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:

about 69


  Double return. BERTIE and ANNESLEY declared elected, 28 Mar. 1715 
  GEORGE EVANS, Baron Carbery, and ALLANSON vice Bertie and Annesley, on petition, 1 June 1715 
24 Mar. 1722JAMES BERTIE 
 George Evans, Baron Carbery 
 Thomas Bennet 
16 Mar. 1724GEORGE EVANS, Baron Carbery vice Bertie, chose to sit for Middlesex 
 Edward Conway 
 Sir John Lambert 
 Anthony Cornish 
24 Apr. 1734GEORGE EVANS 
 James Bertie 
 William Phipps 
 Norris Bertie7
 John Bance6
24 June 1747JOHN BANCE35
 Chauncy Townsend27
 Matthew Michell27
 Norris Bertie1
 TOWNSEND and MICHELL vice Bance and Methuen, on petition, 16 Mar. 1748 
16 Jan. 1753PEREGRINE BERTIE vice Michell, deceased 

Main Article

The Berties, earls of Abingdon, Tories, were lords of the manor of Westbury, where they owned a majority of the burgages. One or both seats were taken by members of the Bertie family at every election from the Revolution to the accession of the House of Hanover. From 1715 to 1754 they were less successful, partly because, as Tories, their candidates were liable to be unseated by the Whig House of Commons on petition, partly because their practice had been to grant long leases, which reduced their hold on their tenants. ‘As most of the tenants were poor, it afforded great scope for any adventurer to fight his Lordship with his own weapons by buying off his tenants.’1

In 1715 two Bertie candidates were returned by the mayor and two Whig strangers by the constable, both indentures being accepted by the sheriff and annexed to the precept. On the merits of the return the House ordered the constable’s to be taken off the file, thus seating the Tories, who were themselves unseated in favour of their opponents two months later on the merits of the election.2

At the next two general elections Bertie candidates were successful but in 1734 both seats were won by Whigs, one of whom, John Bance, went into opposition. Before the 1741 election he seems to have considered proceedings in the King’s bench about the election of a mayor, by which, according to government agents,

they can only propose giving us trouble and expense, and endanger the borough (supposing they should get the better upon such trial) of falling into our adversary’s hands, which is Lord Abingdon’s, and this may be the consequence.3

In the event the government candidates were easily successful. In 1747 Pelham suggested a compromise at Westbury and Wallingford between Bance and Chauncy Townsend; but this was rejected by Bance4 who, with the support of the Bertie interest, stood jointly with a Tory, Paul Methuen. Bance and Methuen were successful at the poll but were unseated on petition in favour of the government candidates. At a by-election in 1753 one of the seats was recovered by the Berties without opposition.

Author: R. S. Lea


  • 1. ‘Case of the Borough of Westbury’, 1767, Bodl. Top. Wilts. c. 5.
  • 2. CJ, xviii. 23-24, 27-28, 149-54.
  • 3. Cholmondeley (Houghton) mss 68 (undated).
  • 4. Townsend to J. West, 26 June 1754, Add. 32735, f. 573.