Weymouth and Melcombe Regis

Borough

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

Background Information

The two boroughs were united by Act of Parliament in 1571, and returned four Members

Right of Election:

in the freeholders

Number of voters:

about 600

Population:

(1801): Weymouth 2,350; Melcombe Regis 1,267

Elections

DateCandidateVotes
19 June 1790SIR JAMES MURRAY, Bt. 
 RICHARD BEMPDE JOHNSTONE 
 ANDREW STUART 
 THOMAS JONES 
17 June 1791 SIR JAMES JOHNSTONE, Bt., vice Jones, vacated his seat 
3 Oct. 1794 GABRIEL TUCKER STEWARD vice Sir James Johnstone, deceased 
27 May 1796SIR JAMES PULTENEY (formerly MURRAY), Bt. 
 ANDREW STUART 
 GABRIEL TUCKER STEWARD 
 WILLIAM GARTHSHORE 
25 Feb. 1801 GARTHSHORE re-elected after appointment to office 
30 May 1801 CHARLES ADAMS vice Stuart, deceased 
9 July 1802GABRIEL TUCKER STEWARD126
 SIR JAMES PULTENEY, Bt.107
 WILLIAM GARTHSHORE100
 CHARLES ADAMS99
 John Arbuthnot74
26 Apr. 1806 RICHARD AUGUSTUS TUCKER STEWARD vice Garthshore, deceased 
4 Nov. 1806SIR JAMES PULTENEY, Bt.134
 RICHARD AUGUSTUS TUCKER STEWARD126
 GABRIEL TUCKER STEWARD125
 CHARLES ADAMS118
 William Williams94
 John Arbuthnot91
 Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, Bt.89
 Charles Buxton88
16 Apr. 1807 PULTENEY re-elected after appointment to office 
11 May 1807SIR JAMES PULTENEY, Bt.214
 GABRIEL TUCKER STEWARD180
 RICHARD AUGUSTUS TUCKER STEWARD178
 CHARLES ADAMS177
 William Williams156
 John Arbuthnot154
 Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, Bt.152
29 June 1810 SIR JOHN LOWTHER JOHNSTONE, Bt., vice Gabriel Tucker Steward, vacated his seat 
11 May 1811 SIR JOHN MURRAY, Bt., vice Pulteney, deceased 
18 Jan. 1812 JOSEPH HUME vice Johnstone, deceased 
27 Oct. 1812SIR JOHN MURRAY, Bt.617
 THOMAS WALLACE430
 JOHN BROADHURST418
 HENRY TRAIL403
 Richard Augustus Tucker Steward343
 William Williams300
 Joseph Hume2
  Wallace, Broadhurst and Trail’s election declared void, 26 Feb. 1813 
9 June 1813 MASTERTON URE220
 CHRISTOPHER IDLE210
 JAMES BROWNLOW WILLIAM CECIL, Visct. Cranborne204
 Gabriel Tucker Steward150
 William Williams145
14 Feb. 1817 ADOLPHUS JOHN DALRYMPLE vice Cranborne, vacated his seat 
29 June 1818WILLIAM WILLIAMS293
 THOMAS FOWELL BUXTON205
 THOMAS WALLACE204
 MASTERTON URE197
 Sir John Murray, Bt.118
 John Ashley Warre106
 John Bebb103

Main Article

In 1802, when there was a contest for the boroughs for the first time since 1735, The Times commented that ‘Weymouth and Melcombe Regis have always been considered as close boroughs’. In June 1789 Gabriel Steward, who had acquired by marriage the predominant influence of the Tucker family, which conceded two seats to government in exchange for the disposal of patronage, sold his property. Despite a Whig attempt (encouraged by Fox) to purchase, through Lord Hertford (for £63,000, according to Oldfield), the buyer was Sir William Pulteney*.1 He was, it seems, unwilling to accommodate government in 1790, being out of humour with Pitt, and, displacing the sitting Members, he returned his own relatives and friends. Thomas Jones was recommended to him by his friend Lord Kenyon, when Pulteney asked him to recommend a ‘respectable independent gentleman’ for the fourth seat, but made way for a member of Pulteney’s family in 1791. Subsequently Pulteney rallied to government. In 1794, probably to meet a potential threat, he returned Gabriel Tucker Steward, son of the former patron, on a vacancy. Steward maintained that he had not been consulted in the sale and that he regarded himself as a ‘free agent’ vis-à-vis Pulteney, whom he thought a bad manager. The fact was, as subsequent events showed, that he resented the loss of his family’s influence.2

