New Woodstock

Borough

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:

337 in 1713

Elections

DateCandidate
c. Apr. 1660SIR THOMAS SPENCER, Bt.
 EDWARD ATKYNS
21 Mar. 1661SIR THOMAS SPENCER, Bt.
 SIR WILLIAM FLEETWOOD
16 Feb. 1674HON. THOMAS HOWARD, vice Fleetwood, deceased
15 Feb. 1679SIR LITTLETON OSBALDESTON, Bt.
 NICHOLAS BAYNTUN
15 Aug. 1679SIR LITTLETON OSBALDESTON, Bt.
 NICHOLAS BAYNTUN
3 Feb. 1681HON. HENRY BERTIE
 NICHOLAS BAYNTUN
11 Mar. 1685HON. RICHARD BERTIE
 SIR LITTLETON OSBALDESTON, Bt.
10 Jan. 1689SIR THOMAS LITTLETON, 3rd Bt.
 SIR JOHN DOYLEY, Bt.

Main Article

Edward Atkyns and Sir Thomas Spencer, both local residents and moderate Royalists in 1660, were returned to the Convention. Although Atkyns ‘gave unto this borough the first bell of the ring here, which cost £27’, he lost his seat to Sir William Fleetwood, the ranger of Woodstock Park, in 1661. The corporation was purged in 1662 and a new charter granted on 23 Aug. 1664, under which crown sanction was required for the appointment of high steward, recorder and town clerk. On Fleetwood’s death in 1674, Thomas Howard was elected on the interest of John Lovelace, who had become lieutenant of the crown manor and fortified his interest by establishing an annual horse race for a prize of £50. As a zealous opponent of the Court he was deprived of his post shortly before the first election of 1679. Spencer was probably disabled from standing by scandals in his private life, but may have supported Sir Littleton Osbaldeston as court candidate. The other Member, Nicholas Bayntun, seems to have been introduced by Lovelace to Woodstock, though he also became Osbaldeston’s son-in-law. In July one of the corporation wrote to Sir Ralph Verney, 1st Bt., ‘The old contest is up already between my Lord Lovelace and Sir Thomas Spencer, but who will carry it I know not’. Lovelace’s electoral tactics grew ever more ingenious. He ‘brought [Titus] Oates to the horse race at Woodstock on Holyrood day, and, because he would have company come there to the enriching of the town, caused [him] to preach on Sunday and Tuesday’. Osbaldeston and Bayntun were again returned ‘with unanimous assent and consent’, and on 18 Sept. 1679 Lovelace brought them to Blechingdon to dine with Lord Anglesey (Arthur Annesley). In 1681 Osbaldeston gave way to Henry Bertie, whose brother, as lord lieutenant of the county, was building up an interest at Woodstock, and Lovelace, out of pique, transferred the horse race to Oxford.1

Woodstock sent loyal addresses approving the dissolution and abhorring the ‘Association’ and the Rye House Plot. Osbaldeston was returned to James II’s Parliament, along with Richard Bertie. The corporation produced a further loyal address in 1687, thanking James for the Declaration of Indulgence, but was unable to avoid quo warranto proceedings. No resistance was offered, and under the new charter of 27 Aug. 1688 the electorate was restricted to the mayor and common council. In September Osbaldeston and the old Cromwellian Sir Charles Wolseley were recommended as court candidates. But the old charter was restored in October, and when the abortive election was held two months later on James’s writ, Cary reported:

Things are so altered here as you will scarce think. My Lord Lovelace hath been in this town these two days. Yesterday at the election of Parliament men, Sir John Doyley and Sir Thomas Littleton were chosen, whom the corporation have a great belief to be very honest gentlemen.

Doyley was probably the Bertie candidate, while Littleton, a strong Whig and a kinsman of Osbaldeston, no doubt enjoyed Lovelace’s support. As Lovelace owed his liberty to Henry Bertie, it is probable that the two interests were in alliance, and the result of the election was repeated in the following month ‘freely and unanimously’ according to the i