Available from Boydell and Brewer
Right of Election:
in the freemen
Number of voters:
about 500 in 1784, 71 in 1832
|26 July 1803||WILLIAM HANDCOCK|
|22 Aug. 1803||THOMAS JONES vice Handcock, vacated his seat|
|13 Nov. 1806||GEORGE TIERNEY|
|25 May 1807||HON. HENRY WELLESLEY|
|31 July 1807||JOHN FREWEN TURNER vice Wellesley, chose to sit for Eye|
|23 Oct. 1812||JOHN WILSON CROKER|
|30 June 1818||JOHN GORDON|
William Handcock, who had represented the borough on his family interest since 1783, became sole proprietor at the Union, after buying out Sir Richard Bligh St. George, 2nd Bt., whose family had returned the other Member previously and had opposed the Union.1 He requested sole patronage of Athlone from government in 1801, claiming that the corporation ‘belonged’ to him, and subsequently he referred to it as ‘exclusively mine’.2 In August 1803 he ceased to represent it himself and sold it to government, though in 1806, 1807 and 1812 he threatened to return himself to get a better bargain. Thus in 1806 the Grenville ministry had to fork out £5,000, £1,000 more than they had intended, when Handcock claimed that he had been offered that sum by Alexander Davison the jobbing contractor and that he was impatient for his money.3 In 1807 the Castle was kept on tenterhooks and Handcock claimed to have thwarted an opposition to the chief secretary’s brother, his nominee, by a ‘troublesome fellow’ named Hearne, ‘last winter confined in the Birmingham Tower’.4 The chief secretary reported a ‘trifling opposition’. In 1812 Handcock was indignant at the delay in granting him an Irish peerage but, on being reassured, returned Croker as a ‘free gift’.5 In 1815 the Castle was to some extent discouraged from substituting another friend for Croker at Athlone by the fear that they could not satisfy Handcock’s wishes for county honours to add to his peerage of Castlemaine; but they seem to have placated him by making him a governor of the county, by which time the reshuffle of seats was no longer necessary. This was as well, as the Castle was embarrassed by the English government’s insistence on nominating to any vacancy at Athlone at this juncture.6
Author: P. J. Jupp
- 1. PRO 30/9/13, pt. 2, Irish borough list.
- 2. Add. 35729, f. 71; Wellington mss, Handcock to Wellesley, 15 Mar. 1808.
- 3. HMC Fortescue, viii. 399, 409; NLS mss 12918, Elliot to Fremantle, 3, 8 Nov., replies 5, 10 Nov. 1806.
- 4. Wellington Supp. Despatches, v. 17, 18, 23, 28, 48-49, 64-65; Wellington mss, Handcock to Wellesley, 29 May 1807.
- 5. Add. 40280, ff. 35, 41, 48, 64, 82.
- 6. Add. 40288, ff. 27, 43, 46.