Available from Boydell and Brewer
Right of Election:
in the corporation
Number of voters:
|27 Jan. 1715||FRANCIS ROBARTES|
|26 Feb. 1718||CHARLES BEAUCLERK, Lord Burford, vice Robartes, deceased|
|10 Apr. 1722||ISAAC LE HEUP|
|Robert Molesworth, Visct. Molesworth|
|28 June 1725||RICHARD WEST re-elected after appointment to office by majority of 1|
|31 Jan. 1727||JOHN LAROCHE vice West, deceased|
|23 Aug. 1727||ROBERT BOOTH|
|9 Feb. 1733||SIR JOHN HEATHCOTE vice Booth, deceased|
|30 Apr. 1734||JOHN LAROCHE|
|SIR JOHN HEATHCOTE|
|12 May 1741||JOHN LAROCHE||24|
|Sir John Heathcote||12|
|2 July 1747||JOHN LAROCHE||30|
|SIR WILLIAM IRBY||25|
|19 Jan. 1753||GEORGE HUNT vice Laroche, deceased|
In 1715 Charles Bodville Robartes, 2nd Earl of Radnor, one of the heads of the Cornish Whigs, whose estate at Lanhydrock extended into the borough, recommended to the corporation his uncle, Francis Robartes, and his brother-in-law, John Legh, who were returned by the corporation unopposed, as was Lord Burford at a by-election caused by Robartes’s death in 1718. Thanking the corporation for their unanimous choice of Burford, Lord Radnor, who in 1716 had secured that the local assizes should in future be held alternately at Bodmin and Launceston, instead of solely at Launceston, wrote:
On this you may depend, that as long as I have the honour of being the King’s lord lieutenant of Cornwall, the summer assizes shall always be held in Bodmin.1
But in 1722 the corporation returned two stranger Whigs, Isaac Le Heup and Richard West, against Radnor’s nominees, Charles Legh, a son of the previous Member, and Lord Molesworth.
Under the 3rd Earl of Radnor, who succeeded in 1723 and lived chiefly abroad, the Robartes interest seems to have been exercised by a steward of the family, John Laroche, who after standing unsuccessfully in 1725 was returned as a government supporter from 1727 till his death in 1752, building up a strong interest of his own in the corporation. The other seat was filled in 1727 by Robert Booth, an opposition Whig, related to the Robartes family, who was succeeded on his death in 1733 by Sir John Heathcote, a London merchant and a government supporter.
On the 3rd Earl’s death abroad at the beginning of 1741, Lanhydrock passed to his nephew, George Hunt, who did not stand, probably because he had not yet come of age. At the general election Thomas Pitt, the Prince of Wales’s election manager in Cornwall, who had property in and near Bodmin, secured the return of Thomas Bludworth, a member of the Prince’s household, against Heathcote. In 1747, when George Hunt stood, Pitt wrote, 12 June:
I think we shall carry one, yet the scene is changed for I am informed that Cole has been round the town soliciting for Mr. Hunt and disclaims any junction with anyone; but that he should stand single; yet as Laroche’s agent will endeavour to make all Laroche’s friends vote for Mr. Hunt, and, for ought I know, it will be easier to carry both than be scrambling for one that has to get double votes instead of single, only they will be much fewer in numbers, I have laid out both ways, and am not without hopes of both there.2
In the event Sir William Irby, a member of the Princess’s household, was returned against Hunt. In August Pitt commented:
At Bodmin there is now a fair opening to settle my interest for both. There are some, and will be more vacancies in the corporation, which must be properly filled up; for which purpose I am endeavouring to get the next mayor; and I think that Laroche is in so bad a state of health that a vacancy is likely to happen there soon.3
On Laroche’s death in 1752, Hunt stood again, writing to his friend Richard Eliot on 2 May that he had been elected town clerk, and that
of 30 members of the corporation that were present 28 favoured me with their votes, besides two sure friends that were absent; so that everything goes on as favourably as I could wish. Bennet, who is Mr. Pitt’s steward made interest against me, which as his master is now courting the ministry is no very polite thing, and as my attachment to the government is very well known, must appear an opposition to the ministry by whom I am countenanced.4
He was returned against one of Laroche’s younger sons.
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. The Bodmin Register, 87-91, 329. The assizes were held alternately at Launceston and Bodmin until 1727 when they were held solely at Launceston. After 1736 the alternate arrangement was again adopted.
- 2. Boconnoc mss and HMC Fortescue, i. 110.
- 3. HMC Fortescue, i. 127.
- 4. Eliot mss at Port Eliot.