canvass was conducted on behalf of Samuel Stephens, who had ‘the interest of the Hawkins estate and the name of Mr. Long Wellesley’ in his favour, but his agents were ‘convinced that a contest against the all powerful interest of Mr. Halse was hopeless’ and advised him to withdraw. Thomas Hyde Villiers*, ‘a decided reformer’, was also mentioned as a candidate, but he did not stand. Halse and Bulwer therefore ‘walked over the course, to the great joy of the inhabitants, who not only paid them the usual compliment of chairing’ but organized a ‘general illumination ... accompanied with fireworks and the blaze of tar barrels, elevated on high poles’; Halse, for his part, provided ‘an ample supply of good ale’.39

By the new criteria adopted in the revised reform bill of December 1831, St. Ives, which contained 1,002 houses and paid £330 in assessed taxes, was placed 80th in the list of the smallest English boroughs, confirming its place in schedule B. The boundary commissioners recommended that in order to complete the new constituency its limits should be greatly enlarged to incorporate the adjoining parish of Leland; there were 593 registered electors in 1832. At the general election that December Halse was returned as a reformer ahead of two Conservatives. It was later stated that prior to this election, ‘about 100 persons who had not been previously rated to the poor’ were added to the list, and that when they came to be assessed the rate was reduced from 6d. to 2d. or 3d., enabling them to ‘retain the right of voting’; most were ‘the tenantry of Mr. Halse’.40 Halse, who became a Conservative, held the seat until his death in 1838, when he was succeeded by Mackworth Praed. Rival territorial interests continued to dominate the politics of St. Ives, which usually returned a Conservative until its disfranchisement in 1885.41

Author: Terry Jenkins


  • 1. PP (1831-2), xxxvi. 582.
  • 2. Ibid. xxxviii. 80.
  • 3. Ibid. 79; S. Drew, Hist. Cornw. (1824), ii. 341-6; Pigot’s Commercial Dir. (1830), 164-5.
  • 4. PP (1831-2), xxxvi. 582; xxxviii. 79-80; (1835), xxiii. 617-22; Parochial Hist. Cornw. iii. 260-2, 271.
  • 5. Cornw. RO, Johnstone mss DD/J/2144, Edwards to Hawkins, 13 Feb.; West Briton, 11, 18 Feb.; The Times, 24, 29 Feb., 4 Mar.; R. Cornw. Gazette, 26 Feb. 1820.
  • 6. Johnstone mss J2/92, Jenkyns to Hawkins, 28 Feb., 2 Mar.; J2/107, Edwards to same, 2, 8, 9 Mar. 1820.
  • 7. Ibid. J2/92, Jenkyns to Hawkins, 13 Mar., election bills; West Briton, 17 Mar. 1820.
  • 8. Johnstone mss J2/107, Joseph Edwards to Hawkins, 21, 29 Mar., 7 Apr.; J2/92, John Edwards to same, 4 Apr., Meade to same, 13 Apr. 1820.
  • 9. Ibid. J2/92, Jenkyns to Hawkins, 7, 23 June; J/2104, William Harris to same, 18 June 1820; CJ, lxxv. 167-8, 174-5, 185, 233, 290, 292, 332.
  • 10. Johnstone mss J2/92, Jenkyns to Hawkins, 27 June 1820; J2/112, John Edwards to same, 24 Mar. 1825; J2/98, Edwards to same, 21 June 1826; West Briton, 6 Apr. 1821.
  • 11. J.T. Ward, Sir James Graham, 40-41; West Briton, 25 May, 1 June; R. Cornw. Gazette, 26 May, 2 June 1821.
  • 12. West Briton, 8 Nov. 1822.
  • 13. CJ, lxxviii. 62; lxxix. 38; LJ, lv. 591.
  • 14. CJ, lxxix. 110; lxxxi. 111; West Briton, 27 Jan. 1826.
  • 15. LJ, lvii. 787.
  • 16. R. Instit. Cornw. Henderson mss HH/13/296; Johnstone mss J/2154, Roberts to Hawkins, 18 June 1824.
  • 17. Johnstone mss J/2154, canvassing return, n.d.; Cornw. RO AD 207/2, Edwards to Roberts, 3, 5, 7, 12, 16, 18, 20 Sept. 1824.
  • 18. Cornw. RO AD 207/2, Edwards to Roberts, 7, 12 Sept. 1824.
  • 19. Ibid. Edwards to Roberts, 19 Aug., 26 Sept.; 207/1, Hawkins to Roberts, 20 Nov.; Johnstone mss J/2145, Mackinnon to Hawkins, 20 Sept. 1825.
  • 20. Johnstone mss J2/98, Edwards to Hawkins, 9 Apr. 1826.
  • 21. Cornw. RO AD 207/1, Hawkins to Roberts, 22 May; Johnstone mss J/2148, reply, 28 May; J/2146, memorandum of agreement, 27 May; West Briton, 2 June1826.
  • 22. The Times, 15, 16 June; West Briton, 16 June; Johnstone mss J2/98, Hawkins to ?, 17 June, Edwards to Hawkins, 21 June 1826.
  • 23. Johnstone mss J/2145, Mackinnon to Hawkins, 24 June, 9 Dec., n.d.; J/2149, Roberts to same, 24 June; Cornw. RO AD207/1, Hawkins to Roberts, 28 June, 1 July 1826.
  • 24. Johnstone mss J/2145, Mackinnon to Hawkins, 23 Oct., n.d.; Cornw. RO AD 207/1, Hawkins to Roberts, 13 Nov. 1826; CJ, lxxxii. 70-71, 124.
  • 25. Johnstone mss J/2145, numerous letters, 1826-7.
  • 26. Ibid. Mackinnon to Hawkins, 17 Dec. 1827; Cornw. RO AD 207/1, Hawkins to Roberts, 1 Jan.; West Briton, 18 Jan. 1828.
  • 27. Macleod of Macleod mss, Broughton to Macleod, 28 June, 14 July 1826.
  • 28. Cornw. RO AD 207/1, Hawkins to Roberts, 21 Feb., 21, 29 Mar.; West Briton, 29 Feb., 7, 14 Mar.; R. Cornw. Gazette, 1, 8 Mar. 1828.
  • 29. West Briton, 6, 13, 27 June; R. Cornw. Gazette, 7,14 June 1828.
  • 30. Johnstone mss J2/100, Bennett to Hawkins, 3 Sept., 26 Dec., Tressider to same, 21 Dec. 1828.
  • 31. CJ, lxxxii. 490, 521; lxxxiv. 120; LJ, lxi. 129.
  • 32. The Times, 13 Feb.; West Briton, 30 Apr., 14 May 1830.
  • 33. West Briton, 4 June 1830; R. Gatty, Portrait of a Merchant Prince, 103-6.
  • 34. West Briton, 2, 16, 23, 30 July, 6, 13 Aug.; R. Cornw. Gazette, 3, 17, 24, 31 July, 7, 14 Aug. 1830; PP (1830-1), x. 99.
  • 35. CJ, lxxxvi. 53; LJ, lxiii. 104.
  • 36. CJ, lxxxvi. 245; LJ, lxiii. 226.
  • 37. PP (1830-1), x. 132.
  • 38. R. Cornw. Gazette, 26 Mar. 1831; Add. 57420, f. 113.
  • 39. West Briton, 29 Apr., 6 May; R. Cornw. Gazette, 30 Apr., 7 May 1831.
  • 40. PP (1831-2), xxxviii. 79; (1835), xxiii. 620, 622.
  • 41. E. Jaggard, Cornw. Politics in Age of Reform, 121-2.