Available from Cambridge University Press
Estimated number qualified to vote:
|14 Mar. 1820||JOHN FLEMING II|
|GEORGE PUREFOY JERVOISE|
|16 June 1826||JOHN FLEMING II|
|SIR WILLIAM HEATHCOTE, bt.|
|6 Aug. 1830||JOHN FLEMING II||7|
|SIR WILLIAM HEATHCOTE, bt.||4|
|Henry John George Herbert, Lord Porchester||1|
|6 May 1831||SIR JAMES MACDONALD, bt.|
|CHARLES SHAW LEFEVRE|
|22 June 1832||SIR THOMAS BARING, bt. vice Macdonald, appointed to office|
Hampshire retained its predominantly rural and agrarian character during this period. Between 1821 and 1831 its population rose by 14 per cent, but the proportion living in the main urban centres of Portsmouth, Southampton and Winchester, the county town and venue for the elections, remained virtually constant at just under a quarter.1 Politically, it was notable among counties for the presence of a government interest which, according to the reformer Oldfield, was ‘so great as to supersede aristocracy itself’. In part, this influence derived from the numerous crown tenants and holders of sinecure offices in the New Forest, the employees of the customs and excise at Southampton, Lymington, Christchurch and Newport, and from those dependent for their livelihoods on the forts at Sandown, Yarmouth, Cowes and Carisbrooke. However, the greatest concentration of freeholders susceptible to ministerial control were employees of the dockyard at Portsmouth, whose votes had proved decisive in the success of the Grenville ministry’s candidates in 1806.2 When contemplating whether to offer for the county prior to the 1820 general election, John Fleming of Stoneham was advised that Portsmouth and its satellites of Portsea and Gosport could ‘carry the county’. Of the 2,000 freeholders (one third of the electorate) living at Portsea, he noted that 700 were dockyard employees and ‘the majority of the others ... inclined to back the strong side’.3 Speaking at a Portsmouth dinner later that year John Carter, its Whig Member, observed:
It had long been held as a common sentiment by every set of ministers that had successively governed the nation, that the influence of government in these towns would at all times ensure a majority in the county. It was, in fact, a common phrase in the county ‘that the minister must have his man’.4
While the government remained Tory, its interest was buttressed by the Hampshire County Club and the Hampshire Pitt Club. Prominent in both were Sir John Walter Pollen of Redenham, Member for Andover, 1820-31, Abel Rous Dottin of Bugle Hall, Member for Southampton, 1826-31, and Sir George Henry Rose, Member for Christchurch throughout the period and the son of George Rose†, the late Pittite election manager.5 With the demise of the county Whig Club after 1790, no equivalent organization existed on the opposition side. An Independent Club was proposed in March 1824 by Cornwaithe John Hector, a former steward turned antagonist of the Jolliffe family, patrons of Petersfield, but no more was heard of the notion until the emergence of a Reform Club in 1829.6 Its stalwarts included Henry Marsh of Marsh Place, Berkshire, who in 1830 commented that the county was still regarded as ‘little better than an appendage to the treasury, and classed among rotten boroughs’.7 Yet the government interest did not have everything its own way in this period.
At the 1820 general election the sitting Members retired. On 10 Feb. Fleming came forward, professing independent support for the Liverpool ministry and a willingness to countenance measures of reform. Although it appears that he neither sought nor received a formal endorsement from the ministry, he enjoyed the good wishes of the 3rd Viscount Palmerston* of Broadlands, the war secretary, and Lord FitzHarris* and his father the 1st earl of Malmesbury, the most senior government supporter in the county and its lord lieutenant.8 Their first choice as a second candidate was Pollen, but he rejected their approaches on the grounds of an inadequate fortune and the probability of an easy return for Andover.9 Sir Charles Hulse of Breamore, near Fordingbridge, was solicited to stand, though Palmerston thought him unlikely to give up his secure seat at West Looe.10 Hulse not only declined, but offered his support to Sir Thomas Baring of Stratton Park, Whig Member for Chipping Wycombe, on account of the ‘debt of gratitude which I think the county owe to your personal services’.11 Another possibility on the opposition side was Baring’s brother Alexander, of the Grange, near Alresford, Member for Taunton. George Tierney, the Whig leader in the Commons, informed Lord Grey, 22 Feb., that there was ‘a strong disposition’ in his favour and that ‘by what he wrote to me yesterday I shall not be surprised if he stands’.12 In the event, however, both Barings declined to abandon their existing constituencies, and Malmesbury correctly predicted that their brother Henry Baring* of Somerley, Southampton, but resident in Paris, would not offer either.13 Instead, with the endorsement of Alexander Baring, George Purefoy Jervoise of Herriard, Whig Member for Salisbury from 1812-18, came forward, citing the past service of his family as county Members and his votes against the property tax and the corn bill. Although he declared himself free from party ties, Tierney counted him as an adherent, telling Grey, 27 Feb., ‘Jervoise will carry Hampshire, and Baring might have done so’, but for his disinclination ‘to run into the unknown expense of a contested election’.14 Malmesbury considered him ‘a poor person to represent us’, yet preferable to the parvenu Barings, but FitzHarris protested that even Admiral Sir Charles Ogle of Worthy, near Winchester, who was evidently not to be taken seriously as a politician, would be better than the ‘radical’ Jervoise.15 In response to pressure