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 30


21 Apr. 1660ROBERT ROLLE
21 June 1660JOHN CORYTON I vice Herle, chose to sit for Fowey
20 July 1660SIR HUGH POLLARD, Bt. vice Rolle, deceased
c. June 1661SIR HENRY BENNET vice Brodrick, chose to sit for Orford
12 Dec. 1665SAMUEL ROLLE vice Bennet, called to the Upper House
20 Feb. 1679(SIR) JOHN CORYTON I
 William Coryton
 Samuel Rolle
  Coryton's election declared void, 17 Nov. 1685

Main Article

Callington had never been formally incorporated. The manor was owned by the Rolles of Heanton Satchville. At the court leet held by their steward, new freemen were admitted to exercise the franchise, and a mayor, who acted as returning officer, was elected annually. The Rolles were not resident in the neighbourhood at this period, and their interest was often successfully challenged by a local family, the Corytons of Newton Ferrers.1

At the general election of 1660, Robert Rolle, a friend of General George Monck, was returned with another Presbyterian, Edward Herle. When Herle chose to sit for Fowey on 14 May, a new writ was ordered; but no by-election was held until after the Restoration. The Royalist John Coryton I was returned; but Rolle’s death created a second vacancy which his only surviving son, Samuel, was too young to fill. The family trustees, who included Sir William Morice, presumably found it expedient to offer the seat to the courtier Sir Hugh Pollard. At the general election of 1661 Coryton was returned for Cornwall and Pollard for Devon. The Rolle interest stood aside, leaving Coryton to nominate two outsiders, the lord chancellor’s crony Allen Brodrick, and Sir Cyril Wyche, the lord lieutenant’s brother-in-law, who were returned unopposed by the illiterate mayor on separate indentures. When Brodrick chose to sit for Orford he was replaced by the returned exile Sir Henry Bennet, soon to become Morice’s colleague as secretary of state. The grant of two fairs to the borough in 1663, however, was used by Morice to strengthen the Rolle interest. When Bennet was raised to the peerage as Lord Arlington in 1665 his under-secretary, Joseph Williamson, applied to Coryton for the seat. But Coryton found

the temper of the people at Callington ... very much altered in their esteem of me, by those honourable persons [Wyche and Bennet] that were chosen last did neglect to get two fairs for them and suffering their opposers to get two fairs for those very days they desired; in that they had not one letter of thanks or token of respect from them, but were illegally fined by Mr Rolle’s agents, who is lord of the manor, and forced to compositions, and kept still in awe by them, though I vow I paid the poorer sort their composition money again. If the fairs had been obtained (for which I would have paid the charge) Lord Bennet [sic] had secured an interest there forever.

Samuel Rolle, although still under age, was returned at the by-election.2

At the first general election of 1679 the mayor, another illiterate, returned Coryton of the court party as senior Member and Rolle of the country as junior on separate indentures, perhaps because of their divergent politics. The election was said to be with the common consent and assent of the free burgesses, 34 of whom signed each return. In the autumn election Rolle was returned for Devon and Coryton for Launceston, leaving their interests at Callington to be maintained respectively by Richard Carew, an exclusionist who was allied to the Rolles by marriage, and Coryton’s younger son William, who was defeated by William Trevisa, a neighbouring landowner. Coryton’s petition was never reported, and the borough was thus represented in the second Exclusion Parliament by two opponents of the Court, none too securely perhaps, for no writ was issued when Trevisa died during the session. In 1681 he was replaced by William Coryton and Carew was re-elected.3

On 10 Dec. 1684 the mayor, who was Coryton’s son and successor, together with Rolle, as lord of the manor, and the householders, surrendered the franchises and privileges of Callington to the lord lieutenant, the Earl of Bath, and petitioned for a charter, but this had not been granted by the general election of 1685. Coryton declared himself and his brother to have been elected unanimously; but on 23 May Rolle petitioned, claiming that he should have been returned. Despite his Whig politics his proprietorial rights ensured him a sympathetic hearing. On 6 June a motion was made for a new writ in place of Sir John Coryton; but he was absent sick in Cornwall, or so it was claimed on his behalf, and the Speaker was ordered to write to him before the writ was issued. Not until 17 Nov. was it authorized, only three days before the prorogation, and there is no evidence of a by-election. Meanwhile the petition for a charter had been renewed, and it was issued on 9 July. The corporation was to consist of mayor, recorder and ten aldermen. It was provided that the number of freemen should never exceed ten, to be sworn in by the whole corporation. The Earl of Bath was nominated recorder, and the Coryton brothers aldermen. In June 1688 the royal electoral agents described Callington as ‘at the devotion’ of Rolle and Sir John Coryton. Rolle was apparently approved as court candidate by the regulators, but at the general election of 1689 he was again returned for Devon. However, he witnessed the return of Coryton with another Tory, Jonathan Prideaux, who were declared unanimously elected by the deputy mayor and free burgesses ‘according to ancient customs’.4

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. Gilbert, Paroch. Hist. Cornw. i. 168.
  • 2. CJ, viii. 25, 68-69; CSP Dom. 1663-4, p. 127; 1664-5, p. 257; SP29/115/21.
  • 3. CJ, ix. 641.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1684-5, pp. 245, 291; 1685, pp. 211, 256-7; CJ, ix. 717, 731, 758; Duckett, Penal Laws (1882), 380; (1883), 217.