Double Member Borough

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in inhabitants paying scot and lot

Number of voters:

about 200


15 Apr. 1754George Colebrooke129
 Thomas Griffin125
 Theobald Taaffe38
26 Mar. 1761George Colebrooke 
 John Bristowe 
16 Mar. 1768Sir George Colebrooke 
 Lauchlin Macleane 
13 May 1771John Stewart vice Macleane, vacated his seat 
7 Oct. 1774Thomas Brand 
 George Lewis Newnham 
11 Sept. 1780Sir Patrick Craufurd167
 Thomas Fitzherbert131
 Percy Charles Wyndham69
 Craufurd's election declared void, 12 Mar. 1781 
26 Mar. 1781Peter William Baker 
3 Apr. 1784Charles Howard, Earl of Surrey 
 Thomas Fitzherbert 
14 June 1784Richard Beckford vice Surrey, chose to sit for Carlisle 

Main Article

Arundel was expensive and corrupt; it attracted patrons, yet was not easy to manage. In the earlier part of the century the Lumleys, Earls of Scarbrough, had an interest in the borough; later, Sir George Colebrooke, John Shelley, and Charles Howard, Earl of Surrey, came near being patrons.

The Colebrookes were an Arundel family, but before 1754 seem not to have concerned themselves in the borough. In the list of candidates drawn up for Newcastle in March 1754 it is noted that Henry Pelham had ‘wished success’ to Griffin and Taaffe. Whether Newcastle did also is not known, but from the polling figures it seems probable that Colebrooke and Griffin stood on a joint interest.

Colebrooke held both seats at Arundel from 1761 until 1774. At the general elections of 1761 and 1768 there was no opposition but at the by-election of 1771 Colebrooke, John Shelley, and the Duke of Richmond each proposed a candidate. Richmond’s candidate soon withdrew; according to John Tompkins, Shelley’s estate agent, ‘he could obtain but one vote’.1 And here is Tompkins’s account of the election:

Mr. Shelley, finding that Mr. Macleane by his early application to the town had obtained a promise of 120 votes out of 169, many of whom did not expect Mr. Shelley would offer a friend to them as candidate, at the election therefore Mr. Shelley declared publicly that in order to restore peace to the town he advised Thomas Mackreth Esq. his friend to decline the poll and left his friends to the number of about 30 in case of a poll to vote for whom they pleased, and declared to all that when any vacancy for a Member shall happen in the town he will not fail to recommend a friend of his as candidate.

Colebrooke’s candidate, John Stewart, was accordingly returned unopposed. And on 7 Apr. 1772 Tompkins wrote in his diary:2 ‘George Woodall in the name of the Member of Parliament for Arundel chosen last year ... made a present to all his friends of seven guineas each.’

Colebrooke went bankrupt in 1773 and had to sever his connexion with Arundel. On 19 Sept. 1774 Tompkins wrote:3

Mr. George Lewis Newnham and Mr. Brand, the first by the recommendation of ... Sir John Shelley ... and the latter by the recommendation of his Grace the Duke of Norfolk, came this day to Arundel, and after having canvassed the town jointly with Sir Shelley gave a dinner both at the George and the Crown Inn to all the inhabitants of the borough who are voters and treated them most plentifully with wine and punch etc. The same day after these two above named gentlemen had canvassed the town. ... Mr. John Stewart ... came to Arundel and declared he would proceed to canvass the town as a candidate, but did not and after two or three days left the town.

On 17 Oct. Brand and Newnham were ‘unanimously chosen’.

At the general election of 1780 the Norfolk interest was managed by Lord Surrey, who had turned Protestant; and Robinson, when he drew up his electoral survey, expected Surrey to carry both seats. ‘I am not clear’, he wrote, ‘that Lord Onslow’s opinion can be depended upon, that he through Sir John Shelley with Lord Surrey has divided the borough one and one.’ In fact, things worked out very differently. On 14 Aug. 1780 Robinson wrote to North:4

Sir Patrick Craufurd has had the luck to stumble on Arundel, fortunately I believe for himself if he will be content with that, but not so if [he] attempts another. It is unfortunate however for Lord Onslow for his son Edward was to have come in there, but I told his Lordship a month ago that it would not do without money. He trusted in a junction of interest with Lord Surrey, but told me that he would inquire about it, and it has now escaped his Lordship—for I yesterday heard through another channel that some other of the leaders were on Thursday last treating with another party for the seat and had agreed, but while together received the news that Sir Patrick had broken the ground, opened all the houses in town, and come to terms of the people, therefore our other friend was too late and Sir Patrick for himself secure. I will however write to Sir Patrick and say that if he can secure the second seat undoubtedly, a friend is ready to give £3,000, and that he may be assured that friend will be agreeable to the people of Arundel, but that I doubt he will find that they must give Lord Surrey one Member.

The friend who was ‘ready to give £3,000’ was Thomas Fitzherbert, and the following account of how he came to Arundel appeared in the English Chronicle in 1781:

It appeared that a majority of the electors had formed themselves into a society by the name of the Malt-house Club ... and that the Hon. Mr. Wyndham ... offered himself a candidate to this society to represent the borough in Parliament. The chairman of the club gave him to understand that as he was a gentleman of the neighbourhood and recommended by the Earl of Surrey they would give him the preference to any other candidate, provided he would speak so as for them to understand him; Mr. Wyndham told them he was an independent man and meant to remain so, that if they did him the honour to elect him their Member he would serve them faithfully and honestly to the best of his abilities. This was not the species of elocution adapted to the organs of the chairman, and he informed the hon. candidate that he might as well have said nothing. Sir Patrick Craufurd was then called in, and he, with a much keener perception of the peculiar style of oratory that would produce the best effect, told the Club that if they would honour him with their suffrages he would return the favour with a present of thirty guineas to each voter. Sir Patrick was given to understand that he spoke to the purpose, and the chairman pledged himself to the body to get another candidate ... who would speak in a language equally intelligible and convincing.

Wyndham petitioned, and Craufurd was unseated; Fitzherbert was declared duly elected. At the by-election Peter William Baker, standing on the Norfolk interest, was returned unopposed.

In 1784 Robinson wrote: ‘Lord Surrey ... has been paying attention to this place of late. ... His Lordship’s weight may carry one, but even that will require attention.’ In fact, Surrey’s interest was sufficiently strong for him to divide the borough with Fitzherbert without a contest.

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. ‘Tompkins Diary’, ed. Eustace, Suss. Arch. Coll. lxxi. 28-29.
  • 2. Ibid. 33.
  • 3. Ibid. 37-38.
  • 4. Abergavenny mss.