Salisbury: Politics and parliamentary history since 1612

Pages 117-124

A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1962.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.



The relations between the city and the bishop continued throughout the 17th century to be an important feature of Salisbury's political history, for the limitation of the bishop's jurisdiction to the Close by the charter of 1612 did not bring all friction to an end. (fn. 1) The bishop retained his authority as lord of the city, from whom all lands within it were held, and to whom quit-rents and amercements were due. His court leet was held half-yearly, and if the bishop was present at the Michaelmas court he administered the oath of office to the newlyelected mayor. His court of pleas, with an unlimited jurisdiction in personal actions, also continued to be held at intervals, which varied at different periods from once a week to once a month. In 1834 no action had been tried in it for eighteen years, though its processes were still occasionally used to enforce the payment of debts within its jurisdiction. (fn. 2) If the position under the charter of 1612 was distasteful to the Close, it did not wholly satisfy the city, and each side stood firmly on its rights, watchful for any encroachments by the other.

The corporation's seats in the cathedral were a fertile source of petty disputes. In 1624 complaints were made to the dean that the mayoress, and the wives of the aldermen and assistants were being 'put out of their places' in the cathedral by others. In 1632 a request by the dean that the assistants should give up their seats was met with unyielding opposition, and by complaints that the lock on the seats had been broken, and one of the supports of the mayor's seat sawn off. The dispute was referred to the bishop, who replied that it was no concern of his. (fn. 3) Following the grant of the city's new charter of 1630, (fn. 4) a more serious dispute arose and continued for four years. It appears that the additions made to the 1612 charter in 1630 were submitted by the corporation to Bishop Davenant, who raised no objection because they did not concern the liberties of the Church. Moreover, the bishop was at this time embroiled with the dean over the appointment of a new music teacher for the choristers. (fn. 5) When this domestic dispute was settled, the bishop, fearing that his acceptance of the additions might be construed as acceptance of the city's charter as a whole, and goaded by the corporation's attempts to impose rates upon the inhabitants of the Close and other aggressive actions, decided to initiate legal proceedings to challenge the validity of the charters of 1612 and 1630. (fn. 6) The council resolved to enter into negotiations with the bishop to try to bring about a reconciliation, but the charters must be defended, if necessary by recourse to law. A deputation called on the bishop, and a few days later representatives of the bishop, headed by Sir Lawrence Hyde, attended a special meeting of the council. Hyde explained that the bishop regarded the city's charters as prejudicial to the rights and privileges of the Church, and had been advised that they were void, because contrary to former charters granted by the bishop. If the corporation would agree to their repeal, the bishop would be ready to 'yield and grant such things as would be to the good of the city'. The corporation expressed its readiness to negotiate, but could not consent to the abolition of its charters. Preliminaries for the legal proceedings and negotiations for an amicable agreement continued side by side throughout 1632 and 1633. By the end of 1633 a number of cross-suits in the Court of Chancery were pending between the bishop and the corporation concerning their titles to land in Bugmore, gardens west of the Avon, and various other matters. Both suits and negotiations continued into the next year, and in May 1634 a power of attorney was granted to the recorder to bring the dispute to an amicable conclusion. (fn. 7) This was only temporary, however, for bickerings continued until the eve of the Civil War. In January 1641 the corporation appointed a committee to examine the charters and deeds concerning differences with the Close; and two months later petitions to Parliament on this subject were drawn up. (fn. 8)

The Civil War had its repercussions in Salisbury, but these were on the whole of a minor kind. In spite of the efforts made by the recorder, Robert Hyde, to secure the city for the king, Salisbury from the beginning took the parliamentary side. A band of Volunteers was formed, which presented a resolution of welcome and promise of loyal support to Pembroke on his appointment as Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire in 1642; money was raised and preparations made for the defence of the city. (fn. 9) After the battle of Edgehill Prince Maurice entered Salisbury on his way westwards to join Hopton, and is said to have kept the mayor prisoner for three weeks; and Lord Hertford made the city his headquarters in May 1643. In June 1644 Salisbury had its first experience of Parliamentarian troops when it was occupied by Essex on his way to relieve Lyme Regis. (fn. 10) Later in the year, Ludlow and his troops, defeated in a skirmish at Warminster Heath, were pursued through the city by Royalist troops, when 'divers persons disaffected to the Parliament were so unwise as to display their pleasure'. Ludlow returned shortly afterwards with a party of horse, procured a list of the Parliament's enemies and exacted £200 from them. (fn. 11) At the end of September 1644 the king entered Salisbury at the head of the victorious army of the West. Cannon, baggage, and a garrison were left at Longford House and the main army pushed on in an unsuccessful attempt to attack Waller at Andover. (fn. 12) The only actual fighting in Salisbury took place in December 1644 and January 1645. In December the two regiments of Royalist horse quartered there were attacked by a party of Ludlow's troops under Major Wansey. They tried to barricade themselves into the Close, but Wansey's men set fire to the gates, forced the Royalists out and took their officers prisoner. Ludlow himself came a few days later and proceeded to fortify the belfry in the Close. A surprise attack by Royalists under Sir Marmaduke Langdale, entering the city by Castle Street, led to sharp fighting in the Market Place, in Endless Street, and in the Close itself, where the Royalists burned down the door of the belfry and captured the garrison. Ludlow himself with a party of his men escaped and made their way to Southampton. (fn. 13) Salisbury was then occupied for about five weeks by Royalists under Goring, who not only exacted contributions from the supporters of Parliament, but oppressed friends and foes alike. They departed in March 1645, and for the rest of the year a succession of Parliamentary armies passed through the city on their way to the West, but no further fighting took place. (fn. 14)

