Available from Boydell and Brewer
Right of Election:
in the corporation 1660 and 1685; in the resident freemen 1661-81, 1689
Number of voters:
37 in 1660 and 1685; 103 in 1661; 127 in 1679
|13 Apr. 1660||TIMOTHY LITTLETON|
|17 Apr. 1661||TIMOTHY LITTLETON||14||40|
|24 Feb. 1670||SOMERSET Fox vice Littleton, appointed to office|
|12 Feb. 1679||FRANCIS CHARLTON|
|23 Sept. 1679||FRANCIS CHARLTON||50|
|16 Mar. 1681||FRANCIS CHARLTON||55|
|15 Apr. 1685||SIR EDWARD HERBERT|
|6 June 1685||(SIR) JOSIAH CHILD vice Charlton, deceased|
|14 Nov. 1685||SIR EDWARD LUTWYCHE vice Herbert, appointed to office1|
|15 Jan. 1689||FRANCIS HERBERT|
Ludlow was the seat of the council in the marches of Wales, revived in 1661 and finally suppressed after the Revolution. Consequently the little town, with only 1,376 adult inhabitants in 1676, swarmed with lawyers, and even the sons of the local land-owning families were usually educated for that profession. All the candidates in this period except Sir Josiah Child came from the immediate neighbourhood, and all except Child, Somerset Fox, and Francis Herbert were barristers. No less than six of them became judges, probably a unique record. The corporation, which sometimes claimed the exclusive franchise and always controlled the roll of freemen, consisted of 12 ‘burgesses’ or aldermen and 25 common councilmen. The returning officers were the two bailiffs, one chosen annually by the aldermen, the other by the common council.2
At the general election of 1660 the ‘greater number’ of the corporation elected two of its own members, both Royalists but not excluded from candidature under the Long Parliament ordinance. Job Charlton had shown his ‘good affection’ by sitting for the borough in 1659, while the recorder Timothy Littleton had avoided commitment in the Civil War. On election they formally renounced their claims to parliamentary wages. The corporation tried to exclude the freemen from the 1661 election, and to replace Littleton by Samuel Baldwyn, who had represented the borough with Charlton in Richard Cromwell’s Parliament, perhaps because Littleton was associated with the council in the marches. Otherwise there seems to have been little or no difference politically between the candidates. According to the borough records:
These common burgesses [freemen], being about 25, with the recorder and Mr Ketelby, after the election past in the chamber, did seek to break the door in, quiring a poll, and not being summoned or hearing the writ read.
The bailiffs returned Charlton and Littleton; but Baldwyn petitioned, alleging that inadequate notice had been given of the election, and claiming that the franchise should be restricted to the corporation. With Charlton in the chair, the elections committee found against him on both counts, specifying that only resident freemen could vote, and the House agreed. This contest was followed by a severe purge under the Corporations Act; three of the aldermen, two of the common council, and 15 freemen were removed. Meanwhile Sir Richard Lloyd had procured 3,000 signatures to a petition for the revival of the civil jurisdiction of the council in the marches, which was not included in the abolition of the prerogative courts in 1641, and a proclamation was issued accordingly.3
When Littleton became a high court judge in 1670 he was replaced ‘with the assent and consent of the greater number of the burgesses’ by Fox, the last of a prominent Ludlow family, who enjoyed a strong interest as trustee of the almshouses. Job Charlton did not stand again after the dissolution of the Cavalier Parliament, but his eldest son Francis represented Ludlow in all three Exclusion Parliaments. Fox was re-elected unopposed in February 1679, and became the only Shropshire Member to oppose the first exclusion bill; Francis Charlton, like all the others, paired or abstained. But it was probably less this political intransigence than rivalry with the Charlton interest that led to Fox’s replacement as court candidate in September by Thomas Walcot. Baldwyn’s son Charles stood as a country candidate, and claimed that he was defeated only by the machinations of the town clerk, Charlton’s brother William. He would have had a majority both of the corporation and of the 90 freemen, had not the bailiffs been persuaded that only ‘sworn burgesses’ should be admitted and some votes disallowed ‘because supposed fanatics and nonconformists’. He prepared a petition, but it was never presented. In 1680 William Charlton was dismissed by the corporation and replaced by an attorney, Edward Smallman, who had married Fox’s niece; but royal confirmation was withheld. Eventually the corporation submitted and restored Charlton. The episode had less effect on his brother’s interest than on Walcot’s. In the 1681 election his votes declined to 16, 17 of the electors cast away their second votes, and Baldwyn had an easy victory. But the loyalty of the corporation was never in doubt, and they produced an address of thanks for the King’s declaration of his reasons for dissolving Parliament.4
Ludlow surrendered its charter on 10 Oct. 1684, but the replacement was not issued until the next reign. It confined the franchise to the corporation, replaced the bailiffs by a mayor, and reserved the power of removing officials to the lord president (Henry Somerset, Duke of Beaufort). At the general election of 1685 Sir Edward Herbert was returned by ‘one assent and consent’ with William Charlton, who died three days later. He was replaced without a contest by Child, whose daughter had married Beaufort’s heir. Herbert became a judge in October, and Sir Edward Lutwyche was elected unanimously in his place. He in turn was promoted to the judicial bench in July 1686, but no further by-election was held. The corporation presented an address approving the first Declaration of Indulgence in May 1687. The management of the borough for the elections to the proposed second Parliament of James II was entrusted to Beaufort. Child had been adopted as court candidate for Essex, and the lord president accordingly recommended the veteran Tory Humphrey Cornewall and an Irish lawyer, Charles Molloy. The corporation was dissolved in December 1688, and the 1689 election was conducted by the bailiffs under the old charter. Baldwyn was returned with another Whig, Francis Herbert, a distant cousin of the judge. A bill for abolishing the court of the marches was promoted by Sir Edward Harley in the Convention. A petition from the corporation and inhabitants of Ludlow and adjacent parts was received, but the bill was steered through committee without alteration by the Welsh Tory, Francis Gwyn, and passed.5
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
Polls from Staffs. RO, D(W)1788/46/6.
- 1. Salop RO, 356/2/3.
- 2. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), i. 87; Charters and Grants to Ludlow, 102-3.
- 3. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), vii. 31; CJ, viii. 373; VCH Salop, iii. 284; C. A. J. Skeel, Council in the Marches, 166-70.
- 4. Staffs. RO, D(W)1788/46/6; VCH Salop, iii. 284-5; CSP Dom. 1679-80, pp. 123, 514, 531, 602-3, 606-7, 615-16, 628; 1680-1, pp. 23, 158; London Gazette, 2 June 1681.
- 5. Charters and Grants to Ludlow, 199-200, 287; CSP Dom. 1685, pp. 50-51; 1687-9, p. 199, London Gazette, 1 Sept. 1687; Bodl. Carte 130, f. 24; DNB (Molloy, Charles); CJ, x. 63, 103, 52-2; HMC Lords, ii. 105-9; HMC Portland, iii. 432; Skeel, 178-9.