Great Marlow


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 inhabitants paying scot and lot

Number of voters:

about 200


27 Jan. 1715HENRY PETTY, Baron Shelburne 
 James Chase 
 Vincent Oakley 
22 Mar. 1722EDMUND WALLER 
 Bertram Ashburnham 
 Vincent Oakley 
16 Aug. 1727EDMUND WALLER115
 Sir John Guise63
14 May 1731GEORGE ROBINSON vice Clavering, appointed to office85
 John Guise jun.57
8 Apr. 1732SIR THOMAS HOBY vice Robinson, expelled the House72
 Lord Sydney Beauclerk67
22 Apr. 1734SIR THOMAS HOBY161
 John Crosse74
3 Dec. 1744WILLIAM OCKENDEN vice Hoby, deceased70
 Henry Conyngham68

Main Article

The principal interests at Marlow were those of the neighbouring Whig landowners. Lord Shelburne, followed by Edmund Waller of Beaconsfield, occupied one seat from 1715 to 1741; the other was usually controlled by the successive owners of the manors of Marlow and Harleyford, Sir James Etheridge, M.P., a Tory, 1691-1719, the Guises, 1719-35, and the Claytons, 1735-87, Whigs. Two property owners on the Berkshire side of the river were able to take one seat between 1732 and 1754. There was an independent vote which could be bought.

In 1715 the seats were divided between Lord Shelburne, a Whig, and George Bruere, then a Tory standing in the Etheridge interest. In 1722, after the sale of the two manors to Sir John Guise, Bruere stood down in favour of Edmund Waller, who ‘with all his money ... could never have been elected without Bruere’s interest’. The second seat went to Guise, who made himself very unpopular by being ‘of such a spirit of controversy and delight[ing] in it’.1 In 1727 a ‘flying squadron’, managed by Bruere and supplied by Walpole with £1,000 ‘pocket money’,2 ousted Guise in favour of John Clavering, a stranger, who was returned with Waller. At a by-election in 1731 Guise’s son was defeated by George Robinson, a London broker, who ‘having a mind to be a Member of Parliament, purchased ... an estate near Great Marlow ... by means of which he got elected’. After Robinson’s bankruptcy and expulsion from the House in 1732, Walpole was informed that

the chief influence on the inhabitants [of Marlow] was that part of the said estate called Temple Mills [across the river in Berkshire], where numbers of persons are employed in the manufacturing brass and copper by Sir Thomas Mackworth, Bt. [Robinson’s partner], whose foreman has always taken care that all the people employed buy all their necessaries of the tradesmen of Marlow, by which means he has secured a prevailing interest in that borough ... [This interest] may be sufficient to throw out Mr. Waller and to introduce a properer person in his room.3

At the ensuing by-election Sir Thomas Hoby, also from across the river, standing on his own interest, was unsuccessfully opposed by Waller’s nominee, Lord Sydney Beauclerk. Beauclerk petitioned but Walpole used his influence to prevent the petition from being heard.4 In 1734, while Guise’s son, who had succeeded his father, was disposing of the family property at Marlow to Sir William Clayton, Hoby and Waller were unopposed. Before the 1741 election Sir William Clayton, the new owner of the two manors, wrote to Walpole:

I must be so free with you as to say that for want of naming the person and his appearing [at Marlow] as my friend, we daily lose ground and must have the labouring on our hands of buying persons back again whom Waller is now daily driving or lending money to.5

Eventually Waller decided to join his brother at Wycombe, leaving Walpole’s nominee to be returned unopposed on the Clayton interest with Hoby. On the latter’s death in 1744 there was a sharp contest between the then owner of the Temple Mills, William Ockenden, and Henry Conyngham, the Clayton candidate. Conyngham, who was defeated by two votes only, petitioned but withdrew his petition after a three days’ hearing. In 1747 the representation was divided without opposition between the owners of Harleyford and the Temple Mills.

Author: R. S. Lea


  • 1. Great Marlow, Probyn mss, Glos. RO, D.23, E.51.
  • 2. CJ, xxi. 480-2; undated memo., Cholmondeley (Houghton) mss.
  • 3. A particular of the estate late of George Robinson, 1733, Cholmondeley (Houghton) mss.
  • 4. HMC Egmont Diary, i. 257.
  • 5. Clayton to Walpole, 4 Feb. 1741, Chomondeley (Houghton) mss.