Durham City


Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the freemen1

Estimated number qualified to vote:

1,200 in 18312

Number of voters:

987 in 18303


9,822 (1821); 9,269 (1831)4


4 Apr. 1823HARDINGE re-elected after appointment to office249
 Hedworth Lambton66
6 Feb. 1828HARDINGE re-elected after appointment to office298
 Alexander Robertson76
9 June 1828HARDINGE re-elected after appointment to office 
 William Chaytor435
  Gresley’s election declared void, 8 Mar. 1831 
 Hon. Arthur Hill Trevor470
 John Clervaux Chaytor3

Main Article

The castellated cathedral city and county town of Durham, 14 miles south of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, was built on a high rocky outcrop overlooking a bend in the River Wear, and connected by bridges to its suburbs of Elvet and Framwellgate. Gas lighting was introduced in 1823, a new Framwellgate bridge opened in 1828 and the town’s commerce and prosperity were affected by the construction in this period of the Stockton-Darlington railway and a steam packet service to Newcastle.5 Fewer than half the electors were resident and contests were frequent and costly (up to £70,000). The influence of neighbouring gentry and entrepreneurs, London out-voters, the church and the corporation was important, and representation by the kin or close connections of a sitting county Member generally resisted.6 Freeman creations, of which there were 439, Jan. 1820-Dec. 1831, peaked in anticipation of a poll (1820, 38; 1823, 22; 1826, 72; 1828, 36; 1829, 43; 1830, 148; 1831, 59) and were preceded by admission by birth or servitude to one of the city’s 16 livery companies. Most (352) belonged to the 13 guilds represented on the common council of 24. Under the governing charter of 1780, this was chosen by the incoming mayor (the returning officer), who together with 12 self-selecting aldermen elected the mayor at Michaelmas. Freemen admitted to the guilds of goldsmiths and plumbers (36), barbers and ropers (27), and curriers and chandlers (24), then excluded from the common council, formed the nucleus of the anti-corporation party in this period and included many ‘Chaytorites’.7 Although voting by guild did not determine the outcome of parliamentary elections, the impact of large out-voter contingents of mercers (pro-Chaytor) and drapers (pro-Hill Trevor) in 1831 was apparent.8

The joint proprietary control of the representation exerted (since 1734) by the Lambtons of Lambton Castle and (since 1742) by the Tempests of Wynyard, who exploited the wealth and employment opportunities of their nearby coal mines for electoral purposes, had been interrupted in 1802 by the defeat of Michael Taylor, a brother-in-law of the 1794-1800 Member Sir Henry Vane Tempest. Taylor’s challenger, the ‘independent’ Tory Richard Wharton† of Old Park, Bishop Auckland, had secured the ‘protection’ of Lord Lonsdale and Lord Liverpool after his election was voided and had sat undisturbed since 1806. The Lambton seat, vacated in 1813 by Ralph Lambton, to expedite the election for the county of his Whig nephew John George Lambton*, had then been captured for the ‘independents’ by George Allan† of Blackwell Grange; but in 1818, with the Lambtons’ grudging acquiescence, it had reverted to Taylor, for Allan then ‘withdrew’ and a challenge engineered by the Russells of Brancepeth Castle, whose ‘recently established’ interest ‘overlay’ those of Lambton and Wynyard, had failed to materialize.9 A family dispute and futile appeal to chancery that year by Taylor’s wife, who tried to prevent the marriage of her niece and custodian of the Wynyard estate, Lady Frances Vane Tempest, to Lord Charles Stewart†, the foreign secretary Lord Castlereagh’s* half-brother and heir, precipitated a campaign to eject Taylor, a well-known Whig committed to reforming the court of chancery. Stewart’s prospective brother-in-law Sir Henry Hardinge, a distinguished, Durham-educated Penisular veteran and son of the rector of Stanhope, entertained the corporation à propos in July 1819.10 Canvassing for Hardinge and Taylor, whom Lambton now openly supported, was already under way when the dean of Durham, Henry Phillpotts, and Wharton orchestrated a formidable campaign in the county and city against Lambton and his henchman alderman Edward Shipperdson, denouncing them as promoters of parliamentary reform and ‘seditious’ addresses after Peterloo.11 Hardinge and Taylor addressed the electors separately directly the death of George III was announced, 2 Feb. 1820. Wharton, whose 1818 bills remained unpaid, made his customary appeal to the ‘freemen of 1802’ on the 5th. Forced from the outset to deny rumours that he was standing down, by the 9th he was privately reported to be ‘looking for compensation in the county’.12 Rumours of ‘11 candidates in the field’ are unsubstantiated.13 Taylor’s purse was ‘meagre’, but he adroitly exploited Stewart’s personal campaign against him, donned the mantle of ‘independence’ and warned that ‘opposition commenced in pique would end in disgrace’.14 Hardinge’s canvass of the London and Newcastle out-voters and the ‘principal towns’ of Gateshead, South Shields and Sunderland surpassed expectations, and the liberal Tyne Mercury warned its readers that although pro-Catholic, he was politically ‘of the same stable’ as Wharton.15 Taylor, however, had succeeded in ‘abstracting a large number of the family votes from the Wynyard interest’ as his own, and on the 19th Castlereagh cautioned Stewart, then in Vienna as ambassador:

You and Lady S. cannot command above 100 votes in 1,200. Michael I fear is sure of his election and our hope is that Wharton, from want of funds, will retire. Liverpool has applied to the bishop [Shute Barrington] in favour of Hardinge and Hardinge is sure of his support against Taylor. The only difficulty his lordship feels is in respect to Wharton, whom he has hitherto supported.16