from the ministerialist cabal, Henry Combe Compton of Minstead Manor House, near Lyndhurst, the outgoing sheriff, issued an address on 28 Feb.16 Edward Knight of Chawton, near Alton, the brother of Jane Austen, had also started, but immediately withdrew in his favour, having failed to attract significant support.17 Compton had the endorsement of the two largest county landowners, the 2nd Baron Bolton of Hackwood Park and the 3rd earl of Portsmouth of Hurstbourne, as well as the 3rd Earl Calthorpe, ‘Sir William Pole’ (presumably the banker Sir Peter Pole* of Wolverton), ‘Mildmay’ (probably Sir Henry St. John Mildmay, the county Member, 1807-8, or possibly his Whiggish brother Paulet St. John Mildmay, Member for Winchester since 1818), and the retiring Members.18 Malmesbury concurred with FitzHarris that Compton was ‘a very suitable person’, though the latter warned Palmerston that ‘the northern part of the county will not hear of two South Hants men, and those near neighbours’.19 Furthermore, the 7th earl of Cavan, whose interest derived from his governorship of Calshot Castle, reckoned that Compton’s chances had been damaged by his procrastination and his refusal to be put to expense.20 Fleming and Jervoise concentrated their initial canvass on Portsmouth and its satellites, with favourable results reported, though Jervoise was obliged to suspend his personal campaigning owing to the illness of his wife.21 Compton insisted to Palmerston that his canvass of the same place had been ‘as successful as any man could wish’, 6 Mar., and claimed that he was ‘doing well’ at Southampton and Fareham, that at Havant he would ‘divide the votes with Jervoise’ and ‘at Emsworth with Fleming’, and that he had secured the promises of four-fifths of the freeholders in the New Forest, his home district.22 According to agents’ reports, he could count on a similar proportion of the votes in Christchurch, where Rose’s interest was dominant, and had a two-to-one majority over the other candidates in the Andover district.23 On the Isle of Wight, where the ministerialist influence of Sir Leonard Thomas Worsley Holmes* was pre-eminent, he was also assured of ‘a decided majority’, though press reports spoke of a surprising degree of success for Jervoise and of near unanimity for Fleming.24 Jervoise apparently had a good reception at Romsey, where his popularity was mentioned in a later letter from Fleming.25 The north-east of the county, a Whig stronghold at the election of 1806, was admitted to be Jervoise territory by a Compton sympathizer, who nonetheless hinted that the ‘numerous and headstrong’ freeholders might respond to a personal visit and the lure of payments for expenses.26 The fly in the ointment for Compton was the realization that Fleming was ‘dreadfully unpopular’.27 His partisan chairmanship of a county meeting as sheriff in 1817 formed the basis of attacks on his character, to which he responded with a supposedly unsolicited testimonial from his tenants.28 Andrew Drummond of Cadlands, a government supporter, confirmed to Palmerston, 7 Mar., that
although Compton is well received everywhere, the voters will couple Mr. Jervoise with him instead of Mr. Fleming, and the consequence is that the former is rising and the other sinking every day, so that in fact the contest is now betwixt Fleming and Compton.
In these circumstances, subscribers to defray the expenses of the parsimonious Compton were hard to find, and Drummond suggested that a comparison might be made between the returns for him and Fleming, and that ‘whichever is found to have fewer in number of friends should withdraw without disturbing the peace of the county’.29 Compton pre-empted this by announcing his retirement the following day, blaming his late start, which he speciously ascribed to the ‘accidental protracted continuance of my shrievality’.30 To Palmerston he was more frank, informing him that he
could not have gone to the poll for less than £5,000 for one day, as it was necessary to have houses, horses and carriages which my opponent had done ... and if I had succeeded I have no hesitation in saying that F[leming] would have failed, and you would be in the same state as at present, with one ministerial and one opposition representative.31
Fleming, who was blissfully unaware of these machinations, protested to Compton that his success had been ‘as certain as my own’ and that his retreat had ‘only delayed the contest which must assuredly take place on the next dissolution’. His ‘most circumstantial and accurate’ canvass figures, which must be treated with caution given the weight of contrary evidence, indicated a notional result of 3,539 for himself, 2,271 for Compton and 1,307 for Jervoise, with 845 reckoned as doubtful. This was exclusive of Havant, where, he assured Compton, ‘almost every vote was for yourself and me’, though an agent had reported ‘the greatest success’ there on behalf of Jervoise.32 On 13 Mar. 1820 a county meeting to vote an address of congratulation and condolence to the new king passed off without incident, despite Malmesbury’s fears that it would ‘bring together a parcel of seditious, factious people who will try to make a riot’.33 But the scene at the nomination next day had ‘more the appearance of a contested than of an unopposed election’. Pollen proposed Fleming, who, in a bid to establish his independent credentials, claimed to know ministers ‘but by name’, though he approved of the Blasphemous and Seditious Libels Act. Jervoise was proposed by his cousin Samuel Clarke Jervoise of Idsworth, a man ‘much more in favour of ministry than opposition’ who was nevertheless indefatigable on his behalf. Fleming and Jervoise were returned unopposed, but ‘warm and vituperative expressions’ passed between their partisans, and the sheriff’s suggestion that they should dine together was rejected, though toasts were mutually drunk. Afterwards, in an unusual gesture at a county election, Fleming threw £50 in silver coins to the crowd.34
