Double Member Borough
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Right of Election:
in the freemen and freeholders
Number of voters:
|15 Apr. 1754||John Hobart, Lord Hobart|
|29 Dec. 1755||Hobart re-elected after appointment to office|
|25 June 1756||Edward Bacon vice Walpole, called to the Upper House|
|8 Dec. 1756||Harbord Harbord vice Hobart, called to the Upper House|
|2 Jan. 1760||Bacon re-elected after appointment to office|
|27 Mar. 1761||Harbord Harbord||1729|
|18 Mar. 1768||Harbord Harbord||1811|
|11 Oct. 1774||Sir Harbord Harbord|
|11 Sept. 1780||Sir Harbord Harbord||1382|
|5 Apr. 1784||Sir Harbord Harbord||2305|
|16 Sept. 1786||Henry Hobart vice Harbord, called to the Upper House||1450|
|Robert John Buxton||10|
|Election declared void, 9 Mar. 1787|
|28 Mar. 1787||Henry Hobart||1393|
|Sir Thomas Beevor||1313|
In 1754 Norwich was the third largest city in England and the fourth largest urban constituency, a cathedral city of great dignity and antiquity and the centre of the Norfolk woollen industry. Its municipal constitution resembled that of London, with a court of aldermen and a court of common council; and municipal politics were fiercely contested. There was a large body of Dissenters; and since the franchise included freeholders as well as freemen, a considerable rural vote. All the representatives of Norwich during this period were substantial country gentlemen or members of aristocratic families, and until 1780 political issues played little part in elections. In 1754 a Walpole and a Hobart were returned unopposed: by uniting their interests they hoped to maintain their ascendancy in the borough, but were forced to admit the claims of other families to a share in its representation.
The Norwich election of 1780 was fought on a curious mixture of local and national issues. The trade of Norwich had languished as a result of the entry of the European powers into the American war, yet there does not seem to have been any popular opposition to North’s policy. Harbord had made himself unpopular because of his rigid enforcement of the game laws and his ruthlessness in enclosing, and when the corporation found an alternative candidate in John Thurlow, brother of the lord chancellor, and alderman and merchant of Norwich, Harbord withdrew. He changed his mind, after receiving an invitation to stand signed by over 500 freemen, and was nominated on a joint interest with William Windham. The nucleus of their party seems to have been composed of Dissenters and their opposition was primarily against the junta which controlled the corporation. The American war was a secondary issue, and radicalism was not prominent at Norwich as it was in other large urban constituences. Harbord came head of the poll and Bacon a poor second.
The issue of Pitt v. Fox came up at the election of 1784 but, as in 1780, national politics were overshadowed by the local struggle between the corporation and the anti-corporation party. Harbord was accepted by both sides; Windham, a follower of Fox and an opponent of parliamentary reform, was the anti-corporation candidate; and Hobart, the corporation candidate, declared his adherence to Pitt. The by-elections of 1786 and 1787 were also fought on the local issue with almost no reference to national politics.
Author: John Brooke
B. D. Hayes, ‘Politics in Norfolk, 1750-1832’, Cambridge Univ. Ph.D. thesis.