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 the inhabitants paying scot and lot

Number of voters:

about 1,000


(1801): 6,730


21 June 1790WILLIAM CROSBIE396
 William Paxton287
 William Paxton381
25 July 1797 MANNERS SUTTON re-elected after appointment to office 
8 May 1801 MANNERS SUTTON re-elected after appointment to office 
8 Feb. 1805 HENRY WILLOUGHBY vice Manners Sutton, appointed to office 
17 Feb. 1806 POLE re-elected after appointment to office 
19 May 1814 GEORGE HAY DAWKINS PENNANT vice Cotton, called to the Upper House 

Main Article

On the face of it, the pact in operation since 1715, whereby the dukes of Newcastle and the Suttons of Kelham returned a Member each, was maintained in 1805 when the Sutton interest lapsed and was replaced by that of the 6th Baron Middleton, whose forebears had formerly intervened in borough elections. A fourth interested party, Sir Jenison William Gordon, 2nd Bt., was a consenting party to these arrangements.1 But Newark remained, after all, an open borough with a sizeable electorate. There had been contests in 1774 and 1780, and in 1790, with both Members supporting government, another developed. The 3rd Duke of Portland, the Whig leader, had hesitated to interfere at Newark; but late in 1789 his brother Lord Edward Bentinck appeared there and conferred with William Dickinson Rastall, the ringleader of the ‘Blue’ opposition to the patrons, who had 50 tenants. Bentinck was rebuked by the and Duke of Newcastle for this and denied any conspiracy; but Rastall put up a candidate congenial to Portland, the nabob William Paxton*, rejecting overtures from a ministerialist army officer and a neighbour ‘of republican principles’.2

In a disorderly election Paxton was defeated, but objected to 162 votes cast for his opponents, who objected to 72 cast for him. According to his sponsor, he should have been returned by a majority of 74, but only 645 votes were allowed. His and his supporters’ petitions to the House turned on the right of election, and the submissions as to that turned on the House’s decision of 11 Jan. 1699, which awarded the franchise to those ‘who pay and ought to pay scot and lot’. This did not necessarily rule out persons not rated, but the mayor had accepted ‘none but those whose names were upon the rates as paying or being liable ... to pay scot and lot’. The submissions appeared to be to the same effect, to the ‘surprise’ and ‘entertainment’ of the committee, which rejected both and awarded the vote to ‘the mayor, aldermen and all the inhabitants paying scot and lot within the said borough’, 22 Mar. 1791, and the seats to the sitting Members. The decision was contested by further petition, 9 June 1791, but this eventually lapsed.3

Portland, having joined the government, had no wish to countenance opposition to the patrons in 1796 and on 14 May appealed to Paxton’s sponsor to play the peacemaker, ‘by any other means than those of an unconditional surrender’. The rejoinder was that Paxton had been put to much expense and now stood such a good chance that he had been offered a coalition by ‘a person of rank and fortune’ against the patronal nominees; but

if the other two parties could agree to let Mr Paxton sit the next Parliament without opposition, I would undertake to protect the person they should unite in supporting, both against expense and opposition by any third interest ...

This proposal was rejected when Pitt conjured up another nabob, Mark Wood, against Paxton who, again standing alone, was defeated, giving up after only a day’s full poll, when 288 electors had yet to vote.4 The candidature accepted by Wood had been refused ‘by at least half a dozen’, and in his view he had saved the Newcastle interest for the 3rd Duke’s widow, whose son was a minor. To Wood’s indignation he was informed by the duchess in October 1800 that he must look elsewhere for a seat. Apart from the danger of his cultivating his own interest the duchess’s remarriage to Charles Gregan Craufurd* who wanted to assume control of the ducal boroughs, had undermined his situation. Wood’s offer to pay all the expenses of reelection and buy off any new protégé of the duchess’s was refused and nothing came of his threat to persevere. The duchess named Sir Charles Morice Pole and there was no opposition, the committee of 16 who managed the election for the ‘united interest’ spending £604 12s. 2d. on the election.5

It was in 1802 that the 6th Baron Middleton prepared to revive his family’s interest. He wished, if possible, to replace the Suttons as ally of the Newcastle interest; but if the Suttons gave up the representation and the Duchess of Newcastle attempted to return two Members, he was prepared to place himself at the head of the Blue interest. The duchess warned him against this and promised him that if the Suttons consented she would accept him as an ally.6 Thus on Sir Thomas Manners Sutton’s vacating his seat in 1805, Middleton’s cousin Willoughby was returned. There was no opposition to the Newcastle-Middleton alliance, the electors being satisfied with an annual supply of coal as the price of their acquiescence.7

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Nottingham Univ. Lib. Newcastle mss NeC 2672, 6580.
  • 2. Ibid. 2666, 2680, 2684; Portland mss PwF3348.
  • 3. Newcastle mss NeC 4500; Public Advertiser, 22 June; Lincs. AO, Heron mss, Manners Sutton to T. Heron, 19 Dec., reply 23 Dec. 1790 enc. in T. to Sir R. Heron, 9 Feb. 1791; CJ, xlvi. 17, 51, 334, 705; xlviii. 18; Morning Chron. 12 Mar. 1791.
  • 4. Portland mss PwV110; PwF3348; Add. 38368, f. 206; Alphabetical list of the poll (1796).
  • 5. SRO GD51/1/200/25; Notts. RO, Tallents mss DDT22/77, Newark election 1802.
  • 6. HP transcript, Duchess of Newcastle to?, 19 Mar. 1803.
  • 7. Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury, 7 Nov. 1806; Newcastle mss NeC 6575, 6580.