Camelford (UK Parliament constituency)

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Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
Number of members Two
Replaced by East Cornwall

Camelford was a rotten borough in Cornwall which returned two Members of Parliament to the House of Commons in the English and later British Parliament from 1552 to 1832, when it was abolished by the Great Reform Act.


The borough consisted of the town of Camelford, a market town in northern Cornwall, and part of the surrounding Lanteglos-by-Camelford parish. Like most of the Cornish boroughs enfranchised or re-enfranchised during the Tudor period, it was a rotten borough from the start.

The right to vote was disputed in the 18th century, but according to a judgment of 1796, belonged to those "free burgesses" who were resident householders paying scot and lot. The number of voters varied as new free burgesses were created, but was estimated to be 31 in 1831. Free burgesses were made only by nomination of the "patron", who owned all the houses in the borough, and the voters always voted in accordance with the patron's instructions.

The patronage, and the borough, changed hands several times. In the 1760s, before the exclusive voting rights of the free burgesses were established, the elections were managed by Charles Phillips for the government, and Camelford was considered a secure Treasury Borough (one where ministers could nominate the MPs as a form of patronage). Later the power of the patron became more complete, and in 1812 The Duke of Bedford was able to sell it for £32,000, forcing its MP, Henry Brougham, to find a new seat as his radical politics were unacceptable to the new owner. From 1814 until the Great Reform Act, the owner was the Earl of Darlington (later Marquess and Duke of Cleveland).

Cleveland was forced to secure his influence by regular payments to the voters, making Camelford one of the most notorious examples of corruption that were cited at the time of the Reform Act. In 1819, after two successive elections had been declared void and all the candidates disqualified for "treating", the writ was suspended, temporarily depriving the borough of its representation, although this only lasted until a new Parliament was summoned the following year. The Morning Chronicle noted in 1830 that "Everyone has heard of what Camelford cost the Marquess of Cleveland till the arrangement with the Marquess of Hertford. The Members who were returned for the marquess paid the voters in £1 notes enclosed in a deal box marked 'China'."

In 1831, the borough had an estimated population of 597, and 110 houses.

Members of Parliament


Parliament First member Second member
First Parliament of 1553 John Huyke Nicholas St John
Second Parliament of 1553 Francis Roscarock Ambrose Gilbes
Parliament of 1554 Thomas Arundell George Stafford
Parliament of 1554-1555 Francis Roscarock Clement Tyfferd
Parliament of 1555 William Carryl George Tadlow
Parliament of 1558 Thomas Prideaux William St Aubyn
Parliament of 1559 John Smith ?
Parliament of 1563-1567 William Patridge Drue Drury
Parliament of 1571 Nicholas Prideaux Edward Williams
Parliament of 1572-1581 John Giffard George Grenville, junior
Parliament of 1584-1585 Richard Trefusis Emanuel Chamond
Parliament of 1586-1587 Geoffrey Gate
Parliament of 1588-1589 Arthur Gorges
Parliament of 1593 Humphrey Mitchell Richard Leech
Parliament of 1597-1598 Jerome Horsey Henry Carnesewe
Parliament of 1601 William Carnesew Anthony Turpin
Parliament of 1604-1611 John Good
Addled Parliament (1614) George Cotton Robert Naunton
Parliament of 1621-1622 Sir Henry Carey Edward Carr
Happy Parliament (1624-1625) Sir Francis Cottington Edward Hare
Useless Parliament (1625) Sir Henry Hungate Thomas Coteel
Parliament of 1625-1626 Edward Lyndley Sir Thomas Monk
Parliament of 1628-1629 Francis Crossing Evan Edwards
No Parliament summoned 1629-1640


