New Shoreham


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 130


 Francis Chamberlayne 
11 June 1720FRANCIS CHAMBERLAYNE vice Page, deceased 
29 Jan. 1729SAMUEL ONGLEY vice Chamberlayne, deceased 
29 Jan. 1729 JOHN GOULD vice Sir Nathaniel Gould, deceased 
 Sir Thomas Prendergast42
 John Gould19
28 May 1739JOHN PHILLIPSON re-elected after appointment to office73
 Charles Fleetwood53
24 Nov. 1740JOHN FREDERICK vice Thomas Frederick, deceased 
21 Apr. 1746FREDERICK re-elected after appointment to office 
10 Apr. 1750FREDERICK re-elected after appointment to office 

Main Article

Shoreham was a thoroughly venal borough, usually returning wealthy merchants, able not only to spend money freely on individual voters but ‘to assist in building merchant vessels, it being the chief manufacture of this borough’.1 The Government had a certain influence from the local customs officers and also from Shoreham men employed at Woolwich and Deptford.

During most of the reign of George I the representation of Shoreham was shared by Sir Nathaniel Gould and Francis Chamberlayne, both of whom died in 1728. At the next general election Shoreham was regarded by the 2nd Duke of Richmond ‘as a new whore, that is anybody’s for their money’.2 He himself was first in the field, opening his campaign at the end of August 1733, with Sir Thomas Prendergast as his candidate. Having obtained Walpole’s promise of the government interest, he wrote to the clerk of the cheque at Woolwich enclosing a ‘list of Shoreham voters that live at Woolwich, Deptford etc.’ authorizing him to

order a dinner for them and as much punch as they will drink, which I must beg of you to manage and pay for and I will punctually repay you: and then you must try to get all their promises and I hope they’ll do it by fair means, else by G— they shall by foul, for we have interest enough surely, to get them turned out of their places, but that must be hinted but tenderly and to those only that would else be likely to go against us.3

Three other candidates soon appeared: John Gould, one of the sitting Members, whom, according to the Duke of Richmond’s narrative of the election, ‘Sir Robert [Walpole] seemed to espouse the interest of, for he desired me not to take any measures which might be prejudicial to him’; John Phillipson, ‘a merchant and director of the South Sea Co.’, who was expected to be ‘strongly assisted by the ship builders and carpenters’ but to whom Walpole ‘declared himself very averse’; and Thomas Frederick, about whom Walpole told the Duke not to give himself any trouble ‘for that he should not stand at Shoreham, he [Walpole] having provided another place for him, or that he would provide another place’. Accordingly Prendergast refrained from opposing Frederick’s nominee for ‘the appointment of a constable at Shoreham (who is the returning officer) upon which the election in a great measure depended’, considering that ‘in consequence of Sir Robert’s promise Mr. Frederick’s interest would be transferred to him’. Further, an invitation to join interest with Phillipson, which would have made Prendergast’s election certain, was refused

out of regard to Sir Robert as he had described himself so averse to Mr. Phillipson, and had desired me not to do anything prejudicial to Mr. Gould and also as I knew that Sir Thomas would be before Mr. Gould on the poll and there were only three candidates, therefore I thought him secure without joining with anyone.

Soon afterwards, Richmond continued: ‘Mr. Frederick declared himself, to my great surprise. I thereupon wrote to Sir Robert, whose only excuse ... was that he had endeavoured to hinder Mr. Frederick from standing, but could not’. The upshot was that Frederick and Phillipson, standing jointly, were returned by a substantial majority, and that, in Richmond’s words,

although those who had employments immediately under the Government voted for Sir Thomas yet he thinks he has good cause to believe that Sir Robert did not assist so cordially as such repeated promises seemed to require.4

In 1739 Sir Charles Wager, the first lord of the Admiralty, wrote to Richmond to ask him to support Phillipson at a by-election caused by his appointment to be a commissioner of the navy;

and as the custom house sloop which is at present called the Shoreham is now at Chichester I desire that your Grace will please to consent she may go to Shoreham at least till after the election and that she may not be called the Chichester at least till that is over.

Shortly before polling day Wager wrote again to tell the Duke that an express had been recovered from Phillipson at Shoreham stating that

A gentleman who has been there since Monday last on pretence of going a fishing declared himself a candidate though not known to anybody. He says his name is Charles Gerard Fleetwood, that he had brought with him £1,500 and gives 15 gns. a vote (there are 130 voters in all). I have writ to Phillipson not to lose the election for want of money but to draw upon me: Mr. Fleetwood said something more but that I don’t care to write except that he says he was sent down by Lord Baltimore,5

i.e. by the Prince of Wales. In the event Phillipson was re-elected by a majority of 20.

Phillipson did not stand again for Shoreham but in 1747 his son-in-law, Robert Bristow, was returned for it. Members of the Frederick family were returned for the other seat without opposition in 1741 and 1747.

Author: Romney R. Sedgwick


  • 1. Namier, Structure, 129.
  • 2. Richmond to Newcastle, 5 Aug. 1733, Add. 32688, f. 46.
  • 3. M. E. Matcham, A Forgotten Russell, 44-45.
  • 4. Undated memo. by 2nd Duke of Richmond, Richmond mss; Rich. Masters to Newcastle, 1 Oct. 1733, Add. 32688, f. 47; Matcham, 50; see PRENDERGAST, Sir Thomas.
  • 5. 22 Mar., 26 May 1739, Richmond mss.