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 inhabitant householders

Number of voters:

about 800


15 Apr. 1754Benjamin Bathurst 
 John Dawnay 
25 Mar. 1761John Dawnay, Visct. Downe511
 James Whitshed508
 James Clutterbuck234
30 Mar. 1768Estcourt Cresswell446
 James Whitshed437
 Samuel Blackwell304
6 Oct. 1774James Whitshed414
 Samuel Blackwell381
 Estcourt Cresswell174
6 Sept. 1780James Whitshed 
 Samuel Blackwell 
15 July 1783Henry Bathurst, Lord Apsley, vice Whitshed, vacated his seat 
31 Dec. 1783Apsley re-elected after appointment to office 
31 Mar. 1784Henry Bathurst, Lord Apsley 
 Samuel Blackwell 
7 May 1785Richard Master vice Blackwell, deceased 
7 Aug. 1789Apsley re-elected after appointment to office 
25 May 1790Apsley re-elected after appointment to office 

Main Article

In the first half of the eighteenth century the leading interests at Cirencester were in the Bathurst and Master families, both of which were Tory. But when in 1749 Thomas Master died, leaving a five-year-old son, a rift occurred between the Tories. At the general election of 1754 two sons of Lord Bathurst declared themselves candidates, and the supporters of the Master interest accused Bathurst of taking advantage of the minority to attempt both seats.1 This dissension opened the way for John Dawnay, ‘the first Whig avowedly that ever represented this borough’,2 brother of Viscount Downe, who owned the estate of Ampney Crucis, near Cirencester.

The Bathursts held one seat throughout this period, James Whitshed sitting on their interest from 1761 to 1783. In 1765 Lord Downe sold Ampney Crucis to Samuel Blackwell, who represented Cirencester from 1774 to 1785; when the Master family again won back a seat. But however powerful these interests were, the contests of 1761, 1768, and 1774 show the existence of an independent party in the borough.

Author: J. A. Cannon


  • 1. Pamphlet, The Cirencester Contest (1753).
  • 2. Downe to Newcastle, 30 Dec. 1753, Add. 32733, f. 610.