The Long Parliament finally dissolved itself after nineteen years and another general election was called. The Lord Warden, Admiral Edward Montagu, endeavoured to exercise his customary right to nominate a candidate, but Hythe corporation ignored him. They politely assured him of their utmost endeavours on his behalf, ‘could they prevail with the freemen’. The freemen preferred to return Viscount Strangford of nearby Westenhanger and Phineas Andrews, the squire of Denton Court.
At this election, correctly sensing the prevailing wind, Hythe elected two Royalists sympathisers. Strangford was the grandson of John Smythe who had sat in parliament for Hythe in 1604. He had spent the interregnum quietly plotting the king’s return until his arrest in Canterbury in 1659. He was subsequently released on £5000 bail. Andrews was a wealthy financier, who had sometimes bankrolled the king’s favourite the Duke of Buckingham and allegedly had supported Charles II in exile. He only occasionally lived at Denton, having acquired it from a ruined Royalist during the Commonwealth. He was a friend of Henry Oxinden of Barham (the cousin, confusingly, of Henry Oxinden of Denton) who supported his election.
This new parliament, the so-called Convention Parliament assembled on 25 April 1660, and soon afterwards accepted the Declaration of Breda in which Charles II agreed, amongst other things, to pardon many of his father’s enemies. Charles was declared king, and the proclamation of his sovereignty was read out in Hythe on 12 May, in no fewer than four places to make sure that no-one could be in any doubt: at the market place, the west and east bridges and at Mr Beane’s conduit in the High Street. The corporation decided they deserved a celebration at the ‘White Hart’, where the landlord Ferdinando Bassett sold them wine to the value of £4. 4. 0. Beer was provided for lesser mortals by Mr Fordred.
Charles arrived in Dover on 25 May 1660, to be met by the mayor and a huge crowd of citizens and noblemen. He was presented with a Bible, which he took and said it was the thing that he loved above all things in the world and then rode off in a coach towards Canterbury. According to Pepys ‘the shouting and joy expressed by all is past imagination.’
Charles soon sacked the Lord Warden, Edward Montagu, who had been a Colonel in the New Model Army, and appointed his own brother, James, Duke of York, instead. James’s chief claim to fame at this time was that he was reputed to be ‘the most unguarded ogler of his time.’
James, Duke of York, brother of Charles II and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.
The Duke passed on to Hythe corporation the king’s instructions that any Royalists who had formerly been excluded from office were to be readmitted, and any who had been ‘eminently active against the King, and especially such as expressed themselves in opposition to his late happy restoration’ were to be removed. The winter of 1660 to 1661 saw a purge of the corporation. The Lord Warden’s enforcer was Francis Vincent. A royalist of impeccable credentials, he was rewarded at the restoration with the governorship of Dover Castle, and judged that at Hythe, seven men were of ‘dangerous principles’: William Meadow, William Adcock, John Lambe, John Cheeseman, Peter Johnson, Richard Kimber and Edward Brande. The corporation agreed with his assessment and in early January 1661 they were ordered to be dismissed from the assembly and banned from holding all offices of trust in the corporation.
Vincent had not finished with Hythe, however, and later that month wrote again about the former Mayor, Michael Lushington, who ‘seven or eight years ago had spoken much to the prejudice of His Majesty and his royal father.’ Apparently, Vincent had an informer in Hythe. Lushington was also dismissed. He did not take this lying down. He wrote to Hythe’s M.P. Phineas Andrews who obtained a mandamus – a court order- telling the mayor, William Knight, to reinstate Lushington. Knight was furious and threw a spectacular tantrum, but had to comply, for the time being, at any rate.
Jurats and freemen were not the only ones to be removed from office. In 1660 William Wallace was ejected as Minister of Hythe because of his dissenting views. He went to Brighton, where, without a church, he continued preaching in private houses. These prayer meetings, or conventicles, were prohibited by Act of Parliament in 1664, but when the authorities came to arrest him, his little congregation gathered round him to protect him. Since several were pregnant women, the constable would risk no violence and Wallace escaped. Later, when the law permitted, he was licensed to preach in Hove and East Deane and continued to do so until his death in 1678.