Naas. There is a reference to a 1570 charter of Elizabeth I. Naas is a very ancient borough, and originally the seat of the Kings of Leinster. It may be inferred that it was a corporation by prescription.204 It comprised a sovereign, two provosts, burgesses and freemen without limits. The inferior officers were a serjeant-at-mace, a town serjeant,a billet master and three weighmasters. John Bourke (0192), later 1st Earl of Mayo, gradually gained control of the borough during the century. There appears to have been a definite attempt to take over the corporation in the 1720s, when there was an election for sovereign in 1726 - the first since 1706 - and Thomas Burgh was elected by 185 to Charles Eustace's 91 votes. The Eustaces and the Graydons appear to have combined against the Bourkes and the Burghs.205 In 1730 one of the Graydons (or Gradons) (0890) managed to get himself irregularly elected sovereign, and Bourke had some difficulty in getting him ejected.206 The 1768 election was contested, with the result that John Bourke Sr received 36 votes, John Bourke Jr (0193) 31, Walter Hussey (1059) of Dunore 15, William Burgh (0286) of Birt 2. The Bourkes were declared duly elected. Thus there was an element of uncertainty as late as 1768.
Bourke Sr became a Commissioner, and eventually First Commissioner of the Revenue; as such he controlled considerable patronage and he appears to have consolidated his position by making judicious alliances. He was created Lord Naas in 1776 and Earl of Mayo in 1785. In 1775 Thomas Burgh wrote to Chief Baron Anthony Foster (0804) that he had succeeded in his application to Mr J. Bourke who promised that when the borough of Naas was in his possession Thomas Burgh would always command one seat in it. This arrangement was honoured, and as late as 1791 it was said that Mr Burgh of Old Town had one seat for Naas during Lord Mayo's life.207 By 1800 the borough was the property of the 3rd Earl of Mayo, who was also Archbishop of Tuam, and he received the £15,000 compensation for its disfranchisement.