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

Background Information

Estimated number qualified to vote:

over 7,000



Main Article

Norfolk was an agriculturally diverse county remarkable for its large and independent yeoman squirearchy. Its principal ports were King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth and elections and county meetings were held in the city of Norwich.1 The freeholders were polled on four occasions between 1768 and 1817 and the representation had become the preserve of a small group of wealthy landowners with long local pedigrees: Astley of Melton Constable (15,000 acres); Coke of Holkham (42,000); de Grey of Merton (12,000); Townshend of Rainham (18,000, but declining); Wodehouse of Kimberley (11,000), and Windham of Felbrigg (8,000). Thomas William Coke, a wealthy Foxite Whig and agricultural ‘improver’ first returned in 1776 as his father’s successor, had been unassailable since 1790. A second Whig, Sir Jacob Henry Astley, had come in without a poll on the sitting Tory Sir John Wodehouse’s elevation to the peerage as Baron Wodehouse of Kimblerley in 1797, and attempts to bring in Wodehouse’s son and namesake heir at contested elections in 1802 and 1806 had failed. However, following Astley’s death in 1817 his brother-in-law Edward Pratt of Ryston, as locum for his 19-year-old son and namesake heir, had been defeated by Lord Wodehouse’s nephew Edmond Wodehouse of Sennowe, a loquacious supporter of Lord Liverpool’s administration who boldly expressed his own views even when these conflicted with local and party interests.2

The county was not contested in 1818, but the Whigs, led by Coke and the 4th earl of Albemarle (his father-in-law from 1822) had subsequently raised their profile by rallying for reform and retrenchment at Foxite dinners graced by the duke of Sussex in January 1819 and 1820; and they had encouraged hostility to the government at a county meeting called to petition in protest at the repressive measures introduced after Peterloo, 29 Oct. 1819.3 Afterwards, Coke created a furore by accusing the Tory lord lieutenant, the 2nd Baron Suffield, of rejecting Whig nominees and packing the magistracy with his partisans.4 The Tories retaliated with Pitt Club dinners and adopted declarations of support for the ministry and the regent.5 Denouncing the Foxite dinner of 20 Jan. 1820 as a ‘mere pretext for feeling the pulse of the county’, they rallied behind Wodehouse directly the reign of George IV was proclaimed, and in weekly letters to the freeholders their spokesman ‘Decius’ detailed his commitment to agricultural and local interests, opposition to parliamentary reform and Catholic relief and support for civil and religious liberty.6 Coke meanwhile issued a lengthy declaration of his Foxite principles and called for reform.7 In early March, possibly owing to financial exhaustion and as part of a reciprocal arrangement involving Norwich, the Whigs’ plans to put forward Sir Jacob Astley or William Earle Lytton Bulwer of Heydon, who was almost of age (his younger brothers were William Henry Lytton Earle Bulwer* and Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer*) were shelved, although, as Hudson Gurney*, a member of the county’s Quaker banking dynasty, observed, ‘sweetness of spirit by no means abounds either among men of lamblets or men of barley’.8 His cousin Joseph John Gurney of Earlham was ‘sincerely glad, partly because I like Edmond Wodehouse personally and partly because no Whig Member is worth purchasing at the expense of twenty thousand pounds spent in beer’.9 Coke’s proposer on 13 Mar., Sir Paul Jodrell† of Sall, stressed his long service and enormous contribution to agriculture; his seconder, the Hampden Club leader Sigismund Trafford Southwell of Wroxham Hall, urged the Tories to press Wodehouse to vote against government on taxation. Nominating him, Admiral Frederick Irby of Boyland Hall and Sir Thomas Preston of Beeston warned of the seditious threat to the ‘constitution in church and state’. Archdeacon George Glover’s resolutions censuring Wodehouse’s record and anti-Catholic votes were shouted down, as was Wodehouse’s reply. Coke complained that one and one representation was a nullity and promised to risk a contest at the next election.10 The customary addresses to George IV were adopted at a Tory-dominated meeting, 12 Apr.11 Party strength was tested in May 1820 through attendance at celebrations to mark Lytton Bulwer’s coming of age, the birthdays of Albemarle and Coke, and the Pitt Club dinner.12

The transition to a peacetime market affected all economic sectors, but the downturn posed particular problems for the Norfolk landowners and arable farmers. The Tory Loyal Agricultural Society and the hundreds of Grimshoe, Harleston and Redenhall petitioned both Houses in May 1820 complaining of agricultural distress.13 Coke, a member of the select committee to which the petitions were referred, shared the agriculturists’ concern that the wheat-growing fenlands, whose conversion from barley-growing he had promoted, would fall out of cultivation, but angered them by insisting that the crisis was not exclusive to agriculture and refusing to endorse distress petitions which failed to recommend lower taxes and reform as remedies.14 The Whig Norwich, Yarmouth and Lynn Courier championed Queen Caroline’s cause and 300 signed the requisition for the county meeting of 19 Aug. 1820.15 The Members and the bishop of Norwich Henry Bathurst were present, the latter controversially so; but the aristocracy of both parties stayed away, and the resolutions protesting at the omission of her name from the liturgy and the mode of proceeding against her were proposed by the liberal General George Walpole†, the 2nd earl of Orford’s brother, and seconded by Glover. Coke, though supportive, refused to comment on the queen’s conduct, nor would he do so on presenting the petition, 18 Sept. 1820. Wodehouse, backed only by the militia colonel Robert Harvey of Thorpe, voted silently against the petition and afterwards condemned its criticism of the House of Lords as a court.16 The boroughs alone petitioned after the prosecution was abandoned and, having failed to ‘rouse the sleepy and degenerate gentry’, Coke and Albemarle reserved their speeches for the Foxite dinner on 19 Jan. 1821.17

