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Number of voters:
|2 May 1754||John Manners, Mq. of Granby|
|Philip Yorke, Visct. Royston|
|8 Apr. 1761||John Manners, Mq. of Granby|
|Philip Yorke, Visct. Royston|
|22 Mar. 1764||Sir John Hinde Cotton vice Royston, called to the Upper House|
|28 Mar. 1768||John Manners, Mq. of Granby|
|Sir John Hinde Cotton|
|22 Nov. 1770||Sir Sampson Gideon vice Granby, deceased|
|20 Oct. 1774||Sir John Hinde Cotton|
|Sir Sampson Gideon|
|14 Sept. 1780||Lord Robert Manners||1741|
|Sir Sampson Gideon||1038|
|20 June 1782||Sir Henry Peyton vice Manners, deceased|
|22 Apr. 1784||Philip Yorke|
|Sir Henry Peyton|
|19 May 1789||James Whorwood Adeane vice Peyton, deceased|
Cambridgeshire was dominated by the aristocratic families of Yorke and Manners. ‘I know of no county in England’, wrote the Bishop of Ely, ‘where there is so great a scarcity of gentlemen fit to represent a county as in Cambridgeshire.’1 The sitting Members at the dissolution in 1754 were Philip Yorke (subsequently Viscount Royston), and Soame Jenyns, a client of the Yorkes. But when Lord Granby, heir to the dukedom of Rutland, declared himself a candidate, Jenyns withdrew, and Yorke and Granby were returned unopposed, as also at the general election of 1761.
In 1764, when Royston succeeded his father as Earl of Hardwicke, no member of the Yorke family was willing to take the county seat. And so Hardwicke gave his interest to Sir John Hynde Cotton, whose father had represented Cambridgeshire 1722-1727, on the understanding that Cotton would stand down for one of the Yorkes at the next general election.2 But again in 1768 none of the Yorkes wanted Cambridgeshire. Similarly in 1770, when Granby died, there was no member of the Manners family available for the county seat. Hardwicke backed Sir Sampson Gideon, son of a wealthy Jewish stockbroker and a comparative newcomer in the county, who was opposed by Thomas Brand, supported by the Duke of Bedford. After both candidates had canvassed the county, Gideon bought Brand off for £1,000 and was returned unopposed.3
At the general election of 1780 both the Manners and Yorke families had a candidate. Gideon, though his property in the county could not compare with theirs and though he was not particularly popular, was unwilling to give up his seat without a struggle, and was not afraid of expense. The contest that followed was very expensive indeed: over £50,000 is said to have been spent by the three candidates. It was also a very confusing contest, with many cross loyalties. Manners stood as an Opposition candidate, and gained support from the reforming and dissenting elements. Yorke and Gideon were supported by the Administration, but Hardwicke was unwilling to give Gideon help for fear of losing the Rutland votes. Gideon declined at the end of the first day’s poll, over 400 votes behind Yorke and 700 behind Manners.
After 1780 Hardwicke and Rutland again asserted their supremacy in the county. When Manners died in 1782 he was replaced by Sir Henry Peyton, with the support of both families. Hardwicke and Rutland supported Pitt’s Administration and their candidates were undisturbed in 1784. Five years later, on the death of Peyton, they agreed to support Adeane, whom the Duke of Rutland was anxious to see removed from Cambridge borough.