Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the freemen

Number of voters:

about 90


2 Apr. 1660JOHN HOOKE55
 Thomas Muspratt6
8 June 1660CHARLES POWLETT I, Lord St. John of Basing vice Cole, chose to sit for Petersfield 
1 Nov. 1666SIR ROBERT MASON vice Goddard, deceased 
26 Oct. 1669SIR ROBERT HOLMES vice Mason, deceased 
11 Feb. 1679JAMES ANNESLEY, Lord Annesley 
12 Aug. 1679JAMES ANNESLEY, Lord Annesley 
11 Feb. 1681JAMES ANNESLEY, Lord Annesley 

Main Article

The roll of freemen at Winchester was controlled by the corporation, who nominated a small number of non-residents, although, in the absence of close contests, they seldom exercised their franchise. In this Anglican stronghold there was no discrimination against Roman Catholics, who were always represented on the corporation after the Restoration. All the candidates may be considered gentry, except the townsman Thomas Muspratt in 1660 and the court lawyer Charles Hanses in 1685. Richard Goddard, Sir Robert Mason, and Sir John Cloberry were resident in the city, and the other Members in the county, except for the court nominees, Sir Robert Holmes, Sir Roger, L’Estrange and Hanses. Most of the elections in this period are known to have been uncontested. The only certain exception was in 1660, when the republican Muspratt received no more than half-a-dozen votes. John Hooke and Thomas Cole, the successful candidates, were both Presbyterian Royalists, but when the latter chose to sit for Petersfield he was replaced by Lord St. John, whose father, the 5th Marquess of Winchester, had distinguished himself in the defence of Basing House during the Civil War. There was no other candidate, and only 33 of the electorate chose to register their votes. His election was followed by a petition to the House of Lords from the Cavalier freemen who had been ejected from the corporation during the Interregnum. St. John’s father and Lord Robartes failed to compose the differences ‘by reason of certain persons in that city are refractory’, and Muspratt, together with two of his supporters, was ordered to be expelled. Shortly after the dissolution, Goddard, a royalist lawyer who had taken up residence in the city, was chosen recorder, several local royalist gentlemen were made freemen, and at the general election Goddard was returned with another Royalist, Lawrence Hyde, the lord chancellor’s cousin. The commissioners for corporations removed 17 freemen, including Sir William Waller I and John Hildesley, as well as the regicides Sir Henry Mildmay, Robert Wallop I, John Lisle and Nicholas Love. On Goddard’s death he was replaced without a contest by Mason, his wife’s stepson. But there may have been some opposition three years later to Holmes, the admiral, who had as yet no local connexions.1

The three Exclusion elections were all uncontested. Cloberry, once a Cromwellian officer, and Lord Annesley, custos rotulorum of Hampshire and heir to the lord privy seal, both had Presbyterian antecedents; but they opposed exclusion. On 28 Feb. 1681, St. John (now the 6th Marquess) wrote to the corporation in Cloberry’s favour, because he had assisted in the election of his son for the county: ‘As I had a difference against him, so now I have a particular kindness and esteem for him’.2

The corporation presented addresses approving the dissolution of the last two Exclusion Parliaments and expressing abhorrence of the ‘Association’ and the Rye House Plot. Although Charles II and the Duke of York had both accepted the freedom of Winchester, and the King had begun to build a palace overlooking the city, even royal favour could not save the charter. It was surrendered in 1684, but not immediately replaced. This enabled the government to put pressure on the electors to choose two officialis, L’Estrange and Hanses. Cloberry and Francis Morley were proposed by the local Tories and backed by the joint lords lieutenant, the Earl of Gainsborough (Hon. Edward Noel) and his son Lord Campden (Wriothesley Baptist Noel). The assize judge, Sir Creswell Levinz, failed to make any impression, and the court manager, Bernard Howard, a zealous Roman Catholic, asked Sunderland to write to Gainsborough, who then declared that ‘he would meddle no more in the matter, since such a pudder had been made’. Preparations were made for a poll, but at the last moment Cloberry and Morley withdrew. Hanses and L’Estrange, after being sworn in as freemen with some difficulty, were returned unopposed; but half the electorate abstained. As James’s anti-Anglican policies became clearer, Howard’s difficulties increased. No addresses were presented in response to the Declaration of Indulgence or in congratulation on the birth of the Prince of Wales. With remarkable incompetence the law officers of the crown demanded the surrender of the non-existent charter, and when the mayor protested his inability to comply, Howard ‘marched in six or seven more companies of foot above the regiment of horse which is quartered there, in order the more to burthen the poor inhabitants’. The King’s agents reported that ‘Winchester, having refused to surrender its charter, will probably be no less stubborn in the choice of its burgesses’. The marquess’s younger son, Lord William Powlett, and Morley, who had refused to comply with the King’s religious policy, intended to stand. ‘This corporation will require, if not a total change, at least a thorough purge.’ Under the new charter of 28 Aug. Howard was nominated recorder, though according to a further electoral report ‘the city is not pleased with the settlement proposed, and manage of the affairs there’. The old corporation was restored on 1 Nov. and Powlett, a Whig, was returned to the Convention with Morley without a contest.3

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. Winchester corp. assembly bk. 4, ff. 137, 139; 5, ff. 32, 53; ledger bk. 5, ff. 120, 142; HMC 7th Rep. 100; LJ, xi. 130, 131, 139.
  • 2. Assembly bk. 5, ff. 119, 122, 129.
  • 3. London Gazette, 2 June 1681, 4 Apr. 1682, 6 Aug. 1683; CSP Dom. 1684-5, p. 164; 1685, pp. 63, 75, 88, 93, 96-97; 1687-9, pp. 257, 338; HMC Dartmouth, i. 123; assembly bk. 6, ff. 14, 39; Add. 34512, f. 77; Duckett, Penal Laws (1882), 427, 431-2.