The agriculturists petitioned the Commons for relief, protection and repeal of the additional malt duty and the Members confirmed their distress, 1, 5, 6, 29 Mar., 3 Apr. 1821.18 Wodehouse’s votes against repealing the taxes on agricultural horses, malt and salt were resented, and by June stories circulated that he would be replaced by his cousin John Wodehouse* during Astley’s term as incumbent sheriff.19 Apart from the illustrious foreign guests, Coke’s Holkham sheep-shearing of 1-3 July 1821 (his last) was a predominantly Whig gathering, where, as at his annual Thetford wool fair and birthday dinners, politics prevailed over husbandry. He now vented his spleen at Wodehouse’s appointment and his own omission from the 1821 select committee on agriculture; both Members criticized its report.20 That autumn, the yeomanry of both parties signed a requisition for a county meeting to petition for government action on distress, which Astley, after ensuring that the Whig aristocracy would attend, convened for 12 Jan. 1822.21 The yeomen’s resolutions, proposed by the Norwich alderman Thomas Thurtell and George Watson, called for a return to the gold standard, retrenchment as a means of cutting taxes and repeal of the malt duties, and accorded with Wodehouse’s professed views. Albemarle countered with resolutions, which, in accordance with opposition policy, attributed distress to high taxes and demanded an immediate £5,000,000 reduction in those on malt, soap, candles, salt and leather. Protests by the yeomen, whose resolutions were not put to a vote, and objections made by Wodehouse to the scale of the reductions advocated and the inferred support for parliamentary reform went unheeded as a petition based on Albemarle’s resolutions was rushed through and signed by Astley on the meeting’s behalf.22 Over 200 Whigs celebrated Fox’s birthday and their recent success, 24 Jan.23 The petition was received by the Commons, 7 Feb., and the Lords, 18 Feb.;24 but its failure accurately to represent opinion in the county was soon made apparent in petitions received from the hundreds, and in the increasing popularity of William Cobbett’s† views, which the magistrates’ proclamation of 6 Mar. cautioned against. The yeoman cavalry were mobilized to put down unrest.25 When distress petitioning ‘by the hundred’ resumed in April, reform featured in petitions to both Houses from the Whig strongholds of Brothercross, Earsham, Freebridge Lynn, Gallow, Guiltcross, North Harpham, Humbleyard, Launditch, Shropham and Smithdon. Predominantly Tory Forehoe, Happing, Mitford and Tunstead left the solution to government, while the remaining hundreds pressed for lower taxes.26 On 11 May, a county meeting hastily convened and chaired by Jodrell as sheriff, and dominated by the radical Dissenters Sir Thomas Beevor of Hargham and Nathaniel Palmer of Great Yarmouth (assisted by Thurtell and General Walpole), petitioned specifically for reform, and Wodehouse was ‘prettily peppered’ by the yeomen for supporting ministers and opposing repeal of the salt duties.27 The Norfolk Chronicle had no doubt that ‘out of this nettle - ADVERSITY of AGRICULTURE - they [the Whigs] hope to pluck the flower - MONOPOLY OF COUNTY REPRESENTATION’.28 Before the Commons received the petition, 3 June 1822, they rejected (by 89-55) a ‘Cobbettite’ distress petition from the hundred of North Greenhoe for breaching parliamentary privilege through its violent language, which included an allegation that the standing army was maintained to suppress the people. Other Norfolk petitions received that month made little impact.29

The notorious Norfolk meeting of 3 Jan. 1823 was requisitioned by the yeomanry to petition specifically against the malt duties and changes in the excise licensing laws. Distress and unrest remained rife, and the presence of Cobbett, a ‘humbug freeholder’ with a primed Norwich mob, dashed the hopes of the Whig aristocracy present of taking it over.30 Thurtell and Watson proposed the resolutions, and Coke and Wodehouse cautiously approved the bipartisan consensus they represented, but criticized details. At Cobbett’s signal, the mob erupted, ostensibly in protest at Wodehouse’s remarks; and Cobbett’s counter-petition calling for the appropriation of church property, reduction of the standing army, abolition of sinecures, sale of crown lands, ‘equitable adjustment’ of public and private debts and an immediate moratorium on rents and tithes was rushed through and signed by Jodrell as sheriff at Beevor’s behest. Because of the clamour, most of the freeholders believed they were voting for the original resolutions.31 The petition was almost universally condemned and its presentation delayed until 24 Apr., to allow time for the 33 hundreds to disavow it and forward alternative petitions to both Houses.32 Cobbett’s Norfolk newspaper, which first appeared on 8 Feb., tried to build on support for his petition, but ceased after 13 issues. A Cobbettite distress petition from Launditch hundred was received by the Lords, 14 Apr., and another from Humbleyard urged poor law reform and equitable taxation as remedies for distress.33 Foxite and Pitt Club activity waned and plans for a county meeting in May 1823 to petition against the beer bill and malt duties were abandoned.34

