Cornwall (UK Parliament constituency)

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Cornwall
Former County constituency
for the House of Commons
County Cornwall
1290–1832
Number of members Two
Replaced by East Cornwall and West Cornwall

Cornwall is a former county constituency covering the county of Cornwall, in the South West of England. It was a constituency of the House of Commons of England then of the House of Commons of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1832. It was represented by two Knights of the Shire, elected by the bloc vote system.

Under the Reform Act 1832, it was divided between the constituencies of East Cornwall and West Cornwall.

Boundaries and franchise[edit]

The constituency consisted of the whole of the historic county of Cornwall, the most south-westerly county of England, occupying the part of the South West peninsula to the west of the River Tamar which divides the county from Devon. (Although Cornwall contained a number of parliamentary boroughs, each of which elected two MPs in their own right, these were not excluded from the county constituency, and owning property within a borough could confer a vote at the county election. For a summary of the boroughs represented before 1832 see Parliamentary representation from Cornwall.)

As in other county constituencies the franchise between 1430 and 1832 was defined by the Forty Shilling Freeholder Act, which gave the right to vote to every man who possessed freehold property within the county valued at £2 or more per year for the purposes of land tax; it was not necessary for the freeholder to occupy his land, nor even in later years to be resident in the county at all.

By the time of the Great Reform Act in 1832, the population of Cornwall was about 300,000. Only a tiny fraction of these were entitled to vote. Sedgwick estimated there were about 2,300 electors in this constituency in the 1715-1754 period, and Namier and Brooke suggest this had increased to about 2,500 electors in the 1754-1790 period. At the vigorously contested election of 1790, when a high turnout can be assumed, 4,656 valid votes were cast (each voter being entitled to vote twice). At Cornwall's final election, in 1831, 5,350 votes were cast.

Members of Parliament[edit]

  • Constituency created (1290)

1290–1510[edit]

Parliament First member Second member
1301 Michael Petyt
1307 Henry Bodrugan
1314 Michael Petyt
1324 Otto Bodrugan William Hureward
1336 William Bodrugan Richard Hiwis
1337 William Bodrugan Richard Hiwis
1357 John Hamely[1]
1360 John Hamely [1]
1362 John Hamely [1]
1369 Otto Bodrugan Robert Tresilian[2]
1384 Otto Bodrugan
1386 Sir Ralph Carminowe John Beville [3]
1388 (Feb) Sir Henry Ilcombe Sir John Reskymer [3]
1388 (Sep) Sir William Lambourne Sir John Reskymer [3]
1390 (Jan) Sir Richard Cergeaux Sir William Lambourne [3]
1390 (Nov) Sir John Reskymer Michael Archdeacon [3]
1391 John Colshull John Treverbyn [3]
1393 John Trevarthian John Treverbyn [3]
1394 John Colshull John Treverbyn [3]
1395 Sir Henry Ilcombe John Chenduyt [3]
1397 (Jan) John Arundell of Lanherne John Colshull [3]
1397 (Sep) John Arundell of Lanherne John Trevarthian [3]
1399 Sir William Lambourne John Colshull [3]
1401 Sir John Trevarthian William Bodrugan [3]
1402 Sir William Talbot John Whalesborough [3]
1404 (Jan) Sir John Arundell of Lanherne John Chenduyt [3]
1404 (Oct) Sir John Arundell of Lanherne Sir Ralph Botreaux [3]
1406 Sir John Arundell of Lanherne Nicholas Broomford [3]
1407 John Chenduyt Richard Trevanion [3]
1410 Sir Ralph Botreaux Sir John Herle [3]
1411 Sir John Arundell of Lanherne John Urban [3]
1413 (May) John Wybbury John Trelawny [3]
1414 (Apr) Sir John Arundell of Lanherne John Colshull II [3]
1414 (Nov) Sir William Talbot John Colshull II [3]
1416 (Mar) Sir John Arundell of Lanherne William Bodrugan II [3]
1416 (Oct)
1417 Sir John Arundell of Lanherne Thomas Arundell [3]
1419 John Arundell of Bideford Sir Thomas Arundell[3]
1420 Sir William Bodrugan John Tretherf [3]
1421 (May) Sir John Arundell of Lanherne Sir John Trelawny [3]
1421 (Dec) Sir John Trelawny John Arundell of Bideford[disambiguation needed] [3]
1422 Sir John Arundell of Lanherne John Arundell of Bideford[disambiguation needed] [3]
1423 Sir John Arundell of Lanherne
1429 Sir Thomas Arundell
1435 Sir Thomas Arundell
1472 Sir Henry Bodrugan
1478 Sir Thomas Vaughan [4]
1483 John Beaumont alias Bodrugan James Tyrrell
1484 John Beaumont alias Bodrugan

1510-1629[edit]

As there were sometimes significant gaps between Parliaments held in this period, the dates of first assembly and dissolution are given. Where the name of the member has not yet been ascertained or (before 1558) is not recorded in a surviving document, the entry unknown is entered in the table.