Stewart directed his attorney Cuthbert Sharp to greater exertion and to summon ‘any kind of friends we have’, and ministers evaded embarrassment in the city by backing Wharton as Lambton’s adversary in the county, where he declared on 27 Feb., after William Russell* and Henry Thomas Liddell* of Ravensworth Castle had declined.17 The independents issued further addresses but no third man appeared and the Lambton-Wynyard hegemony was restored by the unopposed return of Taylor, sponsored by Shipperdson and his 1818 proposer, the maltster Robert Ovington, with Hardinge, nominated by the Rev. Alderman Edward Davidson and Robert Cook of Hartlepool.18 Afterwards Wharton, who was defeated in the county, explored the possibility of challenging afresh for the city, and Stewart directed his agent John Buddle to use revenue from his quarries and the new colliery and harbour at Seaham to expand his electoral interest. 19

A radical address was forwarded to Queen Caroline and parts of Durham were illuminated to mark the abandonment of proceedings against her in November 1820.20 Petitioning for the restoration of her name to the liturgy was confined to the county, but the ‘nobility and gentry of the city’, likewise petitioned the Lords approving the ‘abandonment of the bill for the degradation of her Majesty, and regretting its instigation’, 5 Feb. 1821.21 The Durham attorney John Gregson, who acted for the Wynyard and Brancepeth estates, ensured that Stewart’s first visit to Durham in October 1821 was an electioneering one, and his reception, accompanied by Hardinge and Edward Littleton*, became a trial of party strength.22 Initially political animosities aroused by the libel action (masterminded by Phillpotts) against John Ambrose Williams, author of an editorial in the Durham Chronicle of 18 Aug. 1821 denouncing the cathedral chapter for not having the bells tolled to mark Queen Caroline’s death, were heightened by the clergy’s opposition to the corporation-sponsored Durham paving bill, which the Lords rejected, 26 Mar. 1822. The inhabitants, 1 Apr., and freemen, 18 Apr., petitioned against, and the gentry, clergy and proprietors for a revised bill, 18 Apr.; it received royal assent, 15 May 1822 (3 Geo. IV, c. 26). Williams was found guilty at Durham assizes in August 1822 but never sentenced.23 Lambton and Taylor undertook most constituency business, but Hardinge, an able spokesman on military matters, controlled about £1,000 of patronage annually during Stewart’s absences on diplomatic business and acted for him in the political wrangling that followed Lord Londonderry (Castlereagh)’s suicide in August 1822.24 Londonderry, as Stewart thus became, refused to sanction Hardinge’s appointment as clerk of the ordnance in April 1823, with the attendant by-election, until he was granted the Seaham peerage for the heirs of his second marriage. The by-election afforded Lambton an opportunity to try to take the seat by putting up his brother Hedworth, then travelling on the continent, against Hardinge.25 However, opposition to dual (county and city) representation persisted, and it was the reason given by William Russell, who had succeeded his father to Brancepeth the previous year, for directing Gregson to support Hardinge. The Durham Chronicle accused Hardinge of putting personal ambition before constituency interests and mismanaging patronage. However, he had the tacit support of the Tory mayor and the county clerk John Wetherell Hayes, and he canvassed the city and county assiduously, accompanied by the 1821-2 mayor and county treasurer, Thomas Chipchase. His speeches and addresses emphasized the professional nature of his appointment and his personal esteem for his chief, the duke of Wellington. Davidson proposed him as previously, with John Cook of Hartlepool seconding. Lambton’s sponsors were Ovington and Alderman Ralph Hutchinson, who, with the poll at 216-66 on the second day, announced his candidate’s retirement. Notices posted immediately distanced Lambton from the campaign on his brother’s behalf. Hardinge secured another 33 votes before the return was declared.26

The Tyne Mercury and Durham Chronicle criticized Hardinge’s speeches, his role in the 1824 Londonderry-Battier duel and in opposing the 1825 Tyne and Weardale railway bill on Londonderry’s behalf.27 Meanwhile, with a general election in contemplation, Russell dined the corporation on at least three occasions, funded public concerts and freeman admissions and was requisitioned to stand in January 1826. That month John Hutchinson, as mayor, convened a meeting to petition against slavery, at which the main speaker was the recorder’s barrister son William Charles Hoar (afterwards Harland†). Lambton presented the resulting petition to the Commons, 20 Feb.28 Others were received from the tanners guild for repeal of the leather tax, 1 May 1822, and from the innkeepers for reduction or repeal of the licensing duties, 15 Mar. 1824.29 Before the dissolution in May 1826 the death in April of the bishop of Durham halted all county and most city business pending the appointment of William Van Mildert as his replacement.30 With Russell desisting, no serious opposition to the sitting Members was anticipated and attention focused on the contest in Northumberland.31 Both nevertheless conducted a thorough canvass of the residents and out-voters. They were called on to defend their parliamentary conduct and pro-Catholic votes on the hustings at the general election, 9 June 1826, when Taylor was proposed by George Baker of Elmore, the defeated Lambton candidate in 1813, and seconded by John Fawcett of Newton Hall. Davison and Wetherell Hayes sponsored Hardinge, who, unlike Taylor, opposed parliamentary reform and prevaricated on slavery, and it was Hardinge who bore the brunt of the populace’s anti-Catholic fury.32 The corporation elections were hotly contested that Michaelmas, when Henry John Spearman replaced Hoar as recorder.33

