Double Member Cinque Port

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:

less than 50


15 Apr. 1754James Pelham 
 Andrew Stone 
27 Mar. 1761James Brudenell 
 William Ashburnham 
16 Mar. 1768William Ashburnham 
 Samuel Martin 
10 Oct. 1774Henry Temple, Visct. Palmerston 
 Charles Jenkinson 
3 Nov. 1775Jenkinson re-elected after appointment to office 
17 Dec. 1777Palmerston re-elected after appointment to office 
22 Dec. 1778Jenkinson re-elected after appointment to office 
9 Sept. 1780Henry Temple, Visct. Palmerston 
 John Ord 
3 Apr. 1784John Dawes17
 John Stanley16
 Sir Godfrey Webster3
 Stephen Lushington3

Main Article

Hastings was a Treasury borough, managed for the Crown by the Duke of Newcastle, but by 1754 Newcastle had come to believe that it was his own. At the general election of 1761 he felt compelled to apologise to the corporation for not being able to recommend any of his own family, and in 1767 he described it as ‘a town which never was till now a Treasury borough, nor ever looked upon as such, and where I have chose the Members for upwards of three and fifty years’.1

Newcastle’s agent in the management of Hastings was Edward Milward, who had inherited the position from his father-in-law and been rewarded for his services with a post in the customs. His policy was to keep the electorate as low as possible. ‘I am not fond of numbers’, he wrote to H. V. Jones on 25 Feb. 1761, ‘for I have reduced ours from near 60 to 30 within eight years past.’2 After the 1763 creation of freemen the electorate numbered 42, of whom 16 held places under Government.3 In addition, the borough benefited collectively from Newcastle’s private benefactions.

So long as Newcastle held office everything went well. ‘The whole corporation will continue entirely at your Grace’s command’, Milward wrote to him on 16 Dec. 1760; but on 26 Mar. 1763, when Newcastle, now out of office, was striving to retain his loyalty: ‘It is not in my power to support an interest in this corporation against the Treasury and Government ... without a very great expense to myself and more than I am able to support.’4 He expressed his regret (probably quite sincerely) at Newcastle’s resignation, but took his orders from the new first lord of the Treasury. On 28 Apr. 1764 he sent Jenkinson an account of the mayoral feast at Hastings:5

We spent the evening very merrily in drinking his Majesty’s, Mr. Grenville’s, your own, and many other loyal healths, and the whole concluded in a cheerful, peaceable manner, and not only the corporate body but the inhabitants in general are extremely pleased and satisfied with the present measures.

At the general election of 1768 William Ashburnham and Samuel Martin were named by the Treasury for Hastings. ‘Your Grace is so well acquainted with the state of this corporation’, wrote Lord Ashburnham to Newcastle on 1 Oct. 1767, ‘that you will not be surprised when you hear that the Treasury may think they have some pretension to recommend one there also.’ He was obviously staking his own claim at Hastings. Newcastle did not object to Ashburnham, but tried to raise an opposition to the Treasury candidate. He wrote to Thomas Pelham on 5 Oct.:

There is, or at least there always was, a party willing and ready to oppose this false fellow Milward if called upon; whether that exists now or not I know not, but that is what I want you to find out for me.

‘I fear by what I have heard’, Pelham replied on 6 Oct., ‘you will find it impossible to do anything against Milward supported by the ministry.’ Newcastle, dissatisfied, made his own inquiries. Henry Sayer, a freeman presumably opposed to Milward, wrote to him on 5 Dec. ‘that five or six hundred pounds appropriated for entertainments and emergencies with about £3,500 more, properly applied, might carry both Members’. Newcastle’s illness at the beginning of 1768 prevented his interfering, but it is unlikely that he would have been successful.6

In 1774 and 1780 the Treasury named both Members without opposition, and nothing more was heard about Ashburnham’s claims to a seat. Robinson wrote in his survey for the general election of 1784: ‘The disfranchising bill has made great alterations ... yet it is hoped that this borough with great attention may as formerly be got to return two friends.’ There was a contest, the only one of this period at Hastings, but the Government candidates were easily successful.

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. Add. 32920, ff. 368-9; 32985, f. 92.
  • 2. Add. 32919, f. 281.
  • 3. Add. 33000, f. 289.
  • 4. Add. 32916, f. 133; 32947, f. 325.
  • 5. Add. 38202, f. 262.
  • 6. Add. 32985, ff. 316, 354, 368; 32986, ff. 161-2.

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