It is evident that a Royalist minority existed in Salisbury throughout the Civil War. Among the Wiltshire compounders, 36 were 'of Sarum', and included 14 gentlemen, 2 doctors of divinity, 2 physicians, a surgeon, 2 lawyers, 2 vintners, and a tanner. (fn. 15) In September 1646 a scuffle took place in Catherine Street between a group of young men, who were lighting a bonfire in celebration of the Thanksgiving Day appointed by Parliament, and a group of Royalists who scattered the bonfire into the water. (fn. 16) Further evidence both of the existence of a Royalist minority and of its smallness is provided by the amount of support given to Penruddock's rising in 1655. (fn. 17) The conspirators, about 180 strong, and led by Sir Joseph Wagstaffe, Colonel Penruddock of Compton Park, and Colonel Hugh Grove of Chisenbury in Enford, entered Salisbury at dawn on Monday, 12 March. The spring assizes were being held there, and the conspirators seized the two judges and the High Sheriff of Wiltshire, broke open Fisherton gaol and recruited some 200 of the prisoners. They received little support from the city and soon moved on to Blandford, Sherborne, and their defeat a few days later at South Molton. It has been estimated that about 200 Wiltshiremen were involved in the rising, mostly from Salisbury and the valleys to the north and west, and especially from the villages of the leaders. (fn. 18) Of the 70 Wiltshiremen among those taken prisoner, 22 were probably Salisbury men; they included 4 gentlemen, 2 inn-keepers, an apothecary, and a yeoman, and a wide variety of trades. (fn. 19)

The success of Parliament in the Civil War gave the corporation a unique chance to triumph over the bishop. In March 1647 two members of the corporation, John Ivie and Francis Dove, were sent to London to pursue the question of the purchase by the city of the bishop's lands, liberties, and jurisdictions. In April petitions were presented to Parliament and to the Contractors of Bishops' Lands, describing the citizens of Salisbury as having been 'miserably enslaved' by the 'prelatical tyranny' of the bishop, but hoping that they might be delivered from their 'former bondage' now that parliament had 'happily removed episcopacy'. The corporation was supported by Lord Pembroke. In November 1647 the purchase was completed for the sum of £1,795, half to be paid at once, and half in March 1648. The money was raised by loans guaranteed by the mayor and commonalty. (fn. 20) In 1649 the corporation bought four of the canonical houses in the Close for £800, to provide residences for the ministers of the three city parishes and of the cathedral. The contributions of the three parishes were fixed, but the parishes failed to raise the sums, and the houses were conveyed to two members of the corporation, Humphry Ditton and William Stone, who had advanced a considerable part of the purchase money. (fn. 21)

The successful efforts made by the corporation to obtain a new charter in 1656 (fn. 22) were no doubt largely due to its wish to obtain confirmation of the purchase of the bishop's lands and jurisdictions. But they seem also to have been the result of the divisions, in Salisbury as elsewhere, within the Parliamentarian party itself. The new charter was the means of excluding from the corporation the leading members of the Presbyterian party and their replacement by Independents. Among those displaced was the recorder William Stephens, who, in a letter to John Ivie, another of those excluded, deplored the use to which the new charter was being put. 'My place', he wrote, 'I hear is already bestowed upon Mr. Henry Eyre, who will punish sin, suppress ale-houses, and administer justice with greater courage than I have done'. (fn. 23) The Independents seem to have taken part, with the councillors they were about to replace, in the election to the second Protectorate Parliament in 1656. It has been shown elsewhere that the main issue in Salisbury parliamentary elections in the Commonwealth period, as in most of the Wiltshire corporation boroughs, was whether the franchise should continue to be confined to the corporation or be extended to a larger body of citizens. (fn. 24) An unsuccessful attempt at a 'popular' election had been made in 1640, and this was repeated in 1654 and 1656. (fn. 25)

