The corporation of Ardee is first mentioned in a charter of 1378, 51 Edw. III, when it consisted of a portreeve and commonalty. At one point the corporation consisted of two portreeves, 23 other burgesses and an unlimited number of freemen. The freemen and burgesses were conjointly the electors in parliamentary elections. In 1711 the corporation employed Richard Tisdall, then one of the portreeves, to secure a modification of the borough charter which would reduce the number of portreeves from two to one. The freemen lost their right to vote by a by-law of 1771. Given the curious nature of the borough's corporate structure, it is not surprising that a number of different but usually local families sat for it in the early years. From 1692 to 1726 a member of the Tisdall family was returned, and two Tisdalls, James (2075) and Michael (2077), sat for the borough in the brief 1713 parliament. James Tisdall and John Ruxton were portreeves in 1712. After the new charter in 1713 Richard Tisdall was the sole portreeve, as was William Ruxton the following year; Robert Parkinson was portreeve in 1722 and William Aston in 1723.
One of the cadet branches of the Moores, Earls of Drogheda, purchased land from the Commissioners for Forfeited Estates, possibly including the Ardee estate. The Moores over-extended themselves and had to sell land to meet their debts. Among the buyers were the Fosters and the Ruxtons. Brabazon Moore (1451) sat in the 1695 parliament and William Moore (1484) for the parliament of George I, 1715-27. In 1727 John Donnellan (0651) and Robert Parkinson (1629) were elected. Donnellan's connection with the borough is not clear, but the Parkinsons and the Ruxtons were related by marriage. When Donellan died in 1741 Tichborne Aston (0061) replaced him, and when he died in 1748 William Ruxton (1832) succeeded him.
Thereafter, except for the 1776-83 parliament, there was always a Ruxton in parliament. The 1776-83 gap is probably explained by the need for the family to recoup their finances after their defence against the formidable Philip Tisdall's (2078) attack on the borough following the 1768 election, claiming irregularities in the corporation. However, Tisdall failed, and in 1769 Anne Ruxton married Arthur Wolfe (2243), later Lord Kilwarden, who in 1770 was appointed Recorder of Ardee. It was a borough in which control was delicate, and the Ruxtons usually ensured that at least one of the family represented it; for instance, in 1783 it was noted that: 'This Borough belongs to Mr Ruxton (1831) but some opposition has started in it which will prevent his selling. Mr Ruxton and Captain Ruxton (1830) are returned.' In 1800 the Commissioners had specifically to disallow the claim of certain burgesses and freemen to a share of the £15,000 compensation, which was paid to Charles Ruxton and William Parkinson Ruxton in trust towards reduction of their encumbrances.