Launceston (Dunheved)

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:

less than 30


19 Apr. 1754Sir George Lee 
 Humphry Morice 
19 May 1757Morice re-elected after appointment to office 
30 Dec. 1758Sir John St. Aubyn vice Lee, deceased15
 Peter Burrell14
 Burrell vice St. Aubyn, on petition, 21 Feb. 1759 
31 Mar. 1761Humphry Morice 
 Peter Burrell 
3 Jan. 1763Morice re-elected after appointment to office 
18 Mar. 1768Humphry Morice 
 William Amherst 
10 Oct. 1774Humphry Morice17
 John Buller12
 Richard Bull8
 John Arscott1
8 Sept. 1780James Cecil, Visct. Cranborne 
 Thomas Bowlby 
28 Nov. 1780Charles George Perceval vice Cranborne, called to the Upper House 
31 Jan. 1783Sir John Jervis vice Bowlby, vacated his seat 
3 Jan. 1784Perceval re-elected after appointment to office 
5 Apr. 1784Charles George Perceval 
 George Rose 
18 June 1788Sir John Edward Swinburne vice Rose, appointed to office 

Main Article

Thomas Jones, Lord Edgcumbe’s agent, wrote about Launceston in 1760:1

Mr. Morice’s interest seems at present the prevailing one in the borough for both Members. Sir John St. Aubyn hath many friends in the town but in appearance he declines being further concerned. The Duke of Bedford hath also some friends there. A junction of those gentlemen might give Mr. Morice’s interest a great shock, if not entirely overturn it.

Morice had inherited the parliamentary interest at Launceston from his cousin Sir William Morice, M.P. for Launceston from 1734 till his death in January 1750.

At the general election of 1754 the Duke of Bedford challenged Morice’s interest at the adjacent borough of Newport, but did not interfere at Launceston. In October 1758 Lord Tylney, a relative of Bedford, approached Morice about a seat in Parliament; and Morice asked in return that Tylney would try to dissuade Bedford from giving him any further opposition at Newport or Launceston.2 ‘I did venture to tell him’, wrote Tylney, ‘I wondered he would not make a compromise. His answer was: “That is really not in my power if it was ever so much my inclination, I should lose my interest entirely by doing so.”’ Bedford’s unpopularity may have been due to the methods of his agent, John Butcher, thus described by Samuel Martin to Henry Pelham in a report on Camelford, 8 Oct. 1753:3 ‘I found by many concurrent accounts that Mr. Butcher hath laid it down as one rule to promise whatever shall be asked of