Ardfert was probably a borough by prescription. It had no charter on record, nor is any known to have existed. As early as 1711 Andrew Young of Dublin wrote to David Crosbie at Ardfert saying that he has searched in vain the charters of James I and Charles I and he concludes therefore that the borough exists by prescription. It did, however, return MPs in 1639. Its corporation comprised a portreeve, 12 burgesses and an unlimited number of freemen.
Both Ardfert and Tralee appear to have been almost bargaining counters between the major interests in Co. Kerry. The 1727 compact gives some indication of this, and in 1715 Lord Shelburne wrote to David Crosbie asking him to return Mr Pratt (1721) for 'one of your boroughs'. This was the famous John Pratt, who produced the financial chaos in the national accounts that Luke Gardiner (0841) was brought in to resolve. Pratt sat for Dingle from 1713 to 1727.
The Crosbies, Earls of Glandore, were notoriously short of money. Furthermore, Lady Glandore (the daughter of Lord George Sackville (1835)) was fond of gambling, and in 1790 a political commentator wrote that 'Since the present noble Lord succeeded his father, it [Ardfert] has regularly been exposed to sale and, notwithstanding that his Lordship has lately been appointed to a considerable office [Joint Master of the Rolls] it will most probably, still continue a merchantable commodity, ready for the purchasers of parliamentary importance. Peers sometimes want money and according to the present market price, the sale of a borough brings in a sure £500 p.a.' In 1787 Robert Day (0598) warned Crosbie that he must retrench and put his finances in order, so that he would be spared his present hand-to-mouth shifts like the sale of seats: 'a resource which, by the bye, you are no longer to look to'. However, Crosbie returned Day from 1790 to 1798, when Day, a safe pair of hands, was elevated to the Bench. Glandore, an enthusiastic Unionist, received the £15,000 compensation for Ardfert's disfranchisement at the Union.