The Restoration wrought a great change in the political complexion of the corporation. In June 1660 Sir Robert Hyde was restored to his former office of recorder; and the sword and cap of maintenance, bestowed on the city by the charter of 1656, were ordered to be brought to the Council House to be disposed of as the council should think fit. Early in 1661 the king's arms were ordered to be set up once more at the city's expense over the North Gate of the Close, and over the Castle Street Gate. (fn. 26) In 1662 Clarendon was unanimously elected high steward, and his three sons were given the freedom of the city; a feast for his entertainment was ordered in 1663, and in 1664 his son was elected one of the members of Parliament for the city. (fn. 27) Meanwhile under the Corporation Act 5 aldermen, 3 aldermen-elect, and 6 assistants had been removed in June 1662; in July a further 13 members of the corporation, a sergeant-at-mace, and 2 high constables were displaced, and all the vacancies filled on the same day. (fn. 28) The effect of the Restoration on people of lesser importance can be seen from the petition in 1660 from Roger Bedbury that he be restored to the place of postmaster at Salisbury, from which he had been ejected for malignancy in 1645, and replaced by Ralph Rookesby, put in by Thurloe; and a letter about the same time from Ashley-Cooper to Secretary Nicholas asking that Rookesby should continue as postmaster. (fn. 29) The bishop's lands and jurisdictions were, of course, restored to him, and this seems to have been carried out amicably by two representatives nominated by the city and two by the bishop. (fn. 30) The Restoration ushered in a period of much better relations between the bishop and the corporation, which became even more cordial with the appointment of Seth Ward as bishop in 1667. In his dislike of, and strict attitude towards, dissenters Ward was in accord with the now Anglican corporation, and he seems to have taken a benevolent interest in the city's affairs. An earlier plan to make the River Avon navigable was revived and an Act for that purpose obtained in 1664, largely through the bishop's encouragement; he contributed generously towards the scheme and in 1675 'digged the first spit near Longford House'. (fn. 31) In 1673 the corporation commissioned a portrait of the bishop by John Greenhill to be hung in the Council House. (fn. 32)

The Court stayed at Salisbury for the whole of August and part of September in 1665 to escape the plague in London. The corporation borrowed £100 to provide presents of plate for their visitors, and ordered that all aldermen who had been mayors should attend the mayor in their scarlet gowns at the coming of the royal visitors and that the rest of the common council should also be in attendance in their gowns. The city also paid fees of homage amounting to £36 6s. to the king's servants. (fn. 33) The corporation at this period was strongly Anglican and Royalist. At the first four by-elections to the Cavalier Parliament in 1664, 1665, and 1673, Royalists were returned unopposed. Opposition thereafter gathered strength probably under the influence of Shaftesbury, who replaced Clarendon as high steward in 1672, and pressure for the widening of the franchise was renewed. At both elections of 1679 the 'popular' candidates, Sir Thomas Mompesson and Alexander Thistlethwayte, were elected unopposed, and they seem to have made some effort in 1680 to get up a petition in the city protesting against the dissolution of Parliament. The Court Party had, however, now rallied in Salisbury. At the time of the election to the Oxford Parliament in February 1681 a number of Court supporters were admitted as freemen, and the council felt strong enough to substitute the Royalist Colonel John Wyndham for Mompesson, who, with Thistlethwayte, was supported by the 'popular' party. (fn. 34) In the following April the council ordered that all loans on bond to persons who had supported the 'popular' party at the election should be called in, and that anyone failing to pay should be sued immediately. Further, no one was in future to have any money granted to him by the council unless he were a conforming Churchman. (fn. 35) In April 1681 Wyndham presented an address from Salisbury thanking the king for his Declaration (of his reasons for dissolving the last two Parliaments) and expressing detestation of 'all popish and phanatical principles and practices, tending to sedition and rebellion'. This address was approved by 355 loyal citizens and by the companies of clothworkers and barber-surgeons. (fn. 36) In 1682 the corporation drew up and presented an 'abhorrence of the horrid Association late printed and published', and a feast was held at the Council House to celebrate the discovery of the Rye House plot. Monmouth's rebellion found no support in Salisbury; and a treat and bonfire was provided in July 1688 to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Wales. (fn. 37) On the other hand, James's agents, sent out in 1687 to report on the attitude of the parliamentary boroughs towards the proposed repeal of the Test Acts and Penal Laws, reported of the city that the generality were 'cross' to the king's interest, so that the Tory sentiments of the corporation were apparently not shared by all the citizens. (fn. 38)

At the Glorious Revolution Salisbury was for a brief period in the middle of the stage as the headquarters of James's army, from which most of it deserted him to join the Prince of Orange. James himself came to the city in November 1688, was received by the mayor and escorted to the Palace, where he stayed for three days, after which he left to return to Windsor. William entered Salisbury in December, where he was received by the mayor and aldermen, and apparently with great enthusiasm by the people. He stayed one night at the Palace on his way to London. (fn. 39) The behaviour of the corporation was like that of the Vicar of Bray, for they now became as zealous for William as they had previously been for James. This enthusiasm, however, was not felt for their new bishop.

