Double Member Borough
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Right of Election:
in the corporation
Number of voters:
not more than 12
|15 Apr. 1754||Sir John Hynde Cotton|
|27 Mar. 1761||John Montagu, Lord Brudenell|
|11 May 1762||James Long vice Lord Brudenell, called to the Upper House|
|18 Mar. 1768||Robert Brudenell|
|Sir James Long|
|17 Nov. 1768||James Brudenell vice Robert Brudenell, deceased|
|10 Oct. 1774||James Brudenell|
|Sir James Long|
|13 Sept. 1780||James Stopford, Earl of Courtown|
|5 Apr. 1784||James Stopford, Earl of Courtown|
|Sir Philip Hales|
|31 Aug. 1784||Courtown re-elected after appontment to office|
The corporation of Marlborough was a small, self-electing body, which had arrogated to itself effective power over the creation of freemen. Throughout this period Marlborough was a pocket borough of Lord Bruce (created in 1776 Earl of Ailesbury), whose seat at Tottenham Park was five miles from the town. The Duke of Marlborough owned property in the borough, and in 1762 threatened to ‘exert his influence in elections’. He sent for the mayor and several burgesses, and asked ‘about the number of their body, and the state of their trade and manufactures, and said as it was in [his] power so it was his intention to be a good friend to the town’. This apparent threat never materialized, but as late as 1783 the Duke was mentioned as a possible rival to Ailesbury in the borough.
Ailesbury controlled the corporation through individual and collective benefactions. Tradesmen were employed at Tottenham Park, and attempts were made to secure Government patronage for others. Ailesbury contributed to the relief of the poor and gave prizes for the races, etc. His aim was to keep the numbers of the corporation as low as possible, and in 1771 they agreed to co-opt no new burgesses without his consent.
Charles Bill, Ailesbury’s agent and attorney, became a burgess in 1771 and mayor in 1783. By then there were only six burgesses in the borough, and a further creation had become essential. The Rev. Charles Francis, one of Ailesbury’s most devoted followers on the corporation, advised him to wait until Bill had ceased to be mayor.
It may be necessary [wrote Francis to Ailesbury] to veil a part of the absolute power your Lordship has at Marlborough to indulge the burgesses in their fancy of being all men of consequence, to promote the notion that they are all equal with your agent, not subject to him but only to your Lordship.
Two ways were open to Ailesbury in his dealings with the corporation:
To show openly that this interest is so well established there as to require no longer any regard to punctilio, or to confirm the burgesses in their opinion that the most delicate respect for their credit is one of the first cares of your Lordship’s influence.
Ailesbury ignored Francis’s advice, and also a suggestion that one or two Dissenters should be admitted to the corporation; although, according to Bill, the Dissenters were
so considerable a part of the bettermost sort of people in this town that we have but little choice of persons who are decent enough to be brought into such a connexion, and are not in some other respect objectionable.
Author: John Brooke
Based on research by Christopher Portal in the mss of the Marquess of Ailesbury.