Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Background Information

Right of Election:

in burgage holders1

Estimated number qualified to vote:

99 on 26 Oct. 18312


1,461 (1821); 1,496 (1831)3


23 May 1820THOMAS CREEVEY vice Tierney, chose to sit for Knaresborough
 JAMES MAITLAND, Visct. Maitland
 JAMES MAITLAND, Visct. Maitland
 JAMES MAITLAND, Visct. Maitland
24 May 1832CHARLES HENRY FOSTER BARHAM vice Tufton, called to the Upper House

Main Article

Appleby, Westmorland’s assize and county town, was a castellated pocket borough on the River Eden, in the parishes of St. Lawrence and St. Michael, 13 miles south-east of Penrith.4 Its Members were nominated by the largest property owners, the Tory lord lieutenant, William Lowther†, 1st earl of Lonsdale, and the Whig hereditary sheriff, Sackville Tufton, 9th earl of Thanet of Appleby Castle, under a reciprocal agreement negotiated in 1807, by which the burgage deeds had been conveyed to Sir James Graham† of Netherby (d. 1824) as guarantor for the Tories, and Thomas Wybergh of Isell (d. 1827) for the Whigs.5 The representation was influenced by the wider war of attrition waged against the Yellow Lowthers by the Westmorland, Carlisle and Cumberland Blues, whose candidate, the Whig lawyer Henry Brougham*, was defeated by Lonsdale’s sons in the Westmorland elections of 1818, 1820 and 1826.6 The corporation of 12 aldermen and 16 capital burgesses in whom government of the borough was vested was strictly partisan and the freeman body, which elected them, dwindled from 180 in 1708 to 99 at the October 1831 head court.7

To distract the Lowthers from the Westmorland contest, Thanet encouraged a second Blue to contest Cumberland with their Member Lord Morpeth† at the general election of 1820 and returned the Whig leader George Tierney, Member for Knaresborough, in absentia, as a precaution lest Morpeth should himself require that seat. Lonsdale’s choice Adolphus Dalrymple, first elected in 1819, was the son-in-law of the Yellow Member for Carlisle, Sir James Graham of Kirkstall. He was a stalwart of the 1818 and 1820 Westmorland election committees of Lord Lowther*, who sponsored him, with the Tory Graham of Netherby seconding, and he curried support for the Yellows in the two counties in his election speech.8 Morpeth, who blamed Brougham and Thanet for his defeat, turned down Appleby for himself or Tierney, and Thanet accommodated one of the Whig ‘Mountain’, Thomas Creevey, so quashing reports that he would return a leading local Blue, William Crackanthope of Newbiggin Hall.9 The illuminations of 14 Nov. 1820, which marked the abandonment of proceedings against Queen Caroline, were perceived as an anti-Lowther act.10

The 1823 Appleby Enclosure Act affected the townships of Hoff and Hoff Row in the manor of Drybeck and Hoff Row and Netherhoff in the parish of Appleby St. Lawrence, while a bill enacted in 1824 improved the road to the turnpike at Shap.11 The Commons received petitions from the inhabitants and the chapels for a complete termination of colonial slavery, 25 June 1823, 15 Mar., 2 Apr. 1824, 17 Feb. 1826; and from the mayor, aldermen and common council against Catholic relief, 25 Apr. 1825.12 Thanet’s death and the succession of his brother Charles Tufton† in January 1825 heralded a flurry of speculation and partisan negotiations, for the 10th earl was thought to have a ‘Tory leaning’ and ‘saving disposition’, and considered ‘too quiet and inoffensive a man to put himself in the prominent position’ of the 9th.13 There were doubts also concerning the legal obligations of Thanet and the Whig Sir James Graham* of Netherby (d. 1861) as successors to the 1807 signatories, a copy of whose agreement was secretly forwarded to Brougham’s brother James Brougham* by the Appleby Castle agent John Heelis.14 With a general election in prospect, Thanet signalled his support for the Whigs in negotiations with the Blues and the Lowthers in July and September 1825, for which Lord Kensington† was arbitrator, but he ‘would not consent to make his single seat for Appleby subservient to the general interest of ... party’.15 Graham meanwhile obliged Lonsdale by waiving his Appleby interest and the Yellows, in return, did not oppose his election for Carlisle in 1826 or Cumberland in 1829.16 Factious litigation over land and charity bequests, which left the corporation £700 in debt, created partisan diversions in Appleby before the general election of 1826.17 Annoyed at manoeuvring by his brother-in-law Joseph Foster Barham* and Kensington on behalf of their sons and at Brougham’s scheming to bring in James, Thanet eschewed party pressure and returned his brother Henry, a confirmed Whig, who since retiring as Member for Rochester in 1802 had lived mainly in France.18 According to Lord Grey’s brother-in-law Edward Ellice*, who was left without a seat following his 1826 defeat at Coventry, Thanet was prepared to return a Whig at £3,500 a Parliament, with no concessions.19 Lonsdale had meanwhile effected an exchange with the lapsed Whig patron of Haddington Burghs, Lord Lauderdale, and returned his heir Viscount Maitland, in what the Whig newspapers optimistically proclaimed was a ‘round-about way’ of accommodating his second son Henry in the event of his defeat in Westmorland.20