In 1796 Garthshore, the new Member, was a government nominee, as was Adams in 1801. In 1802 opposition was offered by ‘Governor’ Arbuthnot, a Whig resident, governor of Yarmouth, and friend of the Prince of Wales; he hoped to rally the ‘principal inhabitants’ on the strength of the allegation that Pulteney ‘never spent a shilling in those boroughs, nor offered a single accommodation to the inhabitants’. This bid for the ‘emancipation’ of the borough failed, but received enough support to encourage further opposition, and for the rest of the period every general election was contested.3

Gabriel Tucker Steward headed the poll in 1802, and after Sir William had died in 1805 and been succeeded as patron by his daughter, the Countess of Bath, and her husband Sir James Murray* (afterwards Pulteney), Steward contrived to bring in his brother Richard on a vacancy early in 1806. The full-scale contest at the ensuing general election was governed by the consequences of Arbuthnot’s petition against the return of 1802. It had at length been rejected on 23 Feb. 1804, thus securing the right of ‘occasional’ freeholders to vote and encouraging the multiplication of votes by the splitting up of freeholds, particularly ‘under wills either real or fictitious’. Oldfield claimed that 200 freeholds thus became 2,000 eventually, though it was not until 1812 that the bulge was indicated by the poll. In 1806 Sir James Pulteney, Charles Adams and the Steward brothers were opposed by Governor Arbuthnot; his coadjutor William Williams; Charles Buxton, a prominent resident, and Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy. Two of them had wooden legs and were therefore ‘allowed to be much the most proper persons to oppose the sitting Members’. They espoused the independence of the borough and supported the Grenville administration, which alienated Sir James Pulteney by not coming to terms with him— he subsequently took office under Portland.4 The opposition was defeated and though Williams petitioned, 23 Dec. 1806, and he and his brother-in-law the radical Thomas Holt White tried to secure a favourable committee, the petition failed, 2 Feb. 1807. In 1807 three of the same four opposition candidates challenged and, on a higher poll, obtained much the same result as before. Williams alleged, ‘our opponents feel our strength, and are I believe convinced we must beat them another time’. Indeed, when Gabriel Steward resigned on obtaining his object of a place in 1810 and Sir James Pulteney contemplated recommending Charles Philip Yorke* to succeed him, he was informed by the ‘town’ interest that ‘they had determined to choose one of their own body if they should be indiscreetly pressed to return Mr Yorke’.5

It was Sir John Lowther Johnstone, successor since the death of the Countess of Bath in 1808 to the Pulteney interest, who filled the vacancy, despite a threat of opposition from Governor Arbuthnot. But he died in 1811, leaving an infant heir and expenses of £10,000 to be incurred in renewing property leases and appointing by will four trustees to maintain the borough interest, namely his former colonel, the Duke of Cumberland; Charles Herbert Pierrepont*, Viscount Newark; David Cathcart (subsequently Lord Alloway), and Masterton Ure*. The interest had been further weakened when Sir James Pulteney died a few months before Sir John Lowther Johnstone, and although Pulteney’s half-brother Sir John Murray was returned, he was threatened with a contest. William Williams eclipsed William Beverley of Beverley as his challenger, and Murray had to spend £7,000 to avert a poll, which Williams declined. Robert Peel informed Spencer Perceval of this in September 1811, when the prime minister suggested that he contest Weymouth at the next election. Perceval did induce the trustees to return Joseph Hume on the vacancy caused by Johnstone’s death and Hume was unopposed, doubtless thanks to the ‘near approach of the dissolution’. Perceval achieved this through Masterton Ure, who later wrote to Lord Liverpool:

Having been appointed by the late Sir John Lowther Johnstone Bt., the representative of Sir William Pulteney and the Countess of Bath, as a trustee over his estates, sometime before his death, I took upon myself the management of the parliamentary interest attached to his estates of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis.

