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 4,000


25 Apr. 1754Sir John Astley
 Richard Lyster
16 Apr. 1761Sir John Astley
 Richard Lyster
8 May 1766Charles Baldwyn vice Lyster, deceased
7 Apr. 1768Sir John Astley
 Charles Baldwyn
5 Mar. 1772Sir Watkin Williams Wynn vice Astley, deceased
13 Oct. 1774Charles Baldwyn
 Noel Hill
20 Sept. 1780Noel Hill
 Richard Hill
15 Apr. 1784Sir Richard Hill
 John Kynaston

Main Article

Since the death in 1734 of Henry, 3rd Earl of Bradford (his heir, the last Bradford of this creation, was an imbecile), there was no dominant aristocratic influence in the county, and the choice of the knights of the shire lay with the Tory country gentlemen, after 1747 on the tacit understanding that they in turn left Shrewsbury to the Whigs headed by Lord Powis. In 1762, when Powis remained with the new court, one section of his group left him. Moreover about that time a powerful Clive interest was established in the county.

When Richard Lyster was dying, in the spring of 1766, Sir Henry Bridgeman, who had gone into opposition to the Grenville Government, proposed to stand for the county; he had the support of Robert More, Thomas Whitmore, and the Foresters, but Powis meant to oppose him. Both sides approached the attorneys of Clive, absent in India. One of them, John Walsh, wrote to Clive, 29 Mar. 1766:1

When Lord Powis talked to me on the subject, I told him my hope and wish was to find the Whig interest unanimous, for unless they were so it would be in vain for them to think of carrying a Member for a county where the Tories ever had been the most powerful, and that I hoped his Lordship would endeavour to collect the general sense of the Whigs who should be put up. The mischief of this matter is that whoever is elected will be a bar to your coming in for the county at the general election should you be so inclined, for we cannot set up a locum tenens without being at the expense of the election which it’s impossible for us to think of.

Moreover Walsh foresaw that, while he himself thought it to be Clive’s ‘orders and interest to support the Whig Party ... your father possibly will construe your orders to be to support Lord Powis and nothing more’. In the end the Clive trustees remained neutral; a few days before the election Bridgeman withdrew his candidature; and Charles Baldwyn, nominee of the Tories and Powis, was returned unopposed.

In 1768 a ‘Whig nomination’, possibly of Bridgeman, was talked about.2 In 1772 an opposition to Sir Watkin Williams Wynn was intended but abandoned.3 And apparently there was none at the next three general elections.

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Clive mss, India Office Lib.; Robt. More to Geo. Clive, 24 Apr. 1766, ibid.
  • 2. Walsh to Geo. Clive, 18 Mar. 1768, Mar. 1768, ibid.
  • 3. Gibbon to J. B. Holroyd, 8 Feb. 1772.