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 resident freemen

Number of voters:

about 1,500


1 May 1754Sir Robert Grosvenor 
 Richard Grosvenor 
10 Dec. 1755Thomas Grosvenor vice Sir Robert Grosvenor, deceased 
8 Apr. 1761Thomas Grosvenor 
 Richard Wilbraham Bootle 
18 Mar. 1768Thomas Grosvenor 
 Richard Wilbraham Bootle 
7 Oct. 1774Thomas Grosvenor 
 Richard Wilbraham Bootle 
8 Sept. 1780Thomas Grosvenor 
 Richard Wilbraham Bootle 
16 Apr. 1784Thomas Grosvenor713
 Richard Wilbraham Bootle626
 John Crewe480
 Roger Barnston38

Main Article

The Grosvenor family, seated at Eaton Hall, four miles from Chester, had considerable influence in the corporation; and their record of parliamentary service to the borough was almost unique: between 1715 and 1874 they held one seat without a break, and for 42 out of these 159 years both seats.

But there was always an independent party ready to oppose Grosvenor domination. Walter Thomas, one of its leaders, wrote to the Duke of Newcastle on 18 Aug. 1755:1

Immediately on the death of Sir Robert Grosvenor our mayor convened the aldermen and council and proposed Mr. Thomas Grosvenor in the room of his father. His recommendation was received with silence, from which he drew the conclusion that there was no objection. A general murmuring prevails against choosing two such young and inexperienced gentlemen of the same house, and yet so great is the bigotry of the party that even those who seem the most dissatisfied will hardly be prevailed on to make a better choice.

Walter Thomas believed there was a ‘fair opportunity’ of defeating the Grosvenor interest but no candidate could be prevailed upon to stand a poll, and Thomas Grosvenor was returned without a contest.

In 1760, when Sir Richard Grosvenor expected to be made a peer, he recommended Richard Wilbraham Bootle to the corporation; and on 22 Dec. 1760 received from the town clerk, Thomas Brock, this reply:2

At an assembly of our corporation held yesterday the favour of your obliging and kind letter was presented and read. I am directed by the unanimous voice of the house to express their true and sincere thanks for all your repeated and willing services to this city, at the same time to assure you that Mr. Bootle’s offer to fulfil the trust you are soon to resign is wholly pleasing to the body. I am further to inform you, Sir, that the citizens think themselves happy in having your wishes and intentions for their welfare. The obligations they have so long received from you and your ancestors so much command their inclinations to be grateful, that your approbation is in their minds a sufficient foundation for their acceptance, and for those expectations they have already formed of your intended successor.

On all occasions, Sir, the city will hereafter confide in possessing your patronage and esteem. On their parts they will be always ready to exert the most unalterable attachment and regard to you and your worthy family.

Thomas Grosvenor and Wilbraham Bootle were returned unopposed in 1761 and at every general election until 1784, when the independent party unsuccessfully put up John Crewe.

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. Add. 32858, f. 201.
  • 2. Duke of Westminster’s mss.