During the latter part of Mr Perceval’s administration I had the honour of frequent conferences with that minister on this subject. On the death of Sir James Pulteney I made the arrangements for the return of Sir John Murray as Member for Weymouth.

After the death of Sir John Johnstone, as one of the guardians of his infant children, and a trustee of the estates it fell to my lot to take the active management of this borough. By Mr Perceval’s advice I went to Weymouth and recommended Mr Hume who was returned to Parliament in the room of Sir John Johnstone without opposition.

At the general election of 1812 I encountered greater difficulties, owing to a fictitious right of voting which was then introduced by dividing freeholds by devise. This was afterwards corrected by an Act of Parliament in April 1813 which destroyed that fictitious right ... Sir John Murray, Mr Wallace, Mr Broadhurst and Mr Trail, the four candidates recommended by the trustees, were returned as Members for the town.

The three latter were unseated on the Treating Act, a consequence of the system of voting fraudulently introduced.6

Ure’s narrative requires some qualification. The Duke of Cumberland was at first regarded as the dominant trustee and Masterton Ure as his ‘most subservient tool’. Henry Brougham wrote before the election:

I plainly perceive there is a plot contriving between them two by which the duke will be permitted to return his aides-de-camp provided Ure is himself one. He is a perfect butt, all over Edinburgh, being a fool of the first magnitude, and I must say our friend Cathcart will not be acting well, if he sits by and allows so nefarious a job to be done by the parties.

Lady Charlotte Johnstone, widow of the deceased patron, felt helpless. She wrote to James Brougham, 26 Oct. 1812:

You may depend upon it you will never see any of my family or friends in for this place as long as the Duke of Cumberland has anything to do with it; he hates the breed and Brook Street [i.e. Ure] the same. If I could be got out of the way, then would they rejoice. I know so little of their plans that I did not even know the names of the candidates till they left their cards for me. Wallace you know, Broadhurst is a tool of the duke’s, he was in his regiment some time, he has succeeded to a large fortune lately, and has left the army in consequence. Trail is a banker in London ... I suspect he is recommended by Lord Hertford, Wallace from Brook Street, and the other from St. James’s ... Entre nous I believe government wished Joseph [Hume] put out, and I am not sure but he is better out of the way. He did a great deal too much here, and had got an amazing hold on some of the people. Ure himself did not know who was coming until a week before they came down. He has been scandalously treated, and I think will take care for the future if he means to act as borough agent!!!7

Joseph Hume’s willingness to offer himself again at the election of 1812 caused considerable embarrassment to the trustees. The Duke of Cumberland and Viscount Newark denied that they had promised to bring Hume in again, though it appeared that Ure had encouraged him in that hope ‘through over zeal and anxiety’. Hume broadcast his treatment as ‘an act of injustice’. Cumberland was anxious that his name should not be brought forward, ‘he being a peer of Parliament’, and the trustees were advised to buy Hume off and to concert measures better in future. Hume was duly bought off, Ure paying him £1,000, considered as ‘the repayment of the expenses of his former election’; and at a meeting of his friends he accordingly ‘did not dwell on the pledge [to return him again], but asked only how far the change said to have taken place in the representation had the electors’ sanction’.8

With Hume out of the way, the trustees had to face opposition from the Steward family, who had encouraged Hume. Gabriel Steward had vacated with a place in 1810, but had no intention of giving up his interest, and his brother Richard, who was unprovided for, was evidently more popular at Weymouth than himself. Charles Arbuthnot at the Treasury informed Wallace, a member of the government, that he had no place to give Richard Steward, nor would it be wise to offer one ‘at the present moment’; he advised Wallace to bring the Stewards to their senses. On 7 Oct. 1812 Wallace reported that the Stewards would not contest the election, and as it was already known that William Williams’s father would ‘not support him in the expense of any further contest’, causing Williams to decline for ‘weighty private reasons’ on 5 Oct., it seemed as if the trustees would triumph. In anticipation of this, Wallace asked the Treasury to send a fifth man,

on account of the necessity we are under of bringing to adjudication the right of voting here. After a great deal of consideration it is decided that it can only be done by bringing forward a fifth candidate and giving him the return upon the bad votes we are desirous of having destroyed, and who is to be ousted on petition.