In the inevitable post-mortem, Fleming vented his anger against the Whigs, ‘who do not fail to trumpet their imaginary triumph, and express regrets that they did not start a second candidate’. With the benefit of hindsight, one agent suggested that he and Compton should have ‘joined hand in hand as ministerial candidates’, a course which had been resisted by Fleming, who was nevertheless dismayed to discover that ‘certain loyal gents at Portsmouth canvassed the dockyard votes for plumpers for Compton’. ‘There has been indeed a dreadful misunderstanding somewhere’, he lamented, ‘and no less bad management to give up so certain a game without any apparent necessity.35 Celebration dinners were held for Jervoise at Fordingbridge, Romsey, Gosport and Portsmouth, where his supporters later gathered on the anniversary of his return.36 A Jervoise agent boasted that ‘only 107 persons including glee singers’ had attended a function for Fleming at Portsmouth, 14 Apr., and for a time the Members appeared to vie with each other in charitable deeds.37 By 1825, however, they had put aside their differences to co-operate in Parliament over the Portsmouth canal bill, the Portsea paving and lighting bill and the Tadley enclosure bill.38
Following the abandonment of proceedings against Queen Caroline, a Gosport meeting voted a loyal address to George IV, 8 Dec. 1820.39 Plans for a similar assembly on the Isle of Wight were abandoned after FitzHarris warned that it might produce ‘a very opposite result’ to that intended.40 The Hampshire Pitt Club was apparently behind the loyal address which circulated in the county late in 1820. The Whigs, headed by the 2nd earl of Carnarvon of Burghclere, responded with a requisition for a county meeting, which took place, 12 Jan. 1821. Its speakers included Alexander Baring, the Southampton Member, Sir William De Crespigny, Marsh, Jervoise and Fleming, whose attempt to exculpate ministers was greeted with jeers.41 On the presentation of its petition in favour of the queen by Jervoise, 26 Jan., criticism was aimed at the duke of Wellington, who had recently succeeded Malmesbury as lord lieutenant and had condemned the meeting as a ‘farce’.42 The petition was laid before the Lords by Carnarvon, 25 Jan. 1821.43 In January 1823 a requisition for a county meeting on distress was forwarded to the sheriff, Robert Shedden of Brooklands, who, after consultation with Wellington, refused to comply, citing the lack of signatories from the larger landed proprietors.44 An alternative meeting took place on magisterial authority, 1 Mar., and, thanks mainly to an iconoclastic speech by the radical Henry Hunt*, who had recently been released from Ilchester gaol, its proceedings were widely reported. From the chair, Sir Thomas Baring reprobated Shedden’s conduct and, with no pretence of neutrality, spoke strongly in favour of parliamentary reform. The petition adopted, which coupled this prayer with a demand for repeal of the 1819 Bank Act, was presented to the Commons by Jervoise, 12 May. An alternative petition proposed by William Cobbett†, calling for a unilateral alteration of arrangements with the public creditor, gained the support of about a third of those present, who showed little interest in the resolutions in favour of a bimetallic currency advocated by John Fleming.45 Another county meeting on distress, 23 Apr. 1824, was addressed by both Members, Edward Carter, the mayor of Portsmouth, and Carnarvon, and a petition was agreed calling for the repeal of assessed taxes, to which Hunt unsuccessfully proposed an amendment demanding more extensive tax cuts. Hunt blamed the poor attendance on the irrelevance of the resolutions and dismissed the entire proceeding as a Whig contrivance.46 The petition was presented by Jervoise, 10 May 1824.47
During the rumours of a dissolution in September 1825 Jervoise announced that he would retire at the next election owing to ill health.48 His interest was bequeathed to Sir William Heathcote of Hursley, who in February that year had succeeded his uncle Sir Thomas Freeman Heathcote, Member, 1808-20.49 A rumour prevalent in October 1824 that Wellington and the 1st duke of Buckingham, whose interest derived from his wife’s Avington estates, were hatching a plot to replace Fleming came to nothing.50 Closer to the 1826 general election, Heathcote was reported to have undertaken a successful canvass of Portsmouth and to have obtained ‘numerous promises of support’ from other parts of the county.51 In order to give credence to his talk of ‘independence’, he chose Paulet St. John Mildmay as his seconder at the hustings, but studiously avoided any mention of politics in his speech, having evidently obtained the acquiescence of ministers. Fleming was again proposed by Pollen, and was seconded by the Canningite William Sturges Bourne* of Testwood. He defended his record of support for modest measures of reform and the corn laws, and unequivocally stated his hostility to Catholic relief. When the sheriff invited further nominations, ‘the assembly was all anxiety, but a dead silence prevailed’. Fleming and Heathcote were returned unopposed and held a joint election dinner, though at a meeting of Fleming’s Portsmouth supporters in September, it was stressed that no coalition had existed. According to one report
there never was an election for this county which caused less hubbub, or went off so perfectly free from riot or confusion. In the evening everything was as quiet, save here and there a drunken man, as though nothing extraordinary had happened. There were fewer persons present at the hall than ever were known on a similar occasion.52
