Knocktopher was a borough by prescription and the only charter extant was one of 1690, 5 James II, which states the corporation to be the sovereign, burgesses and commonalty of Knocktopher. Knocktopher's origins appear to have been dubious, and a James II charter of 1690 was hardly a recommendation. In 1692, following a report from the Committee on Elections and Privileges, the House found Anthony Maude (1365) not duly elected for Knocktopher, and Blayney Sandford (1864) also not duly elected. The House ordered that the Committee of Elections and Privileges consider whether Knocktopher 'hath any, and what, Right or Title to elect, or send, Burgesses to serve in Parliament'. Parliament was prorogued five days later, never to meet again. The query lapsed and Knocktopher returned two members in 1695 and at every vacancy in the borough until 1800. There was never another controverted election. In was said in 1783 that the borough once belonged to the Ponsonbys, but, if it did, it is unlikely that Lord Bessborough would have let it slip out of his grasp.
By 1783 and certainly by 1790 the borough belonged to Sir Hercules Langrishe (1200). Earlier the Ponsonbys may have supported Langrishe and possibly they came to an agreement that John Ponsonby should be able to command one seat in the borough for his lifetime. Also, Langrishe's principal estates were in Kilkenny and he may have supported Bessborough in the county. The picture is obscured by the fact that Langrishe and Ponsonby were friends and Langrishe, except when the demands of office required otherwise, supported Ponsonby anyway. Langrishe returned himself and his son (1201) in 1783; John Ponsonby died in 1787. In 1790 Langrishe had indisputable control of the borough when it was noted that:
The electors of this place ought to be composed of the Protestant inhabitants, six months resident before the election but as Sir Hercules Langrishe has, by management and money, contrived to gain the property of all the houses in the town, which he lets only during pleasure and never to Protestants, the right of election is concentred in his family and immediate connections. Hence his dominion over the Borough is absolute, notwithstanding there is an apparent freedom in its constitution. Sir Hercules is too well skilled in the value of proper parliamentary services to sell a seat for it, since he has had a son old enough to co-operate in his labours as its representative. He and his son at present enjoy the honour and certainly will continue to enjoy the honour, of jointly representing this unadulterated branch of the constitution in the House of Commons.219
The following year another commentator said that: 'This may be called a close Borough. It belongs to Sir H. Langrishe.' In 1797 Sir George Shee (1910) purchased one of the seats and at the Union he received £1,137 10s in compensation for the disenfranchisement of Knocktopher; the remaining £13,862 10s was awarded to the Rt Hon. Sir Hercules Langrishe.