The death of Seth Ward and his succession in 1689 by Gilbert Burnet began a further period of strained relations between city and Close. Burnet's Whiggish politics, latitudinarian Churchmanship, and friendship towards dissenters did not find favour with the corporation, and his tactlessness made him enemies in Salisbury as elsewhere. Matters came to a head in 1705 when, at the general election of that year, Burnet, who had hitherto refrained from meddling in parliamentary elections at Salisbury, felt it his duty to oppose Charles Fox, the high Tory candidate, and to recommend a candidate of his own. This raised a violent storm against Burnet, whose candidate was defeated, many of the clergy supporting Fox against their bishop. Burnet himself sadly recognized that this episode had poisoned permanently his relations with the town. (fn. 40) Matters were not improved by the Whiggism and high-handed methods of Burnet's chaplain, John Hoadly (brother of the notorious Benjamin Hoadly), who was presented by Burnet to the rectory of St. Edmund's in 1705, and subsequently became Archdeacon of Sarum in 1710 and chancellor in 1713.

The impeachment in 1710 of Dr. Henry Sacheverell had repercussions in Salisbury as elsewhere. Burnet was a strong supporter of the impeachment and spoke against Sacheverell at the trial. When the news of Sacheverell's light sentence reached Salisbury the bells of St. Thomas's Church were rung— though it was later claimed that this was on account of the races, and not in Sacheverell's honour. A large bonfire was made at the upper end of the High Street, drink flowed freely, and Sacheverell's health was drunk. The following week another bonfire took place at the Cheese Cross. Drink again flowed freely, passers by were threatened, and one was actually knocked down for refusing to drink the doctor's health. A third bonfire in the Market Place was planned, but the mayor now intervened to prohibit it. Early in May Burnet returned to Salisbury and was, as usual on these occasions, met by the mayor and senior aldermen, whom he received with cold civility. He made no reference to the bonfires and tumults. The following Sunday, however, he preached in the cathedral and took occasion in the course of his sermon to condemn the tumults, which he described as stirred up by the papists. He does not appear to have made any reflection upon the conduct of the city magistrates, but the mayor took offence. A few days later the bishop preached in St. Thomas's church. The mayor and eight of the aldermen attended the service, sitting 'at their seat doors and would not go to the top of their seats as they used'. When prayers were over and Burnet went into the pulpit, they rose and left the church in a body. These events led to a brisk exchange of pamphlets between an anonymous 'Citizen of New Sarum', defending the action of the mayor and citizens, and John Hoadly, defending the bishop. In the course of this exchange the 'Citizen' also accused Hoadly of influencing the bishop to withdraw his annual subscription of £10 to the workhouse, and of insisting that the customary reception of the bishop on his return to the city after any long absence was not merely a matter of courtesy on the part of the mayor and aldermen, but a duty they owed the bishop as lord of the town. The attitude taken up by Hoadly made it necessary, the writer claimed, for the corporation to discontinue this courtesy for a time. (fn. 41) Burnet died in 1715, and relations between his 18th-century successors and the city seem to have been much more amicable.

Salisbury's members of Parliament in the 17th century were all local men and until the seventies were generally citizens and members of the corporation. It seems to have been customary to elect the recorder as one of the members; between 1612 and 1660 there were only two elections when the recorder was not returned, 1620 and 1656, and the practice continued fairly regularly until 1710. In the seventies the city began to elect members of the local gentry as its representatives, and this became its general practice throughout the 18th century. (fn. 42) Citizens of Salisbury were still occasionally elected; for example Francis Swanton, deputy recorder, in 1715, Francis Kenton, alderman, in 1722, Edward Poore, deputy recorder, in 1747, and William Hussey, alderman, and mayor in 1758, at every election from 1774 until his death in 1813. In the early 19th century the Wyndham family, of St. Edmund's College, (fn. 43) provided one of the city's members for the first time since Colonel John Wyndham's election in 1681 and 1685, though attempts had been made to obtain a seat at the byelection of 1765 and in 1768. (fn. 44) Wadham Wyndham was elected in 1818 and to every Parliament (except that of 1833) until his death in 1843. The important part played in Salisbury's parliamentary history in the later 18th century by the Bouverie family, later Earls of Radnor, has already been described. (fn. 45) A member of the family was elected to one of the Salisbury seats in every Parliament from 1741 to 1833, and from 1743 to 1836 the heads of the family succeeded one another in the office of recorder. The Bouverie interest was at its height under the second Earl of Radnor, a respected and valued patron of the city, but never its master. His relationship with the corporation is well illustrated by the negotiations over the building of the new Council House. Following the destruction of the old Council House by fire in November 1780, (fn. 46) Lord Radnor offered to build a new one at his own expense, stipulating that it should be in the middle of the Market Place and entirely to his own plan. This offer was at first refused, though with becoming expressions of gratitude, because the council disliked the idea of thus encroaching upon the Market Place; and when Lord Radnor agreed to a different site and the plan proceeded, the council again objected to the idea that the new Council House should face Queen Street, because this would involve an inconvenient projection into the Market Place, and Lord Radnor again gave way. (fn. 47)

