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 corporation

Number of voters:

44 at most


(1801): 6,688


21 June 1790GEORGE CARPENTER, Earl of Tyrconnel [I] 
19 Sept. 1794 HON. EDMUND PHIPPS vice Phipps (Baron Mulgrave [I]), called to the Upper House 
8 May 1797 SOMERSET re-elected after appointment to office 
 John Woodall7
2 Feb. 1810 MANNERS SUTTON re-elected after appointment to office 

Main Article

In 1790 a compromise, which operated throughout this period, divided the patronage of the borough between the young 5th Duke of Rutland’s trustees and Lord Mulgrave; but it was at first attended by considerable suspicion in the duke’s camp that Mulgrave, who owned an extensive estate nearby, intended to gain the upper hand, seeing that the duke’s interest was founded on the less reliable basis of the corporation’s attachment to his late grandfather the Marquess of Granby. In 1784 the duke’s father had connived at the return of George Osbaldeston at the expense of Mulgrave’s brother Charles, notwithstanding the latter’s adherence to Pitt. Moreover, in spite of Osbaldeston’s suspected preference for the Whigs and attachment to Earl Fitzwilliam, he was content with a token declaration of goodwill towards Pitt’s government by Osbaldeston. Having thus snubbed Mulgrave, Rutland when he went to Ireland entrusted Pitt with the care of his interest and patronage, as he ‘must be indulged with the nomination to certain employments along the coast to maintain it as his father did’; he feared Mulgrave might ‘overthrow’ his interest.1

The duke died in 1787 leaving his duchess, her brother the Duke of Beaufort, who became recorder of the borough, and Pitt to act as his trustees. Their position was rendered the more difficult by the defection of Osbaldeston to the Whigs in the later stages of the Regency crisis, which ruled out an understanding with him and ensured a compromise, presumably welcome to Pitt as it secured the return of two friends. Mulgrave was careful to assure Pitt in advance that he wished the Rutland interest well. Osbaldeston, who had in any case lost some of his friends ‘by death and other unexpected affairs’, was thus excluded, but undaunted. After the election he informed Fitzwilliam that he had obtained legal opinion in favour of the notion that the freemen at large were entitled to elect the corporation and not the corporation itself, which formed ‘such a phalanx of opposition to independent interest and local influence’. The corporation having failed to come to terms with this suggestion, proceedings by mandamus were pending to try the freemen’s right and Osbaldeston proposed to espouse the freemen’s cause as a means of establishing ‘a permanent family interest’, to be placed at Fitzwilliam’s service. Robert Sinclair, acting as legal agent for the freemen, warned Fitzwilliam that Osbaldeston would spoil the game unless he contrived to keep his personal ambition out of view and supported the freemen on their account alone and not on family grounds; and the prospects were not good, because the judges, Kenyon and Buller, were likely to quash the bid on party grounds. After a preliminary skirmish in King’s bench in 1791, Sinclair planned to make a double corporation to force the present one to become the freemen’s plaintiffs, but the plan did not materialize and Osbaldeston’s death in 1793 ended the episode.2

Further anxiety to the Rutland interest was caused by its Member Lord Tyrconnel, the divorced husband of the late duke’s sister, declining to subscribe £500 towards the corporation expenses, which the trustees then had to pay. In October 1793 Pitt was informed that the duchess had written to the bailiff to notify the corporation that Tyrconnel was not to come in for Scarborough again, and had offended the corporators by not writing to them individually, as was customary. Charles Small Pybus*, Pitt’s informant, added that the disgruntlement that ensued was sufficient to cause an offer to be made to him to come forward. Pressing patronage applications to Pitt from the duchess hinted further at the insecurity of the Rutland interest.3 On the death of Mulgrave in 1792, his brother and heir Henry, Member for Scarborough, who was devoted to Pitt, set his sights on a British peerage for himself, and in May 1793 assured Pitt that he had no wish or opportunity to attend regularly and proposed bringing in his brother Edmund: when he obtained his peerage in 1794, he did so. But he continued to alarm the Rutland party by insisting on his share in the patronage for Scarborough, and on the eve of the election of 1796, against their wishes, obtained the governorship of Scarborough Castle, which he claimed as a ‘more military’ counterpoise to the recordership of the borough, held by the Duke of Beaufort for the Duke of Rutland.4

