St. Ives


Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in inhabitants paying scot and lot

Number of voters:

between 200 and 300


27 Jan. 1715Lord Harry Powlett 
 Sir John Hobart 
1 Nov. 1721Hobart re-elected after appointment to office130
 James Tregeare17
12 Apr. 1722Sir John Hobart161
 Henry Knollys128
 James Tregeare66
 Harry Waller25
25 Aug. 1727Sir Robert Rich 
 Henry Knollys 
2 May 1734Sir Robert Rich222
 William Mackworth Praed157
 Charles Armand Powlett80
12 May 1741John Bristow 
 Gregory Beake 
2 July 1747John Hobart, Lord Hobart 
 John Bristow 
11 Dec. 1747John Plumtre116
 Charles Parry51
9 Dec. 1751Samuel Stephens vice Plumtre, deceased 
 Edward Howe 
 James Hawkins 

Main Article

From 1715 to 1734 one seat at St. Ives was controlled by Sir John Hobart, who had the 'great tithe' on pilchards and herrings, and built up a strong interest in the corporation, spending £2,000 on the contested election of 1722 and £500 on the unopposed 1722 election.1 The other seat was controlled by Charles Powlett, M.P., 2nd Duke of Bolton, recorder of the borough and lord of the manor.2 In 1734 Charles Powlett, 3rd Duke of Bolton, who had gone into opposition, unsuccessfully attempted to secure both seats by joining one of his relatives with a local man, Mackworth Praed, against the Hobart candidate, Sir Robert Rich. In October 1740, after the Duke had rejoined the Government, Thomas Pitt wrote:

This borough is in the hands of Lord Hobart and the Duke of Bolton. Mr. Praed was chosen here by the Duke of Bolton on the country [i.e., opposition] interest, but has at present no chance for his Grace's favour. 'Tis said that he will try on his own interest, but 'tis feared he will not succeed.3

As the general elections of 1741 and 1747 Hobart, now Earl of Buckinghamshire, having gained the 'friendship' of Mackworth Praed, secured control of both seats.4 In 1751, when a by-election was impending, Pelham described St. Ives as 'a borough entirely belonging to the Earl of Buckinghamshire, though his Lordship no doubt would hold it at his Majesty's nomination'.5 But at a by-election that year, John Stephens, the Hobarts' agent, put up his son, Samuel,

without [Lord Buckinghamshire wrote to him] giving me the least previous notice of his intention. So far from suspecting this I lodged the power of drawing for money in his hands; by this should my friends think it proper to be at any expense, no money is to be had. The town is near 300 miles from London and above 400 from the place of my residence, and things of this kind will not allow of delay. Let me conjure you by a friendship of 30 years' standing not to suffer a passion grounded upon mistakes to get the better of your reason... I had liked to have forgone mentioning some hints I received as if you threatened to join with the Duke of Bolton's. That is one of the things I must suppose to be impossible.6

Samuel Stephens carried his election though, in his own words, Lord Buckinghamshire

came down here to oppose me; but his influence got him very few electors in his favour and what could not be effected by persuasion was attempted to be done by threats. The officers of the port have been threatened to be removed unless they listed into his service.7

A 'state of the borough' c. 1752 in the Hobart papers described the principal interests at St. Ives as those of

The Earl of Buckinghamshire, to whom are attached the senior alderman, the recorder and the assistant. His Lordship has also the great tithe and the nomination to offices which afford considerable influence.

Mr Praed has by much the largest estate within the borough and a very considerable weight and property in the county. His strength in the borough not only arises from his property but from the voluntary attachment and affection of the greater part of the inhabitants within the borough who from their estate and effects always have and always must have votes.

Mr [John] Stephens has also a considerable estate within the borough but not so large as Mr. Praed's. He is concerned in a fishery wherein he employs some of the inhabitants which affords but little influence and by reason of an unsociable, haughty disposition which keeps everybody at a distance from him has little weight with the superior and the greater part of the votes.

His Grace the Duke of Bolton, who has one very good manor partly within and the residue in the neighbourhood of the borough. His Grace's ancestor had for some time considerable interest in the borough, but it has not been cultivated for a great number of years and it is apprehended his Grace's influence cannot be of any considerable weight saving amongst his own tenants.8

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Hobart Pprs. Norwich City Central Lib. NRS 21140, 75 x 1 and 2.
  • 2. J.H. Matthews, St. Ives, 294.
  • 3. Chatham mss.
  • 4. Ld. Buckinghamshire to Nathaniel Carpenter, 751, N.R.S. 21140, 75 x 2.
  • 5. William Cayley to Newcastle, 26 Sept. 1751, Add. 32725, ff. 213-14.
  • 6. Ld Buckinghamshire to John Stephens, 16 Oct. 1751, N.R.S. 21140, 75 x 2.
  • 7. Letter to Dr. Yonge, 14 Nov. 1751, Add. 32725, ff. 422-3.
  • 8. N.R.S. 21140, 75 x 2.