Available from Boydell and Brewer
Right of Election:
in the freemen
Number of voters:
|29 Jan. 1715||SIR HENRY OXENDEN||254|
|May 1720||SIR GEORGE OXENDEN vice Sir Henry Oxenden, deceased|
|21 Mar. 1722||SIR GEORGE OXENDEN||279|
|5 June 1725||OXENDEN re-elected after appointment to office||265|
|15 Aug. 1727||SIR GEORGE OXENDEN||391|
|23 Apr. 1734||SIR GEORGE OXENDEN|
|5 May 1741||SIR GEORGE OXENDEN||364|
|26 June 1747||SIR GEORGE OXENDEN|
The chief interests at Sandwich were those of the Administration, based on admiralty and customs patronage, and of the Oxendens, a neighbouring Whig family, who held one seat from 1713 to 1754. The other seat was usually filled by the secretary to the Admiralty.
In 1715 Sir Henry Oxenden and Thomas D’Aeth, another neighbouring Whig landowner, ousted the former Tory Member, John Michell, who continued to contest every election till his death. In 1722 they were succeeded by Josiah Burchett, secretary to the Admiralty, and Sir George Oxenden, a lord of the Treasury from 1725 to 1737, when he was dismissed for voting against the Government on the Prince of Wales’s allowance. In 1741 Oxenden, now in opposition, stood successfully with a friend, John Pratt, against Burchett and another ministerial candidate, Col. Henry Conyngham. Oxenden retained such influence over the local officials that the government manager at Sandwich wrote to Burchett, 16 Oct. 1740:
What the devil Sir George does to the officers ... in the service of the customs [I] cant tell but there is such an infatuation runs through the whole body of officers that unless the Colonel can make great alterations among them they will to a man vote for you and Sir George.1
Oxenden himself attributed his success to the neighbouring farmers:
Above 300 of them came in a body thrice to Sandwich and spent half a guinea a man ... against [Conyngham] and made as many votes among the brewers, shopkeepers and hogmen as entirely flung Burchett out.2
In 1747 Conyngham, on his own account, and the Duke of Bedford, as first lord of the Admiralty, each claimed a seat at Sandwich. Henry Pelham was unwilling to see a contest develop, since
this would come to a pitched battle, not only at Sandwich, but all over Kent also and the Prince of Wales’s name used as familiarly in our part of England as it has been for some time in Cornwall.
He therefore negotiated a compromise with Oxenden, who conceded one seat to the Administration on condition that this agreement should bind Pelham in future elections, which Pelham considered as ‘a very good bargain for the Court’.3 Dropping Conyngham, he left the choice of the ministerial candidate to Bedford, who nominated Clevland, secretary to the Admiralty.