At the August 1826 meeting of the County Club, satisfaction was expressed at ‘the return of Members whose political opinions were congenial to their own’, but Heathcote’s protestations of independence proved not to be entirely unfounded.53
Petitions from numerous Hampshire localities against alteration of the corn laws were presented by the Members both before and after the 1826 election. At a meeting of landowners in the Andover district, 22 Sept. 1826, one such petition was proposed by Pollen, but Hunt and Marsh, having successfully argued for the right of all present to vote, secured the passage of an amendment demanding economy and retrenchment.54 The success with which Hunt orchestrated the disruption of such meetings may have dissuaded the Whig and Tory hierarchies from calling them in the years up to 1830. The assemblies of which accounts survive were largely parochial, such as that held in Romsey to protest against the use of climbing boys, 10 Apr. 1828, which Fleming attended, or that held at Basingstoke for the establishment of a pitched market, 24 Sept. 1828, at which Jervoise and Sir Thomas Baring were present.55 Similarly, the Hampshire petitions against the Wellington ministry’s concession of Catholic emancipation in 1829 were all locally based. A Portsmouth meeting produced a favourable petition, while one at neighbouring Gosport was hostile and voted thanks to Heathcote for his consistent opposition to it.56 Fleming was thrown into in such a quandary by the issue that he even considered resignation, but in the end he voted against the introduction of the measure and abstained thereafter.57 Evidence of an innovative spirit came from an unexpected quarter in January 1829, when a committee of county magistrates came out in favour of game law reform.58 On 30 Aug. 1829 a meeting of the ‘friends of reform and retrenchment’ took place at the Black Swan in Winchester, a venue which became synonymous with the cause. Hector and Marsh were the chief advocates of the resolutions adopted against the Bank Act and in favour of parliamentary reform. In recognition of the fact that ‘without union, organization or funds, the opinions of the people, however ardently expressed, are but little listened to’, a subscription was set in train to start a permanent club.59 In the absence of leading Whigs such as Sir Thomas Baring and Carnarvon (who sent apologies), the radicals took the initiative at a well-attended county meeting on distress, 10 Mar. 1830. To a demand for specific tax remissions were added resolutions against free trade and the Bank Act and, despite objections from Paulet St. John Mildmay and Fleming, for parliamentary reform. Fleming was called to account over his voting record, and his defence of ministers cut little ice. Heathcote, who accused the government of complacency, was solely entrusted with the petition, which was proposed by one Hinxman, supported by Hector and Marsh, and carried almost unanimously. It was presented on 16 Mar.60 After the meeting, the radicals went into caucus at the Black Swan, with Marsh in the chair.61 It was with evident relish that the conservative Hampshire Chronicle reported Hector’s speech at a subsequent meeting in London, 16 July 1830, when he urged metropolitan reformers to give a lead, as ‘they had not been able to do much in the country yet’.62
Rumours of a contest abounded before the 1830 general election. Wellington’s son Lord Douro*, who had first been suggested as a candidate in 1825, was spoken of, but stories that he or his younger brother Charles would stand were rejected by one press report as ‘totally void of foundation’.63 A local paper was similarly sceptical of a supposed imminent offer from ‘two gentlemen of acknowledged independence’ reported by the London press.64 It appears that a canvass was actually begun on behalf of Marsh, who was dismissed by one commentator as ‘a gentleman of many words, who means well, but who has neither property, consequence or weight enough to qualify him for the honour’.65 At the nomination, which was attended by ‘many thousands’, Marsh admitted that his pretensions were unsustainable and nominated Carnarvon’s son Lord Porchester*, without his knowledge or consent as it emerged. Fleming was proposed by Pollen’s brother Richard, and, to a chorus of disapprobation, declared his ‘warm and independent’ support for ministers. He defended his record of parliamentary attendance, but his vacillation over Catholic emancipation had clearly damaged him. As before, Heathcote offered no pledge, but his independent conduct won him endorsements from such opposition leaders as Sir Thomas Baring and Marsh. With Porchester, he won the show of hands and a poll was demanded for Fleming.66 ‘Some of ... Heathcote’s friends have sided with the rabble’, noted one of his supporters, but ‘Sir William himself stands aloof [and] in his heart I do not think he is unfavourable to Mr. Fleming. It seems advisable for both parties to play into each other’s hands without appearing so to do’.67 Carnarvon, whose poor health was not improved by news of the election manoeuvres involving his family, consulted Sir Thomas Baring, John Bonham Carter (as the Member for Portsmouth was by then known) and Sir James Macdonald, and advised Porchester that in spite of the popular antipathy to Fleming, ‘you ought not to stand except upon a respectable footing’. As it was, Porchester was unwilling to finance a speculative venture against ‘a very rich man [who] would fight it out ... with all the support of government’. Sir Thomas Baring had estimated the likely cost of a contest at £6-7,000, and one report claimed that Fleming had between 1,000 and 1,300 votes already mobilized, with a further 500 in reserve. As Porchester’s appearance in person might have been ‘awkward’, Baring was sent to Winchester to decline on his behalf the day after the nomination, by which time the hustings had been erected and a poll commenced.68 Porchester blamed his refusal to respond to the popular call on ‘the predominant influence which government possesses in the county’, though Macdonald later commented that perseverance would have secured him ‘an immense majority’. Heathcote and Fleming were duly returned after the abortive poll. The latter, who declined a chairing after the mayor of Winchester had refused to answer for the consequences, was forced to escape when a mob laid siege to his White Hart committee rooms, and was hung in effigy. One of his leading supporters admitted that a ‘very strong prejudice’ had existed against him, and that he was fortunate to have survived the election without sustaining serious injury.69 To forestall any further unpleasantness, a celebratory gathering of his supporters at Portsea, 20 Sept. 1830, was billed as a dinner in honour of the king’s birthday. Fleming used the occasion to launch a bitter attack on his antagonists, notably John Bonham Carter, but he exonerated Porchester, who had apparently offered him a belated endorsement.70 Looking ahead, Francis Thornhill Baring, Whig Member for Portsmouth, noted that Fleming ‘cannot stand long if we manage well’.71
The ‘Swing’ agricultural disturbances hit Hampshire in mid-November 1830 and involved full scale rioting in the districts of Havant, Alresford, Andover, Fordingbridge, Ringwood and Fawley. The yeomanry, disbanded four years earlier, was revived, and a special commission held in Winchester issued 101 death sentences, of which six were carried out.72 Fleming supported the Wellington ministry in the division on the civil list which brought its downfall, 15 Nov. 1830, while Heathcote abstained. Popular demand for parliamentary reform, which both Members opposed, first manifested itself at a Gosport meeting, 9 Dec. 1830, from where a petition was presented to the Commons by Heathcote, 10 Feb. 1831.73 At a county meeting, 17 Mar., both Members spoke against the Grey ministry’s reform bill, as did Charles Baring Wall of Norman Court, Member for Guildford. With the support of Jervoise, Marsh, Hinxman, Cobbett, Knight, Macdonald, Charles Shaw Lefevre of Heckfield, Member for Downton, and Charles Anderson Pelham, Member for Newtown, Isle of Wight, a favourable petition was carried and entrusted to Sir Thomas Baring, who presented it, 29 Mar. Lord Yarborough had laid its counterpart before the Lords the previous day.74 An anti-reform declaration framed at the same time was signed by both Members, Rose, Pollen, Dottin, Wall, Thomas Assheton Smith, Member for Andover, William Sloane Stanley of Paultons, near Romsey, Member for Stockbridge, Sir Harry Neale* of Walhampton, the patron of Lymington, and William Mount* of Wasing Place, Berkshire, the co-patron of Newport, Isle of Wight. Though they were joined by the Whig renegades Carnarvon and Alexander Baring, the tide of popular opinion was clearly running strongly for the bill.75 Assheton Smith informed Wellington of the overwhelming support for it in the Andover district, and expressed doubts about the loyalty of his militia troop in the event of civil disorder. Wellington advised him to ‘have no conversation with your troop upon politics’, and gave the same advice to other commanders.76 A meeting was held at Gosport for the bill, 5 Mar., following which a petition was presented by Heathcote, 19 Mar.77 On 30 Mar. another favourable petition was laid before the Commons from Romsey, where a meeting was held to press for separate representation, 16 Apr. 1831. Its claims, and those of Basingstoke, had been championed by Baring Wall at the earlier county meeting, but in neither case was the matter pursued.78
By the beginning of April a requisition was in circulation calling on Shaw Lefevre and Macdonald to stand on a joint reform platform at the next general election. It was headed by the signatures of Jervoise, Bonham Carter and Sir Thomas Baring, who had declined to come forward after his son Francis Thornhill Baring had thrown ‘as much cold water on the scheme as I was able, not seeing my way through the expense, and feeling that he could not make a retreat once embarked’.79 After the reform bill’s defeat, Shaw Lefevre and Macdonald duly issued a joint address, 21 Apr. 1831. Other names were mentioned, though Edward Knight’s candidacy was no more of a realistic prospect than it had been in 1820, and Sir George Staunton of Leigh Park near Havant, Member for Heytesbury, publicly disclaimed any interest, stating his objection to the proposed reduction of the English representation, 24 Apr.80 Heathcote predicted ‘disastrous consequences’ from the measure, but sensing that his view was not widely shared, announced that it was not within his ‘power or inclination’ to offer again, 27 Apr.81 This came as a disappointment to Fleming, who published a belligerent address the following day, attacking the ministry for its failures in financial retrenchment and describing their reform scheme as one founded on ‘injustice, spoliation and disfranchisement’. In the sanguine hope that his opponents’ aversion to expenditure might once more prove his trump card, he began a canvass, during which he was pelted in the streets of Portsmouth and Southampton (where, undaunted, he claimed to enjoy majority support) and chased out of Romsey.82 A newspaper report reckoned that opinion in Portsmouth divided at ten to one in favour of the reformers, while a friend of Fleming put his support there at no more than a quarter. Fleming boasted to Wellington of his ‘good success’ at Gosport, 28 Apr., and claimed that victory might still be his ‘by a certain expenditure of cash’. He was clearly clutching at straws: an agent’s report gave him ‘no chance’ in the Alton district, ‘always a strong Whig quarter’, and a similar account was received from Ringwood. Pollen, who chaired his election committee, assessed the overall picture as ‘very bad indeed, almost hopeless’, 29 Apr., though the collective decision was to persevere for the moment.83 Some solace arrived in the shape of a promised subscription from Wellington of £5,000, or £7,000 if a suitable running mate could be found.84 Meanwhile, the joint canvass of Shaw Lefevre and Macdonald took the form of a stately progress, taking in Andover, Basingstoke, Winchester, Southampton, the Isle of Wight, Fareham, Gosport, Portsmouth and Petersfield.85 Francis Thornhill Baring, who with Bonham Carter was active on their behalf in the Portsmouth area, declared that ‘nothing could exceed the zeal from one end of the county to the other’.86 With the acquiescence of Wellington, Fleming accepted the advice of his committee (which included Staunton, Neale and Alexander Baring) and retired, 4 May. His attempt at a parting shot backfired, for his claim that Macdonald was a government pensioner was shown to be untrue. The reform candidates were returned unopposed. Macdonald, proposed by Sir Thomas Baring and seconded by John Mills of Bisterne, who had just been elected for Rochester, paid a personal tribute to Heathcote but mocked Fleming for his retreat, by which he felt cheated of ‘all the fun which he anticipated at the election’. Shaw Lefevre was proposed by Jervoise, who hailed the occasion as ‘a most fortunate day for the county’, and seconded by Sir Richard Godin Simeon of Swainstown, Isle of Wight.87 Their election expenses, which came to £426, were defrayed by Jervoise, Bonham Carter, Sir Thomas and Francis Thornhill Baring.88
To Fleming, Wellington offered some curious political analysis, 1 May 1831:
It must have cost you some money and it has always appeared to me that Winchester is so placed in respect to the county in general that a popular candidate had definite advantages over his opponents, as his supporters could come in to vote without expense, while those of the candidate standing on the influence of property or of government would require to be paid for.89
Both claimed to detect a reaction against the bill in the summer, but decided that an anti-reform declaration would only rally their opponents.90 They settled instead for an oblique attack on the reform consensus through an address to the king for the prohibition of political unions, which was presented in November.91 The spread of such organizations to agricultural Hampshire, most notably the districts around Winchester and Andover, caused great consternation among the county elite in the latter part of 1831, and no effort was spared to suppress them, using a combination of espionage, the denial of poor relief to known activists and the stringent application of legislation against seditious meetings.92 Both Members addressed a county meeting attended by all the leading supporters of reform, 26 Oct. 1831. Cobbett delighted his supporters with an anti-clerical rant, but amid rowdy scenes his proposed address to the king requesting an immediate dissolution was narrowly defeated. The successful amendment, proposed by Jervoise and seconded by Marsh, merely deplored the bill’s rejection by the Lords that month. In June 1832 the appointment of Macdonald as lord high commissioner of the Ionian Isles left a vacancy in the representation, for which Paulet St. John Mildmay was initially mooted as a candidate. In the event, however, Sir Thomas Baring came in unopposed, having been nominated by Jervoise and seconded by Sir Thomas Lethbridge*, the former Tory Member for Somerset, who had taken up residence near Petersfield and, to the astonishment of many present, praised his support for the ‘great and glorious measure of reform’. Lethbridge’s proposal of an address to the king on his survival of an assault at Ascot was carried in spite of protests at its irrelevance from Hinxman and Marsh. Baring was chaired, and dined at the George, while the radicals went into conclave at the Black Swan.93
By the Reform Act, Hampshire was split into Northern and Southern divisions, each returning two Members, and the Isle of Wight acquired its own representative. A government amendment to classify this Member as a knight of the shire was passed, 16 Aug. 1831, after the defeat of a proposal, backed by a petition presented on 13 July, for the Island to return two Members.94 Hunt complained that the allocation of five Members to Hampshire was excessive and owed much to its historic partiality for ministers, but this was denied by Shaw Lefevre, whose brother John was the boundary commissioner responsible for bisecting the county. Of the two schemes that he submitted, one based on the recently introduced sessional divisions and the other on the ancient hundreds, the former was adopted. The polling places were at Winchester, Andover and Petersfield for the Northern division, and at Southampton, Portsmouth, Lymington and Christchurch for the Southern.95 No Members were given to unrepresented towns, though the claims of Gosport and Portsea had been advanced by Croker in the Commons, 9 Aug. 1831, and the boundary commissioners had considered including the former in the enlarged borough of Portsmouth. Reform candidates made a clean sweep at the 1832 general election. Shaw Lefevre was returned for the Northern division with James Winter Scott of Rotherfield, after defeating Douro and Walter Long† of Preshaw. In the South, Palmerston, now foreign secretary, and Staunton, who had assumed the mantle of reform, overcame the challenge of the indefatigable Fleming. Simeon was the comfortable victor of a contest in the Isle of Wight. This state of affairs did not last long.