To cover all eventualities, Wallace requested a man with a safe seat to fall back on or exchange, and was provided with the name of George William Gunning*. But this plan misfired, owing to the revival of the candidature of Richard Steward and William Williams, the former being supported by his brother Gabriel, despite a previous assurance to the contrary, professedly out of ‘delicacy’ (‘of which’, according to Wallace’s friend Lord Shaftesbury, ‘he never had any in his life’), but really ‘with a view to increase his own importance’. For this Gabriel was ‘threatened with the loss of his office’. Steward was actually sponsored by Williams on 12 Oct. 1812 and ‘came forward thinking he had been ill used in being passed over’. Williams’s reappearance was due to his friends promising financial assistance.9

Williams and Steward kept the poll open and Lady Johnstone anticipated expenses of about £10,000 (they seem to have been over three times that amount). Even so, the trustees’ success was

hard work, and not without the assistance of the very thing we have been crying out against, viz. the will votes. They have been called in requisition and by that we shall carry the day, but I understand Steward and Williams mean to petition against the return and I sincerely hope they will for I shall never feel happy till these votes are set aside. It has caused a greater tumult in the borough than ever was known before, and Steward joining the opposite party has made such a division in the interest, that I am afraid has done us much harm.

The town mob ‘announced to all the successful candidates that they were one and all to be tumbled over the bridge’, during chairing; the unsuccessful candidates were chaired and when the successful ones were protected from the populace, they fell instead on the outvoters, fetched from ‘all parts of Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset and Hampshire, not to speak of ‘shiploads of Frenchmen’ [i.e. Channel Islanders]. The trustees’ tribulations were exacerbated by the speech of Sir John Murray, ostensibly the family nominee, at the close of the poll, which ‘clearly showed his wishes to establish a separate interest’. Murray had canvassed both on the family interest and as an independent.10

On 3 Dec. 1812 the friends of Williams and Steward, having raised a subscription, petitioned against the return, alleging partiality, illegal voting, bribery and treating and the improper interference of ‘several peers’. An attack on the Duke of Cumberland, thought to have been inspired by Joseph Hume, had already appeared in the Independent Whig. Gabriel Steward had, not unexpectedly, tried to come to terms with the trustees both before and after the petition was presented, in order no doubt to obtain a reward, and he was dismayed to discover that ‘an unfavourable impression of my conduct towards the government at the late Weymouth election’ stood in his way. The trustees calculated that even if the ‘will votes’ and sundry doubtful votes were rejected, they could still carry their men. As Sir John Murray insisted that he stood ‘distinct’ from them and refused to pay a quarter of the election expenses, or take part in the defence against the petition in which he was not named (he was thought to be favourable to the Stewards) he was also secure; and in January 1813, making some token payments of election expenses unilaterally, he departed for Spain.11

After taking legal advice, the trustees discovered that their case was too hot to handle, as treating could be clearly proved against them. Wallace advised against fighting the petition or even compromising; the trustees’ main object should be to accept the exposure of the ‘will votes’ and to benefit from a reform of the franchise, which would be the less congenial to the opposition as they had been lately promised large numbers of ‘will votes’. Edmund Henning, a Weymouth banker acting for the trustees, reported that Williams and his friends were determined ‘if the wills are done away to make it a scot and lot borough if possible, or throw it into the adjoining hundreds, either of which would completely answer their purpose’. Henning, like Ure, thought the only answer was to ‘have nothing but forty shilling freeholds, which would set the thing at rest for ever’.12

