Milborne Port


Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in inhabitants paying scot and lot

Number of voters:

about 90


10 June 1717MICHAEL HARVEY vice Cox, deceased27 
 Charles Stanhope22 
 STANHOPE vice Harvey, on petition, 6 July 1717  
22 Mar. 1727MICHAEL HARVEY  
19 Aug. 1727THOMAS MEDLYCOTT sen.  
 William Lock  
 George Abington  
28 Feb. 1728MEDLYCOTT re-elected after appointment to office  
29 Apr. 1734THOMAS MEDLYCOTT jun.  
 Thomas Medlycott sen.  
 William Lock  
12 May 1741THOMAS MEDLYCOTT jun.59 
 Michael Harvey22 
 William Thompson20 
2 Feb. 1742MICHAEL HARVEY vice Medlycott, appointed to office  
29 June 1747THOMAS MEDLYCOTT jun.5255
  Double return. MEDLYCOTT and CHURCHILL declared elected 2 Dec. 1747  

Main Article

Milborne Port elections were controlled by the owners of nine capital burgages, whose holders, known as capital bailiffs, constituted the government of the borough. Every year in rotation two of these capital bailiffs chose two deputies to execute certain functions, including those of returning officers, but there was some doubt as to whether the returning officer should be a capital or a deputy bailiff.

At George I’s accession the burgages were divided between Sir Thomas Travell, a Tory, and James Medlycott, a Whig, Travell owning five and Medlycott four.1 They had agreed to compromise and from 1705 had shared the representation of the borough.

The compromise was continued in 1715, when Travell retired in favour of another Tory, John Cox, who was returned unopposed with Medlycott. On Cox’s death in 1717 Medlycott supported Charles Stanhope, a secretary of the Treasury, against the Tory candidate, Michael Harvey, who was returned but was ousted by Stanhope on petition. In 1720 Stanhope reported to Newcastle that

Mr. Medlycott my partner and patron at Milborne Port was with me the other day and acquainted me that he did not doubt of bringing me in there at the next election, but should not stand himself any more, and could not openly oppose my former antagonist young Harvey of Combe. I see by this it is not likely to be a quiet business; since we two shall scarce be chose together, and I shall probably either exclude him or he me. I would not decline a fair combat, but as accidents may happen, I think myself extremely obliged to your Grace for mentioning a choice place for me as a corps de réserve in case of a defeat.2

In the event the election of 1722 was compromised, Harvey and George Speke, a Whig, being unopposed.

After Travell’s death in 1724 his capital burgages seem to have been acquired by Harvey,3 who continued to share the borough with the Medlycotts. In 1727 he was re-elected with James Medlycott’s brother, Thomas Medlycott senior, against two other candidates. In 1734 he stood with James Medlycott’s son, Thomas Medlycott junior, once more against two other candidates, this time including Thomas Medlycott senior, who petitioned against his nephew and Harvey.

In 1741 Medlycott and Jeffrey French, standing jointly, were returned by a deputy bailiff against Harvey and William Thompson, whose return by a capital bailiff was rejected by the sheriff.4 When a petition was presented on the ground that they had not been properly returned by a capital bailiff, Medlycott compromised the election by vacating his own seat in favour of Harvey, who was returned for it unopposed after withdrawing the petition.

In 1747 Medlycott and Charles Churchill stood jointly against Harvey, this time partnered by French, each side being returned as before by a deputy and a capital bailiff respectively. This time the sheriff sent in a double return, which was decided by the House in favour of Medlycott and Churchill, on the ground that the returning officer must be a deputy bailiff.5

Author: Shirley Matthews


  • 1. CJ, xiv. 10; xviii. 620.
  • 2. 28 July 1720, Add. 32686, f. 163.
  • 3. Shelburne to Bute, 24 July 1761, Bute mss.
  • 4. CJ, xxiv. 20-21.
  • 5. Ibid. xxv. 423-4, 458.