London Pollbooks, 1713: Introduction

Pages 62-64

London Politics 1713-1717 Minutes of A Whig Club 1714-1717, London Pollbooks 1713. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1981.

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A list of those who voted in the general election of 1713 for London is printed with the minutes of the Whig club for two reasons. First, it is the nearest available list to the period during which the minutes were compiled, for although the 1715 election was hotly contested, no pollbook is known to have been produced. Secondly, and more importantly, the list is unique in its own right. Although several pollbooks for London have survived from the eighteenth century, until recently the 1713 contest was not known to have been fully documented. Lists of those who polled for one set of candidates, Peter Godfrey, Robert Heysham, Thomas Scawen and John Ward, were known to scholars; but the existence of a corresponding list of those who polled for the other set, Sir John Cass, Sir Richard Hoare, Sir George Newland and Sir William Withers, was unrecorded until Dr Jeremy Mitchell purchased a copy in 1974. We wish here to thank him both for drawing our attention to it, and for allowing us to publish an edition of it.

Cass, Hoare, Newland and Withers were Tories who had represented London in the previous parliament. Their four rivals stood again in 1715, when they were all regarded as Whigs. To justify calling them all Whigs in 1713, however, needs some explanation, for one of them, Robert Heysham, had previously been described as a Tory. What the opposition to the Tory government was trying to do in 1713, at least in London, was to promote parliamentary candidates not so much as Whigs as opponents of a commercial treaty with France, the defeat of which in June had been the biggest setback to the ministry since its formation in 1710. It had been accomplished by a combination of Whigs and dissident Tories, and by getting one of the latter to stand against ministerial candidates in London, opposition elements in the City were trying to keep up this alliance during the general election. The main objection to the treaty had been that it would jeopardise English trade and thereby the livelihoods of merchants, and the four opposition candidates stressed that they were 'eminent merchants and great traders . . . who will never give up your trade to France, to the impoverishment of your own nation', unlike, by implication, their Tory rivals. (fn. 1)

This ploy was resisted by their opponents, however, who described all four opposition candidates indiscriminately as Whigs throughout the contest. Dyer's Tory newsletter, for instance, reported the day's polling on 19 October with the comment that 'the Whigs brought down a great mob of weavers and such people at Guildhall who made a disturbance and caused much fighting and quarrelling in the street, but the poll went on notwithstanding the rabble to the great advantage of the Church party'. (fn. 2) When the poll ended on 24 October the equally Tory Post Boy proclaimed the victory of Hoare and his colleagues, exulting 'that to the inexpressible joy of all true friends to the Church and Queen the four old members got the . . . majority, which considering the last efforts of the Whigs, atheists, deists, Quakers and Republicans of all distinctions to hinder them, is very great'.

The reported outcome of the election was: Hoare, 3,842; Newland, 3,826; Cass, 3,802; Withers, 3,763; Ward, 3,730; Heysham, 3,688; Godfrey, 3,657; and Scawen, 3,625. This close result led the defeated candidates to demand a scrutiny, which began on 31 October. On 2 November the Whig candidates published the list of those who had polled for the four Tories, asking the citizens of London to peruse it, and 'if you observe your friends or selves to be polled by others, or those polled which are dead, or have no right, you are desired (with what speed you can) to bring or send accounts thereof to Lawrance's Coffee-house, Freeman Yard in Cornhill, from 9 to 12, and from 1 to 6, and to furnish what necessary evidence can be obtained for the proof of your observations'. (fn. 3) The Tory sheriffs, however, brought the scrutiny to a close before the end of November, insisting that it should end when the time for the writ for the election ran out.

Despite their defeat in both the poll and the scrutiny the Whigs prepared to petition parliament, to which end they were 'industriously busy in collecting objectors to the pollers' for the Tories. This led the scrutineers and friends of the Tory candidates to retaliate by publishing in February 1714 a list of those who had polled for their opponents. As they stated in their prefatory remarks, 'if therein you observe that your selves, or any persons else, have been personated by others, or those persons dead, or having no right to poll, were falsely polled, we entreat you to bring, or send an account thereof with the necessary proofs of your observations, to the London Coffee-House, in Ship Yard, in Bartholomew Lane, behind the Royal Exchange, any day (Sundays only excepted) between the hours of ten in the forenoon and six in the evening; at which time and place there will be attendance to receive them'. (fn. 4)

The two pollbooks, therefore, were published quite separately, at least three months apart, being in fact produced by the rivals of the candidates whose votes they purported to record. They were compiled for a decidedly partisan purpose. In both lists the names of the voters were recorded in rough alphabetical order under their respective livery companies. Where no information other than the name of the voter was recorded, the entries indicated that those named had polled for all four candidates on the relevant list. When they exercised their option of polling for fewer than four, or of 'splitting their tickets' in the convenient American phrase, the initial letters of the candidates for whom they polled were entered against their names. Thus John Allen, a glass-seller, voted for Godfrey, Hoare, Scawen and Ward. He therefore appears on the list of Whig voters as Allen John, W. S. G., and on the list of Tory voters as Allen John, H.

In editing the two pollbooks for publication in a single alphabetical list, the following conventions have been employed. Surnames and christian names have been transcribed precisely as they appear in the original lists. The terms esquire (esq), junior (jun), senior (sen) and the younger (yr) were occasionally used by the compilers of the lists. Baronets and knights have been distinguished by the abbreviations 'bt' and 'kt'. The name of the voter is followed by an abbreviated reference to his membership of one of the livery companies; a list of these abbreviations follows this Introduction. The vast majority of voters (6,787) appear on only one list and voted for all four Whig or Tory candidates. If a voter supported all four Whigs, the letter A has been placed at the end of his entry; if all four Tories, the letter B has been used. To indicate those who cast fewer than four votes, or who split tickets, the candidates have been identified individually by numbers, thus

A1 Ward
A2 Heysham
A3 Godfrey
A4 Scawen
B5 Withers
B6 Hoare
B7 Newland
B8 Cass

Consequently, John Allen, the glass-seller, who appears in both lists, here has the single entry Allen, John, gls A134B6. 615 individuals have been identified as appearing in both lists. In some cases the spelling of their names differed. Most of these differences were trivial and the choice of spelling has been made silently. However, where the difference was significant, the variant spelling has been placed in brackets after the name chosen and a cross-reference inserted.


  • 1. See for example the Daily Courant, 13 October 1713. For newspaper references from the Burney Collection in the British Library we are indebted to Dr Eveline Cruickshanks.
  • 2. British Library MSS Loan 29/18.
  • 3. A List of the Poll for . . . Hoare . . . Withers . . . Cass . . . Newland (1713). A list of those allegedly disqualified was published in the Daily Courant, 3 December 1713.
  • 4. A List of the poll for . . . Ward . . . Scawen . . . Heysham . . . Godfrey (1714), p. 2.