The House, armed with evidence of gross abuses during the election, duly unseated Wallace, Broadhurst and Trail, voiding their election. In March 1813 Alderman Atkins brought in the Weymouth election bill, which was then declared general, to prevent the splitting of votes by devise in future and limit the franchise to real freeholds. The Whigs opposed it and produced a local petition signed by 800, protesting against this narrowing of the franchise. They also condemned the Duke of Cumberland’s interference, which was demonstrable, as he had delayed the writ and promised places to voters, though the election committee had discounted the evidence. Lord Archibald Hamilton’s motion on this subject was defeated, 1 Apr. 1813; so was Macdonald’s motion against the bill, 7 Apr. It passed on 12 Apr. Lady Johnstone welcomed it for her young son’s benefit.13

Of the unseated Members Trail had ‘no inclination to be in Parliament’, Broadhurst found a seat elsewhere and so did Wallace. He continued to cultivate Weymouth, despite being plagued with election bills which his running partners now tried to disown, with a view to regaining the seats for government when the time was ripe. Cumberland seems to have become shy of further interference and Masterton Ure later claimed to Lord Liverpool:

Considerable difficulties stood in the way of the return of three Members to supply the vacancies. Lord Cranborne and Mr Idle, persons known to your lordship, and another gentleman were recommended. The principal inhabitants ... waited on me with a petition that I would stand as a candidate ... adding that if I did they would support also Lord Cranborne and Mr Idle.

In order to secure the three seats I came forward ... and had the satisfaction to be placed at the head of the poll and likewise to carry the election in favour of Lord Cranborne and Mr Idle by decisive majorities. ... I may here take the liberty to state that the whole nine Members who have been returned for Weymouth during my management have supported your lordship’s administration.14

In fact, it appears that when Cranborne and Christopher Idle appeared at Weymouth early in May 1813, they had ‘brought no letters of recommendation, or any person to introduce them’ and had to depart till Ure could arrange matters for them; on their return they were stoned. The trustees’ conduct was unpopular and William Williams and the disgruntled Gabriel Tucker Steward contested the election. There was a rumour that Joseph Hume meant to join them. Their defeat was not decisive and subsequently Ure tried to placate Gabriel Steward by obtaining another place for him, rather than by letting him have a seat, which might have been more effective, since Steward eschewed opposition to government and might have been able to restrain Williams.15

In January 1817 Viscount Cranborne, whose father disliked the expense of Weymouth, found an opening at Hertford, of which his mother informed Arbuthnot at the Treasury, ‘in case he should be able to make any useful arrangement for Weymouth’. Arbuthnot was caught ‘unawares’, but found that Ure was ready with ‘a friend’ to send down to Weymouth. He also received a letter from Gabriel Steward, asking government for support for ‘a most respectable gentleman, a friend and connection of my own ... well inclined towards the present government’. Wallace, consulted by Arbuthnot, advised against listening to Steward, but had reservations about Ure’s nomination, which proved fully justified.16 Dalrymple, whose unopposed return Ure now secured, was son-in-law to Lord Lonsdale’s agent, (Sir) James Graham*. His introduction was due to a scheme of Graham’s to which Ure had lent ear, to make Lonsdale a trustee, following the anxiety of Newark (now Earl Manvers) and Cumberland to be released from their trusteeship. According to Viscount Lowther, writing to his father to warn him against accepting a trusteeship without further inquiry, the trusteeship had ‘gone a begging half round London’. It involved dealing with ‘the worst possible characters’, as well as advancing security for £30,000; and the temptation of forgetting ‘the infant’, in order to secure the electoral patronage of Weymouth, to which Graham had readily succumbed. Ure was warned that Graham would try to have himself made a trustee too and then overrule him. He disbelieved this, but was released from his difficulty by a decree of Chancery in June 1817 authorizing him and Lord Alloway to act as sole trustees. This decision also prevented a move by James Brougham to prevail on Lady Johnstone to name his brother Henry and Douglas Kinnaird* or Sir Samuel Romilly* as trustees.