The anti-slavery campaign, promoted locally by the Gurneys, the Buxtons of Rushford, Edward Harbord* (as 3rd Baron Suffield), Albemarle and Lord William Cavendish Bentinck, who came in for King’s Lynn in 1826, had the backing of both Members and, following the secretary of the Anti-Slavery Society Thomas Clarkson’s visits, petitions were forthcoming in 1823 and 1824 from Diss, East Dereham, Wells-next-the-Sea and Wymondham. John Wodehouse (who had been appointed lord lieutenant in 1821 in preference to Suffield) and the 3rd marquess of Townshend failed to prevent the adoption of similar petitions at county meetings, 25 Apr. 1823, 20 Oct. 1825.35 The Wodehouses, and the magistracy generally, supported the campaign to make the county town, Norwich, Norfolk’s sole assize town, by transferring the spring assizes there from ‘distant’ Thetford on the Suffolk border, and the hierarchy of both parties signed a memorial to Peel as home secretary, 2 Jan., and petitioned accordingly, 10 June 1824. However, annual petitioning and lobbying by the corporations of Norwich and Thetford, and the reluctance of judges to travel east in winter, encouraged successive ministries to let the matter rest, and the change, eventually sanctioned by Lord Grey’s ministry, was not enacted until 1832, reputedly as part of an arrangement whereby Thetford, which had been scheduled to forfeit a Member under the reform bill, kept two seats.36 As expected, Coke voted for and Wodehouse against Catholic relief in 1821, when, after a seven year gap, petitions were forwarded to both Houses (and again in 1823 and 1825) from the county’s clergy, who were predominantly anti-Catholic, and the diocesan hierarchy, who, influenced by their liberal bishop, Bathurst, advocated concessions.37 Wodehouse’s decision to speak and vote for the 1825 relief bill caused a political storm, and although his relations stood by him, he forfeited the support of most of his party.38 Petitioning ‘by the hundred’ and the agricultural societies resumed in April 1825 in opposition to revision of the corn laws, and the Lords twice reused to accept a petition signed by its committee as representative of the opinion of the Norfolk Agricultural Society in 1826.39 Encouraged by Suffield, the magistrates petitioned for changes in the game laws before the 1826 dissolution.40

Astley announced his candidature early, but he soon desisted on account of marital and domestic problems, among them litigation brought against him, as a trustee, for abusing William Lytton Bulwer’s inheritance under his father’s will.41 Thus deprived of their preferred candidates, the Whigs, led by Coke, compromised by accommodating Wodehouse to deter a ‘No Popery’ man.42 An editorial in the Norwich Mercury of 6 May 1826, stated:

In most great points he leans to the side of liberal policy (the side of Mr. Canning in the cabinet) and under very difficult circumstances, so far as we can discover, he has acted independently and agreeably to the best judgement of his understanding and conscience.

His family’s support and the prospect of Whig second votes going to Wodehouse deterred his anti-Catholic opponents from declaring, but their resentment remained, and was for many compounded by his recent ‘partial’ vote with the Great Yarmouth Members to defeat the Norwich and Lowestoft navigation bill: its loss had been an important factor in the Tories’ decision to pass Harvey over and put forward the home secretary’s brother Jonathan Peel* for Norwich.43 After riding together to the hustings, 19 June 1826, Coke was proposed by Admiral William Windham, with Glover seconding; and Wodehouse by the 2nd marquess of Stafford’s agent, J.J. Bedingfield of Oxborough, and Marsham Elwin of Thirning. Wodehouse acknowledged his declining support, defended his ministerialist and pro-Catholic votes and confirmed his preference for a waterway from Norwich to Great Yarmouth. He had to be rescued from the anti-Catholic mob, before dining his supporters at the Angel and the Rampant Horse, and was attacked again on his homeward journey.44

Norfolk’s magistrates petitioned for reform of the game laws and increases in coroners’ fees early in 1827.45 Encouraged by the Norfolk Agricultural Society, the millers and agriculturists now petitioned ‘by the hundred’ for additional protection, against the government’s corn bill and for further restrictions on the importation of foreign flour; and the hundreds of Blowfield, Holt, Humbleyard, and Walsham petitioned again after Canning succeeded Lord Liverpool as premier in May.46 The Wellington ministry’s 1828 corn bill attracted only a handful of petitions (objecting to its proposed pivot price and scale) and was generally accepted.47 The agriculturists’ main grievance was the 1827 Malt Act, for, as Coke, who failed to secure its amendment, complained, 19, 22 June 1827, Norfolk farmers resented the prohibition it placed on their established practice of wetting barley for cattle fodder. Accordingly they joined the maltsters in petitioning and lobbying for its repeal.48 The Dissenters petitioned Parliament in 1827 and 1828 for repeal of the Test Acts, but neither Member is known to have voted for it.49 Petitions for and against Catholic relief were received from the clergy in 1827 and 1828 and Wodehouse strenuously supported the campaign against the double land tax levied on Catholics, to which the Norfolk estates of the duke of Norfolk, Stafford and Lord Bedingfield were liable.50 Harvey dominated the Norwich Brunswick Club established in 1828, and they organized petitioning against the concession of Catholic emancipation in 1829 in Downham, East Dereham, Swaffham and numerous small Norfolk parishes. The Dissenters of Diss and Framlingham supported the measure, the Members divided for it and most of the clergy were eventually won over.51