The Roman numerals after some names are those used in The House of Commons 1509-1558 to distinguish a member from another politician of the same name.

In 1529 alternative versions are given of the names for one member. The first comes from the above book on the House of Commons. The second originates from another source.

Elected Assembled Dissolved First Member Second Member
1510 21 January 1510 23 February 1510 unknown unknown
1512 4 February 1512 4 March 1514 unknown unknown
1515 5 February 1515 22 December 1515 Sir Peter Edgecombe unknown
1523 15 April 1523 13 August 1523 unknown unknown
1529 3 November 1529 14 April 1536 Sir Peter Edgecombe Richard Grenville
1536 8 June 1536 18 July 1536 unknown unknown
1539 28 April 1539 24 July 1540 Sir John Chamond William Godolphin I
1542 16 January 1542 28 March 1544 Richard Edgcumbe unknown
1545 23 November 1545 31 January 1547 Richard Chamond John Beauchamp
1547 4 November 1547 15 April 1552 (Sir) Richard Edgecumbe John Reskymer
1553 1 March 1553 31 March 1553 (Sir) William Godolphin I Henry Chiverton
1553 5 October 1553 5 December 1553 John Carminowe Richard Roscarrock
1554 2 April 1554 3 May 1554 Sir John Arundell
1554 12 November 1554 16 January 1555  ? Thomas Trefry I Henry Chiverton
1555 21 October 1555 9 December 1555 Richard Chamond
1558 20 January 1558 17 November 1558 John Arundell John Polwhele
1559 23 January 1559 8 May 1559 John Trelawny Richard Chamond
1562 or 1563 11 January 1563 2 January 1567 Peter Edgcumbe John Trelawny
died and repl. 1566 by Richard Chamond
1571 2 April 1571 29 May 1571 Richard Grenville William Mohun
1572 8 May 1572 19 April 1583 Peter Edgcumbe to 1581
(Unknown from 1581)
Richard Chamond
1584 23 November 1584 14 September 1585 Richard Grenville (Sir) William Mohun
1586 13 October 1586 23 March 1587 Peter Edgcumbe
1588 4 February 1589 29 March 1589 Sir Francis Godolphin
1593 18 February 1593 10 April 1593 William Bevil
1597 24 October 1597 9 February 1598 William Killigrew Jonathan Trelawny
1601 27 October 1601 19 December 1601 Sir Walter Raleigh John Arundell
1604 19 March 1604 9 February 1611 Sir Anthony Rous Sir Jonathan Trelawny died 1604
Sir William Godolphin
1614 5 April 1614 7 June 1614 Richard Carew John St Aubyn
1620 or 1621 16 January 1621 8 February 1622 Bevil Grenville John Arundell
1623 or 1624 12 February 1624 27 March 1625 William Coryton
1625 17 May 1625 12 August 1625 Sir Robert Killigrew Charles Trevanion
1626 6 February 1626 15 June 1626 Sir Francis Godolphin William Coryton
1628 17 March 1628 10 March 1629 Sir John Eliot


1640-1832[edit]

