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:

over 100


(1801): 5,826


16 June 1790HENRY PENTON 
25 May 1796(SIR) RICHARD GAMON, Bt. 
 HENRY TEMPLE, Visct. Palmerston [I] 
5 July 1802(SIR) RICHARD GAMON, Bt. 
31 Oct. 1806(SIR) RICHARD GAMON, Bt. 
5 May 1807(SIR) RICHARD GAMON, Bt. 
 Henry Baring33
18 Mar. 1818 JAMES HENRY LEIGH vice Meyler, deceased 

Main Article

Since 1774 Winchester had been a close borough under the joint patronage of Henry Penton, whose father established his interest in 1747, and James Brydges, 3rd Duke of Chandos, who from 1784 returned his brother-in-law Richard Gamon. On Chandos’s death in 1789, his interest passed to his heiress Anne Elizabeth, suo jure Baroness Kinloss [S]. In 1796 Penton retired. His wish to do so had been known to the 3rd Duke of Portland, whose line he followed, and Portland solicited his seat, 28 Jan. 1796, for Viscount Palmerston, adding, ‘I offer him to your consideration as a person possessing every qualification except that of consanguinity which I expressed my wish to meet with in your representative for Winchester’. Penton concurred and Pitt gave his blessing to the arrangement, which shelved the question of peerage promotion for Palmerston. On 5 May, Palmerston recorded:

Mr Penton and Sir R. Gamon called a meeting and dinner of all the voters, at which Mr Penton declared his inability, on account of health, to attend Parliament, and proposed me in his place, which was accepted and all the voters, being separately applied to, promised. There are 36 resident voters, 27 or 28 were present, those who were absent were applied to and all but 4 promised.

On 25 May Palmerston and Gamon were returned unopposed without a hitch, sharing expenses of some £175.1

A month before, Lady Kinloss had married Richard Temple Nugent Grenville*, Earl Temple, who expected to nominate on her interest, which embraced 19 out of 30 resident freemen. It would appear, however, that Sir Richard Gamon made difficulties. On 2 Oct. 1797 the Morning Chronicle reported:

It is said that Sir Richard Gamon, Bart. has relinquished his borough interest at Winchester, in favour of the Honourable Mr [Charles] Fitzroy, younger brother of Lord Southampton; retires from Parliament, and that he is to be succeeded by that gentleman, as soon as a new writ can be issued for the purpose.

Temple proceeded to Avington to counter this,2 but when the corporation met in January 1798 to elect new freemen, he suffered a setback, though Gamon did not vacate his seat in favour of Fitzroy, his first wife’s half-nephew. Nor, in 1802, could Temple induce the corporation to abandon Gamon in favour of his own nominee. Gamon was then joined by Sir Henry Paulet St. John Mildmay who had, on Penton’s retirement, purchased his local estate and, with it, ‘the next nomination’. In January 1798, all but three of the 32 new freemen elected were his supporters, the majority of them non-resident in a corporation already over two-thirds non-resident.3 Following Palmerston’s death in April 1802, The Times reported, 12 May, ‘The vacant seat in Parliament for the borough of Winchester has been given by Sir Henry St. John Mildmay to Mr Pitt, for any friend that he should choose to recommend’. In the event Mildmay, then sitting for Westbury, nominated himself at the general election which supervened. In 1806 when he contested the county unsuccessfully, Earl Temple started a ‘sham opposition’ to him at Winchester, but Mildmay called his bluff and secured his return there. On acquiring a seat for the county in 1807 he substituted his eldest son, who became co-patron on his father’s death in 1808, and reinforced his freeman support.4

On Gamon’s retirement in 1812, the 2nd Marquess of Buckingham (as Temple now was) started the late Duke of Chandos’s great-nephew Chandos Leigh, who had just come of age, but found he had ‘scarce any hopes of success’. The marchioness wrote from Avington, 6 Oct.:

I have been most busy since I came here, wishing much to have Chandos Leigh returned for Winchester in the room of my uncle who declines, but unforeseen difficulties have arisen and I shall leave Winchester to its fate for the present.

