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 corporation

Number of voters:



26 Jan. 1716ADDISON re-elected after appointment to office 
25 Apr. 1717ADDISON re-elected after appointment to office 
30 Nov. 1719FLEETWOOD DORMER vice Addison, deceased 
24 Mar. 1722TREVOR HILL, Visct. Hillsborough8
 Giles Earle5
 John Fermor5
 EARLE and FERMOR vice Hillsborough and Rushout, on petition, 13 Dec. 1722 
25 Jan. 1723CHARLES STEWART vice Fermor, deceased 
17 Aug. 1727GILES EARLE 
3 June 1728GILES EARLE re-elected after appointment to office 
22 May 1733WILLIAM RAWLINSON EARLE re-elected after appointment to office 
25 Apr. 1734GILES EARLE 
28 June 1737GILES EARLE re-elected after appointment to office 
27 Dec. 1740WILLIAM RAWLINSON EARLE re-elected after appointment to office 
4 May 1741GILES EARLE 
3 July 1747JOHN LEE10
 Giles Earle3
 William Rawlinson Earle3
13 June 1751EDWARD DIGBY vice Douglas, deceased 

Main Article

The Members for Malmesbury were returned on the recommendation of the high steward, elected annually by the corporation. In 1715 this office was held by Lord Wharton, who brought in his former secretary, Joseph Addison, with another Whig, Sir John Rushout. At the general election of 1722 it was held by his son, the Duke of Wharton, whose candidates, Rushout and Lord Hillsborough, were unseated on petition in favour of Giles Earle and John Fermor, both followers of the Duke of Argyll, high steward from 1722 to 1741. At each of the next three elections Earle and his son were returned unopposed. To secure this a standard tariff was fixed, under which each member of the corporation received £100 for a general election and £20 for a re-election on taking office, two of them pocketing £669 each between 1722 and 1742.1 The election of 1727 was described as ‘the quietest and peaceablest election that ever was in this borough, not one person contradicting the other’; and in that of 1734 it was said that there was ‘no expense at public houses ... but every person minded his own business’.2

At the 1741 election of the high steward Earle replaced Argyll, now in opposition, till 1743, when he himself was ousted by Rushout, who polled eight votes to his three. At the general election of 1747 two Leicester House candidates sponsored by Rushout as high steward defeated the Earles.

Author: R. S. Lea


  • 1. ‘An Account of Money’, Malmesbury borough recs.
  • 2. Remarks entered by an unknown hand in Malmesbury borough minute bk.