An Educational Charity | Charity Reg. No. NIC100280
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Charitable Objectives

Baltinglass

Baltinglass was incorporated by a 1663/4 charter of 15 Chas II with a corporation comprising a sovereign, 12 free burgesses and a commonalty. It appears from its establishment to have been controlled by the Aldborough family, who appear to have quarrelled over almost everything, including the borough of Baltinglass. In 1783 it comprised a 'Sovereign, 12 Burgesses. Freemen unlimited, 20 at present. 2,000 inhabitants, nearly one half Protestants. Patron and Proprietor, Earl of Aldborough (2024). Only 3 resident electors.' In 1783 Lord Aldborough decided to sell the seats to Warden Flood (0766), and when his brother John Stratford (2026) was elected for the county, he then attempted to return James Somerville (1958) but this return was successfully petitioned against. Lord Aldborough then returned Sir John Allen Johnston (1108), but 'Several of the electors disdaining to be sold, but yet preserving an attachment to the family, endeavoured to elect his brother, the Hon. Benjamin O'Neale Stratford (2022), and his nephew Morley Saunders, Esq. but after two petitions to the House of Commons, Mr Flood and Sir Allen Johnston were declared duly elected by a majority of one.' This statement condenses the result of about four different petitions, one of which came before a committee of the House on 10 November 1783451 when Benjamin O'Neale Stratford and James Somerville petitioned against the return of the Hon. John Stratford and Warden Flood.

Benjamin O'Neale Stratford's arguments were that the MP must be a burgess of the town, that undue influence had been exercised by Lord Aldborough, who claimed the patronage of the borough, that a sum of money had been paid to Lord Aldborough to procure his influence, and that by these corrupt means the sitting members were returned. James Somerville claimed that the deputy sovereign, Mason Gerard, had admitted several persons unqualified to vote and disfranchised others: Gerard had employed Robert Warren actually to take the poll, and Gerard told him that he was apprehensive of a riot and therefore it would be better to return Stratford and Flood, as Stratford was likely to be elected to the county. In the meantime Gerard had died. The election was held in the house of one Rowan, an innkeeper. In 1781 there had been a short-lived reconciliation between the Stratford brothers. Evidence was then produced of bribery, undue influence and threats.

At this point the sister, Lady Hannah Saunders née Stratford, appeared and declared that Lord Aldborough had owed her money, which had been paid her about a year previously. She had had no conversation with him as to when or where he had got the money; she had told no person that Lord Aldborough had paid her out of money he had received for the borough or that Mr Benjamin O'Neale Stratford had said that he would not petition if Aldborough would give him a certain sum of money. Two electors then declared that they regarded themselves as trustees of the borough and would vote as Lord Aldborough requested. At the election there had been 7 votes for Mr Flood and 6 for Mr Somerville; the Returning Officer had voted as a burgess. The committee determined that the sitting members, Warden Flood and John Stratford, were duly elected.

This, however, was more of an impasse than a solution, as although Lord Aldborough appeared to have vindicated his claim the brothers continued to demand their rights. Even in 1799 it was described as 'a close Borough, patron, Earl of Aldborough but frequently contested by his brothers'.452 Baltinglass was disfranchised in 1800 and the Commissioners, after receiving memorials from all sides, divided the £15,000 equally between the four brothers. By the time the money was paid the Earl was dead, having alienated everything that was not entailed to his nephew, the son of his sister Amelia, Viscountess Powerscourt.

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Registered with The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland NIC100280