Available from Boydell and Brewer
Right of Election:
in the freemen
Number of voters:
about 1,000 in 1812
|21 July 1802||SIR GEORGE FITZGERALD HILL, Bt.|
|8 Dec. 1806||SIR GEORGE FITZGERALD HILL, Bt.|
|18 May 1807||SIR GEORGE FITZGERALD HILL, Bt.|
|14 Oct. 1812||SIR GEORGE FITZGERALD HILL, Bt.|
|10 Feb. 1817||Hill re-elected after appointment to office|
|27 June 1818||SIR GEORGE FITZGERALD HILL, Bt.|
Londonderry was the leading port of the north west of Ireland and had a substantial landlord in the London Society, which owned the western liberties where approximately 60 per cent of the population lived. On the eve of the Union there were two leading interests among the unusually large freeman electorate. The first was headed by John Claudius Beresford*, the agent of the London Society and kinsman of the Marquess of Waterford, who leased 14,000 acres in the county from the Drapers; and abetted by Sir George Fitzgerald Hill, Beresford’s brother-in-law and another lessee of the London Company. Hill’s father had represented the city for 27 years until he succeeded to his seat in 1795. The other interest belonged to James Alexander, 1st Earl of Caledon, who had been first chosen for the city in 1776 and had constructed a strong party in the corporation, and his nephew Henry, one of the Members since 1797. With the disfranchisement of one of the seats at the Union, it seemed that the city was doomed to contested elections.
Yet none materialized. In 1801 Hill was returned for the county to suit the Beresfords and Alexander took his seat unopposed. It then appears that a ‘turn and turn about’ arrangement was reached, for Hill duly replaced Alexander as Member for the city at the election of 1802.1 By 1806 Alexander, though he had been interested in replacing Hill as late as October 1805,2 had other plans and Hill retained the seat.
From then on, Hill met with little effective opposition. His personal interest was strong and he proved a competent representative of local interests and of the protestant community. In addition he stood well with successive governments and obtained, so the county Members complained, more than his share of government patronage.3
In 1806 Col. William Ponsonby, the unsuccessful opponent of the Beresfords in the county, threatened to put up a friend against Hill, who was assured government support. As security, Lord Waterford returned Hill for Coleraine, but no contest came about.4 On 9 Aug. 1817 Hill reported to the chief secretary that he was to be opposed by Sir Robert Ferguson, who had ‘a strong family connexion’ embracing his uncle the bishop of Down, his sister’s father-in-law the bishop of Derry and his cousins the Alexanders. Hill proposed to thwart this threat by a judicious distribution of patronage, in which he evidently succeeded, for he was unopposed in 1818.5