Lord Charles Henry Somerset, Beaufort’s son, came in as the Rutland nominee in 1796 and soon afterwards the young duke received the freedom of the borough: he reported that ‘a good deal of ground has been lost. Lord Mulgrave is so near at hand, and has had so many opportunities of forwarding his own interest, that he completely holds the borough; I must therefore stir every peg and conciliate the town as much as possible.’ When Somerset was in line for a place in the royal household in December 1796, his father begged Pitt to hasten the appointment, lest there be difficulties about his re-election at Scarborough. There were none.5

Opposition to the uneasy Rutland-Mulgrave compromise was not altogether defunct, as was illustrated by the contest of 1802. Osbaldeston’s widow, doubtless with her son George in mind, kept up with some of the corporation and in 1802 John Woodall, a local banker, one of this group, got seven votes at the expense of the Rutland candidate, the duke’s brother, who was not quite of age but the strongest candidate the family could put up. According to The Times, 13 July 1802, Woodall was a ‘friend’ of the Rutland candidate, and the borough was also canvassed at the eleventh hour by Peter Mestaer, the unsuccessful candidate at Hedon. The duke had informed the bailiffs that Somerset was retiring for health reasons and recommended his brother to them; his thanks for Lord Robert’s return were effusive. In the season of 1804, the duke was seen at Scarborough ‘shaking hands with the forty-four men who send his brother to Parliament’.6

At the election of 1806, Fitzwilliam contemplated intervention; after a polite bow to Mrs Osbaldeston, who declined the residual family interest on behalf of her son for fear of the expense, he proposed putting forward a nephew of his (probably Dundas) and asked the prime minister, Lord Grenville, not to do anything for the present Members, ‘both enemies’. Grenville replied that he had not heard from them and was willing to support Fitzwilliam’s nephew, bearing in mind that Mulgrave’s brother was ‘a decided enemy’, but that Rutland, though hitherto against, seemed to be veering round to support for the ministry. Fitzwilliam’s push would accordingly have been against Mulgrave’s interest; but on 24 Oct. 1806 he informed Grenville, ‘Scarborough will not do; I have given it up’. He had learned from Mrs Osbaldeston and from the bailiff that, though some of the corporation were well disposed, it was too late; they were now engaged ‘past recall this election’. The computation was that 21 were reliably pledged to Mulgrave, leaving only 17 who might be swayed, as three or four of the corporation were ineligible to vote. The same conclusion was reached by another informant of Fitzwilliam, Daniel Sykes, who had actually made inquiries on behalf of William Joseph Denison*, then without a seat.7 Advantage was taken of their security by the Rutland family to substitute a kinsman, Charles Manners Sutton, for the duke’s brother, who was deployed elsewhere. After this Scarborough had no election news. In 1818 Manners Sutton, who had become Speaker, assured his predecessor in the Chair that there was no need for him to be returned elsewhere as a security, as ‘I have no grounds for suspecting, what has never yet occurred, at Scarborough, either opposition or petition’.8 His new colleague, Mulgrave’s heir, caused only a ripple when his father displaced him in May 1820 on account of his opposition politics and restored his brother to the seat.

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. PRO 30/8/197, f. 24.
  • 2. PRO 30/8/162, f. 29; Fitzwilliam mss, box 40, Travis to Fitzwilliam, 12 Mar. 1789; Wentworth Woodhouse mun. F41/21, 22, 23, 24.
  • 3. PRO 30/8/112, f. 139; 169, f. 237; 174, ff. 261-7.
  • 4. PRO 30/8/162, ff. 43, 45, 58, 66, 68; Kent AO, Stanhope mss 730/7, Mulgrave to Pitt, 14 May 1796.
  • 5. Fremantle mss, Rutland to Fremantle, 8 Aug. 1796; PRO 30/8/112, f. 217.
  • 6. E. Riding RO, Sykes mss DDSY/101/68, Mrs Osbaldeston to Sykes, 23 Sept. 1799; Rutland mss, Rutland to bailiffs of Scarborough (copies), 28 June, 13 July 1802; Reminiscences of a Gentlewoman of the Last Cent. ed. Beale, 147.
  • 7. Wentworth Woodhouse mun. E210, Mrs Osbaldeston to Fitzwilliam, 1, 20 Oct., Travis to same, 20 Oct., Denison to same, 22 Oct. 1806; HMC Fortescue, viii. 392, 394, 396; Lonsdale mss, Ward to Lowther, 29 Oct. 1806.
  • 8. PRO 30/9/16, Manners Sutton to Colchester, 6 May 1818.