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 5,000


17 Apr. 1754Sir Cordell Firebrace 
 John Affleck 
20 Apr. 1759Rowland Holt vice Firebrace, deceased 
8 Apr. 1761Rowland Holt 
 Thomas Charles Bunbury 
30 Mar. 1768Sir John Rous 
 Sir Thomas Charles Bunbury 
18 Dec. 1771Rowland Holt vice Rouse, deceased 
19 Oct. 1774Sir Thomas Charles Bunbury 
 Rowland Holt 
27 Sept. 1780Sir Thomas Charles Bunbury 
 Sir John Rous 
7 Apr. 1784Sir John Rous1652
 Sir Thomas Charles Bunbury739

Main Article

There was no dominant aristocratic interest in the county; the choice of Members lay with the country gentlemen. Sir Cordell Firebrace and John Affleck, returned unopposed in 1754, ranked as Tories, and so did Rowland Holt. When Affleck declined to stand again in 1761, the Rev. Sir William Bunbury, who had inherited the Suffolk estates of his uncle Sir Thomas Hanmer, M.P. for Suffolk 1710-27, put up his son, Thomas Charles, who was not yet of age and ‘then upon his travels’;1 Sir John Rous was another candidate. According to a paper ‘handed about at that time, and universally supposed to be wrote by Mr. Affleck’,2 William Bunbury, Holt and Rous met at Affleck’s lodgings; Rous declared his readiness to stand down; whereupon William Bunbury proposed that if by 1768 Holt ‘is not tired of Parliament ... he and my son do then draw lots which shall give up to Sir John Rous’; to which Holt agreed. At the general meeting at Stowmarket, 22 Jan. 1761, some of Rous’s friends insisted on his being nominated but finally gave in on its being unanimously agreed that he should ‘be supported on the first vacancy’, or if none happened, that Bunbury and Holt should draw lots before the next general election, as proposed by Sir William.

However, at the county meeting on 6 Nov. 1767, neither would stand down for Rous, and all three were nominated; but Holt, seeing himself abandoned by some of his previous supporters, three days later withdrew his candidature, and Bunbury and Rous were returned unopposed. On Rous’s death, 31 Oct. 1771, his son, Sir John Rous, meant to stand; but when Holt declared his candidature, Rous withdrew at the county meeting on 13 Nov. There was no contest in 1774. In 1780 Rous was determined to stand, and Holt withdrew. In 1784 Joshua Grigby seems to have intervened shortly before the election, but on the first day’s poll so much outdistanced Bunbury that the next morning (8 Apr.) Bunbury gave up the contest. The Ipswich Journal wrote on 10 Apr.:

The determined sense of the freeholders of the county of Suffolk to oppose the views of the friends to the Coalition, was decidedly shown by ... their firm and generous support of Sir John Rous and Mr. Grigby on the day of election. And let it be ever remembered ... that not a house was opened during the time of the contest.

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Hist. Four Last Elections for Suff. 1772.
  • 2. Ibid. where the paper is reproduced. A copy of the original is in the East Suff. RO.