Double Member Borough

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the resident freemen

Number of voters:

below 40


16 Apr. 1754Sir Jacob Garrard Downing
 Soame Jenyns
1 Jan. 1756Jenyns re-elected after appointment to office
2 Dec. 1758Alexander Forrester vice Jenyns, vacated his seat
27 Mar. 1761Henry Fox
 Eliab Harvey
30 Nov. 1762Fox re-elected after appointment to office
29 Apr. 1763Sir Jacob Garrard Downing vice Fox, called to the Upper House
18 Feb. 1764Miles Barne vice Downing, deceased
16 Mar. 1768Gerard William Vanneck
 Miles Barne
8 Oct. 1774Gerard William Vanneck
 Miles Barne
10 Dec. 1777Barne Barne vice Miles Barne, vacated his seat
8 Sept. 1780Sir Gerard William Vanneck
 Barne Barne
31 Mar. 1784Sir Gerard William Vanneck
 Barne Barne

Main Article

In 1754 Dunwich was a pocket borough of Sir Jacob Garrard Downing. The number of freemen was restricted and Downing allowed them to live rent-free, but before taking up their freedom compelled them to sign a bond as a guarantee of loyalty. Elections were uncontested and the candidates did not bother to make an appearance.

On Downing’s death in 1764 his widow hoped to maintain control over the borough. But the freemen offered the seat to Miles Barne, and Barne came to an agreement with Sir Joshua Vanneck that the two families should be joint patrons of the borough. Lady Downing did not yield without a struggle. She issued writs against all thirteen freemen, and the payment of their debts and the legal expenses devolved upon the new patrons. They decided to limit the number of resident freemen to sixteen, eight chosen by Vanneck and eight by Barne, and to have sixteen non-resident freemen. They built a house at Dunwich, where each patron lived for a few weeks each year, keeping open house for the freemen; and there seems to have been no opposition to their joint interest during the remainder of this period.1

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. On Dunwich see: Town recs. in custody of Dunwich Town Trust; letter bk. of Henry Negus, attorney for Vanneck, in possession of Hon. Andrew Vanneck; ‘Memorandum respecting the borough of Dunwich’, Barne mss., East Suff. RO; mss. of Hon. Mrs. Peel, Barton Hall, Norf.