Year First member First party Second member Second party
April 1640 William Godolphin Richard Buller Parliamentarian
November 1640 Sir Bevil Grenville Royalist Alexander Carew Royalist [5]
September 1642 Grenville disabled to sit - seat vacant
September 1643 Carew expelled - seat vacant
1646 Hugh Boscawen [6] Nicholas Trefusis
December 1648 Boscawen not recorded as sitting after Pride's Purge Trefusis excluded in Pride's Purge - seat vacant
Year First member Second member Third member Fourth member
1653 Robert Bennet Francis Langdon Anthony Rous John Bawden
Year First member Second member Third member Fourth member Fifth member Sixth member Seventh member Eighth member
1654 Anthony Rous Anthony Nicholl Thomas Silly Richard Carter Walter Moyle Charles Boscawen Thomas Gewen James Launce
1656 Francis Rous William Braddon John St Aubyn
Year First member First party Second member Second party
January 1659 Hugh Boscawen Francis Buller
Cornwall not represented in restored Rump
April 1660 Sir John Carew, Bt Robert Robartes
September 1660 Hugh Boscawen
1661 Jonathan Trelawny Sir John Coryton, Bt
1679 Francis Robartes Sir Richard Edgcumbe
May 1685 Lord Lansdown Viscount Bodmin
August 1685 Francis Robartes
1689 Sir John Carew, Bt Hugh Boscawen [6]
1690 Francis Robartes
1695 John Speccot
June 1701 Richard Edgcumbe Whig
December 1701 John Granville James Buller
1703 Sir Richard Vyvyan, Bt
1703 Hugh Boscawen Whig
1708 James Buller
1710 George Granville Tory John Trevanion [7] Tory
1712 Sir Richard Vyvyan, Bt
1713 Sir William Carew, Bt Tory
1722 Sir John St Aubyn, Bt Tory
April 1744 Sir Coventry Carew, Bt Tory
December 1744 Sir John Molesworth, Bt Tory
1748 James Buller Tory
1761 Sir John St Aubyn, Bt
1765 Sir John Molesworth, Bt
1772 Humphrey Mackworth-Praed
1774 Sir William Lemon, Bt Whig
1775 Edward Eliot
1784 Sir William Molesworth, Bt
1790 Francis Gregor Tory
1806 John Hearle Tremayne Tory
1825 Sir Richard Rawlinson Vyvyan, Bt Tory
1826 Edward William Wynne Pendarves Whig
1831 Sir Charles Lemon, Bt Whig
  • Constituency abolished (1832)

Elections[edit]

The bloc vote electoral system was used in two seat elections and first past the post for single member by-elections. Each elector had as many votes as there were seats to be filled. Votes had to be cast by a spoken declaration, in public, at the hustings, which were usually held at the county town. The expense and difficulty of voting at only one location in the county, together with the lack of a secret ballot contributed to the corruption and intimidation of electors, which was widespread in the unreformed British political system.

The expense, to candidates and their supporters, of contested elections encouraged the leading families of the county to agree on the candidates to be returned unopposed whenever possible. Contested county elections were therefore unusual.

There were no contested general election polls in Cornwall between 1710 and 1774. Leading Whig politicians, like Sir Robert Walpole, were happy to let Tory squires represent the county; to avoid them interfering with Whig plans in the county's numerous borough constituencies. The related families of Carew, Molesworth, St Aubyn and Buller monopolised the representation for much of the 18th century, until the partners in the Miners' Bank at Truro, Humphrey Mackworth Praed and William Lemon, became involved in elections in the 1770s.

Note on percentage change calculations: Where there was only one candidate of a party in successive elections, for the same number of seats, change is calculated on the party percentage vote. Where there was more than one candidate, in one or both successive elections for the same number of seats, then change is calculated on the individual percentage vote.

Note on sources: The information for the election results given below is taken from Sedgwick 1715-1754, Namier and Brooke 1754-1790 and Stooks Smith 1790-1832.

1710s1720s1730s1740s1750s1760s1770s1780s1790s1800s1810s1820s1830s

Elections in the 1710s[edit]

General Election 16 February 1715: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory Sir William Carew, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory John Trevanion Unopposed N/A N/A

Elections in the 1720s[edit]

General Election 2 May 1722: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory Sir William Carew, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory Sir John St Aubyn, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
General Election 13 September 1727: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory Sir William Carew, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory Sir John St Aubyn, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A

Elections in the 1730s[edit]

General Election 15 May 1734: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory Sir William Carew, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory Sir John St Aubyn, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A

Elections in the 1740s[edit]

General Election 20 May 1741: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory Sir William Carew, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory Sir John St Aubyn, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
  • Death of Carew
By-Election 4 April 1744: Cornwall
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory Sir Coventry Carew, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing N/A
  • Death of St Aubyn
By-Election 12 December 1744: Cornwall
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory Sir John Molesworth, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing N/A
General Election 22 July 1747: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory Sir Coventry Carew, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory Sir John Molesworth, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
  • Death of Carew
By-Election 27 April 1748: Cornwall
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory James Buller Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1750s[edit]

General Election 1 May 1754: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory Sir John Molesworth, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory James Buller Unopposed N/A N/A

Elections in the 1760s[edit]

General Election 8 April 1761: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan Sir John St Aubyn, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory James Buller Unopposed N/A N/A
  • Death of Buller
By-Election 15 May 1765: Cornwall
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan John Molesworth Unopposed N/A N/A
Non Partisan gain from Tory Swing N/A
General Election 29 March 1768: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan Sir John St Aubyn, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Non Partisan Sir John Molesworth, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A