Both Members denounced the 1827 Canning administration. This threatened to create a political rift between Taylor, who aligned with Lord Grey in opposition, and Lambton, who had expedited his return from the continent to support Canning and was promised a peerage by his successor Lord Goderich.34 Hardinge’s resignation from office in April 1827 was correctly perceived as an act of deference to Londonderry and Wellington, and severely criticized in the pro-Lambton Durham Chronicle and defended in the Durham County Advertiser.35 The corporation fêted and addressed Wellington when he stayed at Wynyard in October during his 1827 tour of the North-East.36 Hardinge’s return to the ordnance in the duke’s 1828 ministry threatened a breach with Londonderry, who was peeved at being denied office himself and created a furore over the likely £8-10,000 cost of a Durham by-election, which he regarded as an unnecessary and unwelcome distraction from that in the county when Lambton became Lord Durham.37 The latter, playing on Londonderry’s disappointment, tried to win him over to the Whigs. This was a step too far for Londonderry, but they settled on shared representation in the city and agreed to conciliate Russell by acquiescing in his return for the county ‘at present’.38 Hardinge, who estimated the city electorate at 1,400, had advised Londonderry that this was too many to make the seat ‘safe as a family possession’.39 Before publicizing his appointment, he gave his patron, as requested, a written undertaking that he would resign from office should Londonderry go into opposition, 28 Jan. The county and city writs were moved the following day.40 On 2 Feb. the Tory Durham County Advertiser ridiculed an anonymous appeal for a candidate in The Times, to which a certain D. Hilton issued a disclaimer.41 Approaches by the independents to the Sunderland banker Robert Duncombe Shafto† of Whitworth and a ‘Mr. Edmeston’ failed, and Hardinge, proposed by the prison governor Alderman John Wolfe, was opposed by Alexander Robertson*, a rabid anti-Catholic and protectionist put up on behalf of the London out-voters by the London attorney Ralph Lindsay.42 Robertson, who was nominated by the Durham attorney Henry Marshall, was reputedly ‘on his way’ and won the show of hands. However, he had yet to appear when the poll closed that day at 230-63 in Hardinge’s favour. The next morning (between 10:32 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.) Ward, as assessor, proclaimed the poll’s imminent closure 13 times before declaring Hardinge elected by 298-76.43 He reported to Londonderry that day:

After four hours’ squabbling in the town hall this morning we have put down the contest very effectively and I hope to our future advantage. The expense will not be so great as in 1823, but upon this point there is no certain data. I was chaired at 2 o’clock. I was most anxious to get at that rascally attorney Lindsay. I shall collect the necessary papers and get at him or Robertson by every possible means ... Robertson had not moved, but these London voters with a bold candidate and a full purse are awkward customers. The movement of voters from each outpost upon Durham today was stopped in good time by our messengers starting at 3 o’clock, but I am a good deal knocked up, having been up for two nights, and a good deal harassed. So indeed was Gregson, and I begin to think where the Vane credit and family are concerned that he has a great deal of old attachment in his own way. The agent Watson is invaluable. Our colliery friends came up very well ... The colliery agents don’t understand and don’t like the affair, but were very zealous ... This skirmish will be very much below £1,000 - in fact not £200 more than in ordinary times - but it has vexed me a good deal.44

Robertson’s committee protested formally at the poll’s premature closure.45 Lindsay, who arrived on the 8th, was said to have been manoeuvring since 1826 to take the seat himself. He claimed to have the backing of the shipping interest, denounced Londonderry’s electoral influence, and criticized his opposition to the Canning and Goderich ministries. He also entertained ‘the 76’ liberally before taking his freedom.46 The London voters summoned by both sides were not dispatched.47 The Durham County Advertiser of 1 Mar. reported that the contest ‘was rooted’ in Lambton and Londonderry’s joint opposition to the Clarence railway bill. The Commons received a petition for voiding the election, alleging premature closure of the poll and bribery and undue influence by Hardinge, 21 Feb. 1828, but it was not proceeded with.48

Both Houses received petitions from the city’s Dissenters and ‘friends of religious liberty’ for repeal of the Test Acts, 29 Jan., 18, 19 Feb., which Taylor voted for and Hardinge divided, with ministers, against. A meeting convened by the corporation petitioned for repeal of the stamp duty on receipts, 25 Feb., and the inhabitants did so for the extinction of all slavery, 23 May, 12 June 1828.49 Hardinge’s promotion to secretary at war that month, following the Huskissonite secession, was resisted by Londonderry, who had again been refused office; and he chose to interpret Hardinge’s offer to finance the ensuing by-election as an attempt to make the seat his own.50 Having settled matters with Lord Durham, Hardinge put his brother-in-law, the Breconshire Member Thomas Wood, and the government whip William Holmes* in charge of his London committee; and, correctly anticipating trouble from Lindsay, who had recruited the influential south Durham squire and militia colonel William Chaytor of Croft and Witton Castle (‘Tattie Willie’) as his candidate, he hurried to Durham and the neighbouring towns.51 Confident by 3 June of 364 of the 488 voters canvassed, including 230 of the 370 residents, he recommended ‘no movement from London’ until polling commenced. Although paraded in effigy, hissed and lampooned, he averted a poll, through the timely intervention of Wood and by showing Chaytor his canvassing returns: 377 promises from 500 voters; 246 from 390 in Durham; 22 from 64 in Sunderland; nine from 16 in Shields; 18 from 30 in Gateshead and Newcastle. Another 61 were forthcoming from the Londonderry collieries, and 22 from Lambton’s.52 Chaytor issued a pro-reform, pro-Catholic address, encouraged the city’s Catholics to adopt a petition for relief (the Lords received it, 9 June), and appealed directly to Wharton’s ‘independent’ supporters. He delegated his canvass to his sons and his Durham agents John Burrell and Thomas Smart, and did not arrive from London, where Francis Holmes of 8 Goswell Terrace managed his committee at the Bull in Regent Street, until the eve of the nomination. He claimed that he could carry the London freemen by five to one and summoned 18 (41 came to poll for him).53 Hardinge’s proposers Wetherell Hayes and Alderman William Stoker commended his military record and local connections, leaving Hardinge, who defined himself politically as ‘no Ultra’ but a ‘Tory in the rational sense of the word’, to stress his support for Catholic relief and Peel’s criminal law reforms and to justify his vote on the Test Acts. He referred to Chaytor, whom Lords Durham and Darlington had refused to assist, as an important figure in the county, ‘misled’ by Lindsay and the London freemen. Chaytor stayed away from the hustings but remained in Durham, where, assisted by Lindsay, he opened several public houses and entertained 80 of his supporters at the Queen’s Head, giving each 10s. 6d. Addressing them, he protested that the compact defeated in 1802 had been restored and said that he would stand ‘next time ... or whenever a vacancy may occur’.54 Lord Durham complained that the challenge to Hardinge placed ‘Durham on a level with Stafford, Carlisle and other mercenary towns where no recommendation is desired’.55 Chaytor informed his business associate Henry Blanchard, 4 Sept. 1828:

