Hogarth’s depiction of an 18th century election campaign

My maternal great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Joseph Greene was a goldsmith and a Citizen of London – his premises were at the corner of Tower Hill and the Minories. Apprenticed in 1692, Joseph became a freeman of the City in 1708.

Newly-available records electoral records enable us to discover how Joseph voted in two general elections: in 1710, when he was 33 years old and in 1727 when he was 50.

The record of Joseph’s participation in the October 1710 election, which took place in the reign of Queen Anne, can be found in the poll book of the Liverymen of the City of London, under the heading for goldsmiths. Eight candidates stood for election in London: Sir Gilbert Heathcote, Sir William Ashurst, Sir James Bateman and John Ward for the Whigs, and Sir William Withers, Sir Richard Hoare, Sir George Newland and Sir John Cass for the Tories.

Joseph Greene cast his four votes for the Tory candidates, all of whom were victorious. In fact, they formed part of a national Tory landslide in an election that was as much about religion as politics. According to Wikipedia:

The British general election, 1710, produced a landslide victory for the Tory party in the wake of the prosecution of Henry Sacheverell and the collapse of the previous Whig government led by Godolphin and the Whig Junto. In November 1709 the clergyman Henry Sacheverell had delivered a sermon fiercely criticising the government’s policy of toleration for Protestant dissenters and attacking the personal conduct of the ministers. The government had Sacherevell impeached, and he was narrowly found guilty but received only a light sentence, making the government appear weak and vindictive; the trial enraged a large section of the population, and riots in London led to attacks on dissenting places of worship.

Joseph’s support for the Tories is a little surprising, given the Greene family’s association, throughout the previous century, with Puritanism and Dissent in their home borough of Stepney, and that Joseph himself had been apprenticed to Joseph Strong, whose family also had strong Dissenting connections.

Seventeen years later, in the general election of 1727, which was triggered by the death of King George I, Joseph Greene’s electoral behaviour was a little less straightforward: in fact, he split his allegiance evenly between the two main parties. He voted for Micajah Perry and John Barnard, who were Whigs, and for Humphrey Parsons and Richard Lockwood, who were both Tories. Perry, Parsons and Barnard were all elected, together with Sir John Eyles, another Whig.