Mitchell

Borough

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in inhabitants paying scot and lot

Number of voters:

42 in 1792 falling to 18 in 1815

Population:

(1801): 160

Elections

DateCandidate
21 June 1790CHRISTOPHER HAWKINS
 DAVID HOWELL
28 May 1796(SIR) STEPHEN LUSHINGTON I, Bt.
 (SIR) CHRISTOPHER HAWKINS, Bt.
25 Apr. 1799 JOHN SIMPSON vice Hawkins, vacated his seat
6 July 1802ROBERT DALLAS
 ROBERT SHARPE AINSLIE
11 Feb. 1805 CHARLES WILLIAM HENRY MONTAGU SCOTT, Earl of Dalkeith, vice Dallas, appointed to office
6 Nov. 1806(SIR) CHRISTOPHER HAWKINS, Bt.
 FREDERICK WILLIAM TRENCH
15 Jan. 1807 SIR ARTHUR WELLESLEY vice Hawkins, chose to sit for Grampound or Penryn
 HENRY CONYNGHAM MONTGOMERY vice Trench, vacated his seat
21 Apr. 1807 WELLESLEY re-elected after appointment to office
12 May 1807EDWARD LEVESON GOWER
 GEORGE GALWAY MILLS
24 July 1807 SIR JAMES HALL, Bt., vice Leveson Gower, vacated his seat
1 Feb. 1808 CHARLES TRELAWNY BRERETON vice Mills, vacated his seat
21 Feb. 1809 JOHN BRUCE vice Brereton, vacated his seat
14 Oct. 1812JOHN BRUCE
 GEORGE ROBERT HOBART
13 Feb. 1813 HON. EDWARD LAW vice Hobart, vacated his seat
2 Aug. 1814 CHARLES TRELAWNY BRERETON vice Bruce, vacated his seat
5 Dec. 1814 THOMAS HAMILTON, Lord Binning, vice Brereton, vacated his seat
7 June 1816 BINNING re-elected after appointment to office
23 June 1818SIR GEORGE THOMAS STAUNTON, Bt.
 WILLIAM LEAKE

Main Article

After the expensive contest between Viscount Falmouth and Sir Francis Basset for control of Mitchell in 1784, a compromise ensued by which each party returned one Member in 1790,1 Basset naming Howell again and Falmouth Christopher Hawkins. Before the election of 1796 Basset sold his property at Mitchell to Hawkins, who, though sitting in that Parliament on Falmouth’s interest, henceforward shared the parliamentary patronage with him.

A ‘phalanx’ of 21 voters tried to disturb this arrangement, but Falmouth and Basset stood by Hawkins, who was informed that ‘the intrigues of Lord E[liot] and Mr [Richard] B[arwell], who it is more than probable are privately supported by the Treasury, it being very certain that administration don’t wish to see your influence increase in the House of Commons’, were at the bottom of it. Eliot and Barwell soon found that their interference exacerbated Hawkins’s poaching activities at Grampound and Tregony and gave it up. The patrons proceeded to reduce the number of tenements not held under lease for lives to strengthen their position. Hawkins had paid £120 to each man and 15 guineas to each woman after the election of 1796.2 A written agreement of 2 Aug. 1800 survives whereby Falmouth gave Hawkins full command of his property at Mitchell ‘for the political interest of the said borough’, at a yearly rent not specified, for two general elections and ceded Hawkins one seat, sharing the expenses, at the third election hence, and subsequently. Hawkins agreed to return Falmouth’s son if necessary at the next election, but was not called on to do so. This agreement operated till Hawkins’s death: in October 1808 Hawkins agreed with the new Lord Falmouth that the document should be destroyed, ‘yet the substance should be kept’.3

Hawkins seems to have sold his seats to a variety of men ambitious of a seat though usually supporters of administration. When he introduced his brother-in-law Trelawny Brereton, in 1808 and 1814, it was merely as a stopgap.4 Falmouth returned Leveson Gower, Hall, Hobart, Law and Staunton as friends of government. On 14 Dec. 1812, Hobart’s return had to be amended by the House owing to the transposition of his Christian names. He had been Lord de Dunstanville’s candidate against the Hawkins interest at Penryn and De Dunstanville was at this time prepared to exert himself in support of the Falmouth interest at Mitchell, so as to place it at government’s disposal.5 That the compromise between the two patrons was subsequently vigilantly safeguarded by both is illustrated by the fact that of the five so called mesne lordships in Mitchell, to quote a report of 1829, ‘since the return of peace, two have been vested in the friends of the baronet and the remaining two in the friends of the peer. The fifth lordship has been conveyed to a common friend of the two patrons, as an umpire, in case of any misunderstanding, or foul play.’6