Double Member County

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

Number of voters:

about 5,000


17 Apr. 1754Lord Harry Powlett 
 Alexander Thistlethwayte 
25 Dec. 1754Charles Powlett, Mq. of Winchester, vice Lord Harry Powlett, called to the Upper House 
3 Dec. 1759Henry Bilson Legge vice Winchester, called to the Upper House 
8 Apr. 1761Henry Bilson Legge 
 Simeon Stuart 
24 Feb. 1762Stuart re-elected after appointment to office 
6 Feb. 1765Sir Richard Mill vice Legge, deceased 
30 Mar. 1768Robert Henley, Lord Henley 
 Sir Simeon Stuart 
5 Feb. 1772Sir Henry Paulet St. John vice Henley, called to the Upper House 
12 Oct. 1774Sir Simeon Stuart 
 Sir Henry Paulet St. John 
13 Dec. 1779Jervoise Clarke Jervoise vice Stuart, deceased2180
 Sir Richard Worsley1456
20 Sept. 1780Jervoise Clarke Jervoise 
 Robert Thistlethwayte 
14 Apr. 1784Jervoise Clarke Jervoise 
 Robert Thistlethwayte 

Main Article

Hampshire was the only English county where the Government had an appreciable interest. This came mainly through the dockyards at Gosport and Portsea, the numerous ports, the Crown tenants in the New Forest, and the forts in the Isle of Wight. Thomas Worsley wrote to Lord Carnarvon, 27 Nov. 1760, about the chances of Simeon Stuart:1 ‘The dockyards is what we have to dread ... An instant application there is necessary.’ When in February 1767 Lord Northington was considering putting up his son jointly with Stuart, they agreed that the idea should be broken to ‘the great personages of government here, before it is talked of ... in the county’2—a thing which would hardly have been done anywhere else. Some idea of the extent of Government influence can be seen in the contest of 1779—the only one during this period. In the New Forest, the Isle of Wight, and the Portsdown division and hundred, Worsley, the Government candidate, obtained 898 votes against Jervoise’s 815, whereas in the rest of the county the relative figures were 695 and 1,464. The Government influence was important, but not decisive.

For much of this period Hampshire politics were dominated by the rivalry between the Duke of Bolton and the Duke of Chandos, and the country gentlemen tended to align themselves under one or other of these peers. In 1759 Lord Carnarvon, eldest son of the Duke of Chandos, tried to set up Simeon Stuart against the Bolton candidate, Henry Bilson Legge; and the situation was complicated by the fact that Legge (then chancellor of the Exchequer) was backed by the Government and Carnarvon by Leicester House. The rivalry between the two families continued: when on a vacancy in January 1772 William Jolliffe suggested a candidate to Chandos, the Duke replied ‘that as he was always with the Duke of Bolton he could not approve of him’.3 Other peers influential in the county were Lord Portsmouth and, between 1764 and 1771, Lord Northington. But the final decision lay with the country gentlemen.

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Bute mss.
  • 2. Northington to Carnarvon, 8 Feb. 1767 (misdated 1766), Chandos mss, Huntington Lib.
  • 3. Memorandum by Wm. Jolliffe, Jolliffe mss.