Elections in the 1770s[edit]

  • Death of St Aubyn
By-Election 16 December 1772: Cornwall
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan Humphrey Mackworth Praed Elected N/A N/A
Non Partisan William Lemon Defeated N/A
Non Partisan hold Swing N/A
General Election 25 October 1774: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan Sir William Lemon, Bt 1,099 27.48 N/A
Non Partisan Sir John Molesworth 1,050 26.26 N/A
Non Partisan John Buller, junior 960 24.01 N/A
Non Partisan Humphrey Mackworth Praed 890 22.26 N/A
Turnout 3,999 N/A N/A
  • Death of Molesworth
By-Election 15 November 1775: Cornwall
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan Edward Eliot Unopposed N/A N/A
Non Partisan hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1780s[edit]

General Election 13 September 1780: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan Sir William Lemon, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Non Partisan Edward Eliot Unopposed N/A N/A
By-Election 25 February 1784: Cornwall
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan Sir William Molesworth, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Non Partisan hold Swing N/A
General Election 21 April 1784: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan Sir William Molesworth, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Non Partisan Sir William Lemon, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A

Elections in the 1790s[edit]

General Election 1790: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig Sir William Lemon, Bt 2,250 48.32 N/A
Tory Francis Gregor 1,270 27.28 N/A
Whig Sir Jonathan St Aubyn, Bt 1,136 24.40 N/A
Turnout 4,656 N/A N/A
  • Note (1790): This was the first election, for this constituency, where Stooks Smith used party labels for candidates.
General Election 1796: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig Sir William Lemon, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory Francis Gregor Unopposed N/A N/A

Elections in the 1800s[edit]

General Election 1802: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig Sir William Lemon, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory Francis Gregor Unopposed N/A N/A
General Election 1806: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig Sir William Lemon, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory John Hearle Tremayne Unopposed N/A N/A
General Election 1807: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig Sir William Lemon, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory John Hearle Tremayne Unopposed N/A N/A

Elections in the 1810s[edit]

General Election 1812: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig Sir William Lemon, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory John Hearle Tremayne Unopposed N/A N/A
General Election 1818: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig Sir William Lemon, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory John Hearle Tremayne Unopposed N/A N/A

Elections in the 1820s[edit]

General Election 1820: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig Sir William Lemon, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory John Hearle Tremayne Unopposed N/A N/A
  • Death of Lemon
By-Election February 1825: Cornwall
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory Sir Richard Rawlinson Vyvyan, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory gain from Whig Swing N/A
General Election 1826: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory Sir Richard Rawlinson Vyvyan, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Whig Edward William Wynne Pendarves Unopposed N/A N/A

Elections in the 1830s[edit]

General Election 1830: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory Sir Richard Rawlinson Vyvyan, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Whig Edward William Wynne Pendarves Unopposed N/A N/A
General Election 1831: Cornwall (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig Edward William Wynne Pendarves 1,819 35.42 N/A
Whig Sir Charles Lemon, Bt 1,804 35.13 N/A
Tory Sir Richard Rawlinson Vyvyan, Bt 901 17.55 N/A
Tory Viscount Valletort 611 11.90 N/A
Turnout 5,135 N/A N/A
  • Note (1831): Stooks Smith records that the poll took five days.
  • Constituency divided (1832)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

Notes in text[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "HAMELY (HAMYLYN), Sir John (aft.1324-1399), of Wimborne St. Giles, Dorset.". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  2. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 55. Oxford University Press. 2004. p. 318. ISBN 0-19-861405-5. Article by John L. Leland.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad "History of Parliament: Cornwall". Retrieved 2011-09-11. 
  4. ^ "Vaughan,Sir Thomas". Oxford DNB. Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  5. ^ Carew is classified as a Royalist by Brunton and Pennington on the grounds thathe was disabled for adhering to the king. However, he began the Civil War as a Parliamentarian and was appointed to the governorship of a crucial stronghold; he attempted to betray this to the Royalists when it seemed that their cause was prospering, but being discovered was arrested, disabled, and later executed as a traitor.
  6. ^ a b This Hugh Boscawen was NOT Hugh Boscawen, the first Earl of Falmouth, mentioned below.
  7. ^ This John Trevanion was NOT John Trevanion, the Civil War hero, who died in 1643.
  8. ^ "Cobbett's Parliamentary History (A-Z)". www2.odl.ox.ac.uk. 2007. Retrieved 14 June 2013.