Wicklow town was enfranchised by a 1614 charter of 11 James I in the usual pattern. It was incorporated with a sovereign and 12 burgesses; it had an uncertain number of freemen but these were immaterial as they could not vote. By 1773 the borough belonged entirely to the Tighes,454 although earlier the Whitsheds had some interest in it. It was a seaport of about 800 inhabitants, but in 1790 it was regarded as:
An inconsiderable place neither eminent for the beauty of its buildings, nor the wealth of its inhabitants. And agreeable to these circumstances, though not arising from them, is the state of its representation, for it is a close Borough, the sole property of the Tighe family the head of which nominates at pleasure the twelve Burgesses, its only electors and consequently dictates their apparent choice of representatives. At different times its fate is various, for sometimes it is sold and sometimes the Tighe family themselves represent it, but in either case, the chances are pretty equal that the minister of the day commands the support of the Members for the town of Wicklow.
William Tighe (2073), to whom the borough belonged, was a relative of the Ponsonbys and probably his greatest claim to fame was ensuring its last-minute return of Grattan (0895) to make his final dramatic entrance and stand against the Union on 16 January 1800. Wicklow was disfranchised by the Act of Union, and Tighe received the £15,000 compensation.