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 inhabitants paying scot and lot

Number of voters:

about 250


31 Jan. 1715WILLIAM INGE 
 Richard Swinfen117
 John Jervis57
 SWINFEN vice Bracebridge, on petition, 23 Jan. 1723 
30 Jan. 1727GEORGE COMPTON vice Swinfen, deceased 
21 Aug. 1727WILLIAM O'BRIEN, Earl of Inchiquin230
 Thomas Abney114
 Joseph Girdler30
3 Apr. 1735CHARLES COTES vice Compton, chose to sit for Northampton117
 William O' Brien, Earl of Inchiquin92
 Charles Cotes140
 COTES vice Floyer, on petition, 22 Mar. 1742 
12 Dec. 1748SIR ROBERT BURDETT vice Harpur, deceased 
30 Dec. 1748VILLIERS re-elected on appointment to office 

Main Article

The chief interests in Tamworth at George I’s accession were those of Thomas Willoughby, 1st Lord Middleton, high steward of Tamworth, whose estate of Middleton was 4½ miles from the borough; of Baroness Ferrers, the owner of Tamworth Castle, who in 1716 married James, Lord Compton, later 5th Earl of Northampton; and of the 2nd Viscount Weymouth, aged 4, owner of Drayton manor, two miles from Tamworth. The Drayton interest seems to have been in abeyance during Lord Weymouth’s minority till 1726, when at the age of 16 he married the daughter of the 1st Duke of Dorset, who succeeded to the high stewardship on Lord Middleton’s death in 1729, controlling his son-in-law’s interest till 1733, when he resigned the high stewardship to Lord Weymouth. After the death of Baroness Ferrers in 1741, the castle interest passed to her only surviving daughter, who carried it to the Townshend family by marrying George, later 1st Marquess Townshend, in 1751. The Middletons were Tories, but all the other proprietors were Whigs.

In 1715 two Tory country gentlemen, William Inge and Samuel Bracebridge, were returned unopposed, presumably on the interest of Lord Middleton, whose sons were either elected elsewhere or under age. At the next general election his eldest son, Francis Willoughby, was returned with Bracebridge against two Whigs, one of whom, Richard Swinfen, was seated vice Bracebridge on petition. On Swinfen’s death in 1726 George Compton, Lord Compton’s brother, came in on the castle interest.

At the general election of 1727 Lord Weymouth’s cousin, Lord Inchiquin, easily headed the poll, the second seat going to Lord Middleton’s younger son, Thomas Willoughby, who defeated a Whig, Thomas Abney. When Abney petitioned against Willoughby, the Duke of Rutland asked the Duke of Newcastle to tell the Duke of Dorset that Abney had given over 100 votes to Inchiquin, which he hoped would engage Dorset to use his influence in support of the petition, ‘especially as a Whig interest will probably be thereby established in that borough’.1 In the event Abney was unsuccessful.

In 1734 the Duke of Dorset’s son, Lord John Sackville, was returned with George Compton, representing respectively the Drayton and the castle interests. On Compton’s deciding to sit for Northampton another castle candidate, Charles Cotes, whose elder brother had married the daughter of the 1st Earl Ferrers, defeated Inchiquin.

Shortly before the general election of 1741 Thomas Hill asked Lord Weymouth to nominate him for Tamworth, adding that Lord Middleton was ready to acquiesce. Lord Weymouth consulted Walpole about Hill’s application, explaining that, ‘not knowing whether he is inclined to your interest or not, I have postponed my answer in order to be better advised by you’.2 Apparently Walpole’s reply was adverse, for at the election Sackville and Cotes were again put up on the Drayton and castle interests. This time Cotes was defeated by a Tory, John Floyer, but was awarded the seat on petition.

In 1747 Thomas Villiers, a cousin of Weymouth’s, was returned unopposed with Sir Henry Harpur, a Tory, on Middleton’s interest. On Harpur’s death he was succeeded by another Tory, Sir Robert Burdett in 1748. Next year the 2nd Lord Egmont, in his electoral survey, described Tamworth as ‘in Lord Weymouth and Lord Middleton’.

Author: Romney R. Sedgwick


  • 1. 29 Aug. 1727, SP Dom. 36/39.
  • 2. 21 Nov. 1740, Cholmondeley (Houghton) mss.