Following a further economic downturn, over 1,500 attended a county meeting, specifically convened to petition for repeal of the malt duties, 16 Jan. 1830. William Bulwer, whose name headed the 510-signature requisition, had liaised with Coke beforehand, and an editorial in the Norwich Mercury cautioned the freeholders against ‘causing divisions by airing other grievances’ and so weakening the impact of the single issue petition.52 Undeterred, directly it was proposed by Lytton Bulwer and John Postle of Colney, Wodehouse, claiming that he was now prepared to oppose the ministry in Parliament, proposed an amendment extending the petition’s remit to the duties on tea, sugar and coal, and adding a rider attributing distress to the return to a gold standard in 1819. Suffield offered to second, but declined Wodehouse’s challenge to propose the amendment in his place. Amid cries of ‘malt only’, Beevor and Palmer threatened to propose increasingly radical amendments if Wodehouse’s failed, but at the request of John Culley of Cossey and Adam Taylor, the original resolutions were carried and Coke quickly closed the meeting before Wodehouse’s amendment could be put to a vote.53 Endorsing the petition, The Times criticized attempts to circumvent it afterwards at hundred meetings in Grimshoe ‘where vigorous resolutions were passed against the above-mentioned tax, but where also much nonsense was talked and listened to, concerning the mischievous effects upon the farmer of the metallic currency, and the (falsely called) free trade system’.54 The sheriff, Andrew Fountaine of Narford, had signed the county petition as their representative and the Commons received it as such, 4 May, but the Lords would only accept it as Fountaine’s, 6 May.55 Most of the distress petitions sent up from the hundreds and that from Norfolk Agricultural Society were specific to malt; but Grimshoe sought ‘tax reductions and retrenchment in every department of state’, and the landowners and occupiers of Gissing, Holt and Diss sought relief through tithe reform.56 The county’s papermakers petitioned the Commons in protest at the increasing mechanization of their trade, 18 May, and farmers at Halesworth and North Walsham markets for equalization of the duties on corn spirits and rum, 28 May, 3 June 1830.57 Repeal of the coastwise coal duties, for which Norwich, the ports and Wodehouse had campaigned since 1823, persisted until it was conceded in 1831.58

Both Members sought re-election and declared early at the dissolution in 1830. Coke campaigned for reform and the abolition of slavery, and Wodehouse stressed his independent record and support for retrenchment.59 The outcome of his early overtures to Suffield and Albemarle, by which he hoped to prevent a contest or at least to secure split votes, seemed promising.60 However, a meeting convened by Beevor at the Swan, Norwich, 17 July, attended by Albemarle’s sons, Sir Andrew Hamond, John Micklethwaite, General Walpole and others, decided to approach Astley.61 Afterwards, her agent, Anthony Hudson, informed Lady Jerningham:

Upon the whole I am inclined to think that the more prudent course would have been to be quiet this time, and that the Whigs are according to their old practice building up a wall to knock their heads against. It must be allowed, however, that the Wodehouses with their want of money will have great difficulties to encounter, they must either stand alone, throwing their split votes to Astley and against Coke or they must get a second man, which is difficult. Hare is thought to be the one they would fix upon, but he [is] very unfit and I do not think they could carry ... [two] Members. Some think Wodehouse will run if hard pressed, but I cannot bring myself to believe this. I am confident they will fight it out to the last. I should be glad to see Edmond Wodehouse turned out, but I fear it will not be this time. Hamond is confident, and Lord Albemarle’s party will not hear of a doubt of success.62

Astley, who was better known for the scandal attached to his divorce and his racing exploits than for his politics, prevaricated. Overtures to William Bulwer, Sir William Beauchamp, Windham and Sir William Browne Ffolkes of Hillington failed; but, being assured of the backing of his kinsman Astley, Browne Ffolkes, who had contested King’s Lynn unsuccessfully in 1822, 1824 and 1826 as a ‘reform and retrenchment’ candidate, kept his options open.63 He was requisitioned by the yeomanry at meetings chaired by Culley at the Angel, Norwich, 24 July, and by Henry Elsden of Congham at the Duke’s Head, King’s Lynn, 27 July; but Suffield favoured Wodehouse, Albemarle was unwilling to spend and Coke had yet to declare. With Hamond’s approval, he was nevertheless formally adopted at a meeting at the Angel, 31 July, addressed by Culley, Robert Leamon of Whitwell and Elsden (whose remarks were afterwards ridiculed by The Times), and Beevor volunteered to chair his committee. He agreed to stand a poll if financially assisted, and freely admitted that as the owner of an estate worth £5-6,000 a year, his means and social standing were below those normally expected in a Norfolk Member.64 Persisting in his canvass, Wodehouse, assisted throughout by his cousin the lord lieutenant, who also chaired his committee, addressed the farmers at Norwich corn exchange, 31 July, and afterwards they confidently predicted that the proximity of their estates and supporters to Norwich would work against Browne Ffolkes, as a remote marshland proprietor.65 Announcements issued by Coke, 3 Aug., ridiculing reports that he would soon stand down, and declaring firmly for Browne Ffolkes, tipped the balance, and Wodehouse retired the following day.66 John Wodehouse, on whose advice he stood down, announced:

