Single Member Borough

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the corporation

Number of voters:



24 Mar. 1722MONOUX COPE 
 Sir William Codrington 
19 Aug. 1727FRANCIS NORTH 
21 Jan. 1730TOBY CHAUNCY vice North, called to the Upper House9
 William Knollys, Visct. Wallingford8
9 Apr. 1733WILLIAM KNOLLYS, Visct. Wallingford, vice Chauncy, deceased 
26 Apr. 1734WILLIAM KNOLLYS, Visct. Wallingford 
25 Nov. 1740WILLIAM MOORE vice Wallingford, deceased 
26 Nov. 1746JOHN WILLES vice Moore, deceased 
29 June 1747JOHN WILLES 

Main Article

The chief interests in Banbury at George I’s accession were in two neighbouring Tory families, the Norths of Wroxton, three miles from the borough, and the Copes of Hanwell, two miles away. There was a strong non-juring party in the corporation who in 1715 returned Sir Jonathan Cope, an extreme Tory, unopposed. But in July 1718 a new charter was issued, under which another corporation was appointed.1 Before the election of 1722, Sir Francis Page, a judge, offered the corporation to discharge a sum of £600 to £700, which they owed him for his help in procuring the new charter, and also to give another large sum in ready money, if they would elect Sir William Codrington. The mayor and a few aldermen asked that, instead of ready money, the streets should be paved, the vicarage extended, and a school built. These transactions were denounced in the House in February by Sir John Cope, a Whig, the father of Monoux Cope, Codrington’s opponent, who was returned, Codrington petitioning unsuccessfully.

In 1727 Francis North, whose father had gone over to the Government, was returned as a Whig after buying the seat.2 On succeeding his father as Lord Guilford in 1729, he proposed William Knollys, self-styled Lord Wallingford, ‘a relation and friend’,3 to the corporation, who, he wrote to Wallingford,

all readily agreed, upon this one condition only: that you should ask their votes. Those I spoke to in particular (some that, I am sure was there no Act of Parliament against it, would not take money) were highly offended at your not thinking to ask for their votes and hoped that I would not endeavour to impose so unreasonable a thing upon the corporation as going begging to anybody that had so little regard for them as not to think their votes worth asking.4

At the ensuing election, Wallingford lost by one vote to Toby Chauncy, a former recorder of the borough, who had strong support in the corporation. On Chauncy’s death in 1733 the corporation made overtures to Lord Guilford, who replied:

The obliging letter which I this day received from you on the occasion of Mr. Chauncy’s death deserves my earliest acknowledgements. I have with impatience desired a re-establishment of that friendship which used to subsist between my family and the corporation. As you have now restored it in so handsome a manner, you may depend upon my continuing to cultivate it by taking every opportunity that shall be in my power of serving each of you in particular, as well as the corporation in general. Nothing can be more agreeable to me than the regard you are so good as to express upon this occasion for my Lord Wallingford whom I heartily recommend to you, and think I may venture to answer (from my particular knowledge of him) that he will serve you in such a manner as shall leave you no occasion to repent of the favour you have shown him, or the confidence you have reposed in me.5

Wallingford then made a direct application to the corporation,6 who returned him until his death in 1740, after which Lord Guilford, now Lord North, nominated Members without opposition. In the 2nd Lord Egmont’s electoral survey, c.1749-50, Banbury is described as ‘in Lord North’.

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. A. Beesley, Hist. Banbury, 514-19.
  • 2. Bodl. North mss d. 24, f. 21.
  • 3. Ld. Guilford to Mq. of Graham, undated [1729], ibid. c. 11, f. 68.
  • 4. Wroxton, 11 Nov. 1729, ibid. f. 71.
  • 5. Ibid. f. 78.
  • 6. Ld. Wallingford to the mayor of Banbury, 30 Mar. 1733, ibid. f. 83.