Dunwich

Borough

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 the freemen

Number of voters:

32 at most

Population:

(1801): 184

Elections

DateCandidate
18 June 1790BARNE BARNE
 JOSHUA VANNECK
1 Mar. 1791 MILES BARNE vice Barne, vacated his seat
25 May 1796(SIR) JOSHUA VANNECK, Bt.
 SNOWDON BARNE
5 July 1802(SIR) JOSHUA VANNECK, Bt. (1st Baron Huntingfield [I])
 SNOWDON BARNE
27 Jan. 1806 BARNE re-elected after appointment to office
31 Oct. 1806(SIR) JOSHUA VANNECK, Bt. (1st Baron Huntingfield [I])
 SNOWDON BARNE
5 May 1807(SIR) JOSHUA VANNECK, Bt. (1st Baron Huntingfield [I])
 SNOWDON BARNE
29 Jan. 1810 BARNE re-elected after appointment to office
6 Oct. 1812(SIR) JOSHUA VANNECK, Bt. (1st Baron Huntingfield [I])
 MICHAEL BARNE
7 Oct. 1816 JOSHUA VANNECK, 2nd Baron Huntingfield [I], vice Huntingfield, deceased
17 June 1818JOSHUA VANNECK, 2nd Baron Huntingfield [I]
 MICHAEL BARNE
20 Feb. 1819 WILLIAM ALEXANDER MACKINNON vice Huntingfield, vacated his seat

Main Article

This borough, reduced by coastal erosion to a small village, had been controlled jointly by the Barne and Vanneck families since 1764. By an agreement made then and renewed in 1803 they limited the number of freemen to 32, half to be resident. There was a nominal corporation of 12 and the two families supplied a bailiff each. They reinforced their predominance by joint purchase of local property. In this period Miles Barne and Joshua Vanneck (in turn a baronet and Irish peer) were the major proprietors, and Barne’s nominations of members of his family and Vanneck’s of himself went unquestioned, irrespective of political differences, until 1810.

By 1810, Barne Barne’s policy of building up and improving his brother’s interest, with Lord Huntingfield’s apparent acquiescence, but at the expense of the agreed privileges and perquisites of the resident freemen, had sparked off a rebellion. Although Snowdon Barne secured his re-election on appointment to office, he discovered that Capt. John Robinson, the disgruntled ringleader of the rebels, had entered into an engagement with Sir James Cockburn, who was at Saxmundham, ready to proceed to Dunwich. Robinson’s brother, Francis, a salaried agent of the patrons, was in the conspiracy, but repented on the eve of the election. He nevertheless stated the freemen’s grievances to Snowdon Barne, with a warning that they must expect opposition in future and that Vanneck shared this view. Barne set about conciliating the rebels and contrived to oust the Robinsons at the election of bailiffs in August 1810. He then served evictions on all his tenants, intending to frighten the rebels. They submitted, despite Francis Robinson’s protests, to tenure at will, at higher rents. Robinson was replaced as the Barnes’ agent by John Collet. He remained Huntingfield’s agent, but his importance was reduced.1

Although, in the summer of 1811, Snowdon Barne admitted that the family’s hold was ‘precarious’, his initiative prevented trouble in future; no attempt was made to keep up the complement of freemen and on 12 Feb. 1819 the 2nd Baron Huntingfield agreed to resign his seat and cede full control of the nominations to the Barne family in return for £600 p.a.2 The Barnes thereupon nominated a guest for the first time. The agreement remained in force until the borough was disfranchised in 1832.

Author: Winifred Stokes

Notes

  • 1. E. Suff. RO, Barne coll. 359/70, 109, 124.
  • 2. Ibid. 359/