Authors: Howard Spencer / Philip Salmon
- 1. PP (1822), xv. 341; (1833), xxxvii. 24-25.
- 2. S. Lowe, ‘Hampshire County Elections and Electioneering, 1734-1830’ (Southampton Univ. M.Phil. thesis, 1972), 10-13; [W. Carpenter], People’s Bk. (1831), 254-5; Oldfield, Key (1820), 274.
- 3. Southampton Univ. Lib. Broadlands mss BR195/15.
- 4. Hants Telegraph, 24 Apr. 1820.
- 5. Lowe, 163; Hants Telegraph, 27 Oct. 1823, 16 Aug. 1824, 28 Aug., 6 Nov. 1826, 3 Sept. 1827.
- 6. Hants Telegraph, 22 Mar. 1824; Hants Chron. 7 Sept. 1829.
- 7. Hants Telegraph, 9 Aug. 1830.
- 8. Broadlands mss BR195/12, 15; Hants RO, Malmesbury mss 9M73/415, FitzHarris to Fleming, 12 Feb.; Hants Telegraph, 20 Mar., 24 Apr. 1820.
- 9. Malmesbury mss G2459, Malmesbury to FitzHarris, 19, 22 Feb. 1820; 330, reply, 27 Feb.; Broadlands mss BR195/13, 14.
- 10. Broadlands mss BR195/15, 17.
- 11. Hants Telegraph, 28 Feb. 1820; R. Foster, Politics of County Power, 134.
- 12. Grey mss.
- 13. Malmesbury mss G2459, Malmesbury to FitzHarris, 19, 22 Feb. 1820.
- 14. Hants RO, Jervoise mss 44M69 G2/458, 459; Grey mss.
- 15. Malmesbury mss 415, FitzHarris to Palmerston, 27 Feb.; G2459, Malmesbury to FitzHarris, 28 Feb. 1820. No evidence has been found to justify the identification of Jervoise as a ‘Conservative’ by Lowe, 186, 190.
- 16. Malmesbury mss 330, FitzHarris to Malmesbury, 27 Feb.; Broadlands mss BR195/17, 19; Hants Telegraph, 6 Mar. 1820.
- 17. Jervoise mss G2/430; Hants Chron. 6 Mar. 1820.
- 18. Foster, 9; Broadlands mss BR195/18, 20; Hants RO, Compton mss 12M60/88, Calthorpe to unknown, 4 Mar., R. Simmonds to Compton, 7 Mar. 1820. Contrary to the assertion in Foster, 107-8, both Heathcote and Chute expressly refused their support to Jervoise. See Jervoise mss G2/435/7, 12.
- 19. Malmesbury mss 415, FitzHarris to Palmerston, 27 Feb.; G2459, Malmesbury to FitzHarris, 22 Feb., 2 Mar. 1820.
- 20. Broadlands mss BR195/19.
- 21. Ibid. BR195/15; Hants Telegraph, 28 Feb. 1820.
- 22. Broadlands mss BR195/20; Hants Chron. 13 Mar. 1820.
- 23. Compton mss 88, G. Adams to Compton, 2 Mar., Coles to same, 10 Mar. 1820.
- 24. Ibid. 88, G. Ward to Compton, 7 Mar.; Hants Telegraph, 20, 27 Mar. 1820.
- 25. Hants Telegraph, 6 Mar. 1820; Jervoise mss G2/466/2.
- 26. Compton mss 88, R. Harris to Compton [n.d.].
- 27. Broadlands mss BR195/20.
- 28. The Times, 13 Mar. 1817; Jervoise mss G2/449; Broadlands mss BR195/15; Hants Chron. 13 Mar. 1820.
- 29. Broadlands mss BR195/21.
- 30. Ibid. BR195/27.
- 31. Ibid. BR195/25.
- 32. Compton mss 88, Fleming to Compton, 18 Mar. 1820; Broadlands mss BR195/22; Jervoise mss G2/428/3.
- 33. Hants Chron. 20 Mar.; Malmesbury mss G2459, Malmesbury to FitzHarris, 7, 9, 16 Mar. 1820.
- 34. Hants Chron. 20 Mar.; Hants Telegraph, 20 Mar. 1820; Jervoise mss G2/428/5.
- 35. Broadlands mss BR195/15, 22, 24.
- 36. Hants Telegraph, 10, 17, 24 Apr. 1820, 12, 19 Mar. 1821, 18 Mar. 1822, 17 Mar. 1823, 22 Mar. 1824.
