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 the freemen

Number of voters:

about 1,000


16 Apr. 1754Sir William Codrington700
 John Joliffe Tufnell562
 Michael Newton405
27 Mar. 1761Michael Newton 
 George Forster Tufnell 
18 Mar. 1768Hugh Bethell 
 Charles Anderson Pelham 
22 May 1772Sir Griffith Boynton vice Bethell, deceased472
 George Forster Tufnell165
7 Oct. 1774Sir James Pennyman709
 George Forster Tufnell570
 Sir Charles Thompson428
8 Sept. 1780Sir James Pennyman 
 Francis Evelyn Anderson 
2 Apr. 1784Sir Christopher Sykes626
 Sir James Pennyman593
 Francis Evelyn Anderson509

Main Article

There was no predominant interest at Beverley, and contests were frequent. In the second half of the eighteenth century its Members were invariably country gentlemen.

In 1754 Newcastle wrote about Beverley in his survey for the general election: ‘A strong contest. Charles Pelham declines in favour of young Newton.’ Charles Pelham, of Brocklesby, Lincolnshire, had inherited the estates of his uncle, Sir Michael Wharton of Beverley, which commanded considerable interest in the town. Of the other candidates, both Newton and Tufnell owned property around Beverley but their main residences were elsewhere, while Codrington stood on the interest of his uncle Slingsby Bethell. In short, not one of the four was a genuine local candidate, yet all had local connexions. Strangers stood little chance at Beverley.

In 1761 Hugh Bethell intended to stand, according to Rockingham with a good chance of success; but was persuaded by his friends in the town to withdraw. But usually contests were encouraged: thus in 1768 and 1774 Sir Charles Hotham was invited to stand. And here is an account of the by-election of 1772, in a letter from Sir Robert Hildyard to John Grimston, member of a prominent local family:1

The two candidates with their friends met at the Hall about ten, where Tufnell made a speech, beginning with a complaint that the writ had been unusually hurried down from the House, that it arrived at Beverley before the Member was buried, a circumstance never allowed in the late Speaker Onslow’s time. That had he known this design he should have sooner applied, but however he was now come to offer his service and to stand a poll, though he knew his numbers would prove very small. But that he had been informed that the friends of the candidate had been guilty of open bribery ... for which he should prosecute in a court of law and ... petition the House ... and doubted not being declared the legal Member. ... About seven in the evening ’tis supposed Tufnell had voted his last man, therefore sensibly declined giving any farther trouble.

Nor did he petition.

In 1774 Sir Charles Thompson (formerly Hotham) was invited to stand by ‘the gentlemen of the county and all the principal inhabitants of the town’.2 About that election Thompson wrote:

The Bar interest, as it is called [probably the well-to-do people around the North Bar], secured Sir James, so that the struggle was between Mr. Tufnell and me. He had all the rabble. I ... the whole of the respectable people. ... His friends ... fairly told me their opposition was not owing to any disregard to me personally ... but that unless they united against me ... they never should have any chance for a third man.

The election cost him £1,000. His seat at Dalton, four miles from Beverley, gave him a natural interest in the borough; yet his advice to his successors in the property was to avoid representing Beverley or Scarborough—‘They are both too near their places of residence, and will entail upon them a slavery and expense that will know no end.’ In 1780 North, having ‘received intelligence from Beverley that the electors there were not much pleased with their present Members’, invited Thompson to stand again,3 but he refused; and Robinson, in his survey for the general election of 1784 wrote about Beverley: ‘Very likely the old Members unless Sir Charles Thompson should think it right to stand.’

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. M. E. Ingram, Leaves from a Family Tree, 155.
  • 2. Thompson’s autobiographical memoranda, Hotham mss, East Riding RO.
  • 3. North to Thompson, 22 Aug. 1780, Hotham mss.