Double Member County

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

Number of voters:

about 3,000


18 Apr. 1754Sir Edmund Isham
 Valentine Knightley
26 Dec. 1754William Cartwright vice Knightley, deceased
9 Apr. 1761Sir Edmund Isham
 William Cartwright
31 Mar. 1768Sir Edmund Isham
 Sir William Dolben
14 Jan. 1773Lucy Knightley vice Isham, deceased
18 Oct. 1774Lucy Knightley
 Thomas Powys
18 Sept. 1780Lucy Knightley
 Thomas Powys
15 Apr. 1784Thomas Powys
 Sir James Langham

Main Article

Northamptonshire was free from aristocratic control and its representation was securely in the hands of the country gentlemen. No election went to the poll during this period and expenses were small: Sir Edmund Isham in 1768 paid just over £180, most of which went in drink for the freeholders.1 Until 1784 political issues played little part in elections.

In 1784 there was opposition to the re-election of Thomas Powys who, though he had opposed the Fox-North Coalition, had spoken against parliamentary reform and taken a leading part against Pitt’s Administration; and Sir James Langham, a supporter of Pitt, came forward as a candidate. ‘Powys is very unpopular’, wrote Lord Spencer to his mother on 6 Apr. 1784,2 ‘and does not exert himself, because he waits to explain his conduct at the meeting today.’ At the county meeting Lucy Knightley stood down in favour of Langham, and explained his retirement on grounds of health. Powys defended his parliamentary conduct, and some debate took place between him and Sir William Dolben on the constitutional implications of Pitt’s accession to power; but in the end Powys and Langham were returned unopposed.3

Author: John Brooke


E. G. Forrester, Northants. County Elections and Electioneering, 1695-1832.

  • 1. Election accounts, Isham mss, Northants. RO.
  • 2. Spencer mss.
  • 3. Forrester, 86-88.