Gamon had retired in the face of a contest, Mildmay encouraging his well-to-do friend, Richard Meyler, to stand with him and being challenged by Henry Baring*. Government had hopes of Meyler, having lost a supporter in Gamon, but George Rose warned them that, as Mildmay’s friend, they must not count on him. Henry Baring, on his defeat, blamed an ‘alien interest’, whereupon Mildmay, who boasted that he was supported by 79 out of 88 resident freemen retorted, 10 Oct:

It would be well who talk of a combination of alien interest, to recollect that themselves were unwearied in their attempts to procure the support of that interest, and in some instances succeeded and made use of it.

This presumably refers to the Chandos interest in so far as it was now in the Buckinghams’ hands. Mildmay also accused Baring of making use of the commercial patronage at his disposal.5

In March 1818 Meyler died. By then the Mildmay interest was at a low ebb and Charles Williams Wynn informed Buckingham, 6 Mar.:

Temple might certainly walk over for the remainder of this Parliament, and even previous to Meyler’s death. [Joseph] Phillimore* has been told that, related as he is to Mr Legge, and some other connections in that neighbourhood, he might be easily put in at a general election, if Sir Henry Mildmay persists in standing.

He subsequently added: ‘Indeed, I had before heard, from more quarters than one, that the corporation had determined to accede to any nomination of yours, with the view of keeping out Baring’.6 On 8 Mar. Buckingham had assured Williams Wynn:

The corporation of Winchester has offered the seat to Temple which he has refused on account of Bucks. politics, as his acceptance of Winchester would have ensured a contest for perhaps the loss of the county. He is therefore gone to communicate with them in person his grounds of refusal, and to endeavour to persuade them to return his cousin Chandos Leigh.

The sequel was as follows:

We have succeeded à merveille at Winchester, and Bunny [James Henry] Leigh is a reluctant, but a statesmanlike addition to my parliamentary force ... The sober citizens of Winchester took a great dislike to Chandos Leigh’s politics, verses, and amatory pursuits, and would not return a Member so musical, so democratic and so naughty. They have intimated to him that if he will cease writing verses, correct his revolutionary ideas, and keep only two mistresses at one time, they will at the dissolution elect him. Mrs Leigh finding Bunny irresolute, travelled half over England with one maid and one shift, caught the reluctant Bunny by the ear, locked him up in her writing desk, after making him write a letter to Vansittart for the Chiltern Hundreds, bore him off to Winchester after he had declared his irrevocable determination not to stand and produced him to the rejoicing citizens, an efficient Member and worthy representative of the Chandos interest.7

To his friend Fremantle, Buckingham wrote, 12 Mar., that Temple

managed so well that he has set the old interest on its legs again. Baring who had started, retires, and the Mildmays who were endeavouring to get both Members, were obliged to acquiesce in our election, to save one. Accordingly they take Jemmy Leigh now, and Chandos Leigh at the dissolution and with good care, the thing is now safe for ever. This is in every way very important to me. Temple has managed admirably and has gained the race by good riding.8

At the ensuing election Chandos Leigh did not replace his father, but Mildmay was replaced by his brother, without any contest. Henry Baring looked elsewhere for a seat.

Authors: Brian Murphy / R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Portland mss PwV110; B. Connell, Whig Peer, 332-4.
  • 2. Fremantle mss, Temple to Fremantle, n.d. [c. Oct. 1797].
  • 3. Hants Repository (1798), i. 117; The Times, 21 Apr.; Hants Telegraph, 26 Apr., 17 May, 12 July 1802.
  • 4. NLW, Coedymaen mss 20, Temple to Williams Wynn, Sunday [Oct. 1806]; Oldfield, Rep. Hist. iii. 499.
  • 5. NLW, Aston Hall mss 2504, 2569; Hants Telegraph, 5, 12 Oct.; Hants Courier, 12 Oct.; Lonsdale mss, Ward to Lonsdale, 9 Oct.; T.64/261, Rose to ?Arbuthnot, 8 Nov.; Salisbury Jnl. 19 Oct. 1812.
  • 6. Buckingham, Regency, ii. 237, 238.
  • 7. NLW, Coedymaen mss 20, Buckingham to Williams Wynn, Sunday, Fri. [Mar. 1818].
  • 8. Fremantle mss, box 55.