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


18 Apr. 1754Sir William Middleton 
 Sir Henry Grey 
20 Dec. 1757George Shafto Delaval vice Middleton, deceased 
9 Apr. 1761Sir Henry Grey 
 George Shafto Delaval 
31 Mar. 1768George Shafto Delaval 
 Sir Edward Blackett 
13 Oct. 1774Lord Algernon Percy1235
 Sir William Middleton1099
 Sir John Hussey Delaval1083
 William Fenwick762
18 Sept. 1780Lord Algernon Percy 
 Sir William Middleton 
15 Apr. 1784Lord Algernon Percy 
 Sir William Middleton 
6 July 1786Charles Grey vice Percy, called to the Upper House 

Main Article

In 1754 the Whig-Tory antagonism in Northumberland politics was beginning to break down. ‘The Whig interest ... is now established for ever in this county’, wrote the Earl of Northumberland to Newcastle on 5 July 1753.1 ‘Sir William Middleton and Sir Harry Grey were this day unanimously declared joint candidates by the greatest number of gentlemen that ever appeared at any meeting for this county.’ They were returned unopposed, and subsequent elections until 1774 were not contested.

Electorally Northumberland was a small county, and it contained a high proportion of Dissenters. Throughout this period one of the Members was always recommended by the Earl of Northumberland (created Duke in 1766), while the other was the choice of the country gentlemen. In 1774 this compact was broken, when the Duke attempted to recommend two candidates: his son, Lord Algernon Percy (then absent on the continent), and Sir John Hussey Delaval, of a family closely connected with the Percies. Sir William Middleton, a leading Presbyterian, and William Fenwick, stood as joint candidates, supported by the Newcastle radicals and the Dissenters. Political issues do not appear to have entered much into the contest. Middleton and Fenwick declared that they stood solely in order to prevent the Duke from forcing two Members upon the county, while Delaval’s election address stressed his independency and disinterestedness. The result of the election showed that the compact between the Duke and the country gentlemen was generally acceptable, and it was not again challenged during this period.

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. Add. 32732, ff. 174-5.