Double Member Borough

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the corporation

Number of voters:



16 Apr. 1754Marshe Dickinson33
 Thomas Humberston18
 Henry Vernon15
20 Nov. 1755Sir William Morton vice Humberston, deceased 
26 Mar. 1761Marshe Dickinson 
 Robert Wood 
17 Jan. 1765Wood re-elected after appointment to office 
15 Feb. 1765John Montagu, Visct. Hinchingbrooke, vice Dickinson, deceased 
18 Mar. 1768Robert Wood 
 William Egerton 
4 Oct. 1771Timothy Caswall vice Wood, deceased 
6 Oct. 1774William Egerton 
 Timothy Caswall 
9 Sept. 1780Timothy Caswall 
 John William Egerton 
31 Mar. 1784Timothy Caswall 
 John William Egerton 
6 July 1789Samual Haynes vice Caswall, appointed to office 

Main Article

Brackley was always counted as a pocket borough of the Duke of Bridgwater. In 1754 Bridgwater, a minor, was on the grand tour, and his affairs were managed by his uncle the Duke of Bedford. At Brackley a complete stranger, Thomas Humberston, bribed a majority of the corporation into promising him single votes. Bedford, with Dickinson and Vernon, the Bridgwater candidates, went down to try and retrieve the situation.

Mr. Humberston and his agents had been so alert [wrote Bedford to Bridgwater on 29 Apr. 17541] that though I and the candidates walked the town from house to house to invite them to dinner and to ask their votes for both candidates, yet but 15 of the 33 came or promised their double votes. The other 18 declared they were engaged to Mr. Humbertston, and some of them even threatened that if we would not be contented with one vote, which they offered to Mr. Dickinson, they would bring another candidate into town to join Mr. Humberston and throw both your candidates out.

Humberston’s early death prevented him from consolidating his position in the borough,2 and Bridgwater authorized Bedford to take steps to win back ‘those votes which had been seduced by Mr. Humberston’s bounty’.3 On 8 Sept. 1755 Robert Wood, Bridgwater’s travelling tutor, wrote from Aix-en-Provence to Bedford:4 ‘Upon the receipt of a letter from Mr. Tyler [Bridgwater’s agent] giving an account of the desperate state of affairs at Brackley, our resolutions were immediately taken for coming home.’

Bridgwater on his return re-established his interest, and for the remainder of this period controlled both seats without opposition.

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. Bedford mss 30, f. 40.
  • 2. See HUMBERSTON, Thomas.
  • 3. Wood to Bedford, 13 Aug. 1755, Bedford mss 31, f. 66.
  • 4. Ibid. f. 72.