Mitchell (UK Parliament constituency)
|Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
|Major settlements||St Newlyn East and St Enoder|
|Number of members||Two|
Mitchell, or St Michael (sometimes also called St Michael's Borough or Michaelborough) was a rotten borough consisting of the town (or village) of Mitchell, Cornwall. From the first Parliament of Edward VI, in 1547, it elected two members to the Unreformed House of Commons.
The borough encompassed parts of two parishes, Newlyn East and St Enoder. Like most of the Cornish boroughs enfranchised or re-enfranchised during the Tudor period, it was a rotten borough from the start.
The franchise in Mitchell was a matter of controversy in the 17th century, but was settled by a House of Commons resolution on 20 March 1700 which stated "That the right of election of members to serve in Parliament for the Borough of St Michael's, in the County of Cornwall, is in the portreeves, and lords of the manor, who are capable of being portreeves, and the inhabitants of the said borough paying scot and lot": this gave the vote to most of the male householders.
The borough was often not in the complete control of a single proprietor, the voters being swayed between those of the lords of the manor from whom they expected to receive most benefit in return. Namier quotes a memorandum on the state of the Cornish boroughs from Lord Edgcumbe to Prime Minister Newcastle in 1760, describing the Mitchell voters as "in general low, indigent people, [who] will join such of the Under Lords from whom they have reason to expect most money and favours. Admiral Boscawen..., by supplying some of the voters with money and conferring favours on others, seems to be adding very considerably to the strength of his interest."
The landowners, however, had other expedients for gaining control. The number of voters, which in 1784 had been at least 39, was reduced by 1831 to just seven, achieved by pulling down a number of houses in the borough and letting those houses that still stood on conditions which prevented the occupiers appearing on the parish rates. The proprietors by the 1820s were the Earl of Falmouth (a Boscawen) and Sir Christopher Hawkins, Hawkins having purchased his interest some years previously from Sir Francis Basset; but Mitchell having thus been reduced to one of the smallest of all the rotten boroughs (in 1831, the borough had a population of approximately 90, and 23 houses), it was naturally disfranchised by the Great Reform Act of 1832.
Mitchell's early MPs included the explorer and statesman Walter Raleigh, who sat briefly for the borough in the 1590s while out of favour at court and so unable to secure a more prestigious seat. A later MP was the future Duke of Wellington, who as Sir Arthur Wellesley represented the borough from January to May 1807, for part of which time he was a junior minister (Chief Secretary for Ireland) in the Duke of Portland's second government.
Members of Parliament
- Cobbett spells the name as "Carpe"
- Holles was also elected for East Retford, which he chose to represent, and never sat for Mitchell
- Peter Courtney, William Chadwell, Francis Basset and Samuel Cosworth were all named in the return, though Cosworth's name was later taken off. The Parliament was dissolved before the dispute could be resolved or any of the four could take their seat
- Arundell was also elected for Bodmin, which he chose to represent, and never sat for Mitchell
- Thomas Temple was apparently elected after the Civil War to fill the vacancy, but there is no evidence that he ever took his seat
- Finch was also elected for Canterbury, which he chose to represent, and did not sit for Mitchell
- Expelled from the House for refusing to take the oath of loyalty to William and Mary
- Created Viscount Molesworth (in the Peerage of Ireland), July 1716
- At the election of 1754, Clive and Stephenson were initially declared to have defeated their opponents Luttrell and Hussey, but the result was reversed on petition
- Scawen was re-elected in 1774 but had also been elected for Surrey, which he chose to represent, and did not sit again for Mitchell
- At the election of 1784 there was double return, one naming Howell and Hawkins as elected, the other naming Howell and Roger Wilbraham, they having tied with 21 votes each. (Howell had 27 votes and the fourth candidate, William Boscawen, 15.) On scrutiny of the votes the Committee struck off four votes that had been credited to Wilbraham, and added one to Hawkins that had been disallowed by the Returning Officer, and declared Hawkins duly elected.
- Hawkins was also elected for Grampound and Penryn; he chose to represent Grampound, and did not sit for Mitchell in this Parliament
- D Brunton & D H Pennington, “Members of the Long Parliament” (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1954)
- Cobbett's Parliamentary history of England, from the Norman Conquest in 1066 to the year 1803 (London: Thomas Hansard, 1808) 
- Maija Jansson (ed.), Proceedings in Parliament, 1614 (House of Commons) (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1988)
- Lewis Namier, "The Structure of Politics at the Accession of George III" (2nd edition - London: St Martin's Press, 1961)
- J. E. Neale, The Elizabethan House of Commons (London: Jonathan Cape, 1949)
- T. H. B. Oldfield, The Representative History of Great Britain and Ireland (London: Baldwin, Cradock & Joy, 1816)
- J Holladay Philbin, "Parliamentary Representation 1832 - England and Wales" (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965)
- Henry Stooks Smith, "The Parliaments of England from 1715 to 1847" (2nd edition, edited by FWS Craig - Chichester: Parliamentary Reference Publications, 1973)
- Willis, Browne (1750). Notitia Parliamentaria, Part II: A Series or Lists of the Representatives in the several Parliaments held from the Reformation 1541, to the Restoration 1660 .. London. p. 1.
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "M" (part 3)