Though I was not ignorant that a considerable dissatisfaction with some of his votes prevailed amongst a most respectable class of his constituents, I knew that persons of great influence on both sides had expressed a strong wish to preserve the peace of the county and that many who had before been his opponents had declared their intention of supporting both late Members ... But the state of public opinion was found to be so affected by a combination of circumstances, that my family would have ill requited your former favours had it sought the result through so many certain evils as must have attended a protracted contest.67

On the hustings at the election, he spoke highly of Wodehouse, but deliberately distanced the family from any attempt to nominate him. Coke, who was proposed by General Walpole, with William Bulwer seconding, declared that since emancipation had been carried, Wodehouse had ceased to vote ‘for the welfare of the kingdom’. Browne Ffolkes’s sponsors Culley and Leamon hailed him as ‘a warm advocate for liberty ... [and] supporter of reform, economy and retrenchment’.68 The yeomen’s triumph cost Browne Ffolkes £1,184 8s. 7d. The freeholders dined at Norwich corn exchange, 13 Aug., and celebrations were held at Great Yarmouth, Wells-next-the-Sea, Wisbech and King’s Lynn, where Coke’s tirade against George III contributed to his seven-year wait for a peerage. The Keppels and Astley had stayed away, and to Albemarle’s annoyance Astley now repudiated claims that he had backed Browne Ffolkes and again projected himself as a candidate in waiting.69 On 19 Oct. 1830 both Members attended a county meeting, which, as its yeoman requisitionists intended, resolved to petition solely for repeal of the malt duties, after attempts by General Henry Fitzroy* and Harvey to widen its scope failed.70

Both Members were counted among the Wellington ministry’s ‘foes’ and supported the Grey ministry’s reform bill in key divisions in 1831. Anti-slavery petitioning, encouraged by the Dissenters and Wesleyans, had resumed in the towns before the general election of 1830, and there was extensive petitioning of both Houses for abolition in November and December 1830 and again in March and April 1831.71 Arson, machine-breaking and rioting had become endemic, especially in the south-east of the county, where occupiers were wholly liable for tithe payments. Armed constables were appointed, and the lord lieutenant accused the liberal magistrates of leniency.72 The county remained unconvened on account of the unrest, but certain freeholders and inhabitants petitioned the Commons for reform, including the ballot, 2 Mar. 1831. Reform was also advocated in anti-tithe petitions to both Houses in February and March from Cawston, Gissing, Guiltcross, Kenninghall, Walsoken and West Walton.73 The proposal by the ministerial reform bill, announced on 1 Mar., to divide the county constituency, triggered a furious response from the editor of the Norwich Mercury, Richard Mackenzie Bacon, who supported reform but opposed all county divisions; yet 21 hundreds petitioned the Commons in the bill’s favour, 19 Mar.-19 Apr.74 North Epringham petitioned the Lords urging its passage to avoid revolution, 21 Apr.75 There was speculation that Albemarle’s son George Keppel or Astley might stand at the general election precipitated by its defeat, but, forewarned by Culley, Browne Ffolkes turned again to the yeomanry, who organized a subscription and prevailed on Astley, Beevor and Windham to head their widely publicized declaration of support for the sitting Members.76 Coke deliberately warned off Tory ‘moderate reformers’ in his second canvassing address, 1 May, but they, like the Keppels and Suffield, who had ambitions for his heir, looked to the future and stayed away. Astley and Brampton Gurdon nominated Coke, Windham’s son and Leamon sponsored Browne Ffolkes, and the election became a celebration of reform which cost the Members about £400 each.77

Norfolk’s magistrates petitioned the Commons for repeal of the 1830 Beer Retail Act, 11 July, and both Houses received petitions from the landowners and occupiers objecting to the use of molasses and inferior sugars in distilling and brewing, 22 July, 2, 16 Aug. 1831.78 Encumbered by old age and his young family, Coke now attended the Commons infrequently, hoped for a coronation peerage, which he was belatedly denied, and, as intimated at the Thetford wool fair, 15 July, he announced that he would not seek re-election, 31 July.79 Browne Ffolkes’s attention to the yeomen’s complaints and generally steady support for the reform bill, apart from votes against the proposed division of counties, 11 Aug., against granting county votes to freeholders in cities corporate like Norwich, 17 Aug., and for Lord Chandos’s amendment to enfranchise £50 tenants-at-will, 18 Aug., were approved by the Whigs, the farmers and the local press.80 A landowners’ meeting at the Norfolk Hotel, 27 Aug., chaired by William Ensor of Rollesby Hall and attended by about 30 leading yeomen, considered requisitioning for a county meeting to petition against the proposed division, which they correctly anticipated would be east-west and favour the Tories or at best shared representation, but, fearing opposition from Norwich, they abandoned the plan.81 North Walsham, North Epringham and Wymondham petitioned the Lords urging the reform bill’s speedy passage, 23, 26 Sept., 4 Oct.82 Following its defeat there, a stormy county meeting on 19 Nov. ‘unanimously’ adopted an address to the king regretting its rejection; but only after Hamond as chairman had stifled Suffield’s attempt to introduce an amendment regretting the county division, and with it all radical and Tory criticism of the ministry and the sitting Members.83 Afterwards, acting on John Wodehouse’s advice, a Norfolk anti-reform declaration was circulated privately by attorneys and agents. It received over 1,000 signatures before it was forwarded to the home office, 3 Dec. 1831.84 Petitioning resumed briefly during the constitutional crisis which preceded the enactment of the revised reform bill in June 1832.85