Both Houses received a petition against Catholic emancipation from the inhabitants, 19 Mar. 1829, and they also petitioned the Commons for abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 29 Apr. 1830.21 An accommodation with Lord Radnor, involving Downton, safeguarded a new agreement negotiated between the Broughams, Thanet and Lonsdale to ‘preserve the peace of the northern counties’ at the general election of 1830, when it was jeopardized by Lonsdale’s refusal to seat James Brougham for Appleby or Cockermouth.22 The representation remained unchanged, but Thanet neglected to inform Heelis and the undersheriff Thomas Briggs, who managed the election, of his intentions until shortly before the nomination.23 Afterwards, the Wesleyan Methodists, Quakers and Baptists contributed to the 1830-1 petitioning campaign for the abolition of colonial slavery.24

Appleby’s disfranchisement ‘on account of its small population of 824’ was predicted with glee in the Whig press before its schedule A designation was announced in the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 1 Mar. 1831, and over the next 14 months it featured regularly in political cartoons depicting the boroughmongers’ demise.25 Tufton voted for and Maitland against it, and both were returned at the general election precipitated by its defeat, 19 Apr. 1831, which Tufton’s seconder George Hall lauded as Appleby’s last. Henry Lowther* deputized for Maitland, whose proposers Thomas Lewis of Croft End and the Rev. John Robinson of Clifton promised that he would do all he could to prevent disfranchisement. Two hostile petitions were now instigated: one, backed by the mayor and corporation, including Tufton’s proposer the Rev. William Thompson, based its case for transferring Appleby to schedule B on the enumeration of 2,616 inhabitants for the combined parishes of St. Lawrence and St. Michael in 1821; the other, signed by 48 burgesses and inhabitants, cited errors made by the 1821 census enumerators and called for the borough to be ‘struck off’ the disfranchisement list and ‘suffer no diminution whatsoever’.26 Appleby’s schedule A designation was unchanged in the reintroduced reform bill. Maitland presented the petition for its transfer to schedule B, 22 June, and on 11 July 1831 opposition resolved to test their strength on the 14th ‘on the question of hearing the Appleby petitioners by their counsel’.27 Its mover Maitland had Peel, Charles Williams Wynn and the ‘full force’ of the anti-reformers behind him, but it was defeated by 284-187. Reformers sympathetic to Appleby’s case included the Westmorland-born London Member, Alderman William Thompson, who was taken to task by the livery over his minority vote.28 Before its disfranchisement was carried by the relatively narrow majority of 302-228, 19 July, the anti-reformers, briefed by the mayor and Lonsdale’s agents, launched further tirades supporting their claims that Appleby’s treatment derived from ministerial misinterpretations of its boundaries, its local jurisdiction, population and wealth, and he alleged that it had been ‘victimised as a Tory borough’ of the Lowthers.29 Brandishing separate tax returns for its parishes of St. Lawrence and St. Michael which were situated on opposite banks of the River Eden, Croker disputed Appleby’s 53rd place ranking in the revised reform bill’s disfranchisement list, and contended that it was erroneously based on returns of 210 £10 houses and a £476 tax assessment for St. Lawrence’s alone, 20 Jan. 1832. A 95-signature petition was presented that day ‘confidently submitting, that by the substitution of the correct number of houses and amount of assessed taxes’ (309 and £525) Appleby would qualify to return one Member.30 Reclassification was refused on the ground that the new totals could not be justified ‘without going beyond the limits of the borough’, on which ‘much contradictory evidence and material difference of opinion’ existed, 20 Feb.; and its referral to a select committee was rejected (by 256-143) on the 21st, when the anti-reformers’ arguments based on a survey of 1741 showing 305 qualifying houses scattered on both banks of the river were refuted by Lord John Russell, who wrongly stated that all the burgage houses had been included in the original returns as the boundary stones did not encompass part of Bongate.31 The boundary commissioners’ reported that month explained:

The burgage tenements are scattered about the town, but their positions are well and generally known to the inhabitants and an old map is in existence on which they are laid down ... The straight lines joining the points at which these landmarks are situated include all the burgage tenements as well as the whole town.32