The decree further guaranteed the bargain which Ure had felt obliged to make at Weymouth at Dalrymple’s election, which he conceded to be ‘temporary’, in February 1817. By it, he announced ‘that for the future peace and quiet of the town the trustees had met its wishes and given up two seats at the next general election for Mr Williams and Mr Buxton’. This pact was endorsed by William Williams and Buxton, nephew of the candidate of 1806, whose readiness to contest the by-election had forced the compromise. It was calculated, however, to alienate the Stewards, who combined in hostility to it, as well as Sir John Murray and ‘the friends of the old patronage’; in short, it merely created a new opposition at Weymouth, an opposition that endangered the compromise through its professed attachment to government. James Brougham described the situation to Lady Johnstone as follows, advocating the dismissal of Ure, if possible:

after sacrificing the pecuniary interest of the borough to the political, he has actively compromised the politics also, and come to a complete understanding with Williams that he and Buxton are to have two seats and himself and Sir John Murray the other two— in consequence of this compromise with Williams, he [Williams] did not oppose Dalrymple, which it was strongly suspected he would have done with some success. Ure’s drift is too apparent. Williams’ interest from the gross mismanagement of your friends is grown very powerful. Ure sees there will be an expensive contest and in order to secure his own seat without any chance of expense gives up everything ...

Viscount Lowther, too, characterized Ure as an ‘unreliable friend of government’ and Williams as ‘a Jacobin Republican’.17

Gabriel Steward’s chief weapon was the so-called land tax votes. He had in March 1814 purchased the unredeemed land tax of the borough, for sale since 1802 and not purchased by the Johnstone trustees. In August 1814 he offered the 600 fee farm rents to the trustees, claiming to have had the Johnstone interest always at heart. The trustees declined and described it as an electoral manoeuvre. He then offered them to Lady Johnstone ‘at advantageous terms’, but was refused. In July 1817 he offered them for public auction and Ure and Williams tried, but failed, to secure a Chancery injunction to prevent him. Steward denied he was trying to make political capital out of his purchase and insisted he sought merely a business deal; but he was accused of having made improper use of his office as commissioner of taxes to purchase in the first place. Williams claimed that had he purchased them he would have resold them to the freeholders at the same price, and he attempted to obtain them, but lacked funds. An attempt by the trustees to claim first purchase of the rents in Chancery failed in December 1817. Sir Francis Burdett and Douglas Kinnaird were also reported to have been interested in purchasing them.18

When Sir John Murray refused to concur with Ure’s proposed compromise, Ure supported the candidature of Thomas Wallace, who was dismayed to discover that Lady Johnstone, in evident ignorance of the engagement with him, countenanced the candidature of Edward Ellice*, a friend of William Williams, who further aggravated matters by visiting Weymouth, criticizing Ure and parleying with Steward. Wallace’s agent Horsford explained matters to Lady Johnstone, who admitted Wallace’s prior claim, despite Ellice’s kindness to her family, and reserved her wrath for Sir John Murray and his ‘hypocritical’ and ‘false’ conduct. Murray had wished to purchase the land tax rents himself; he endeavoured to make a party in the corporation and secure government support. On 4 Aug. 1817 he wrote to Arbuthnot protesting that his applications for patronage were ignored, though he had supported government at the expense of over £10,000. Wallace, who was adamant that government should give no countenance to Murray, informed Arbuthnot soon afterwards that, by Ure’s compromise scheme, government would in fact be securing three out of four seats, as only Williams was of opposition politics, and he glossed over his supposed radicalism. He was confident that with official encouragement he could stop the rumour that government were coming to terms with Steward. On 30 Dec. 1817, Murray exposed to Arbuthnot what he considered the true state of Weymouth to be: the trustees had ruined the family interest; the principal freeholders were now his friends; Williams was deserted by three-quarters of his followers, led by John Herbert Browne, owing to his coalition with Ure; but Edmund Henning, a leading member of the corporation and former Pulteney agent, had become the leader of a new faction by securing from Ure a seat for Buxton, whose late brother Charles had married Henning’s daughter. Murray added that as government would gain only two seats on Ure’s plan, they would do better to support him, or to remain neutral. Murray then got his friend John Osborn to suggest to Arbuthnot that the Treasury, to prevent the representation being neutralized, should send down three friends to stand with Murray. Arbuthnot was warned by Wallace not to come to terms with either Murray or Steward, through whose interest Murray was confident a seat could be gained, and remained unmoved when Murray claimed, in a letter of 8 Feb. 1818, that government could not delude themselves that Ure’s compromise was consonant with the Johnstone interest or benefited them, and that it was in fact the foundation of a future monopoly of the patronage by Edmund Henning.19 Wallace privately agreed with this view, especially when in January 1818 Henning formed a Union Club at Weymouth to promote the compromise scheme. Wallace’s agent Horsford described this as a manoeuvre to foist two candidates on Sir George Johnstone when he was of age to take over his interest and to get at borough patronage.20

