363 voters



In the general election of Apr 1784, 363 people voted. There were 5 candidates, with John Smyth & William Sotheron elected.

Poll book data from:
Holding: Nottingham University Manuscripts and Special Collections
Citation: GA 12259/15
Source: Information provided by Dr Edmund M. Green; Jeremy Gibson and Colin Rogers (eds.), Poll Books, 1696–1872: A Directory of Holdings in Great Britain (4th edn., Bury, 2008).

Timeline & Key Statistics

Contexts & Remarks

Date: Friday 2 Apr. 1784.

Poll book reference: Nottingham University Manuscripts and Special Collections, GA 12259/15.

The poll sheet forms part of the Monckton-Arundell, Viscounts of Galway, family papers of Serlby Hall. It is entitled, 'The Poll for the Election of Two Burgesses to Parliament for the Borough of Pontefract in the County of York...'

During the 1783 by-election, when Lord Galway vacated his seat, the candidates of the inhabitant householders succeeded against Galway's candidate, Nathaniel Smith, a man from the East Indies and a stranger to the community. During the by-election, the householders nominated John Smyth, and those householders who voted for him had their votes rejected, very much like the elections of 1768 and 1774. However, when the result was petitioned by Smyth and sent to the House of Commons this time, the committee determined that Smyth ought to have been returned instead of Smith, indicating that the legitimately represented the interests of inhabitant householders and implying their right of election.

Candidates: John Smyth (Whig), William Sotheron (Tory), Sir Rowland Winn (Whig), John Walsh (Whig?), and William Cockayne (Whig?).

John Smyth of Heath Hall was a returning candidate, having been elected during the 1783 by-election. Smyth was connected to the 3rd duke of Grafton through marriage to his daughter, and served as Gentleman of the Privy Chamber in 1782. He ran alongside William Sotheron of Darrington.

Sir Rowland Winn came from the established Winn family of Nostell Priory, which had a large interest in Pontefract, owning 40 of the town's burgages. He had previously represented the interests of inhabitant householders in the riotous 1768 election.

John Walsh of Warfield was one of the dominating interests in the borough, owning at least 86 burgages in the borough. He and Lord Galway had each nominated candidates for decades, representing the interests of burgage owners. He ran alongside William Cockayne.

During the general election the following year, the candidates were divided between those who were standing 'on the Rights of the Inhabitants Householders' (Smyth, Sotheron, and Winn) and those who were standing 'on Burgage Right' (Walsh and Cockayne). In a reversal of previous elections, every vote for Walsh and Cockayne, under the burgage franchise, was rejected. A petition from Walsh and Cockayne was rejected, upholding the 1783 determination of the House of Commons committee.

Poll Book

Below is a digitised version of the poll book for this election:

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