My interest for the city of Durham has increased and ... there is every prospect of success at the general election. I have made many friends by not persevering in the contest and have almost daily offers of support. I had it from a gentleman who assisted Sir Henry that he did not intend to undergo the fatigue of a contest, so that in case Mr. T. should, it is more than probable we two will have nothing to contend against.56

Anti-Catholic petitioning was confined to the cathedral clergy in 1827, but the town joined in the hostile petitioning in 1829, when both Members voted for emancipation.57 The inhabitants petitioned in favour of the Clarence railway bill, 17 Mar. 1829, and for criminal law reform and abolition of the death penalty for forgery offences, 29 Apr., 24 May, 22 June 1830.58 By June 1829 Hardinge had decided against attempting Durham again.59 When the news broke ten months later, he was the Irish secretary designate, having postponed his appointment pending George IV’s death, to avoid a by-election.60 His retirement caused a sensation in Durham and delighted Chaytor’s friends, who had admitted freemen and kept up their interest. On 26 Apr. one of them, William Atkinson, advised Chaytor to take out a loan ‘to secure the transfer of Hardinge’s Durham freemen’. Henry Marshall, however, cautioned him against capitalizing so openly on Hardinge’s retirement. The precise purpose of an electioneering loan which Chaytor’s Sunderland bank now negotiated from the Bank of England branch bank at Newcastle-upon-Tyne is not known.61 Predictions that Taylor would be frightened off proved false. He declared, 26 June, two days before Chaytor confirmed his candidature. In his notices he promised to support ‘moderate’ parliamentary reform and to pay strict attention to the ‘shipping and commercial interests ... which I conceive the application of the principles of free trade, without reciprocity, to be calculated to impair, if not to ruin’. Slavery, the East India Company’s monopoly and the route of the London-Edinburgh road were the other election issues.62 Londonderry’s nominee was not as first reported his wife’s stepfather Edmund McDonnell, but the Ultra Sir Roger Gresley, a connection of his kinsman Arthur Hill Trevor, who had accompanied them during Wellington’s 1827 visit and consulted Hardinge about likely vacancies. To the dismay of his family, who rightly feared that he would be fleeced, Gresley announced himself as Hardinge’s ‘replacement’, 30 June.63 The Sunderland attorney Joseph John Wright informed Chaytor, 3 July:

I have looked into an old newspaper and find that Sir Roger Gresley or as the freemen call him Roger Gristle (some Roger Buff) was most gloriously defeated at the last election (20 June 1826) for ... Lichfield, a place where I believe a great part of his own property is situated and where he was supported by the powerful influence of his father-in-law the earl of Coventry. Driven therefore from his own country and where he is best known he seeks refuge in the city of Durham with which he has no connection, no property and no interest except as the dandy acquaintance of the marquess of Londonderry. Every means should be adopted to make these circumstances known to the freemen. Sir Roger’s party are endeavouring to press upon the freemen that you will never go to a poll.64

The candidates canvassed the residents and out-voters thoroughly.65 The return of Taylor, the last to come to Durham to spend, was assured. Lords Cleveland and Durham had dismissed Chaytor’s calls for assistance, obliging him to rely on his sons Hutton, John and William Richard Carter Chaytor to canvass the distant out-voters.66 At the Globe tavern in Fleet Street, 12 July, Chipchase, who with Hill Trevor headed Gresley’s committees, carried a resolution committing Hardinge’s London votes to Gresley, who was riotously and rapturously received in Durham, where he accused the Durham Chronicle of plotting against him.67 Taylor, much lampooned on account of his pomposity and small stature, was proposed, 2 Aug., by Barker and Ovington, who commended him as ‘tried and found faithful’. His wife’s nephew, the Rev. John Vane, rallied his Durham supporters. Chaytor’s proposers, John Wilkinson and William Crowe of the smiths’ guild, hailed him as Wharton’s successor and criticized Gresley for failing to disclose his politics. Wilkinson, already furious at being ordered by the mayor to remove his blue and white rosette, created a stir by denouncing Taylor as a man who carried ‘his private resentment into the House’ and was thus ‘not a proper person to represent a free people’. Nominating Gresley, Davison and Stoker extolled him as a scholar and magistrate and eulogized Hardinge. The show of hands was for Taylor and Gresley, but Chaytor outpolled Gresley for the first two days, and with the tally at Taylor 333, Chaytor 310, Gresley 286, Gresley praised his plumpers, denounced the hostile coalition and the ‘secret wheels’ operating against him and protested strongly in private to Londonderry. Hearing that ‘the arrangement with Lord Londonderry has not been observed in the least’, Lord Durham directed his agent Henry Morton ‘to go in tomorrow with all I can influence and poll them for Taylor and Gresley’. Eighty-one did so, 4 Aug., enabling Gresley to overtake Chaytor: Taylor 531, Gresley 474, Chaytor 429. Writing to Londonderry that evening, Lord Durham correctly predicted victory the next day after a ‘very sharp contest’ and made light of the Chaytorites’ protests.68 Wolfe, who as mayor was the last to poll, voted for Taylor and Chaytor. The result was interpreted as a ministerial loss and the manner of Chaytor’s defeat prompted 200 freemen to requisition him afresh, 6 Aug. 1830. It also unleashed a late popular campaign to nominate Chaytor or his son William for the county.69 Creevey reckoned that the election cost Taylor ‘£7,000 or £8,000’ and the other candidates over £10,000.70

