King's Lynn

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 300


19 Apr. 1754Sir John Turner 
 Horatio Walpole 
24 Feb. 1757Horatio Walpole vice Horatio Walpole, called to the Upper House 
27 Mar. 1761Sir John Turner 
 Horatio Walpole 
9 June 1762Turner re-elected after appointment to office 
21 Mar. 1768Thomas Walpole200
 Sir John Turner174
 Crisp Molineux159
8 Oct. 1774Thomas Walpole 
 Crisp Molineux 
11 Sept. 1780Thomas Walpole 
 Crisp Molineux 
2 Apr. 1784Horatio Walpole151
 Crisp Molineux136
 Brigg Price Fountaine72

Main Article

From 1754 to 1774 one seat at King’s Lynn was held by Sir John Turner and the other by a member of the Walpole family. In 1765 Turner quarrelled with one of his principal supporters, and an opposition developed against him which soon assumed a political character. Turner, who had held office under the Grenville Administration, remained with Grenville in opposition; his opponent, Crisp Molineux, was a friend of Wilkes and admirer of Chatham; while the Walpoles preserved their neutrality. General warrants was an important issue in the contest, but Turner’s victory was more a matter of electoral mechanics. Turner and Molineux had agreed to ask for one vote for themselves and one for Thomas Walpole, and when Turner began to ask for single votes only, Walpole’s position was in danger. He was saved because Molineux honoured the agreement; had Molineux, like Turner, asked for single votes only, he would have been head of the poll and Walpole at the bottom.

Molineux was promised the first vacant seat at a Walpole borough, but he continued to cultivate his interest at King’s Lynn in association with the Walpoles. It was a sign of his influence in the borough that in 1770 he persuaded the corporation to confer the freedom on Wilkes. In 1774 and 1780 Molineux and Thomas Walpole were returned unopposed, and the contest of 1784 demonstrated the strength of their interests.

Author: John Brooke


B. D. Hayes, ‘Politics in Norfolk, 1750-1832’, Cambridge Univ. Ph.D. thesis.