Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in inhabitants paying scot and lot

Number of voters:

over 300


(1801): 1,855


18 June 1790SIR GEORGE THOMAS, Bt. 
11 Feb. 1795 SIR THOMAS GASCOIGNE, Bt., vice Howard, vacated his seat 
25 May 1796SIR GEORGE THOMAS, Bt. 
29 July 1797 NISBET BALFOUR vice Thomas, vacated his seat 
5 July 1802THOMAS HOWARD, Visct. Andover 
27 Jan. 1807 CHARLES JAMES FITZGERALD, Baron Lecale [I], vice Wilder, chose to sit for Horsham 
 Thomas Hamilton, Lord Binning110
21 Dec. 1812 SIR SAMUEL ROMILLY vice Howard Molyneux, chose to sit for Gloucester 
8 Oct. 1819 ROBERT BLAKE vice Piggott, deceased195
 Arthur Atherley48

Main Article

Arundel remained an open borough, although there was no contest until 1812. Sir George Thomas, returned with the Whig 11th Duke of Norfolk’s cousin in 1790, informed Pitt in 1795:

The personal interest of the Duke of Norfolk, and the property his Grace has in the neighbourhood, ensure him the return of one Member. It is equally certain, that my personal connexions, and my adjoining property, ensure me being returned as the other. The compliment was always offered by the electors to my grandfather and father, though they both declined it; and the moment I expressed a wish to be in Parliament, it was offered to me. Whenever I decline it, the Duke of Norfolk will be able to introduce two Members.1

When Thomas retired in 1797, he offered the nomination to Pitt. Although a Mr Walker was a candidate in 1801 and Jonathan Raine* intended to stand against John Atkins in 1802, neither went to a poll. In 1806, with his friends in power, the duke, who had added to his property in the borough and erected a magnificent inn, secured both nominations. Charles Long* was reported to be looking out for a candidate to oppose him, but none materialized.2 In January 1809, when there was a report that Gen. Wilder was about to vacate his seat, William Huskisson*, residing at Eartham, warned the duke privately that it was his intention to introduce a candidate of his own. Wilder did not vacate. On 18 Aug. 1811 Huskisson wrote cryptically to his friend Lord Binning, ‘My head fisherman is very shy at Arundel. I suspect the great Leviathan has swallowed some of the small fry, which he expected would come into his net.’ (Binning subsequently styled Huskisson’s supporters the mullets.3)

Before the election of 1812, the Whigs feared that if Huskisson himself stood he would gain a seat from the duke, but Huskisson had other fish to fry and proposed putting up Binning at Arundel. Binning was not enthusiastic as Arundel was his second choice, and was prepared to give way to Huskisson, but in the end he stood. William Holmes, Huskisson’s local agent, reported, 29 Sept. 1812, that of 330 votes, 135 were pledged to support Huskisson’s nominee, 165 were hostile and 30 undecided. At this point, Sir Arthur Piggott arrived, announced that Wilder would not be standing and paid compliments to Binning. In short, it seemed that the duke was prepared to compromise. Holmes, who found that he could win over only four of the 30 doubtful voters, welcomed such an outcome. But it was not to be: the duke’s steward canvassed on behalf of both Piggott and Wilder, who was in Scotland. On 2 Oct. Holmes informed Huskisson, ‘The Duke of Norfolk is most violently angry at the handbills which his party has put about, and Sir Arthur Piggott has in consequence declined to stand’. The duke substituted his cousin (the Member of 1790) for Piggott, though only as a seat-warmer for Sir Samuel Romilly*. There were still hopes for Binning until the day of election, when Wilder arrived unexpectedly from Scotland and, standing on his own bottom, defeated Binning. As the duke’s cousin was again returned for Gloucester, Holmes suggested to Huskisson a bid to gain the vacant seat, but Romilly stepped into it unopposed.4

Following the death of the 11th Duke in 1815, his successor felt unable to accommodate Romilly in 1818, when Wilder retired, preferring to provide for his brother and return Piggott, who in vain offered to make way for Romilly.5 On Piggott’s death in 1819, the duke’s intention was to return Lord Bury, but he washed his hands of Arundel when an independent caucus invited Robert Blake, a neighbouring gentleman, to stand. His successful canvass forced Bury to retire. Arthur Atherley*, then resident at Tower House, Arundel, put up an unsuccessful fight for the Whigs instead. The duke’s apathy was reported to be due to the fact that his son, Lord Surrey, was a convert to ministerial politics and ‘he does not think it worth his while to be at any trouble or expense to keep up a parliamentary interest which at his death will go directly to the Tories’.6

Author: M. H. Port


  • 1. PRO 30/8/183, f. 30.
  • 2. Ibid. f. 36; The Times, 11 July 1801, 25 June; Suss. Weekly Advertiser, 28 June 1802; Oldfield, Rep. Hist. v. 26; Add. 42773, f. 189.
  • 3. Arundel Castle mss, Huskisson to Norfolk, 25 Jan. 1809; Haddington mss; Add. 38739, ff. 10, 11.
  • 4. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 3 Oct. 1812; Add. 38739, ff. 52, 56, 58, 60, 63, 65, 66, 76, 80; Arundel Election Handbills 1812, BL 8139. k. 11; Romilly, Mems. iii. 72.
  • 5. Morning Chron. 12 June 1818; Romilly, iii. 355.
  • 6. Grey mss, Lambton to Grey, 4 Oct., Tierney to Grey, 7 Oct. 1819; W. D. Cooper, Parl. Hist. Suss. 8.