Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the freemen

Number of voters:

about 2,000


8 Feb. 1715JOHN SNELL  
 John Hanbury  
 Francis Wyndham  
27 Mar. 1722CHARLES HYETT750 
 Sir Edward Fust720 
6 Feb. 1727JOHN HOWE vice Snell, deceased  
  Double return. BATHURST and SELWYN declared elected, 16 Feb. 1728  
7 May 1734JOHN SELWYN1155 
 Nicholas Hyett434 
26 May 1741JOHN SELWYN1071110702
 Benjamin Hyett879854
1 July 1747JOHN SELWYN  
19 Nov. 1751CHARLES BARROW vice Selwyn, deceased  

Main Article

Owing to the size of the electorate there was no single dominant interest at Gloucester, though the Selwyns of Matson, who were said to govern the city through its reservoirs on their property,3 held one seat almost uninterruptedly from 1727 to 1780. The Whig corporation had some influence through its power of creating freemen and its control of certain charities, but the majority of the population were Tories. All the Members were local men and every general election but one was contested.

In 1715, after a ‘very troublesome’4 contest, two local Tory landowners, John Snell and Charles Coxe, were returned. In 1722 Snell was re-elected but Coxe was replaced by Charles Hyett of Painswick, near Gloucester, also a Tory. Early in 1727 Snell died and was succeeded by another strong Tory, John Howe. Howe did not seek re-election in 1727, but put up Lord Bathurst’s youngest brother, Benjamin Bathurst, to stand in his place, assuring him that the two Whig candidates, Matthew Ducie Moreton and Charles Selwyn would make nothing of it there’. Lord Bathurst, who ‘did not then know that Colonel [John] Selwyn had been labouring to establish an interest in that place for some years together’,

saw Col. Selwyn and told him that I had nothing to do in the matter, but that I should be glad to prevent an opposition between our two families, if it lay in my power. I saw Mrs. Selwyn afterwards and found her too warm to talk with; for she told me plainly there should be no composition, they would have both or none. When I saw that the weight of the ministry would be thrown in for Mr. Selwyn and Mr. Moreton I resolved not to engage in the matter.

However, finding that Selwyn and Moreton were attempting to make trouble for him at Cirencester, he decided to put himself at the head of the Tories at Gloucester.

It is a very considerable city and all the substantial inhabitants are of our side; the corporation is in the hands of a set of mean, corrupt, insignificant fellows, but their power is pretty considerable upon account of certain charities which they have the disposal of.5

The Whig majority on the corporation made a large number of new freemen, 140 in a day according to the Tories, but the electorate was almost equally divided, all four candidates being returned. On petition the matter was compromised, Moreton and Chester withdrawing their petitions, leaving the Tory Bathurst and the Whig Selwyn to share the representation.6

From 1734 to 1751 the seats were filled by John Selwyn and Benjamin Bathurst on a compromise, which was unsuccessfully opposed in 1734 by a ‘pure’ Tory, Nicholas Hyett, and again in 1741 by Hyett’s younger brother Benjamin, who was ten votes ahead of Bathurst in the poll but lost on a scrutiny. In 1747 Tory candidates for the second seat included Benjamin Hyett, Powell Snell, son of the former Member, and a newcomer Charles Barrow of Highgrove, but all three stood down in favour of Bathurst in order to reunite their party, leaving the sitting Members to be re-elected ‘without opposition or the least disturbance’.7

On John Selwyn’s death in 1751, the Tories adopted Barrow as their candidate. The corporation were at first disposed to make a tender of their interest to Selwyn’s son, George, who, however, was already in Parliament; or, failing him, to ask Newcastle and Pelham to recommend someone. On learning of Barrow’s adoption they sent an alderman to London to ‘make an offer to Lord Chancellor [Hardwicke] for one of his sons’.8 In the end, however, no one appears to have been willing to face the expense of a contest at the end of the Parliament, so Barrow was returned unopposed.

Author: Shirley Matthews


Based on a paper by J. A. Cannon.

  • 1. Poll
  • 2. Scrutiny
  • 3. See SELWYN, John.
  • 4. G. Thynne to her daughter Fanny, Sept. 1715, Northumberland mss at Alnwick.
  • 5. Letters of Lady, Suffolk, i. 276, 278-9.
  • 6. Handbill published by the Tories, 25 July 1727, Cannon, op. cit. 2; CJ, xxi. 57.
  • 7. Glocester Jnl. 7 July 1747, Cannon, op. cit. 8.
  • 8. Dr. Hen. Gully to Newcastle, 9 Nov. 1751, Add. 32725, f. 386.