Great Marlow


Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the inhabitants paying scot and lot

Number of Qualified Electors:


Number of voters:

117 in 1702; 122 in 17131


17 Feb. 1690James Chase  
 Sir William Whitelocke1262703
 Ralph Bucknall17131/32
23 Oct. 1695Sir James Etheridge  
 James Chase  
20 July 1698Sir James Etheridge  
 James Chase  
2 Jan. 1701Sir James Etheridge  
 James Chase  
21 Nov. 1701Sir James Etheridge  
 James Chase  
18 July 1702Sir James Etheridge158108
 James Chase  
 ? Arthur Warren  
 -- Holden  
8 May 1705Sir James Etheridge  
 James Chase  
4 May 1708Sir James Etheridge18460
 James Chase16081
 Lord Archibald Hamilton18060
5 Oct. 1710Sir James Etheridge107 
 James Chase74 
 George Bruere74 
 Thomas Coventry294 
 Double return of Chase and Bruere. BRUERE declared elected, 9 Dec. 1710  
24 Aug. 1713Sir James Etheridge111 
 George Bruere65 
 William Bucknall59 

Main Article

Political interests at Marlow in 1690 were at a transitional stage. The manor had changed hands in 1686 and was about to do so again and there had been two by-elections during 1689 owing to the deaths of sitting Members. In 1690 James Chase was secure, with the contest for the other seat being between Sir William Whitelocke and Ralph Bucknall*, a wealthy London brewer. Two indentures were sent up to Westminster which the Commons took into consideration on 22 Mar. Chase and Whitelocke had been returned in an indenture dated 4 Mar., brought in by the under-sheriff, whereas Chase and Bucknall had been named in a second indenture dated 18 Mar. brought in by the sheriff. The House voted that the Marlow return was not a double return and that the indenture by which Bucknall was returned be taken off the file. Some reports suggested that Whitelocke’s move to the Tories had led to ‘this respect being paid him’. Following the clerk of the crown’s explanation of the situation on 25 Mar., Bucknall introduced a petition later that day, giving his version of the indenture dispute which had a constable dragged out of bed to sign a second indenture and his own deliberately delayed, and insisting that the right of election was in the inhabitant householders not receiving alms, and not as the sitting Member maintained in the inhabitants paying scot and lot. Bucknall renewed his petition on 6 Oct. 1690. A manuscript case arguing for the wider franchise pointed out that if the Commons chose to narrow the right of election it would ‘put the election . . . into the power of the churchwardens and overseers who put in and out whom they please into the poor book for scot and lot men’. It was reported that in committee on 14 Nov. the election went clearly for Whitelocke although some said ‘that Mr Bucknall was tricked out on it’. When the full House heard the report on the 21st it confirmed the right of election in the inhabitants paying scot-and-lot, and that Whitelocke was duly elected.5

Meanwhile, Sir James Etheridge had completed the purchase from Viscount Falkland [S] (Anthony Carey*), of the manor of Great Marlow, conveying a strong interest there by virtue of the right to appoint the returning officers. He was to reinforce his interest by spending £18,000 on the borough between 1695 and 1715. Together with Chase, he controlled the representation of the borough for the remainder of King William’s reign, on each occasion Etheridge recording the election as unanimous and without opposition. This harmony was broken at the general election of 1702, Etheridge writing:

Mr Warren [probably Arthur, father of Borlase Warren*] and one Mr Holden his friend opposed me (but rather Mr Chase) for he would have had me to have joined with him, which I refused, and I then polled 108 of scot-and-lot men which were the whole number except nine, and I excused four of those nine, which otherwise had polled for me, and in the whole I polled 158: for we then polled all the inhabitants whether they paid scot and lot, or no.

After failing to dislodge Etheridge the two men united to gain an unopposed election in 1705, despite at least one attempt to sow divisions between the two Members over the Tack.6

Etheridge found himself in 1708 ‘being violently opposed by the Lord Orkney on the behalf of his brother, Lord [Archibald] Hamilton*’. The origin of the Hamilton interest is obscure, but it may have been a revival of the old Falkland interest. Hamilton had married the widow of Edward Carey (d.1692) who was herself related to the Careys through her grandmother. Thus Hamilton was the stepfather of the 6th Viscount Falkland [S] (who had succeeded his distant cousin in 1694). Although the link with Marlow was tenuous, it may have been sufficient to introduce Hamilton to the borough and to allow him to expend money on his cause. Hamilton had begun campaigning in the summer of 1707, but would have preferred a Scottish seat. When one became available, he persevered in Marlow, having been at ‘considerable expense’, but lost out in the scot-and-lot poll (although he beat Chase in the poll of inhabitants). Though ‘several’ inhabitants petitioned on 27 Nov. on Hamilton’s behalf, another petition on that day against Chase was withdrawn, ‘all the persons, who had subscribed the said petition having since sent to him . . . desiring that the said petition be withdrawn’. The other petition was allowed to drop, no doubt because Hamilton had secured a seat elsewhere.7

At the general election of 1710, Etheridge put up his relation George Bruere, a Tory, in opposition to Chase and presumably Thomas Coventry, who finished well adrift at the bottom of the poll. Only the scot-and-lot men were polled. Etheridge topped the poll with Chase and Bruere obtaining the same number of votes. They were both returned. On 2 Dec. 1710 three petitions were received by the Commons on the election, one each from Chase and Bruere and one from several burgesses in support of Chase on the grounds of the partiality of the constables. On 8 Dec, leave was given for all three petitions to be withdrawn and the House was informed that Chase had waived his election, leaving Bruere to take his seat on the 9th.8

In the run-up to the next election it seems clear that the Bucknall interest would be revived in the person of William Bucknall, son of Sir William Bucknall†, a wealthy brewer, and nephew of Ralph Bucknall*. On election day Etheridge noted that ‘Lord Wharton [Hon. Thomas*], Mr Hampden [Richard II*], Sir John Wittewronge, 3rd Bt.*, Mr Houblon, Mr Hale and many more coaches, chariots and horsemen came on Mr Bucknall’s behalf to oppose Mr Bruere and myself’, but that ‘we carried it to the shame and confusion of our enemies’. On 3 Mar. 1714 Bucknall petitioned, but no report was made from the committee of elections. Etheridge retired from elections at this point, financially exhausted, leaving the field to Bruere. Chase was defeated in 1715 and likewise did not stand again.9

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley


  • 1. All voting figures unless otherwise stated are from Misc. Gen. et Her. n.s. i. 214.
  • 2. Inhabitant householders
  • 3. Scot-and-lot vote
  • 4. Post Boy, 7–10 Oct. 1710.
  • 5. BL, Verney mss mic. 636/44, John Verney* (Ld. Fermanagh) to Sir Ralph Verney, 1st Bt.†, 16 Nov. 1690; Add. 70305.
  • 6. Misc. Gen. et Her. 214; The University Ballad (1705).
  • 7. Misc. Gen. et Her. 214; Centre Kentish Stud. Stanhope mss U1590/059/3, Robert Yard* to Alexander Stanhope, 5 June 1694; NLS, ms 1032, ff. 63, 66.
  • 8. Misc. Gen. et Her. 214.
  • 9. Herts. RO, Panshanger mss D/EP/F72, almanac for 1712; Misc. Gen. et Her. 214–15.