Available from Boydell and Brewer
Right of Election:
in the burgage holders
Number of Qualified Electors:
Number of voters:
at least 42 in 1690
|24 Feb. 1690||WILLIAM STOCKDALE|
|SIR HENRY SLINGSBY, Bt.||20|
|Double return of Fawkes and Slingsby. FAWKES declared elected, 17 May 1690|
|21 Apr. 1693||CHRISTOPHER WALTERS vice Stockdale, deceased|
|31 Oct. 1695||CHRISTOPHER STOCKDALE (formerly WALTERS)|
|29 July 1698||ROBERT BYERLEY|
|10 Jan. 1701||ROBERT BYERLEY|
|25 Nov. 1701||ROBERT BYERLEY|
|24 July 1702||ROBERT BYERLEY|
|12 May 1705||CHRISTOPHER STOCKDALE|
|8 May 1708||CHRISTOPHER STOCKDALE|
|12 Oct. 1710||ROBERT BYERLEY|
|9 Jan. 17122||ROBERT BYERLEY re-elected after appointment to office|
|3 Sept. 1713||ROBERT BYERLEY|
|15 Mar. 1714||FRANCIS FAWKES vice Stockdale, deceased|
|17 May 1714||HENRY SLINGSBY vice Byerley, deceased|
Browne Willis* described Knaresborough as ‘a well built town and hath a good market’. At the Restoration, the 1st Earl of Burlington (Richard Boyle†), had been granted the hereditary office of steward of the honor of Knaresborough and constable of the castle, which descended in 1698 to his grandson the 2nd Earl (Hon. Charles Boyle I*), and enabled him to nominate the bailiff, who acted as returning officer. There was no corporation and the bailiff elected the Members with the burgage holders. Plural voting was not allowed, while the temporary transfer of burgages for electoral purposes was common practice. A large number of burgages were held by independent voters. The Stockdales originally owned a dozen burgages, though they increased their holdings to 38 during the period. The Slingsbys of Scriven, who had a long-standing interest in the borough, owned only five burgages in 1695 and six in 1720, though their ownership of the advowson and other property in the town accounted for their strong interest. Thomas Slingsby, who controlled the family interest after succeeding his elder brother, Sir Henry Slingsby, 3rd Bt.†, in 1691, appears to have chosen not to enter Parliament. However, it is not apparent whose candidature he supported, though the family’s strong Toryism would suggest that Robert Byerley, who had inherited land in Knaresborough on his marriage in 1692 and owned six burgages, may have benefited from the Slingsby interest. The remaining significant interest was that of Burlington, who owned eight burgages, though he increased his share by purchase after 1700.3
In 1690 there was a double return, with the Whig William Stockdale and the Tory Thomas Fawkes in one indenture and William Stockdale and Sir Henry Slingsby in another. Stockdale was thus able to take his seat at once, while Fawkes and Slingsby each petitioned. The House agreed that the right of election was in the burgage holders. Fawkes’s allegation of partiality on the part of the bailiff towards Slingsby was allowed and it was resolved that Fawkes had 22 ‘qualified voices’ and Slingsby only 20, whereupon Fawkes was declared duly elected. On Stockdale’s death his nephew and heir, the Whig Christopher Walters (later Stockdale), was chosen. At the 1695 election contemporaries expected no opposition to Christopher Stockdale and Robert Byerley, and the two men were returned unopposed.4
In April 1697 Sir Robert Howard* was given a crown grant of the castle and manor of Knaresborough, as well as other property which was part of the jointure of the Queen Dowager, Catherine of Braganza, as a reversion after her death. This did not seem to affect Burlington’s influence. The death of the 2nd Earl in 1704, leaving an heir aged ten, brought about the eclipse of the family’s interest, though by 1712 it was reported that the ‘young lord Burlington’ had managed to get the stewardship of Knaresborough for one ‘Tom Bean’. In the interim Stockdale and Byerley shared the representation until their deaths in 1713 and 1714 respectively. The Tory Francis Fawkes, who was the son of Thomas, was returned unopposed in the by-election following Stockdale’s death, while another Tory, Henry Slingsby, who was the son of Sir Thomas, 4th Bt., and had just come of age, re-established the family’s presence in Parliament when he was returned at the by-election following Byerley’s death. Although Slingsby was defeated in the 1715 election, by 1720 it was reported that he had done a great deal to secure his interest in the borough against the Whigs. He was successful in this endeavour, and sat for the borough from 1722 until his death in 1763. After 1715 the remaining seat appears to have come under the complete control of Burlington.5
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Ivar McGrath
- 1. Yorks Arch. Soc. Sligsby mss DD 56/B1, list of burgages of Knaresborough, 17 Jan., 1 Sept. 1715, election case, Apr. 1715.
- 2. 1713 in OR but misdated.
- 3. Bodl. Willis 15, ff. 106–7; Journeys of Celia Fiennes ed. Morris, 79–82; Defoe, Tour ed. Cole, 618–19; Quinn thesis, 101–4, 178; Northern Hist. iii. 75, 96–98.
- 4. Add. 70018, ff. 94–95.
- 5. W. Grainge, Harrogate and the Forest of Knaresborough, 79–80; Sir Thomas Lawson-Tancred, Recs. of a Yorks. Manor, 245; Bodl. Ballard 21, f. 112.