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 inhabitants being burgage holders and paying scot and lot

Number of voters:

about 200


23 Apr. 1754John Lee145
 Edward Bacon144
 Jeffrey French60
 Richard Rigby59
26 June 1756Richard Bull vice Bacon, vacated his seat 
1 Apr. 1761John Lee 
 Richard Bull 
7 Dec. 1761William de Grey vice Lee, deceased 
27 Dec. 1763de Grey re-elected after appointment to office 
18 Nov. 1766de Grey re-elected after appointment to office 
19 Mar. 1768William de Grey 
 Richard Bull 
12 Feb. 1770Richard Henry Alexander Bennett vice de Grey, vacated his seat 
11 Oct. 1774Humphry Morice 
 Richard Bull 
30 Dec. 1774John Frederick vice Morice, chose to sit for Launceston 
9 Sept. 1780James Maitland, Visct. Maitland 
 John Coghill 
7 Apr. 1784Sir John Coghill 
 Sir John Miller 
13 Dec. 1785William Mitford vice Coghill, deceased 

Main Article

Newport, a suburb of Launceston, was controlled by the Morices of Werrington, who as lords of the manor appointed the two returning officers, or vianders. Their hold was challenged in 1754 by the Duke of Bedford, owner of a number of burgages in the borough, who had quarrelled with Morice. Although Bedford did not think the prospect of success very great, he insisted on making ‘a diversion ... in resentment of Mr. Morice’s behaviour to me’, and finished by putting up Richard Rigby and Jeffrey French. Morice’s candidates were Treasury nominees, with no interest in the borough. ‘Here we are’, wrote Rigby to the Duke from Newport, 21 Apr., ‘ ... in the midst of the hottest poll this town ever saw.’ The previous day they had 37 votes against 40 for their opponents; but the vianders allowed them only 23, while the others ‘keep their whole 40’—‘so much partiality I never saw’. ‘There will undoubtedly be very good grounds for a petition, but I am afraid the House of Commons too will be full of vianders.’

But here are Sir George [should be John] Molesworth and all the Devonshire and Cornish baronets and squires, more against us and more in a passion than ever I saw a set of fools in my life. Molesworth, in particular, made us swear to our qualifications, and blusters and swears till he is replied to more than you can imagine.

And on his return from ‘that cursed Newport’, 25 Apr.:

The numbers were for us 117, for them 145, but the returning officers allowed but sixty of ours to be good and not one of theirs to be bad ... You will be pleased to consider whether you shall think fit to lodge a petition or not.

The Duke decided against it.1

Bedford did not raise any further opposition and Morice had the uncontested patronage of Newport until April 1775, when he sold the Werrington estate with his interest in both Newport and Launceston to the Duke of Northumberland, who henceforth controlled both boroughs.

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Bedford mss 29, f. 127; 30, ff. 36, 38.