The compromise conceded by Ure succeeded at the ensuing general election. The contest turned on local rivalries rather than national issues, though Murray boasted that he was a foe of the Corn Law and ‘the steady friend of the poor’, and his running partners John Ashley Warre* and Bebb, the East India Company director, espoused retrenchment. Gabriel Steward, whose support Murray claimed to have but whose land tax voters, ‘all strangers’, were of no avail, evidently came to terms with Ure and Williams on the ninth day of the poll for the sale of the fee farm rents and abandoned the contest with a promise of £5,000 down. Ure’s fellow trustee, Lord Alloway, went on to disown this deal and an acrimonious dispute ensued which Steward made public, but in which he was the loser.21 The fact was that the trustees and friends of the Johnstone interest were in favour of purchasing the land tax votes for the family interest alone and not on behalf of the coalition; they did their best to trip up Williams and Buxton during the Parliament of 1818.22 Masterton Ure also contrived to thwart a scheme of Edward Ellice to have himself appointed a trustee, in the hope of securing the boroughs for the Whigs, with the support of Lord Alloway, by insisting on the appointment were found necessary, but without any power of interference in borough affairs.23 There was no change in 1820.

Author: R. G. Thorne

Notes

  • 1. The Times, 21 May 1802; Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 455; Blair Adam mss, Fox to Adam, 9 Aug. [1789]; Ginter, Whig Organization, 72, 97, 106; Oldfield, Boroughs, i. 189; Brougham mss J1335 (James Brougham, writing to his father on 28 July 1808, quotes the price as £80,000).
  • 2. Cornwallis Corresp. iii. 42; A brief detail of the circumstances attending the late contract entered into at the last general election for Weymouth (1819), BL 81838 a.3(6)); Add. 38254, f. 300.
  • 3. The Times, 21 May, 2 July 1802; Prince of Wales Corresp. vi. 2562. John Cartwright, writing to the Prince, 20 Apr. 1809, made the extraordinary allegation that the King favoured the ‘emancipation’ of the borough.
  • 4. CJ, lix. 11, 104; Oldfield, Rep. Hist. iii. 382; Parl. Deb. xxiv. 844; NLW, Rhual mss 11, f. 8; HMC Fortescue, viii. 436; Walpole, Perceval, i. 211; Sidmouth mss, Lady Bath to Sidmouth, 16 Oct. 1806.
  • 5. A brief detail, 1-2; CJ, lxii. 17, 90; Wakes Mus. Selborne, Holt White mss 427; evidence in Surr. RO, Frederick mss 183/35/46; Cornw. RO, Coode mss CF4778, Williams to Coode, 17 May 1807; HMC Fortescue, x. 20.
  • 6. Morning Chron. 29 June 1810; Rep. Hist. iii. 382; PCC 228 Oxford; Taunton Courier, 9 May; R. Cornw. Gazette, 11 May; Bristol Jnl. 18 May 1811; Perceval (Holland) mss F55; Northumb. RO, Wallace (Belsay) mss S76/9/84; Add. 38262, f. 352.
  • 7. Add. 51561, Brougham to Holland, Sat. [?Sept. 1812]; Brougham mss J571.
  • 8. Wallac