Newtown I.o.W.

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 burgage holders, being freemen

Number of voters:

less than 40


20 Apr. 1754Sir John Barrington 
 Harcourt Powell 
28 Mar. 1761Sir John Barrington 
 Harcourt Powell 
23 Mar. 1768Sir John Barrington20
 Harcourt Powell20
 John Glynn15
 Sir Thomas Worsley15
7 Oct. 1774Sir John Barrington 
 Harcourt Powell 
24 April 1775Charles Ambler vice Powell, vacated his seat 
4 Dec. 1775Edward Meux Worsley vice Barrington, vacated his seat 
9 Sept. 1780Edward Meux Worsley 
 John Barrington 
16 Sept. 1782Henry Dundas vice Worsley, deceased 
17 Jan. 1783Richard Pepper Arden vice Dundas, vacated his seat 
6 Jan. 1784Arden re-elected after appointment to office 
5 Apr. 1784John Barrington 
 James Worsley 
30 Aug. 1784Mark Gregory vice Worsley, vacated his seat 

Main Article

There were originally 36 burgages at Newtown, but the number was raised to 39 by three being split: the validity of the split burgages was disputed. At the only contest of this period, that of 1768, votes were cast for 46 burgages but eleven were disallowed.1 No single family owned a majority of burgages, but the Barringtons of Swainston had enough to claim and secure one seat throughout the period. From 1754 to 1775 the second seat was held by Harcourt Powell, who owned three burgages and was one of the Government managers for the Isle of Wight boroughs.

Barrington was connected with the Holmes-Stanley group in Isle of Wight politics, and in 1768 they were challenged in all its three constituencies by Sir Thomas Worsley. Edward Gibbon, one of Worsley’s dummy voters at Newtown, wrote to his father on 1 Dec. 1767:

Last night we were summoned to Newport quite unexpectedly, and this morning Sir Thomas is gone to Newtown with three lawyers in order to fix the boundaries of some borough lands ... Upon the whole this is to me a very unpleasant scene, but I am engaged in it and I can scarce tell how to get away from it. The first step after the conveyances of my borough land are finished is to oblige the mayor (Holmes himself) to swear me in a burgess of Newtown; for the constitution of that borough is of a very mixed nature. ... As to our success or possibility of success ... we are sanguine, especially at Newtown.

Worsley stood himself with John Glynn, the Radical and friend of Wilkes, subsequently M.P. for Middlesex, but they were defeated. Gibbon wrote to his stepmother on 18 Apr. 1768:

I have seen Serjeant Glynn, who is encouraged by the solicitor-general [John Dunning] to pursue his petition, and who flatters himself that the Duke of Bolton will lend his weight and that the Duke of Grafton will stand neuter.

That the solicitor-general should encourage petitioning against regular Government supporters might seem curious, but then he was a follower of Shelburne, in semi-opposition to the rest of the Cabinet; but that anyone should suppose that the first lord of the Treasury would ‘stand neuter’ is certainly remarkable. Worsley died before the petition could be presented.

His son Sir Richard Worsley improved his position by purchasing Harcourt Powell’s burgages in 1775 and two from Lord Edgcumbe in 1782. From 1775 Barrington and Worsley shared the borough between them.

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Worsley ms 19, in the possession of Lord Yarborough.