The building of the new Council House also provides an illustration of the good relations which existed at this period between the corporation and the bishop. Bishop Barrington seems to have cooperated willingly in the city's plans, though standing firmly upon his rights. He agreed to the proposed demolition of the bishop's Guildhall and gaol, (fn. 48) but stipulated that the corporation should, at their own expense, build a new gaol and that the new Council House must provide places for holding the bishop's courts, the courts of the dean and chapter, and the quarter sessions for the Close, the bishop to have no responsibility for the upkeep of the buildings. The appointment and payment of the gaoler should be by the corporation, but the nomination must be submitted to the bishop for his approval. In consideration of all this, the bishop agreed to surrender to the corporation the office of Clerk of the Market, (fn. 49) and further showed his goodwill by telling Lord Radnor that if anything were obtained from the late bishop's executors by way of dilapidations, it should go to the new building. (fn. 50)

Salisbury elections during the 18th century seem on the whole to have been quiet and contests were exceptional. In 1715 there was a feeling of resentment by some of the justices, aldermen and assistants that parliamentary elections and admissions to vacancies on the corporation were being settled in advance of the council's decisions by a small clique, who had procured the election of Edmund Lambert and Francis Swanton with the help of arbitrary proceedings by the mayor, and it was further contended that Swanton was not qualified under the Act of 1711 requiring members of Parliament to own land of the annual value of £300. Petitions to the House of Commons were presented by the disgruntled members of the corporation and by Robert Pitt, the unsuccessful candidate, but were later withdrawn. (fn. 51) In contrast, the by-election of 1765, caused by the death of Julines Beckford, when there were five candidates, seems to have been exceedingly respectable, three of the candidates withdrawing before the poll and the remaining two carrying on 'an active but polite canvass'. (fn. 52) The council kept in touch with their representatives and sent them instructions not only upon local matters but also on national questions. In 1735 the members were asked to see what could be done about relieving the city of the burden of a regiment of Foot Guards quartered there for nearly a year, to the great loss of various inn-keepers, several of whom had been obliged to close their inns. The soldiers behaved well, but their increasing numbers inevitably gave rise to many complaints from the citizens. (fn. 53) In 1742 the members were requested to support bills for triennial parliaments and the limitation of placemen in the House of Commons, and for the support of the woollen industry. (fn. 54) The members seem to have written to the council in 1756 about the proposed militia bill, and the council replied, approving in principle, but asking to be given the heads of the bill. (fn. 55) In 1790 the council instructed its representatives to work for the repeal of Pitt's proposal to transfer the tobacco duties from customs to excise, as this was likely to be injurious to manufacturers of tobacco and snuff, and to oppose any further extension of the excise laws. (fn. 56)

The political tranquillity of 18th-century Salisbury was disturbed during the last years of the century by the impact of national events. The war and the possibility of invasion provoked a loyal response from the city, which contributed to the county fund for the internal defence of the kingdom, and a local body of cavalry was established under the command of Henry Penruddock Wyndham. A Loyal Association for local defence, consisting of three companies, one for each parish, was formed in 1798, and on the renewal of war in 1803 a subscription of £2,000 was raised to equip a corps of 430 volunteers under the command of William Boucher, who had been commander of the Association of 1798. (fn. 57) There was less unanimity about domestic affairs. In 1797 the majority of the council presented an address to the king deploring the continuance of the war and urging a change of ministry, but this was immediately followed by a general meeting of inhabitants, which drew up a counter-address signed by 270 people. Opinion was again divided over the charges brought in 1805 by Colonel Wardell against the Duke of York, and there was opposition by two members of the council in 1808 when, on the conclusion of the affair, the corporation conveyed its thanks to Wardell. In 1820 Queen Caroline had some vociferous supporters in Salisbury, as elsewhere, who broke the windows of those who refused to take part in a general illumination in her honour. On Catholic Emancipation there was a sharp division of opinion on the council and most of the inhabitants seem to have been opposed to it. Meetings to draw up addresses against concessions to Roman Catholics were held in 1813, 1819 and 1829; and in 1825 Lord Radnor and Wadham Wyndham, both of whom had spoken and voted against Catholic Emancipation, were enthusiastically received by large crowds on their return to Salisbury. Parliamentary Reform had both enthusiastic supporters and strenuous opponents in the city. (fn. 58)