Of the 987 polled, 506 (51 per cent) plumped: 302 for Gresley (62 per cent of his total); 102 for Taylor (19) and 102 for Chaytor (23). Taylor and Chaytor had 297 split votes (54 and 68 per cent of their respective totals). Taylor shared 148 votes with Gresley (27 and 30 per cent of their respective totals). Only 36 split their votes between Gresley and Chaytor (seven and eight per cent of their respective totals). Residents (54 per cent) and out-voters (56 per cent), of whom 89 were from London and 519 from county Durham and Tyneside, voted for Taylor. Gresley received a vote from 49 per cent of those polled, and 56 per cent of the residents (including 131 plumpers) and 45 per cent of the out-voters (including 31 London plumpers) voted for him. Chaytor received a vote from 44 per cent of those polled, but only 39 per cent of the resident electors; 47 per cent of the out-voters cast a vote for him (including 21 London votes shared with Taylor). To encourage Chaytor, who with Whig and Tory backing planned a petition against Taylor’s return and a rally in Sunderland, one of its organizers, Blanchard wrote, 6 Sept.:

The small majority against you only arose from a combination of those parties between whom you would have scarcely have expected an union ... Lord Durham’s influence was thrown into Lord Londonderry’s scale and this can only be on the understanding of dividing the influence of the county between their families ... I can only repeat the sense of obligation which as a Durham freeholder who has fought hard to put down the overwhelming power of these great coal lords I feel for the noble attempt you made to open the representation of the county.71

In November 1830 both Houses received petitions against colonial slavery from the inhabitants, Protestant Dissenters and Wesleyan Methodists of Durham.72 With the controversy surrounding the appointment of Phillpotts as bishop of Exeter already raging, and plans to establish a university in Durham in train, Bishop Van Mildert, though apprehensive, delayed declaring against Lord Grey’s ministry and reform.73 Gresley opposed reform, while Taylor advocated it, but he refused to condone the ballot, and wrote accordingly to the Durham reform meeting chaired by Wolfe, 7 Jan. 1831. Chaytor, ‘once ... an Ultra Tory ... now a complete Whig’, was one of the principal speakers. At Westminster, however, the conduct of Taylor, who presented the reform petition, 3 Feb. (the Lords received it on the 28th), increasingly reflected his frustration at being denied a peerage and preferment by the new premier Grey.74 No petition was presented against Taylor’s return. That from the rejected voters John Bulman (one of the 1828 petitioners and chairman of Chaytor’s 1828 and 1830 London committees) and John Dodshon alleged bribery and intimidation by Gresley and was considered by a predominantly Whig committee, which declared the election void, 8 Mar. 1831.75 Furious to be unseated, and disqualified from contesting the ensuing by-election, Gresley arranged an exchange with his fellow Ultra Hill Trevor, who, having vacated New Romney, stood on Londonderry’s interest as an anti-reformer at the ensuing by-election.76 Chaytor also risked being petitioned against for his bribery in 1830, should he stand and be returned, so, on counsel’s advice, his son William was substituted for him with a view to switching at the general election.77 Grey denied Chaytor government backing (but later made him a coronation baronet). Cleveland, Lord Durham and Taylor held aloof from the proceedings.78 Hill Trevor was proposed by Davison and Stoker, and Chaytor by Wolfe and George Appleby of Gilesgate. They vainly disputed Gresley’s right to attend as Hill Trevor’s committee chairman, a task delegated to Chipchase when he returned to Parliament to vote against the reform bill, 22 Mar. Hill Trevor, who addressed the crowd nightly from the Waterloo Inn, claimed to be a ‘moderate reformer’ and appealed to the freemen facing disfranchisement. Chaytor rallied the reformers and independents from the Queen’s Head. For five days Hill Trevor was ahead, but at 462-461 on 21 Mar. he was virtually polled out and had used up the votes of Londonderry’s 130-140 Seaham men. Chaytor overtook him to win by 495-470 on the 23rd. The nomination that day of his uncle, the barrister John Clervaux Chaytor, was a ploy to deter hostile petitioning. Twelve distant out-voters arrived too late to poll.79 Reports that Lord Durham’s agents had compelled freemen to vote for Hill Trevor were dismissed as ‘pure fiction’.80 At the candidates’ instigation, the Commons received petitions adopted during canvassing from the inhabitants against, 19 Mar., and for, 21 Mar., the reform bill.81 Of the 968 polled, one resident and two out-voters gave a vote to John Clervaux Chaytor. Of the remaining 965, 391 (41 per cent) were residents and 574 out-voters, Trevor carried the resident vote by 205-186 but Chaytor’s majority of 44 (309-265) from the out-voters proved decisive. Voter consistency, Aug. 1830-Mar. 1831, has been estimated at 98 per cent for Chaytor and 95 per cent for Trevor.82 Encouraged by the result, Grey’s son Lord Howick* informed his brother Charles Grey*, 4 Apr.:

In Durham Mr. Chaytor, who has no more right to the recommendation than having pledged in favour of the bill, has defeated Trevor with all Lord Londonderry’s interest, and what is the more extraordinary he has done so by the assistance of the non-resident freemen who will be disfranchised by the measure they are thus supporting.83

