Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the freemen

Number of voters:

about 80


(1801): 804


23 June 1790GEORGE HARRY GREY, Lord Grey 
26 May 1796SIR JOHN AUBREY, Bt. 
26 Mar. 1800 GEORGE JOHNSTONE vice Taylor, vacated his seat 
5 July 1802SIR JOHN AUBREY, Bt. 
25 Feb. 1806 MCMAHON re-elected after appointment to office 
1 Nov. 1806SIR JOHN AUBREY, Bt. 
6 May 1807SIR JOHN AUBREY, Bt. 
15 Jan. 1812 MCMAHON re-elected after appointment to office 
13 Apr. 1812 SANDFORD GRAHAM vice McMahon, appointed to office 
13 Oct. 1812SIR JAMES STEVENSON BLACKWOOD, Bt., Baron Dufferin and Claneboye [I]41
 James Cranborne Strode16
 Justinian Casamajor16
17 June 1818SAMUEL WALKER 

Main Article

Although Aldeburgh was classified as an open borough by the Treasury in 1788, it had been effectively controlled since 1747 by one family. Thomas Fonnereau was patron until his death in 1779, and subsequently (as at Sudbury) his brother-in-law Philip Champion Crespigny who, by ‘introducing honorary freemen’, ensured his control. Crespigny, a Whig Club member, retired from the representation himself in 1790 and took as guests nominees of the same political complexion. When his nominees in the Parliament of 1790 went over to government, he replaced them with staunch Whigs at the next election. By then the Treasury regarded the borough as close and they rejected offers from such friends as John Henniker Major* to intervene. Crespigny died 1 Jan. 1803, expressly providing in his will for the continuance of the family interest by his brother Claude (created a baronet in 1805) on behalf of his son Charles Fox Champion Crespigny, then a minor, to whom he left property nearby.1

During Perceval’s administration, an attempt was made by the 1st Marquess of Salisbury to challenge the Crespigny hold. On 30 Sept. 1811 he informed Charles Philip Yorke that the corporation had not proceeded regularly in the election of new bailiffs that month and might be dissolved:

It is not improbable but the inhabitants themselves may apply to me for the purpose of obtaining a new charter more favourable to their interests than the last, should the former one be destroyed by the accident above mentioned. If this be the case, may I expect the assistance of his Majesty’s ministers in the furtherance of their views and wishes?

The reply was discouraging and Salisbury offered no opposition in January 1812 when McMahon, the Prince Regent’s factotum, who had been brought in since 1802 at the expense of the Duke of Northumberland to please the Prince, sought re-election on appointment to an office which the House proceeded to abolish. Compensated with another, McMahon offered to reimburse the duke the expenses for re-election or, if his office proved untenable with a seat in Parliament, to pay the expenses for the return of William Garrow*, whom the Prince wished to substitute for him, 9 Mar. 1812. The pretensions of Jonathan Raine* to the vacancy caused embarrassment to the duke and on 19 Mar. McMahon reported that, if the duke declined to nominate, Charles Fox Champion Crespigny would himself fill the vacancy. Three days later the duke informed him that as both Garrow and Raine had declined, he would surrender the seat to Crespigny. Before McMahon’s acceptance of an office untenable with Parliament survived the House’s scrutiny, Crespigny had decided to accommodate Sandford Graham until the dissolution.2

In June 1812 the Marquess of Salisbury renewed his pressure on government to give him the patronage of the borough, but Lord Liverpool demurred, 1 July. Charles Arbuthnot had pointed out:

It is the general and unvarying practice at the Treasury not to endeavour to raise up a new interest at the expense of one already existing and friendly; and upon this principle alone Lord Salisbury’s pretensions must be resisted. But in the present instance it would not be in the power of the Treasury to give the preponderance to Lord Salisbury, though nothing would be more easy than to indispose Mr Crespigny.

On 20 Sept. 1812 Crespigny informed McMahon that, tired of government neglect of his applications to them, he was toying with the idea of negotiating with the Duke of Devonshire or the Marquess of Lansdowne for the sale of the seats, unless McMahon could show cause why he should not. McMahon secured Treasury assistance to dissuade him and on 26 Sept. informed the Duke of Northumberland that Crespigny was asking 10,000 guineas for both seats ‘with some promises of little government douceurs which I could make palatable’ and that he would secure them for him if the duke so wished. He was confident that Crespigny would resist the bait of 12,000 guineas said to be offered by Devonshire and Lansdowne in the Whig camp. The duke at once sent a draft for 10,000 guineas and nominated two of his friends. On 2 Oct. McMahon was obliged to report failure; Crespigny had behaved ‘most tricking, and ungentlemanlike’. In the first place he had shuffled and presented McMahon with a written request for the reversion of the offices of messenger to the great seal and receiver of the droits of Admiralty (the latter being held by his uncle). When McMahon replied ‘I might as soon sign my death warrant’ and would not go beyond his verbal assurances, Crespigny retorted that William Pole Tylney Long Wellesley* was offering him 14,000 guineas and he had nearly settled for that. The same night he went to the Treasury and claimed that McMahon had refused the seats which he now offered them.3 As Andrew Strahan, the King’s printer, agreed to give 6,000 guineas for his, the Treasury’s other nominee, Lord Dufferin, was obliged to do the same. Charles Arbuthnot admitted that this was a blunder: ‘All we can do is this. We must among ourselves make a purse, and we must repay to Lord Dufferin a part of what he will have paid.’4

In the absence of Crespigny’s nominees, the Marquess of Salisbury tried his strength by putting up Strode and Casamajor (both of London addresses) at the ensuing election, as champions of the resident vote. The show of hands was in their favour, but during a four-day poll the returning officer rejected the votes of 88 inhabitants. Crespigny’s nominees were returned, only seven of their supporters being residents. A petition against the return alleging that access to the corporation’s books was impeded was not pursued.5

On the death of his uncle Sir Claude in January 1818, Crespigny sold his interest to Samuel Walker, the Rotherham entrepreneur, for £39,000. Walker replaced the existing corporation with his own nominees and returned himself and his brother unopposed at the general election.6 In 1822 the borough again changed hands and for ten years the Marquess of Hertford was patron.

Author: Winifred Stokes


  • 1. Collected Pprs. rel. to Suff. 187; Ginter, Whig Organization, 206; PRO 30/8/136, f. 53; PCC 228 Marriott.
  • 2. Add. 45044, f. 169; Alnwick mss 67, ff. 81, 91, 133, 137, 148; Geo. IV Letters, i. 31, 43.
  • 3. Add. 38328, f. 21; 38577, f. 24; Alnwick mss 67, ff. 189, 191, 194; Geo. IV Letters, i. 149, 153, 155; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, Sat. [3 Oct. 1812].
  • 4. Add. 40221, ff. 391, 394; 40222, f. 1.
  • 5. Morning Chron. 16 Oct. 1812; CJ, lxviii. 63. Casamajor is not to be confused with his father, also Justinian, who d. 1820.
  • 6. Oldfield, Key (1820), 158.