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. 1754John Frederick Pinney 
 Thomas Coventry 
28 Mar. 1761Thomas Coventry 
 Sir Gerard Napier 
 Robert Haldane 
 William Lee 
4 Feb. 1765Benjamin Way vice Napier, deceased 
18 Mar. 1768Thomas Coventry 
 Sambrooke Freeman 
8 Oct. 1774Thomas Coventry121
 Lucius Ferdinand Cary78
 Sambrooke Freeman70
8 Sept. 1780Thomas Scott 
 Richard Beckford 
1 Apr. 1784Charles Sturt119
 Thomas Scott112
 William Morton Pitt37
 Miles Peter Andrews5

Main Article

In the second half of the eighteenth century Bridport was a seaport with a thriving West Indian trade. The Pinneys, West Indian planters, with considerable property near Bridport, possessed an interest in the borough. So did other families, but no one interest was predominant. That of Lord Coventry, whose family had represented the borough for several generations, was described by Rockingham in 1765 as ‘very good’, and Thomas Coventry held one seat 1754-80. The Sturt family too had considerable influence there, and, according to Oldfield in 1792, Charles Sturt had ‘sufficient to have one Member returned, while the corporation assert the right of the other’; it is described by him as ‘composed of independent characters’ and seems throughout to have had the largest single influence in the borough. But the position was not clear-cut, and Robinson in his electoral survey of July 1780 wrote: ‘Bridport is in a very dubious state’; and in 1784 that it was ‘very uncertain who will be returned’.

Author: Mary M. Drummond