By it, Castle Rising was disfranchised, Great Yarmouth, King’s Lynn, Norwich and Thetford each retained two seats and, as the boundary commissioners had recommended, the 18 hundreds of the new Norfolk East constituency were to poll at Reepham, Long Stratton, North Walsham, Yarmouth and the election town of Norwich, and the 15 hundreds of Norfolk West at Downham, Fakenham, Thetford and the election town of Swaffham.86 Before the 1832 general election, 7,041 voters were registered in Norfolk East (population 224,667) and 4,396 in Norfolk West (population 164,508) at a cost of £479.87 Browne Ffolkes and Astley, standing as Liberals, came in unopposed for the Western division.88 In the Eastern, where John Wodehouse’s controversial decision to nominate the Conservatives and his anti-reform tirade on the hustings almost cost him the county lieutenancy, the Liberals George Keppel and William Windham defeated the Conservatives Lord William Henry Cholmondeley* and Nathaniel William Peach* after a bitter and protracted contest in which slavery and tithe reform were the major issues.89 The Conservatives gained both seats in Norfolk East in 1835, when Edmond Wodehouse was one of their candidates, and both in Norfolk West in 1837.

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. White, Norf. Dir. (1845), 13-17.
  • 2. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 284-7; iii. 90-92, 477-80; iv. 639-41.
  • 3. A. Mitchell, Whigs in Opposition, 54, 127, 130; Lord Albemarle, Fifty Years of My Life, ii. 104-5; The Times, 23 Oct., 2, 26 Nov. 1819, 27 Jan; Norf. Chron. 29 Jan. 1820.
  • 4. The Times, 8, 10 Dec. 1819.
  • 5. Bury and Norwich Post, 17 Nov.; The Times, 8, 10 Dec. 1819.
  • 6. Norf. Chron. 5, 12, 26 Feb., 4, 11 Mar. 1820; Keele Univ. Lib. Sneyd mss SC17/17.
  • 7. Norf. Chron. 26 Feb.; Bury and Norwich Post, 8 Mar. 1820.
  • 8. Essex RO, Barrett Lennard mss D/DL C60, G. Keppel to Barrett Lennard, 14 Mar.; Norf. RO, Gurney mss RQG 572/2. See NORWICH.
  • 9. Hants RO, Calthorpe mss 26M62/F/C219.
  • 10. Barrett Lennard mss C60, Keppel to Lennard, 14 Mar.; Bury and Norwich Post, 15 Mar.; Norf. Chron. 28 Mar. 1820.
  • 11. Bury and Norwich Post, 12, 19 Apr.; Norf. Chron. 15, 22 Apr. 1820.
  • 12. Norf. Chron. 15 Apr., 13, 27 May, 3 June; Bury and Norwich Post, 24 May, 7 June 1820.
  • 13. CJ, lxxv. 165, 210, 236, 251, 295; LJ, liii. 68, 83.
  • 14. The Times, 25 May, 1 June 1820; Stirling, Coke of Norf. 452-8.
  • 15. Norwich, Yarmouth and Lynn Courier, 8, 29 July 1820.
  • 16. The Times, 4, 11, 21 Aug., 19 Sept.; Bury and Norwich Post, 9, 23 Aug.; Norf. Chron. 26 Aug. 1820; CJ, lxxv. 480-1.
  • 17. Grey mss, Birch to Grey, 27 Dec. 1820; Norf. Chron. 13 Jan.; The Times, 22 Jan. 1821; R.M. Bacon, Independent Remarks on the Queen’s Case (1821).
  • 18. CJ, lxxvi. 125, 137, 143, 163, 215.
  • 19. Norf. Chron. 9 June 1821.
  • 20. Ibid. 19 May, 7 July; The Times, 10, 14 July 1821; Bacon, Report of Holkham Sheep-Shearing (1821); Stirling, 434-52.
  • 21. Bury and Norwich Post, 2 Jan.; The Times, 4 Jan. 1822; Norf. RO, Gunton mss 1/3; Bacon, Mem. Baron Suffield, 150-1.
  • 22. The Times, 14, 15 Jan.; County Herald, 19 Jan. 1822.
  • 23. The Times, 26 Jan.; County Chron. 29 Jan. 1822.
  • 24. CJ, lxxvii. 8; LJ, lv. 31.