Hill Trevor, whose alignment with the West India Members on slavery soon cost him some support, rallied his friends at a dinner attended by Londonderry at the Waterloo Inn. He declared as a ‘constitutional and rational reformer’ at the dissolution precipitated by the reform bill’s defeat, 19 Apr., for which he had voted, and was escorted into Durham, 28 Apr. He had already canvassed in London and secured a written endorsement of his candidature from the Wharton’s nephew, the ‘independent’ William Lloyd Wharton of Dryburn. Chaytor did not effect the expected exchange with his father. He rallied the London freemen at the Golden Lion, King Street, 25 Apr., and like Taylor, who had no money for a contest, he arrived in Durham on the 29th.84 Lord Durham, whose brother Hedworth Lambton canvassed the city for the reformers, 26-28 Apr., informed Londonderry that ‘unless Taylor’s hesitation has rendered it hopeless’ he would start another candidate, should he desist. The Times subsequently reported that he intended offering Edmund Lambton.85 A vexed Mrs. Taylor attributed her husband’s pre-poll retirement, 30 Apr. 1831, to Hedworth Lambton’s scheming, while the Whigs blamed Taylor for deliberately letting in an anti-reformer.86 According to Londonderry, whose attendance at the election was urged by Gregson as a means of deterring Fawcett from standing with the uncompromising reformer Chaytor, Taylor ‘was unable to obtain any money’ from the Whig coffers.87 Hill Trevor and Chaytor, the parliamentary promoter of his father’s Sunderland interests, were proposed as previously and not opposed. Lady Londonderry attended the proceedings briefly and visited her agents and, unusually for Durham, all 12 aldermen signed the indenture.88

Both Houses received petitions against the reform bill and their own disfranchisement from the anti-reformers and county and London out-voters, whose cause Hill Trevor espoused, 22, 23, 30 June 1831.89 A borough meeting on 26 Sept. petitioned the Lords urging the bill’s prompt enactment, 3 Oct. 1831.90 Durham celebrated when the Lords divided for the revised reform bill at its second reading, 9 Apr., but the news that the bishop had denounced it as a measure which ‘fostered atheism, infidelity, dissent and discord’ and ‘attacked institutions merely because they were ancient and sought to set subjects against their rulers’ created a furore.91 When in May 1832, following a further defeat, Lord Grey resigned and a ministry headed by Wellington was contemplated, Harland and Hill Trevor, whose retirement had been maliciously advertised, issued canvassing notices in anticipation of a dissolution.92 A meeting addressed by the elder Chaytor, Ralph John Lambton† and Harland, 17 May, adopted a petition backing the Grey ministry and calling for supplies to be withheld pending the reform bill’s passage. As the ministry was reinstated it remained unpresented. The bill’s passage in June was celebrated with civic and popular entertainments, but the press campaign against Hill Trevor persisted.93 The inhabitants petitioned the Lords, 9 May, and Commons, 31 May, for decisive enactments to eradicate slavery in every part of the British dominions, and approved their Members’ opposition to the general register bill and support for that to establish Durham University, which was eventually enacted in July 1832.94

The ‘elastic property’ of the borough limits was exploited by the Conservatives to confuse the boundary commissioners, who, following an acrimonious correspondence between Sir John Wrottesley* and the town clerk, recommended adding the extra-parochial districts of the cathedral precinct, the township of North Bailey and parts of South Bailey, Elvet, Crossgate and St. Giles to the parliamentary borough, and making Durham a polling town and the election venue for the new Durham North constituency.95 Londonderry lost more voters than anticipated under the seven-mile residence rule (which he failed to have extended to ten), and at the general election in December 1832, with a registered electorate of 806 (427 qualified solely as freemen, 289 solely as £10 householders), the Liberals Chaytor and Harland defeated the Conservative Hill Trevor.96 The constituency was contested a further 12 times, 1835-85. Hill Trevor’s return with Harland in 1835 restored shared representation, and Londonderry family Members represented Durham as Conservatives for nine of the 22 years, 1832-54. The sitting Liberals in the same period were local barristers, landowners and industrialists, and the party held both seats, 1832-5, July 1843-Dec. 1852, 1868-Apr.1871, and 1874-85.97

