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:



19 Apr. 1754Edward Boscawen 
 John Boscawen 
1 Apr. 1761George Boscawen 
 John Boscawen 
16 June 1767Edward Hugh Boscawen vice John Boscawen, deceased 
22 Mar. 1768George Boscawen 
 Edward Hugh Boscawen 
13 Oct. 1774George Boscawen, jun. 
 Bamber Gascoyne 
12 July 1779Gascoyne re-elected after appointment to office 
8 Sept. 1780Bamber Gascoyne 
 Henry Rosewarne 
8 July 1783John Pollexfen Bastard vice Rosewarne, deceased 
6 Feb. 1784Sir John St. Aubyn vice Bastard, vacated his seat13
 Mr Boscawen10
8 Apr. 1784William Macarmick12
 William Augustus Spencer Boscawen12
 Thomas Erskine11
 Roger Wilbraham11
6 Mar. 1787John Hiley Addington vice Macarmick, appointed to office 

Main Article

Until 1780 Truro was controlled by Lord Falmouth, and generally returned members of his family. But shortly before the general election of that year, a majority of the corporation rebelled, complaining that Falmouth’s ‘avarice, increasing with age, hath grossly abused a confidence as complete, perhaps, as unguarded disinterested friendship ever placed in man’.1 Led by Falmouth’s former agent,2 they turned for support to Sir Francis Basset, and put forward as their candidates Henry Rosewarne, a local merchant, vice-warden of the stannaries, and Bamber Gascoyne, one of the old Members. The manœuvre was kept secret almost until the last moment. Four days before the election the corporation published an address, declaring that ‘the interference of any peer of Parliament in the election of Members of the Lower House is illegal, and subversive of the very essence of our constitution’; and Falmouth’s candidates, George and William Augustus Spencer Boscawen, were left stranded.3

Betrayed and deserted as we have been by men who professed themselves our friends [they wrote in their address4] and in whom we were taught to put the utmost confidence, we join in the utter detestation and contempt of their treacherous practices.

Basset retained control of the corporation until the general election of 1784, when the candidates of the 3rd Viscount Falmouth (who had succeeded in 1782) were successful by one vote. Still, for some time Basset maintained his challenge. In October 1784 Mrs. Boscawen, widow of the Admiral, told Mrs. Delany:5 ‘Your nephew Basset is waging most inveterate war and hostilities at Truro. My son [Falmouth] has all the love (they say), but then he (Sir Francis) has all the money.’ In 1785 Basset tried unsuccessfully to induce the Prince of Wales to dismiss those officials of the Duchy of Cornwall who were ‘obnoxious to his views’.6 But by 1790 it was agreed that Basset should confine himself to Tregony and leave Truro to Falmouth.

Author: J. A. Cannon


  • 1. St. James’s Chron. 17 Oct. 1780.
  • 2. Jonathan Elford to Lady Bute, 17 Feb. 1784, Wharncliffe mss, Sheffield City Lib.
  • 3. P. Jennings, ‘Notes on the Parlty. Hist. Truro’, Jnl. Royal Inst. Cornw. xix. 230-240.
  • 4. St. James’s Chron. 28 Sept. 1780.
  • 5. Corresp. Mrs. Delany, vi. 234.
  • 6. HMC 14th Rep. X. 270.