  • 25. CJ, lxxvii. 16, 20, 27, 224, 227, 272; Norf. RO, Hamond of Westacre mss HMN5/23, 739 x 9; R.H. Mason, Hist. Norf. 495; The Times, 21 Feb., 9, 11 Mar. 1822.
  • 26. CJ, lxxvii. 204, 213, 221, 227, 231, 241, 272, 282, 296, 301; LJ, lv. 141, 149, 179, 203; Stirling, 460-2; B.D. Hayes, ‘Politics in Norf. 1750-1832’ (Camb. Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1957), 304; The Times, 6 May 1822.
  • 27. Norf. Chron. 11 May; The Times, 15 May 1822; Bacon, Suffield, 166.
  • 28. Norf. Chron. 18 May 1822.
  • 29. CJ, lxxvii. 311, 319, 346; The Times, 4, 13 June 1822.
  • 30. The Times, 25 Nov., 10 Dec.; Norf. Chron. 22 Dec. 1822; Gunton mss 1/13, 15; Bacon, Suffield, 169.
  • 31. Norf. Chron, 4, 11 Jan.; The Times, 6, 8, 9 Jan.; Norwich Mercury, 11, 18 Jan. 1823; Bacon, Suffield, 170-1.
  • 32. Norf. Chron. 1, 8, 15, 22 Feb.; Norwich Mercury, 11, 18 Feb.; The Times, 25 Apr. 1823; CJ, lxxviii. 200, 245-8; LJ, lv. 520, 628; Gunton mss 1/18; Hayes, 307-8.
  • 33. LJ, lv. 611, 639.
  • 34. Norf. Chron. 5, 19, 26 Apr. 1823.
  • 35. Ibid. 26 Apr., 3 May 1823; Norwich Mercury, 15, 22, 29 Oct. 1825; CJ, lxxviii. 308, 312; lxxix. 64, 161, 229; lxxxi. 114; LJ, lv. 702, 839; lvi. 75; lviii. 71; Devon RO, Sidmouth mss, Wodehouse to Liverpool, 2 Aug. 1821; Calthorpe mss F/C900; Bacon, Suffield, 229-40.
  • 36. CJ, lxxv. 402; lxxvii. 276; lxxix. 473, 475, 491; lxxx. 64, 115, 123-4; lxxxvii. 243, 261; lxxxviii. 246, 334, 337, 339, 373, 430; Add. 40630, ff. 172-3; 40365, f. 207; 40366, f. 33; Norf. Chron. 3, 17 Jan., 19 June; The Times, 26 Feb., 11, 12 June 1824, 25 Feb. 1825, 4 Apr., 24 May, 15, 16 June 1832; Bacon, Suffield, 187, 197-200, 239, 162-3, 261-3; LJ, lxiv. 284; Brougham mss, J. Wodehouse to Brougham, 22 Nov. 1831.
  • 37. CJ, lxxvi. 120, 173; lxxx. 275, 315; LJ, liv. 171, 349; lv. 858-9; lvii. 566, 834; Norf. Chron. 26 Apr. 1823, 23 Apr. 1825; G.I.T. Machin, Catholic Question in English Politics, 54, 148.
  • 38. CJ, lxxvi. 120, 173; lxxx. 275, 315; Norf. Chron. 26 Apr. 1823, 23 Apr. 1825.
  • 39. Norf. Chron. 16, 23, 30 Apr., 7 May; The Times, 29 Apr., 5 May, 14 June 1825; CJ, lxxx. 350-1, 354; LJ, lvii. 624, 743, 781; lviii. 305, 364.
  • 40. LJ, lviii. 112.
  • 41. The Times, 25 May 1826, 9 June 1828; LJ, lviii. 28.
  • 42. Stirling, 498.
  • 43. Norwich Mercury, 3, 10, 17 June 1826. See NORWICH and GREAT YARMOUTH.
  • 44. Bury and Norwich Post, 21 June; Norwich Mercury, 24 June; Norf. Chron. 1 July 1826.
  • 45. CJ, lxxxii. 433; LJ, lix. 179; Bacon, Suffield, 240-56; Mason, 498-9.
  • 46. The Times, 8 Sept. 1826; CJ, lxxxii. 230, 290, 293, 371; LJ, lix. 102-3, 105, 118, 141, 301.
  • 47. CJ, lxxxiii. 294-5; LJ, lx. 437, 534, 541; Bury and Norwich Post, 26 Nov., 3 Dec. 1828.
  • 48. CJ, lxxxii. 580; lxxxiii. 75, 91, 113, 117, 124, 142; The Times, 20, 23 June, 23 Oct.; Morning Chron. 24 Oct. 1827.
  • 49. CJ, lxxxii. 520, 527-8, 545; lxxxiii. 83, 90, 96, 106; LJ, lx. 56, 71, 237.
  • 50. CJ, lxxxii. 231, 275, 281, 288, 487; lxxxiv. 85; LJ, lix. 167-8; lx. 208; Norf. Chron. 17 Mar. 1827; Wellington mss WP1/1003/5.
  • 51. Norf. Chron. 24 Jan. 1829; CJ, lxxxiv. 22, 85, 89, 103, 109, 114, 133, 165; LJ, lxi. 52, 92, 154, 156, 201, 293.
  • 52. Norwich Mercury, 26 Dec. 1829, 2, 16 Jan. 1830; Mason, 499-500.
  • 53. The Times, 19 Jan.; Norwich Mercury, 23, 30 Jan.; Norf. Chron. 23, 30 Jan. 1830; Bacon, Suffield, 291-3.
  • 54. The Times, 20 Jan. 1830.