- 37. Jervoise mss G2/450/3; Broadlands mss BR195/24.
- 38. Jervoise mss G2/466/1-3.
- 39. Hants Telegraph, 18 Dec. 1820.
- 40. Malmesbury mss 415, FitzHarris to Cockburn, 2 Oct. 1820.
- 41. Hants Telegraph, 18 Dec. 1820, 15 Jan. 1821.
- 42. The Times, 27 Jan. 1821; CJ, lxxvi. 12-13.
- 43. LJ, liv. 15.
- 44. Wellington mss WP1/754/23, 29.
- 45. The Times, 3 Mar.; Hants Telegraph, 3, 31 Mar. 1823; CJ, lxxviii 303.
- 46. The Times, 24 Apr.; Hants Telegraph, 26 Apr. 1824.
- 47. The Times, 11 May 1824; CJ, lxxix. 342.
- 48. Hants Telegraph, 26 Sept. 1825.
- 49. Ibid 10, 24 Oct.; Hants Chron. 10 Oct. 1825; Wellington mss WP1/829/3.
- 50. Buckingham, Mems. Geo. IV, ii. 144.
- 51. Southampton Herald, 5 June; Hants Telegraph, 5, 12 June 1826.
- 52. Hants Telegraph, 19 June, 18 Sept.; Hants Chron. 19 June 1826.
- 53. Hants Telegraph, 28 Aug. 1826.
- 54. The Times, 25 Sept. 1826.
- 55. Hants Chron. 14 Apr., 29 Sept. 1828.
- 56. Hants Chron. 13 Apr. 1829.
- 57. Wellington mss WP1/1002/6.
- 58. The Times, 29 Jan. 1829.
- 59. Ibid. 8 Sept.; Hants Chron. 8 Sept. 1829.
- 60. Hants Chron. 22 Feb., 1, 15 Mar.; Hants Telegraph, 8, 15 Mar. 1830; CJ, lxxxv. 182.
- 61. Portsmouth Herald, 14 Mar. 1830.
- 62. Hants Chron. 19 July 1830.
- 63. Hants Telegraph, 24 Oct. 1825; Wellington mss WP4/1/15; Hants Chron. 5, 12 July 1830.
- 64. Hants Chron. 14 June 1830.
- 65. Hants Telegraph 26 July 1830; Hants Chron. 2, 16 Aug. 1830.
- 66. Hants Telegraph, 9 Aug.; Hants Chron. 9 Aug. 1830.
- 67. Broadlands mss BR195/29.
- 68. Hants RO, Carnarvon mss 75M91/E4/80; L17/1; Hants Chron. 9, 16 Aug. 1830.
- 69. Hants Chron. 16, 30 Aug., 6 Sept. 1830, 21 Mar. 1831; Hants Telegraph, 16, 23 Aug. 1830; Broadlands mss BR195/29.
- 70. Hants Telegraph, 23 Aug., 27 Sept. 1830.
- 71. Cited in Foster, 112.
- 72. E. Hobsbawm and G. Rudé, Captain Swing (1985), 88-93, 220-1.
- 73. Hants Chron. 13 Dec. 1830; CJ, lxxxvi. 230.
- 74. Hants Chron. 21 Mar. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 456; LJ, lxiii. 384.
- 75. Hants Chron. 18 Apr. 1831.
- 76. Wellington mss WP1/1191/12; WP4/3/2/57.
- 77. Portsmouth Herald, 6 Mar. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 406.
- 78. CJ, lxxxvi. 465; Hants Chron. 21 Mar., 18 Apr. 1831.
- 79. Wellington mss WP4/3/4/3/17; Baring Jnls. i. 85.
- 80. Portsmouth Herald, 27 Mar., 1 May 1831.
- 81. Hants Chron. 2 May 1831.
- 82. Hants Chron. 4, 25 Apr.; Portsmouth Herald 1, 8 May 1831; Wellington mss WP4/3/4/19.
- 83. Wellington WP4/3/4/18, 19; Hants Chron. 2 May 1831.
- 84. Wellington mss WP1/1186/3; WP4/3/4/19.
- 85. Hants RO, Bonham Carter mss 94M72 F10, Bonham Carter to wife, 29 Apr.; Portsmouth Herald, 1 May; Hants Chron. 2 May 1831.
- 86. Baring Jnls. i. 86.
- 87. Wellington mss WP4/3/4/21, 22; Hants Chron. 2, 9 May 1831.
- 88. Bonham Carter mss F12, Carter to Baring, 18, 31 May, 26 July 1831.
- 89. Wellington mss WP4/3/4/23.
- 90. Ibid. WP1/1189/14; WP4/3/4/26.
- 91. Ibid. WP1/1191/19; WP4/3/4/46, 47.
- 92. Ibid. WP4/4/1/20, 21, 24-27; 4/3/29, 34, 37, 39-44; 5/3/1.
- 93. Carnarvon mss E4/99; Hants Telegraph, 4 June; Hants Chron. 25 June; The Times, 25 June 1832.
- 94. CJ, lxxxvi. 650.
- 95. PP (1831-2), xxxviii. 205-8.