The strong conservative element in the city at this time must have been sorely tried by its representation in the House of Commons by William, Lord Folkestone, eldest son of the second Earl of Radnor, a leading reformer of radical views and a friend of William Cobbett. Folkestone seriously considered resigning his seat in 1813, but was dissuaded by his father. (fn. 59) The election of 1818 was preceded by a period of complicated intrigue, described at length by Folkestone in a memorandum written shortly after the election. (fn. 60) It is clear that many members of the corporation objected to Folkestone's politics, and to a lesser degree to those of the other member, George Purefoy Jervoise, chiefly because these politics were anti-ministerial, and therefore the city was not in a position to obtain favours from the government. Folkestone's politics were, however, deplored not only for this reason, but because of their radicalism. Feeling in Salisbury was so strong that the corporation at one point considered asking Lord Radnor to put up his second son as candidate instead of Folkestone; and it even considered putting up a second Tory candidate with Wadham Wyndham against Folkestone and Jervoise. In the end Jervoise did not stand and Folkestone and Wadham Wyndham were elected unopposed, the corporation perhaps feeling satisfied by having at least one 'ministerial' member. In 1828 Folkestone succeeded to the earldom of Radnor, and his place as member for Salisbury was taken by his brother, Duncombe Pleydell-Bouverie, who, though in favour of Parliamentary Reform, was much less radical in his views. He and Wyndham were re-elected in 1830 and 1831. At the latter election, the last under the unreformed franchise, a leading Salisbury supporter of reform, William Bird Brodie, owner and editor of the Salisbury and Winchester Journal, boldly decided to stand against Wyndham in view of the address from a body of inhabitants to the mayor and corporation, asking them not to choose any representative who would not pledge himself to support reform. (fn. 61)

The Reform Act of 1832 extended the franchise to £10 householders, bringing the electorate up to 575, with the result that Brodie, who had received only 7 votes in 1831, was easily top of the poll in 1833. (fn. 62) Apart from this, the Reform Act did not bring about any startling change in Salisbury's representation. The city retained its two members until 1884, and the tradition of electing men with local connexions was continued until almost the same date. In 1874 one of the members, G. R. Ryder, had no local connexions and in 1880 this was true of both members. The representation was reduced to one member in 1884, and this was shortly followed by a return to the tradition of electing a local man— E. H. Hulse of Breamore House, who represented the city from 1886 to 1897. Traditional family connexions also continued for some time after 1832. The custom of electing a member of the Bouverie family to one seat, which had continued without a break since 1741, came to an end in 1835, but the Bouverie connexion was revived in 1852 with the election of the third earl's son-in-law, Major-General E. P. Buckley, who sat for Salisbury as a Liberal from 1853 to 1865. The Wyndham connexion also continued until 1847.

The election of November 1843 was held in the midst of the anti-Corn Law agitation. Cobden visited Salisbury in August 1843 and held a big meeting on the Greencroft; and the election campaign was accompanied by nightly meetings addressed by anti-Corn Law League speakers, from whom both candidates carefully disassociated themselves. (fn. 63) Agitation for and against the repeal of the Corn Laws continued. Free-Trade reading rooms were opened and petitions for and against FreeTrade were presented to Parliament. Big Free-Trade celebrations took place in 1846, consisting of a dinner at the Assembly Rooms, a tea meeting at the 'Rose and Crown' pleasure gardens at Harnham, and a procession there from the Free-Trade reading rooms. (fn. 64) There was also some Chartist activity in Salisbury in these years, though much less than in other Wiltshire towns where the cloth trade had declined. A Working Man's Association was formed in 1839, but with little support. A National Charter Association, founded in 1841, was more successful. It held weekly meetings, tea or supper parties with lectures at the Charter Coffee-house in the Market Place, and by August 1841 found it necessary to take a 'large room' for lectures. (fn. 65)

The year 1847 is a landmark in Salisbury's political history in several ways. It brought to an end the period, beginning in 1818, in which the city had been represented by one Whig and one Tory, and began a period of nearly thirty years during which it was represented by two Liberals; it saw the virtual disappearance of the old family connexions and their replacement by new men, who, though still men with local connexions, were not 'local men' in quite the same sense. For example, William James Chaplin, head of the well-known carriers and coach proprietors, Chaplin & Horne, M.P. from 1847 to 1857, owed his election to his chairmanship of the South-Western Railway, which, it was considered, would give him power to confer benefits upon the city. (fn. 66) Other members with local connexions during this period were M. H. Marsh (1857–68), son of Canon Matthew Marsh, chancellor of the diocese; E. W. T. Hamilton (1868–74) brother of the Bishop of Salisbury; and Dr. J. A. Lush of Fisherton (1868–80), an alderman, and mayor in 1867. The Reform Act of 1867 still left Salisbury its two members, but introduced a household franchise and probably doubled the electorate. (fn. 67) In 1874 the Conservatives made a big effort, putting up two candidates calling themselves LiberalConservatives. One of these, G. R. Ryder, was returned head of the poll, with the other a good third. (fn. 68) The Conservative triumph was, however, short-lived, for in 1880, after a very heavy poll, two Liberals were again returned by a substantial majority. (fn. 69)