  • 55. CJ, lxxxv. 366; LJ, lxii. 334.
  • 56. CJ, lxxxv. 30, 83, 85, 121, 141, 148, 180, 183, 189, 214, 366, 395; LJ, lxii. 162, 170, 253, 307.
  • 57. Ibid. lxxxv. 495, 506.
  • 58. Ibid. lxxviii. 278; lxxix. 23, 76, 115, 497; lxxx. 123; lxxxi. 358; lxxxv. 68, 596; lxxxvi. 169, 226, 336.
  • 59. Bury and Norwich Post, 10, 17, 24, 31 July 1830.
  • 60. Gunton mss 1/12.
  • 61. Norwich Mercury, 17, 24 July 1830.
  • 62. Staffs. RO, Stafford Jerningham mss D641/3/P/3/14/57.
  • 63. The Times, 13, 20, 22 Feb. 1827, 22 May, 9, 16, 23 June 1828; Diary and Jnl. of C.J. Palmer ed. F.D. Palmer (1892), 46; Add. 51593, Coke to Holland, 22, 25 July 1830.
  • 64. Norwich Mercury, 24, 31 July, 7 Aug.; Norf. Chron. 24, 31 July, 7 Aug.; The Times, 4, 9 Aug. 1830; Norf. RO NRS 8741, 8753; Hamond of Westacre mss 117-19, 738 x 1; 121/1, 2, 738 x 1; Bacon, Suffield, 313.
  • 65. The Times, 5 Aug.; Norf. Chron. 7 Aug. 1831; Norf. RO NRS 8740, 8741, 8753.
  • 66. Add. 51593, Coke to Holland, 30 July 1830; Norf. RO NRS 8741; Hamond of Westacre mss 121/3, 738 x 1; Norf. RO MC50/74/2-7; Surr. Hist. Cent. Howard of Ashtead mss 203/31/34; The Times, 4, 5 Aug. 1830.
  • 67. Norwich Mercury, 7 Aug.; Norf. Chron. 7 Aug. 1830.
  • 68. The Times, 9 Aug. 1830.
  • 69. Gunton mss 1/31; Norf. RO NRS 8741; Norwich Mercury, 14, 21 Aug.; Norf. Chron. 14, 21 Aug.; The Times, 17, 20 Aug., 18 Oct. 1830; Stirling, 527-31.
  • 70. Norwich Mercury, 16, 30 Oct.; The Times, 25, 26 Oct. 1830; CJ, lxxxvi. 281; LJ, lxiii. 229.
  • 71. CJ, lxxxvi. 56-57, 108, 116-17, 167, 220, 435, 454-6; LJ, lxiii. 85-86, 92, 94, 99, 103, 174-5, 293, 430, 434-5, 453-5.
  • 72. E. Hobsbawm and G. Rudé, Captain Swing (1969), 153-4; TNA HO52/9; Norf. RO, Kimberley mss KIM6/38; The Times, 16, 22, 25 Nov., 2, 6, 10, 16 Dec. 1830, 15, 17, 19, 21 Jan. 1831; Bacon, Suffield, 319-40 and Letter to Suffield upon the Distress of the Labourers (1831); Mason, 501-3.
  • 73. CJ, lxxxvi. 230, 324, 333; LJ, lxiii. 325.
  • 74. Norwich Mercury, 12 Mar.-16 Nov. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 406-7, 415, 435, 505.
  • 75. LJ, lxiii. 500.
  • 76. Norwich Mercury, 26 Mar., 30 Apr.; East Anglian, 12, 26 Apr. 1831; Norf. RO NRS 8740.
  • 77. East Anglian, 3, 10 May; Bury and Norwich Post, 4 May; Norwich Mercury, 7 May; Norf. Chron. 7 May; The Times, 9 May 1831.
  • 78. CJ, lxxxvi. 639, 685, 718; LJ, lxiii. 925.
  • 79. The Times, 21, 31 July 1831.
  • 80. Norwich Mercury, 20 Aug.; Norf. Chron. 20 Aug.; East Anglian, 23 Aug.; Bury and Norwich Post, 31 Aug. 1831.
  • 81. East Anglian, 23 Aug.; Bury and Norwich Post, 31 Aug. 1831.
  • 82. LJ, lxiii. 1003, 1008, 1045, 1053.
  • 83. Bury and Norwich Post, 26 Oct., 2, 9 Nov.; Norwich Mercury, 12, 26 Nov.; The Times, 21 Nov. 1831.
  • 84. Mason, 503-4; Norf. Chron. 28 Jan. 1832.
  • 85. Norf. Chron. 12, 19, 26 May 1832; CJ, lxxxvii. 326, 328, 332.
  • 86. PP (1831-2), xxxix. 143; xli. 243; Norwich Mercury, 20 Aug.; Norf. Chron. 20 Aug.; East Anglian, 23 Aug.; Bury and Norwich Post, 31 Aug. 1831.
  • 87. PP (1833), xxvii. 81; xxvii. 9; The Times, 30 Oct.; Bury and Norwich Post, 14, 21 Nov. 1832.
  • 88. Norf. RO NRS 8740; Bury and Norwich Post, 18 July; The Times, 20 Dec. 1832.
  • 89. Albemarle, 295-6; Bury and Norwich Post, 19 June; The Times, 24 Nov., 19, 24 Dec.; Brougham mss, Buxton to Brougham (and enclosure), 24 Dec. 1832.