Available from Boydell and Brewer
Right of Election:
in the resident freemen
Number of voters:
|6 Jan. 1715||HENRY PELHAM||66|
|Sir Joseph Martin||23|
|22 Mar. 1722||SIR WILLIAM ASHBURNHAM||56|
|21 Aug. 1727||THOMAS TOWNSHEND|
|SIR WILLIAM ASHBURNHAM|
|22 Feb. 1728||THOMAS PELHAM vice Townshend, chose to sit for Cambridge University|
|29 Apr. 1734||SIR WILLIAM ASHBURNHAM||50|
|9 Apr. 1735||ASHBURNHAM re-elected after appointment to office|
|5 May 1741||JAMES PELHAM|
|6 Apr. 1742||STONE re-elected after appointment to office|
|26 June 1747||JAMES PELHAM|
|20 Dec. 1749||STONE re-elected after appointment to office|
Under George I and George II Hastings was managed for the Government by the Duke of Newcastle, who used the Treasury patronage to support his private interest, as the owner of the castle, lordship, and rape of Hastings. From 1733 he employed as his local manager an influential member of the corporation, John Collier, who converted Hastings into a Treasury borough, where Newcastle nominated both Members so long as he remained in office.
Newcastle’s connexion with Hastings began in 1715, when the corporation invited him to recommend a candidate to stand for the borough at the impending general election. Going down to Hastings, where he was given a civic reception, which he returned by a ‘splendid and generous’ entertainment, he put up his cousin, Henry Pelham of Stanmer. Pelham was elected after a contest, standing jointly with Archibald Hutcheson, then an independent Whig, who had been returned for Hastings in 1713.
In 1716 Hutcheson went into opposition, speaking and voting against the septennial bill, which Newcastle’s nominee supported, in spite of a petition from the Hastings corporation to the House of Commons protesting against the bill. At the general election of 1722 Hutcheson stood single against two former Whig Members for Hastings, Sir William Ashburnham and John Pulteney, of whom Newcastle wrote to Sunderland after the election: ‘I did him [Pulteney] whatever service I could, but the disposition of the town is such that I could publicly recommend but one, which was Sir William Ashburnham’.1 Ashburnham easily headed the poll, but Pulteney lost by one vote to Hutcheson, owing to the intervention of Collier, who, having failed to secure a place in the customs,2 at the last minute, in Newcastle’s words, ‘got over two that had promised us’. The two were said to have been fishermen who refused to take £500 each to vote against him.3 According to Hutcheson, eleven of his opponents’ votes were employed in or paid by the customs, while seven more were related to them.4
At the general election of 1727 Newcastle put up two candidates, who were unopposed. In 1731 he secured Collier’s services by a small sinecure,5 together with a promise of the reversion of the post of Newcastle’s estate agent and election manager in East Sussex.6 On the agent’s death in 1733 Newcastle consulted his brother, Henry Pelham, who wrote:
As to Collier, you can’t do too much, for, if I can judge, that town absolutely depends upon him, and perhaps, if he were cool, would leave you. I desire therefore you will from me tell Sir Robert Walpole, if he has a mind to have two Whigs chosen at Hastings, he must provide handsomely for Collier.7
In November, Collier was made surveyor-general of riding officers in Kent, an important post in the customs,8 which he combined with the position of Newcastle’s estate agent in East Sussex and his deputy as vice-admiral of Sussex. Under Collier’s management in 1734 an opposition candidate for Hastings was so decisively defeated that there were no more contests for 50 years. The 2nd Lord Egmont wrote of Hastings in his electoral survey, c.1749-50: ‘In the Crown, but I believe as much or more in the Duke of Newcastle’.