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Number of voters:
|3 Feb. 1715||SIR THOMAS SAUNDERS SEBRIGHT||1807|
|Sir Ralph Ratcliffe||1158|
|3 Apr. 1722||RALPH FREMAN||1614|
|SIR THOMAS SAUNDERS SEBRIGHT||1464|
|7 Sept. 1727||CHARLES CAESAR||2021|
|SIR THOMAS SAUNDERS SEBRIGHT||1424|
|2 May 1734||WILLIAM PLUMER||2197|
|SIR THOMAS SAUNDERS SEBRIGHT||1842|
|22 Apr. 1736||CHARLES CAESAR vice Sebright, deceased||1078|
|21 May 1741||JACOB HOUBLON|
|6 July 1747||CHARLES GORE|
Throughout the reign of George I, Hertfordshire was represented by two Tories, Ralph Freman and Sir Thomas Sebright. In 1727 Freman, after representing the county for 30 years, was ousted by his brother-in-law, Charles Caesar, who had stood unsuccessfully in 1722. Although Freman was a Hanoverian Tory, on both occasions Caesar, a Jacobite, was supported by leading local Whigs, such as William Plumer; in 1727 Freman complained that ‘the Government’s officers to a man opposed him in favour of Mr. Caesar’;1 and in Tory circles it was believed that Caesar had ‘made his terms with the ministry’ who for that reason ‘threw all the interest they could command into him’.2
The resentment of the Freman family and the suspicions of the Tories were expressed by the gentlemen, clergy and freeholders of the county, meeting on 1 Oct. 1733 ‘to fix on two persons to be recommended to the electors to represent the county’ at the next general election. At this meeting Freman’s son proposed Sir Thomas Sebright and Caesar’s former Whig ally, William Plumer. The proposal
met with universal compliance excepting Mr. Gore, who spoke for some time in commendation of Mr. Caesar’s behaviour in Parliament and thought it strange that he should be so unanimously dropped.
Caesar offered his service but met with so little encouragement that he could not decide whether to stand.3 In the end he decided to do so, only to be defeated by Plumer and Sebright, standing jointly on the recommendation of the general meeting.
On Sebright’s death in 1736 Caesar’s opponents put up a candidate who was expected to be given a walk-over.
But the Saturday before [polling day] at the Hertford Club Mr. Caesar’s friends, without his knowledge or so much as any previous thought of theirs, resolved to publish that for him they would demand a poll, which they carried; and when Mr. Dean as sheriff declared him many said, ‘This is the hand of providence’.4
Caesar died shortly before the general election of 1741, at which Charles Gore and Jacob Houblon, both Tories, were returned without a contest. In 1747 Gore, who by this time had gone over to the Government, was re-elected and Houblon was replaced by Paggen Hale, a government supporter, without opposition.