Year First member First party Second member Second party
April 1640 Piers Edgcumbe Royalist Edward Reade
November 1640 William Glanville Royalist
January 1644 Edgcumbe and Glanville disabled from sitting - both seats vacant
1647 William Say Gregory Clement (?) [1]
May 1652 Clement expelled - his seat left vacant
1653 Camelford was unrepresented in the Barebones Parliament and the First and Second Parliaments of the Protectorate
January 1659 John Maynard William Bradden
May 1659 William Say One seat vacant
April 1660 Peter Killigrew Samuel Trelawny
June 1660 Thomas Vivian William Cotton
1661 Thomas Coventry Charles Roscarrock
1665 (Sir) William Godolphin
February 1679 Sir James Smyth William Harbord
April 1679 Robert Russell
April 1685 Humphrey Langford Nicholas Courtney
September 1685 Sir Charles Scarborough
1689 Ambrose Manaton Henry Manaton
1695 Robert Molesworth Whig
1696 Sidney Wortley Montagu
1698 Henry Manaton Dennys Glynn
1704 William Pole
1705 Henry Pinnell
1708 Richard Munden John Manley
1710 Bernard Granville Jasper Radcliffe
March 1711 Henry Manaton
May 1711 Paul Orchard
1712 Sir Bourchier Wrey
1713 James Nicholls
1715 James Montagu Richard Coffin
1722 The Earl of Drogheda[2] William Sloper
1727 Thomas Hales Whig John Pitt
1734 Sir Thomas Lyttelton James Cholmondeley
1741 The Earl of Inchiquin Charles Montagu
1747 The Earl of Londonderry Samuel Martin
1754 John Lade[3]
1759 Bartholomew Burton
1768 Charles Phillips William Wilson
1774 John Amyand Francis Herne
1776 Sir Ralph Payne
1780 John Pardoe James Macpherson
April 1784 Jonathan Phillips
July 1784 Sir Samuel Hannay, Bt
1791 William Smith Whig
March 1796 Lord William Bentinck Whig
May 1796 William Joseph Denison John Angerstein Whig
1802 Robert Adair Whig John Fonblanque[4] Whig
1806 Viscount Maitland Whig
1807 Lord Henry Petty Whig
1810 Henry Brougham Whig
1812 William Leader Samuel Scott
1818[5] Mark Milbank Whig John Bushby Maitland Whig
1819[6] John Stewart Tory Lewis Allsopp Tory
1819 Camelford's representation suspended 1819-1820
1820 Mark Milbank Whig Earl of Yarmouth Tory
1822 Sheldon Cradock Whig
1832 Constituency abolished


  1. Sources differ. Cobbett's Parliamentary History lists Clement as MP for Camelford, and the Dictionary of National Biography agrees; however, Brunton & Pennington state that Clement was elected for Fowey, though they list no alternative name for Camelford.
  2. See Earl of Drogheda for more information.
  3. Created a baronet as Sir John Lade, March 1758
  4. John Anthony (later de Grenier) Fonblanque, elected 1802: see ODNB article, NOT his son, John Samuel Martin Fonblanque.
  5. The 1818 election was declared void and a new poll was ordered
  6. The 1819 election was declared void. All the candidates (Stewart, Allsopp, Milbank and Maitland) were barred from sitting for any constituency for the remainder of the Parliament for violating the Treating Act, and Camelford's writ was suspended


  • Brock, Michael (1973) The Great Reform Act London: Hutchinson
  • Brunton, D. & Pennington, D. H. (1954) Members of the Long Parliament London: George Allen & Unwin
  • Cobbett, William (1808) Cobbett's Parliamentary History of England, from the Norman Conquest in 1066 to the year 1803" London: Thomas Hansard [1]
  • Courtney, William Prideaux (1889) The Parliamentary Representation of Cornwall to 1832. London: Printed for private circulation (75 copies only)
  • Jansson, Maija (ed.) (1988) Proceedings in Parliament, 1614 (House of Commons) Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society
  • Namier, Lewis (1961) The Structure of Politics at the Accession of George III, 2nd ed. London: St Martin's Press
  • Philbin, J. Holladay (1965) Parliamentary Representation 1832 - England and Wales New Haven: Yale University Press
  • Smith, Henry Stooks (1973) The Parliaments of England from 1715 to 1847, 2nd ed., edited by F. W. S. Craig. Chichester: Parliamentary Reference Publications
  • Townshend, Heywood (comp.) (1680) Historical Collections:: or, An exact account of the proceedings of the four last Parliaments of Q. Elizabeth of famous memory: wherein is contained the complete journals both of the Lords and Commons, taken form the original records of their Houses. ... Together with the most considerable passages of the history of those times London: Printed for T. Basset, W. Crooke, and W. Cademan [2]
  • British History Online - list of speakers in the Parliaments of 1656 and 1658-9

Further reading