Double Member County

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

Number of voters:

about 2,000


4 May 1754John Proby, Baron Carysfort 
 Coulson Fellowes 
30 Apr. 1757Carysfort re-elected after appointment to office 
28 Mar. 1761George Montagu, Visct. Mandeville 
 John Proby, Baron Carysfort 
5 June 1762Lord Charles Greville Montagu vice Mandeville, called to the Upper House 
1 Jan. 1763Carysfort re-elected after appointment to office 
28 Dec. 1765Robert Bernard vice Montagu, appointed to office 
1 Apr. 1768John Montagu, Visct. Hinchingbrooke855
 Peter Ludlow, Earl Ludlow804
 Sir Robert Bernard666
16 Feb. 1771Hinchingbrooke re-elected after appointment to office 
22 Oct. 1774Peter Ludlow, Earl Ludlow 
 John Montagu, Visct. Hinchingbrooke 
16 Sept. 1780Peter Ludlow, Earl Ludlow 
 John Montague, Visct. Hinchingbrooke 
4 May 1782Ludlow re-elected after appointment to office 
24 May 1783Hinchingrbooke re-elected after appointment to office 
7 Apr. 1784Peter Ludlow, Earl Ludlow 
 John Montagu, Visct. Hinchingbrooke 

Main Article

Kimbolton and Hinchingbrooke, two of the three great Huntingdonshire houses or estates whose owners in the reign of Elizabeth I had ‘for long determined the county elections’,1 retained that primacy after having passed into the hands of new owners, the Dukes of Manchester and the Earls of Sandwich, younger branches of the Montagus of Boughton; and it was not only the size of the estates or the rank of their owners that determined this primacy: an element of local tradition seemed to enter into it. There were other families in the county with considerable electoral influence: the Probys of Elton Hall who had represented it in 17th century Parliaments; the Bernards of Brampton; the family of Fellowes of Ramsey Abbey, who, though newcomers, had established a claim to be considered in county elections; etc. Nevertheless the Montagus, if united, had the choice of both representatives; and in all elections 1761-90 they acted together, but sometimes after a preliminary tussle with each other, and usually against a background of ill-will and suspicion.

In 1754 neither peer had a son of age to offer as candidate: Lord Mandeville was born in 1737, and Lord Hinchingbrooke in 1744. Manchester had not even a relative he could nominate, and Sandwich only a brother, William Montagu, with whom he was on indifferent terms, and a very unsatisfactory cousin, Edward Wortley Montagu jun. When in 1751 John Proby (in 1752 created Baron Carysfort [I]) became a candidate, Sandwich offered him a junction with William Montagu. In April 1753 Montagu declined to stand, and Coulson Fellowes and Carysfort became joint candidates. Was it pressure from Fellowes which made Sandwich drop his brother, or was it a quarrel with the brother that made him adopt Fellowes? Anyhow Manchester was without a candidate in 1754.

By 1761 Mandeville was of age, and his claim to a seat for the county had to be conceded. The choice of the second Member lay between Carysfort and Fellowes. When it appeared that Fellowes might join Mandeville under the Duke of Manchester’s aegis, Sandwich appealed to the Duke of Bedford, who advised a compromise; and under an agreement between Sandwich and Manchester ‘to a reciprocal nomination during the present Parliament’, Mandeville and Carysfort were returned unopposed in 1761; Lord Charles Greville Montagu replaced Mandeville in 1762 on the latter’s succession to the dukedom; and at the end of 1765, on Montagu’s vacating the seat, Sandwich accepted Manchester’s candidate Sir Robert Bernard.2

But at the county meeting at which Bernard was nominated (29 Nov. 1765), Sandwich declared that at the next general election his son Lord Hinchingbrooke would stand jointly with Carysfort.3 ‘It is not my turn to be idle on these occasions’, he had written to George Grenville on 17 Nov.; and he started a wide canvass of Huntingdonshire gentlemen. Manchester replied by announcing that his brother would stand together with Bernard.4 By November 1766 Manchester had quarrelled with Bernard, and Sandwich expected that he and Carysfort would now carry the election without a shilling expense.5 But Bernard persisted; and through Lord Ludlow Sandwich entered into negotiations with Manchester for a ‘political union’. On 26 Nov. the Duke wrote a formal letter to Sandwich stating that Bernard ‘is in no manner supported by me and that your Lordship is at liberty ... to make application to my friends’.6 Sandwich now engaged in a remarkable election campaign—‘I am so full of my Huntingdonshire business that I have not mixed with any serious politicians in the few days I have been in town’, he wrote to Bedford, 8 July 1767.7 He enlisted Newcastle’s strenuous support—‘you are the best of friends’, wrote Sandwich to him, 29 Sept.; ‘one of the best election agents I have’ (3 Nov.).8 He even secured the assistance of the Yorkes, so soon after the contest with them at Cambridge University. He insisted on Carysfort receiving a ‘full share’ of the interest. But things took a new turn when toward the end of November 1767 Carysfort, in serious financial difficulties, withdrew from the contest, and Ludlow, though a very recent newcomer in Huntingdonshire, became as Manchester’s nominee joint candidate with Hinchingbrooke. They carried the election, but by no very wide margin; and, though usually taking opposite sides in the House, were re-elected unopposed as joint candidates at the next four general elections.

There was, however, no cordiality between Sandwich and Manchester. ‘The Duke of Manchester, though an ally in the county, yet supports a separate interest of his own’, wrote Sandwich to John Robinson, 12 Oct. 1771, when insisting on all Government power in Huntingdonshire being in his own hands.9 And to Hinchingbrooke, 27 June 1775: ‘You must have observed in what passed at the time of your last election, that there was little cordiality towards us from the Duke of Manchester, and that nothing but our superiority of interest keeps him from acting against us.’10 On 24 Sept. 1780, eight days after the general election, Sandwich wrote to Lord Dartmouth: ‘There is no place in England where the parties are more at variance than in Huntingdonshire; we could not dine together on the election day, and the two Members could not agree to give a joint ball to the ladies.’11 (As Sandwich was trying once more to prevent ‘any favour of the Crown’ being given in Huntingdonshire ‘through the Duke of Manchester’s recommendation’, it suited him to stress the division as between Government and Opposition, and slur over that between him and Manchester.) And when in 1788 the 2nd Baron Carysfort started canvassing in preparation for the general election of 1790, he thought ‘of sounding Lord Hinchingbrooke, who hates Lord Ludlow, and will probably be glad of an excuse of joining Lord Carysfort’.12 But he did not: the union of the two branches of the Montagus was kept together by the expense of contested county elections.

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Neale, Eliz. House of Commons, 47.
  • 2. Sandwich to Grenville, 17 Nov. 1765, Grenville mss (JM).
  • 3. Sandwich to Wm. Fellowes, 7 Dec. 1765, Sandwich mss.
  • 4. Add. 35607, f. 159.
  • 5. Sandwich to Gower, Granville mss, PRO.
  • 6. Sandwich mss.
  • 7. Bedford mss 55, f. 144.
  • 8. Add. 32985, f. 270; 32986, f. 237.
  • 9. Abergavenny mss.
  • 10. Sandwich mss.
  • 11. HMC Dartmouth, iii 253.
  • 12. Ld. Buckingham to Wm. Pitt, 27 Sept. 1787, Chatham mss.