Old Sarum


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  burgage holders

Number of voters:

3 in 1728, 5 in 1734


28 Jan. 1715THOMAS PITT sen. 
 Richard Jones 
 Charles Tucker 
3 Aug. 1716SIR WILLIAM STRICKLAND vice Thomas Pitt, appointed to office 
14 June 1720STRICKLAND re-elected after appointment to office 
21 Mar. 1722THOMAS PITT sen. 
3 Nov. 1722GEORGE MORTON PITT vice Robert Pitt, chose to sit for Okehampton 
20 Jan. 1724JOHN PITT vice George Morton Pitt, appointed to office 
30 May 1726GEORGE PITT vice Thomas Pitt sen. deceased 
16 Aug. 1727THOMAS PITT jun. 
 THOMAS PITT, Earl of Londonderry 
1 Mar. 1728MATTHEW CHITTY ST. QUINTIN, vice Thomas Pitt, chose to sit for Okehampton 
30 May 1728THOMAS HARRISON vice Londonderry, appointed to office2
 Henry Fox1
26 Apr. 1734THOMAS PITT 
18 Feb. 1735WILLIAM PITT vice Thomas Pitt, chose to sit for Okehampton 
5 Jan. 1742JAMES GRENVILLE vice Lyttelton, chose to sit for Okehampton 
26 Feb. 1746GRENVILLE re-elected after appointment to office 
26 Feb. 1746 PITT re-elected after appointment to office 
12 May 1746PITT re-elected after appointment to office 
28 May 1747EDWARD WILLES vice Grenville, appointed to office 
3 July 1747THOMAS PITT 
17 Dec. 1747CHARLES SACKVILLE, Earl of Middlesex, vice Pitt, chose to sit for Okehampton 
17 Dec. 1747 ARTHUR MOHUN ST. LEGER, Visct. Doneraile, vice Irby, chose to sit for Bodmin 
25 Jan. 1751PAUL JODRELL vice Doneralie, deceased 
22 Nov. 1751SIMON FANSHAWE vice Jodrell, deceased 
 James Pitt 
 John Thorold 

Main Article

Old Sarum was an ancient but entirely depopulated borough, the site of which was bought in 1692 by Governor Thomas Pitt, who ‘ploughed and sowed’ the castle area. The few burgages lay in the meadows to the south of the castle alongside the Roman road running to the Avon ford. Elections were held at the parliamentary tree, which stood till 1905 in the ‘electing acre’ nearly half-way to the river on the north-west side of the road.1 Complete control was soon exercised by the Pitts who provided enough voters to quell opposition on election day. Thus Thomas Winnington wrote to Henry Fox at the end of September 1728:

It was your fortune to lose the election [at old Sarum] by one voice only, for Pitt, not suspecting any opposition, had but two voters there except the person who voted for you.2

In 1749 Thomas Pitt, the Governor’s grandson, ‘representing the desperate embarrassment of his affairs’,3 transferred his right of nominating both members to the Prince of Wales for £3,000 and a pension. At the next by-election, in January 1751, the Prince put in Paul Jodrell, his solicitor-general. When two months later Frederick died, Pitt pawned all his electoral interests, including Old Sarum, to the Administration.4 As a result of this deal Simon Fanshawe, a Pelhamite, was returned at another by-election in November 1751, though opposed by James Pitt, younger brother of George Pitt of Strathfieldsaye, and another candidate.

Author: R. S. Lea


  • 1. VCH Wilts, vi. 66-67, citing electoral map of Old Sarum, c. 1700, in Salisbury Mus.; CJ, xv. 61.
  • 2. Ilchester, Lord Holland, i. 29-30.
  • 3. HMC Fortescue, i. 133-4.
  • 4. See PITT, Thomas (d. 1761).