Westbury

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 burgage holders

Number of voters:

about 70

Population:

(1801): 1,837

Elections

DateCandidate
19 June 1790SAMUEL ESTWICK I
 EWAN LAW
15 Jan. 1795 SAMUEL ESTWICK II vice Law, vacated his seat
27 Nov. 1795 EDWARD WILBRAHAM BOOTLE vice Samuel Estwick I, deceased
27 May 1796SIR HENRY PAULET ST. JOHN MILDMAY, Bt.
 GEORGE ELLIS
28 Oct. 1796 GEORGE WILLIAM RICHARD HARCOURT vice Ellis, chose to sit for Seaford
18 Apr. 1800 JOHN SIMON HARCOURT vice Harcourt, vacated his seat
6 July 1802WILLIAM BALDWIN
 CHARLES SMITH
31 Oct. 1806WILLIAM JACOB
 JOHN WOOLMORE
6 May 1807HON. EDWARD LASCELLES
 GLYNN WYNN
20 July 1807 HON. HENRY LASCELLES vice Lascelles, chose to sit for Northallerton
27 Jan. 1809 FRANCIS WHITTLE vice Wynn, vacated his seat
24 Mar. 1810 JOHN DE PONTHIEU vice Whittle, vacated his seat
10 Oct. 1812BENJAMIN HALL
 BENJAMIN SHAW
5 Dec. 1814 RALPH FRANCO vice Hall, vacated his seat
23 June 1818RALPH FRANCO
 LORD FRANCIS NATHANIEL CONYNGHAM
1 May 1819 WILLIAM LEADER MABERLY vice Franco, vacated his seat

Main Article

Westbury was a close borough where Willoughby Bertie, 4th Earl of Abingdon, owned all but one or two of the burgages. Since 1786 he had sold the seats to satisfy his creditors.1 The Treasury noted in 1788 that one of the Members, John Madocks, might be succeeded by his son, who was in opposition: but that did not take place. The new Member in 1790, Ewan Law, was holding the seat for his brother Edward Law*, who intended taking it up when Warren Hastings’s trial was concluded; but upon his deciding not to do so, Ewan vacated.2 In 1796 Charles Rose Ellis*, who had purchased a seat for his cousin George, complained of being ‘flagitiously cheated’ in the matter of his cousin’s ‘re-election’ by Abingdon’s agent William Baldwin*. The result was that George Ellis transferred to Seaford and his cousin washed his hands of Westbury. Of the price paid by Ellis and by his successor St. John Mildmay, Canning was assured that it was ‘the largest ever given’, but believed ‘the exorbitancy of their purchase was accounted for by Mr Billy Baldwin being the agent’.3

Abingdon died in 1799 leaving a youthful heir, for whom Baldwin and Viscount Gage* were appointed trustees. Baldwin himself was returned in 1802. The trustees, who continued the sales of property begun by the late earl, otherwise sold the seats. In 1806 Tierney was quoted 10,000 guineas for them by Baldwin, and in 1807, according to Romilly, he bid £10,000 for them in vain. In that year Baldwin, who no longer had a say in the matter as the 5th Earl was of age, informed Earl Fitzwilliam that the principal creditor of the Abingdon estate had been approached by George Rose* for the Treasury through Viscount Gage, and that as a result Lord Harewood had brought the seats for about £10,000. Harewood brought in his son Edward with Glynn Wynn, the former being soon replaced by his brother Henry, defeated in Yorkshire. Wynn was to have been replaced by Lord Dufferin*, after a negotiation conducted by the Treasury through Charles Long*, but nothing came of it.4 The open sale of seats for Westbury was referred to in debate by William Alexander Madocks on 11 May 1809.

In 1810 Westbury was sold by Abingdon to (Sir) Manesseh Masseh Lopes* for £75,000 This appears to have escaped Lord Liverpool’s notice for he wrote to Lord Harewood, 21 Sept. 1812, complaining that his nominee De Ponthieu had been voting with opposition and that government hoped to see a reliable supporter returned in future.5 Lopes, his nephew Franco apart, took paying guests: as Lord Grenville was assured in 1810, the borough was ‘not to be had on other terms’.6

Author: R. G. Thorne

Notes

  • 1. J. A. Cannon, ‘The Parl. Rep. of six Wilts. Boroughs 1754-90’ (Bristol Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1958), i. 294; Oldfield, Rep. Hist. v. 145.
  • 2. PRO 30/8/196; 30/12/17/8, Law to Abingdon, n.d.
  • 3. Portland mss PwF7423; PRO 30/