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. Being the 'freemen by patrimony or servitude in the city, the borough of Framwellgate, or the streets and suburbs adjoining thereof (PP (831-2), xxxix. 173).
  • 2. Ibid. Harding estimated it in 1828 at 1,400: Durham CRO, Londonderry mss D/Lo.C83/16(1).
  • 3. PP (1831-2), xxxix. 173.
  • 4. Ibid. (1831), xvi. 305. The extra-burghal district of Elvet was included in 1821 but excluded in 1831.
  • 5. Parl. Gazetteer of England and Wales, ii. 639-70; VCH Dur. iii. 51-53.
  • 6. Londonderry mss D/Lo/C83/177.
  • 7. PP (1831-2), xxxvi. 521; (1835), xxv. 1511-13.
  • 8. D.L. Stoker, ‘Elections and Voting Behaviour: A Study of Elections in Northumb., co. Dur., Cumb. and Westmld. 1760-1832’ (Manchester Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1980), 214.
  • 9. A.J. Heesom, Durham City and its MPs, 22-23; HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 148-55.
  • 10. Heesom, ‘"Legitimate" versus "Illegitimate" Influence: Aristocratic Engineering in Mid-Victorian Britain’, PH, vii (1988), 289-90.
  • 11. The Times, 20 Oct.; Newcastle Courant, 30 Oct., 6 Nov. 1819; BL Tracts (1819-20) [8135.e.l.], passim; R.N. Shutte, Life of Phillpotts (1863), i. 44-47.
  • 12. Lincs. AO, Tennyson d’Eyncourt mss 2Td’E M108/24, W. Russell to Tennyson, 5 Feb.; Newcastle Courant, 5 Feb.; Tyne Mercury, 8 Feb.; NLI, Vesey Fitzgerald mss 7858, A.E. Grant to Vesey Fitzgerald, 9 Feb. 1820; Pprs. of Sir William Chaytor, 1771-1847 ed. M.Y. Ashcroft, (N. Yorks. CRO Publications, l (1993 edn.)) [hereafter Chaytor Pprs.], 34; Durham CRO, Strathmore mss D/St X/1/4(62).
  • 13. The Times, 18 Feb. 1820.
  • 14. Dorset RO, Bond mss D/BoH C15, Jekyll to Bond, 8 Feb.; Newcastle Courant, 12, 19 Feb. 1820.
  • 15. Cent. Kent. Stud. Camden mss UB40 C530/1; Add. 51959, Londonderry to Miss Fox [Feb.]; PRO NI, Ker of Portavoe mss D2651/3/31; Tyne Mercury, 15 Feb. 1820.
  • 16. Londonderry mss C83/13(1); PRO NI, Londonderry mss D3030/Q2/2.
  • 17. Durham CRO, misc. coll. D/Lo/X340/2(1); Add. 38458, f. 294. 51959, Londonderry to Miss Fox [before 17 Feb.]; Chaytor Pprs. 34-35; The Times, 29 Feb. 1820.
  • 18. Notices from ‘A Freeman’ [BL 1850.d.26.]; Newcastle Chron. 4, 11 Mar. 1820; Durham CRO, Durham borough recs. Du1/55/38-41.
  • 19. Durham Univ. Lib. Wharton mss 54.
  • 20. Tyne Mercury, 21 Nov. 1820.
  • 21. LJ, liv. 31.
  • 22. Hatherton diary, 10 Oct.-2 Nov. 1821; C. Hiskey, ‘A Minority, a Marriage and Management at the Vane-Tempest Collieries. c. 1799-1819, Bull. Co. Dur. Local. Hist. Soc. xxvii (1980), 31-39; J. Banham, ‘Arthur Mowbray’, ibid. xlviii (1992), 36, 38.
  • 23. Durham Chron. 18 Aug.; The Times, 15, 26 Nov., 1 Dec. 1821, 10 Aug., 26 Sept., 15 Nov.; Lambton mss, Wilson to Lambton, 26 Aug. 1822; CJ, lxxvii. 18-19, 61, 67, 93, 159, 184, 267; LJ, lv. 66, 96, 175.
  • 24. Add. 38289, f. 49; 38291, f. 122; 40313, ff. 1-9; Blickling Hall mss (History of Parliament Aspinall transcripts), Londonderry to dowager Lady Londonderry, 14, 29 Dec. 1822, 20 Feb., 23 Apr. 1823; Wellington mss WP1/754/26,30; 762/17,23; 764/2; 766/12; 846/9; Tyne Mercury, 1, 8 Apr.; Tennyson d’Eyncourt mss H88/24, W. Russell to Tennyson [Apr.]; Durham CRO, Londonderry mss C83/12.
  • 25. Durham borough recs. 52/45.
  • 26. Ibid. 35/35, guild minute bk. pp. 524, 527, 529; Tyne Mercury, 25 Mar., 1, 8 Apr.; Durham Chron. 28 Mar., 4 Apr.; Durham Co. Advertiser, 28 Mar., 4 Apr.; The Times, 8 Apr. 1823.
  • 27. Tyne Mercury, 1 June 1824; The Times, 5 Mar. 1825.
  • 28. Durham Co. Advertiser, 6, 14, 20 Jan.; Durham Chron. 21, 28 Jan., 4 Feb. 1826; Durham borough recs. 29/32-34; CJ, lxxxi. 81. From Jan. 1825 John Hutchison ‘presumed the appointment’ of town clerk, in which he was formally confirmed by the 1835 Municipal Corporations Act.
  • 29. Durham borough recs. 29/31; CJ, lxxix. 162; Durham Co. Advertiser, 21 Jan. 1826.
  • 30. The Times, 7 Apr. 1826.
  • 31. Ibid. 30 May, 2, 3, 6 June; Durham Chron. 3, 10 June 1826.
  • 32. Durham Chron. 17 June; Durham Co. Advertiser, 17 June 1826.
  • 33. Durham Co. Advertiser, 7, 14 Oct. 1826.
  • 34. Grey mss, Taylor to Grey [Feb.]; Creevey Pprs. ii. 116; NLS, Ellice mss, Grey to Ellice, 31 May 1827.
  • 35. Durham Co. Advertiser, 12, 19, 26 May, 30 June 1827.
  • 36. Aberdeen Univ. Lib. Arbuthnot mss, Hardinge to Mrs. Arbuthnot, 6 Oct.; Durham Chron. 6 Oct. 1827; Durham borough recs. 28/42-44; Heesom, ‘Wellington’s Visit to N.E. of England’, Bull. Co. Dur. Local Hist. Soc. lx (1999), 3-35.
  • 37. Durham CRO, Londonderry mss C83/13(1), 14, 16(1), 17.
  • 38. Ellenborough Diary, i. 11; Durham CRO, Londonderry mss C83/12, 15, 16(1), 17.
  • 39. Durham CRO, Londonderry mss C83/16(1).