Tufton, who succeeded as 11th earl, 20 Apr. 1832, chose his nephew Charles Barham as his replacement.33 Three days before his election, 21 May, a petition for transfer to schedule B was presented to the Lords, complaining that Appleby had been wrongly placed in schedule A and pleading its county town status. It failed to prevent disfranchisement, but provoked serious discussion among the Whig hierarchy about their prospects of returning Members to the post-reform Parliament should Appleby be spared. Heelis and Briggs, who, as requested, submitted findings to them based on local records, taxation lists and the county pollbooks of 1826, included three boundary options for the ‘new’ borough constituency in their calculations: the existing boundary; a five-mile extension; and incorporation of all ten townships in the parishes of St. Lawrence and St. Michael. They cautioned against making any concession and confirmed the likely advantage to the Conservatives in the county and predicted that a preponderance of female-headed houses might also enable them to take the existing borough, where Thanet had 28 £10 houses to Lonsdale’s 24. Only a five-mile extension to the boundary and the enfranchisement of every farmer with a house and land rated at £10 would improve the Whigs’ prospects, and the election of an independent Member uninfluenced by Lonsdale or Thanet was ‘impossible’.34 Appleby was subsumed into the county constituency, of which it was the principal polling town under the 1832 Reform Act.

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. That is ‘confined to persons who are in possession of burgage tenements, the whole of which are the property of the earl of Lonsdale and the earl of Thanet’ (PP (1831-2), xxxvi. 222, 493).
  • 2. Ibid. 493
  • 3. Ibid. 190. Including that part of St. Michael’s parish (Bongate) which was within the borough: 637 (1821); 645 (1831).
  • 4. Parl. Gazetteer of England and Wales (1844), i. 48-50.
  • 5. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 408-10; Brougham mss, J. Heelis the elder to J. Brougham, 26 May 1825.
  • 6. W.A. Hay, The Whig Revival, 1808-1830, pp. 67-88, 112, 13, 132.
  • 7. C.M.L. Bouch, ‘Local Government in Appleby’, Trans. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), li (1951), 167-9; PP (1831-2), xxxvi. 493.
  • 8. Westmld. Gazette, 18 Mar. 1820; Brougham mss, Heelis to J. Brougham, 26 May 1825.
  • 9. Add. 51571, Thanet to Holland, 18, 27 Mar.; 51586, Tierney to Lady Holland [12 Apr. 1820]; NLS mss 5319, f. 195; Northumb. RO, Middleton mss ZM1/S76/29/27.
  • 10. Westmld. Gazette, 18 Nov.; Westmld. Advertiser, 25 Nov. 1820.
  • 11. CJ, lxxviii. 47; lxxix. 212, 233; LJ, lv. 681, 706, lvi. 128.
  • 12. CJ, lxxviii. 424; lxxix, 161, 242; lxxx, 377; lxxxi. 196.
  • 13. Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 7 Feb., 31 Mar., another to same, 7 Feb. 1825.
  • 14. Brougham mss, Heelis to J. Brougham, 26 May 1825.
  • 15. Ibid. Graham to Brougham, 25 July; Lonsdale mss, Lonsdale to Lowther, 16, 24 Sept., 18 Oct. 1825.
  • 16. J.T. Ward, Sir James Graham, 43.
  • 17. PP (1835), xxv. 20.
  • 18. Creevey mss, Creevey to Miss Ord, 6 Sept. 1825, 20 Apr. 1826.
  • 19. Grey mss, Ellice to Grey, 27 Sept. 1826.
  • 20. The Times, 15 June; Westmld. Advertiser, 17 June 1826.
  • 21. CJ, lxxxiv. 151; lxxxv. 347; LJ, lxi. 226.
  • 22. Lonsdale mss, bdle. on 1830 election; Wilts. RO, Radnor mss 490/1374; Westmld. Gazette, 7 Aug. 1830.
  • 23. Brougham mss, Heelis to J. Brougham, 29 July 1830.
  • 24. CJ, lxxxvi. 52, 169, 453; LJ, lxiii. 72.
  • 25. Westmld. Advertiser, 29 Jan. 1831; M.D. George, Cat. of Pol. and Personal Satires, xi. 16610, 16650, 16676, 16677, 16690, 16741, 17131.
  • 26. Westmld. Advertiser, 7 May 1831; PP (1831), xxxvi. 1-3.
  • 27. CJ, lxxxvi. 534, Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 11 July 1831.
  • 28. M. Brock, Great Reform Act, 214; CJ, lxxxvi. 646; The Times, 13-15 July; Westmld. Gazette, 16 July; Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 22 July 1831.
  • 29. CJ, lxxxvi. 674; The Times, 22 July 1831.
  • 30. CJ, lxxxvi. 841, 870; lxxxvii. 41; PP (1831-2), xxxvi. 261.
  • 31. PP (1831-2), xxxvi. 190, 222; CJ, lxxxvii. 41, 127, 133; The Times, 22 Feb.; Westmld. Gazette, 25 Feb. 1832.
  • 32. PP (1831-2), xxxvi. 222.
  • 33. Westmld. Advertiser, 28 Apr., 19, 26 May 1832; CJ, lxxxvii. 315.
  • 34. LJ, lxiv. 114, 221, 255; Brougham mss, Heelis to J. Brougham, 28, 29 May 1832.