The Reform Act of 1884 reduced Salisbury's representation to one member but made no change in the franchise. From this time onwards Salisbury elections appear to have been swayed less by personal and local considerations, as hitherto, and more by national issues and party politics, and the city settled down to the long period of Conservative representation which, except in 1906–10, lasted until the extinction of the constituency in 1918. It is clear that in these years Salisbury Conservatism was more highly organized than Salisbury Liberalism, and that it attracted the patronage and support of the neighbouring aristocracy and gentry. Conservative and Liberal clubs had existed for some years, but by the 1890's there were three Conservative clubs and a Constitutional and Working Men's Association. There were also several branches of the Primrose League. There was a Liberal Association, a Liberal and Radical Club and a Women's Liberal Association. (fn. 70) At elections Lords Pembroke and Radnor and their families and other leading gentry regularly appeared on the platform at Conservative meetings, and at the election of 1892 the Conservatives ran what was virtually a joint campaign for E. H. Hulse at Salisbury, and Lord Folkestone for South Wilts. (fn. 71) At the election of 1906 a tremendous effort was made by the Salisbury Liberals and E. P. Tennant (later Lord Glenconner) was elected after a very heavy poll by a narrow majority. (fn. 72) At the election of January 1910 greater efforts than ever before were made by both parties at Salisbury; Grey, Lansdowne and Asquith all visited the city to speak, and a meeting was also held under the auspices of the Tariff Reform League. Over 97 per cent. of the electors polled, and the Conservative candidate, G. Locker-Lampson, was returned with a majority of over 300. (fn. 73) In December 1910, at the last election held before the 1914 war, he was again returned. By the Representation of the People Act, 1918, the city of Salisbury as a separate constituency was extinguished and was merged in the Salisbury Division of the county, which has consistently returned Conservative members.