  • 40. Ibid. C83/13(1), 18.
  • 41. The Times, 29, 30 Jan. 1828.
  • 42. Durham CRO, Londonderry mss C83/19; Durham Co. Advertiser, 2 Feb. 1828.
  • 43. The Times, 8 Feb.; Durham Co. Advertiser, 9 Feb. 1828; Durham borough recs. 57/49/1-13; ‘Coll. Of Speeches, Addresses and Squibs’ [BL J/8133.i.13.], ii. 821.
  • 44. Durham CRO, Londonderry mss C83/177.
  • 45. Durham borough recs. 31/200.
  • 46. Durham Chron. 9, 16 Feb.; Durham Co. Advertiser, 16 Feb. 1828.
  • 47. Durham CRO, Londonderry mss C83/19.
  • 48. Ibid. C86/1; CJ, lxxxiii. 91, 134; Durham Co. Advertiser, 1 Mar. 1828.
  • 49. Durham borough recs. 29/35-39; Durham Co. Advertiser, 23 Feb.; Durham Chron. 1 Mar. 1828; CJ, lxxxiii. 4, 78, 101, 378; LJ, lx. 52, 77, 533.
  • 50. Ellenborough Diary, i. 130-2; Durham CRO, Londonderry mss C83/179.
  • 51. Durham CRO, Londonderry mss C83/179, 180.
  • 52. Ibid. C83/22, 23, 181.
  • 53. Chaytor Pprs. 121-3; Durham Co. Advertiser, 14 June 1828; LJ, lx. 521.
  • 54. Durham Chron. 7, 14 June; Durham Co. Advertiser, 14 June 1828.
  • 55. Durham CRO, Londonderry mss C86/50.
  • 56. Chaytor Pprs. 126.
  • 57. LJ, lix. 153, 160; CJ, lxxxiv. 98; Merthyr Mawr mss L/205/15, Van Mildert to Nicholl, 12 Feb. 1829.
  • 58. CJ, lxxxiv. 144; lxxxv. 347, 463; LJ, lxi, 408; lxii. 759.
  • 59. Ellenborough Diary ii. 55.
  • 60. Wellington mss WP1/1117/58, 70; 1121/29; Durham CRO, Londonderry mss C83/29.
  • 61. Durham Chron. 5 June 1830; Chaytor Pprs. 127, 132, 144.
  • 62. Chaytor Pprs. 135; Durham borough recs. 29/40-43; D.J. Butler, ‘A Plan so replete ... the building of Durham’s North Road’, Bull. Co. Dur. Local Hist. Soc. xxxv (1985), 22-31; Durham Chron. 3 July 1830; Procs. at Durham City Election, 1830, p. 17.
  • 63. Durham Chron. 5 June; Durham Co. Advertiser, 26 June 1830; Derbys. RO, Gresley of Drakelow mss D77/36/5, Hardinge to Gresley, 6 Dec. 1827; Procs. at Durham City Election, 18; Worcs. RO, Lechmere mss, Dowager Lady Gresley to Lechmere, 3, 11 July 1830.
  • 64. Chaytor Pprs. 145-6.
  • 65. Gresley mss box 38, bdle. 5; Procs. at Durham City Election, 18-19; Durham Chron. 10, 17, 24 July 1830.
  • 66. Chaytor Pprs. 146; Durham Chron. 17 July 1830.
  • 67. Procs. at Durham City Election, 67; Durham Co. Advertiser, 24 July 1830.
  • 68. Durham CRO, Londonderry mss C86/13-15.
  • 69. Procs. at Durham City Election, 23; Tennyson d’Eyncourt mss H89/9, Russell to Tennyson, 6 Aug.; Grey mss, Durham to Grey, 17 Aug. 1830. The indenture in the borough recs. gives Blake as Taylor’s proposer (Durham CRO Du1/5/57).
  • 70. Creevey mss, Creevey to Miss Ord, 25 Aug. 1830.
  • 71. Chaytor Pprs. 47-9; ‘Gathering of Whigs in the Committee of W. Chaytor’ [BL 1850.d.26].
  • 72. CJ, lxxxvi. 55, 130; LJ, lxiii. 101, 103, 115.
  • 73. A. Orde, ‘William Van Mildert, Charles Thorp and the Diocese of Durham’, Northern Hist. xl (2003), 154.
  • 74. Durham Advertiser, 14 Jan.; Newcastle Chron. 15 Jan. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 209; LJ, lxiii. 265.
  • 75. CJ, lxxxvi. 73, 336-7, 344, 350; Durham Chron. 20 Nov. 1830.
  • 76. Derby Local Stud. Lib. Strutt mss, Strutt to wife, 9 Mar. 1831; PRO NI, Anglesey mss D619/28A-B/48.
  • 77. Chaytor Pprs. 152.
  • 78. Grey mss, Chaytor to Grey, 12 Mar. 1831; Chaytor Pprs. 153-7.
  • 79. Durham Advertiser, 11, 18, 25 Mar.; Durham Chron. 11, 18, 25 Mar. 1831; Durham borough recs. 5/59-72; Heesom, PH, vii. 291; Durham City Pollbooks, ‘Poll ... 16-23 Mar. 1831’ ed. G. Walker.
  • 80. Durham Chron. 2 Apr. 1831.
  • 81. CJ, lxxxvi. 416.
  • 82. Stoker, 172.
  • 83. Grey mss.
  • 84. Durham Chron. 9 Apr.; The Times, 26, 27 Apr.; Durham Advertiser, 29 Apr., 6 May 1831.
  • 85. Durham CRO, Londonderry mss C86/17; The Times, 4 May 1831.
  • 86. Creevey mss, Mrs. Taylor to Creevey [30 Apr.], Creevey to Miss Ord, 3 May; The Times, 5 May; Add. 51670, Bedford to Lady Holland, 7 May; Grey mss, Chaytor to Grey, 16 May 1831.
  • 87. Wellington mss WP1/1182/5; 1184/3.
  • 88. Durham Chron. 7 May; Durham Advertiser, 7 May 1831; Durham borough recs. 5/73.
  • 89. CJ, lxxxvi. 534, 551; LJ, lxxxiii. 773; Durham Advertiser, 8, 15 July 1831.
  • 90. Durham borough recs. 29/44-6; LJ, lxiii. 1041.
  • 91. Orde, 161; The Times, 17, 25, 27 Apr. 1832.
  • 92. Durham Chron. 27 Apr., 4 May 1832.
  • 93. Durham Advertiser, 18 May, 15, 22 June 1832.
  • 94. CJ, lxxxvii. 361; LJ, liv. 195; Durham Advertiser, 16 Dec. 1831, 25 May, 6 July 1832.
  • 95. PP (1831-2) xxxviii. 159, 161-4; Durham borough recs. 31/142-50; 54/2(2).
  • 96. Durham CRO, Londonderry mss C146/11, 42, 48-50, 60, 67; Chaytor Pprs. 161-3, 175, 179-80, 182; Stoker, 326; The Electors’ Scrapbook (1832); The Times, 15 Dec. 1832.
  • 97. Heesom, Durham City and its MPs, 24-26, 43-44.