  • 1. See p. 105.
  • 2. Rep. Munic. Corps. (1835), p. 1343; Hatcher, Salisbury, 575.
  • 3. Hatcher, Salisbury, 339, 380.
  • 4. See p. 106.
  • 5. Dora H. Robertson, Sarum Close, 177–85.
  • 6. Hatcher, Salisbury, 379.
  • 7. Ibid. 377–80.
  • 8. Sar. Corp. MSS. Ledger D. ff. 1, 2.
  • 9. V.C.H. Wilts. v. 140; Hatcher, Salisbury, 393.
  • 10. Hatcher, Salisbury, 393, 396–7.
  • 11. Ludlow Memoirs, ed. C. H. Firth, i. 93, 95.
  • 12. Hatcher, Salisbury, 397–8.
  • 13. Ibid. 398; Ludlow Memoirs, i. 108, 109–13.
  • 14. Hatcher, Salisbury, 400–1.
  • 15. J. Waylen, 'Wilts. Compounders', W.A.M. xxiii. 314–46; xxiv. 58–103, 308–44.
  • 16. J. Waylen, 'The Falstone Day-Book', W.A.M. xxvi. 378.
  • 17. For the bibliography of the rising see V.C.H. Wilts. v. 147, n. 28. There is also an account in H. de S. Shortt, Salisbury, 74–7.
  • 18. V.C.H. Wilts. v. 149.
  • 19. Compiled from the 'List of prisoners in the counties of Devon and Somerset, committed upon the late insurrection' in Thurloe State Papers, iii. 306–8 and in W.A.M. xiii. 166–7. In the last list the description of place of residence is sometimes inaccurate, so that the exact number of Salisbury men remains doubtful.
  • 20. Hatcher, Salisbury, 412–13; Sar. Corp. MSS. Ledger D. ff. 27, 28, 33.
  • 21. Hatcher, Salisbury, 415–16; J. M. J. Fletcher, Incumbents of the Salisbury Churches during the Period of the Commonwealth, 15, 18.
  • 22. See p. 106.
  • 23. Hatcher, Salisbury, 438–9.
  • 24. V.C.H. Wilts. v. 155–6.
  • 25. Ibid.
  • 26. See p. 75.
  • 27. Hist. MSS. Com. Var. Coll. iv. 243–4; Hatcher, Salisbury, 449, 454–5; Sar. Corp. MSS. Ledger D. ff. 137d, 147, 152.
  • 28. Sar. Corp. MSS. Ledger D. ff. 134–5; Hatcher, Salisbury, p. 449.
  • 29. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1660–61, pp. 46, 98. A number of people applying for minor offices in 1660–61 urged in their favour that they had taken part in the 'rising at Salisbury': e.g. ibid., pp. 58, 151, 347, 349.
  • 30. Sar. Corp. MSS. Ledger D. f. 123.
  • 31. Hatcher, Salisbury, 472; London Gaz. 4/7 Oct. 1675, quoted in T. S. Willan, 'Salisbury and the Navigation of the Avon', W.A.M. xlvii. 593.
  • 32. Hist. MSS. Com. Var. Coll. iv. 246; reproduced in V.C.H. Wilts. iii. facing p. 56.
  • 33. Hist. MSS. Com. Var. Coll. iv. 244–5.
  • 34. V.C.H. Wilts. v. 156; The Wiltshire Ballad (1680).
  • 35. Sar. Corp. MSS. Ledger D. ff. 246–7.
  • 36. An Address to His Majesty from the Common Council of the City of New Sarum, April 27 1681; Sar. Corp. MSS. Ledger D. ff. 246–7.
  • 37. Hatcher, Salisbury, 478–9, 482, 484.
  • 38. Sir George Duckett, 'Proposed Repeal of the Test and Penal Statutes by King James II in 1688', W.A.M. xviii. 371.
  • 39. Hatcher, Salisbury, 491.
  • 40. Burnet's 'Autobiography' in H. C. Foxcroft, Supplement to Burnet's History, 512–13; V.C.H. Wilts. v. 220.
  • 41. This account is taken from the three pamphlets: A Letter from a Gentleman in London to a Citizen of New Sarum; with his answer to the same (1710) [in fact all one pamphlet]; An Answer to a letter from a citizen of New Sarum, Being a true account of the affront offer'd to the Bishop there (1710) [by John Hoadly]; The Salisbury Quarrel ended; in the last letter of the citizen of New Sarum to Mr. Hoadly (1710).
  • 42. V.C.H. Wilts. v. 220.
  • 43. See p. 84.
  • 44. H. A. Wyndham, Family History, ii. 178–9.
  • 45. V.C.H. Wilts. v. 220–1.
  • 46. See p. 107.
  • 47. Hatcher, Salisbury, 534–5, 539.
  • 48. See p. 108.
  • 49. See p. 139.
  • 50. Hatcher, Salisbury, 535–6; Sar. Corp. MSS. Ledger E. (19 Jan. and 29 July, 1785).
  • 51. C.J. xviii. 36, 141, 142.
  • 52. Salisbury Jnl. quoted by Hatcher, Salisbury, 525–6.
  • 53. Sar. Corp. MSS. Ledger E. f. 70.
  • 54. V.C.H. Wilts. v. 220.
  • 55. Hatcher, Salisbury, 522.
  • 56. Sar. Corp. MSS. Ledger F. (28 Jan. 1790). Orders to draw up letters to the city's M.P.s, subject not specified, occur also in Ledger E. (14 Nov. 1739 and 8 Nov. 1766).
  • 57. Hatcher, Salisbury, 548–9, 553; Sar. Corp. MSS. Ledger F. (2 June 1794).
  • 58. Hatcher, Salisbury, 553, 556–7, 559, 563–7, 570.
  • 59. V.C.H. Wilts. v. 221.
  • 60. Berks. R.O. Radnor MSS. D/EP b. 027.
  • 61. Hatcher, Salisbury, 570.
  • 62. Dod's Parliamentary Companion (1836), 101; Hatcher, Salisbury, 572.
  • 63. C. Haskins, Salisbury Charters and History of St. Edmund's College, 48.
  • 64. Salisbury and Winchester Jnl. 14 Feb., 21 Feb. and 29 Aug., 1846.
  • 65. R. B. Pugh, 'Chartism in Wilts.', W.A.M. liv. 170, 180–1; see also R. B. Pugh, 'Chartism in Somerset and Wilts.', Chartist Studies, ed. A. Briggs, 174–219.
  • 66. Salisbury and Winchester Jnl. 30 Jan. and 22 Mar. 1847. These expectations were fulfilled when the contract for new trucks and wagons for the Salisbury and Bishopstoke railway was given to a Salisbury iron-founder, Thomas Wolferson.
  • 67. The registered electorate in 1865 was 661; in 1878 it was 884. Dod's Parl. Companion (1865), 126: (1879), 148.
  • 68. Salisbury and Winchester Jnl. 31 Jan., 7 Feb. 1874.
  • 69. Ibid. 3 Apr. 1880.
  • 70. Dir. Salisbury and District (1897–8), 40: Salisbury and Winchester Jnl. 20 Feb., 7 May, 18 June 1892.
  • 71. Salisbury and Winchester Jnl. 9 Apr., 28 May, 2 July 1892. An attempt was made in 1892 to represent the electioneering activities of Lords Pembroke and Radnor as a breach of the privileges of the House of Commons.
  • 72. Salisbury and Winchester Jnl. 20 Jan. 1906.
  • 73. Sar. and Winchester Jnl. 7, 15 and 22 Jan. 1910.