New Romney


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:



28 Jan. 1715EDWARD WATSON, Visct. Sondes14
 John Brewer1
 William Finch1
17 Aug. 1727DAVID PAPILLON12
 Sir Robert Austen11
 Sir Robert Furnese11
 AUSTEN and FURNESE vice Papillon and Essington, on petition, 29 Apr. 1728 
13 May 1728DAVID PAPILLON vice Furnese, chose to sit for Kent 
23 Apr. 1734DAVID PAPILLON16
 Sir Robert Austen11
 George Furnese11
10 Feb. 1736SIR ROBERT AUSTEN vice Papillon, chose to sit for Dover 
 Sir William Billers10
 Stephen Bisse10

Main Article

Under George I the New Romney corporation returned neighbouring Whig landowners without opposition. The first contest occurred in 1727, when one of the late Members, David Papillon, partnered by John Essington, defeated the other, Sir Robert Furnese, partnered by Sir Robert Austen, only to be unseated in favour of their opponents by the House of Commons on a petition alleging that the mayor, John Coates, as returning officer had

acted in a very partial and illegal manner in favour of Mr. Papillon and Mr. Essington, by admitting persons to poll for them who had no right, and rejecting several that had a right to poll for the petitioners.1

On Furnese’s choosing to sit for Kent, Papillon recovered his seat.

At the mayoral election, 25 Mar. 1734, Coates, as outgoing mayor, secured a majority of one for a pro-Papillon successor by admitting two new freemen, whose claims to admission, based on their marriage to the daughters of freemen, were denied by the Furnese party in the corporation. At the parliamentary election a month later, more freemen having been created in the interval, Papillon, partnered by Stephen Bisse, defeated Austen, partnered by George Furnese. These proceedings led to a crop of actions in the court of King’s bench as well as to a petition by the defeated candidates. To put an end to these disputes, it was mutually agreed that the petition should be withdrawn on condition that Austen should be returned for New Romney on Papillon’s choosing to sit for Dover, where he had also been elected, and that the point at issue, namely the validity of the two freemen admitted on 25 Mar. 1734, should be determined by the procedure known as a ‘feigned issue’. Under this procedure a bill was filed in the court of King’s bench by a fictitious plaintiff, John Doe, against a fictitious defendant, Richard Roe, alleging that on 25 Mar. 1734 Doe and Roe had had an argument about the New Romney procedure for admitting freemen; that Doe had given Roe 5s. on condition that Roe would give Doe 40s. if a man who married a freeman’s daughter became entitled to his freedom; averring that such was the custom; and claiming the 40s. The defendant Roe admitted the wager, but denied that such was the custom, upon which issue was joined. On 3 May 1735 the court, in the person of Lord Chief Justice Hardwicke, gave judgment in favour of Roe, i.e. the Furneses, whereupon the Papillons gave up their interest at New Romney, which returned Henry Furnese, with his friend, Sir Francis Dashwood, unopposed at the next two general elections.2

Author: A. N. Newman


  • 1. CJ, xxi. 25.
  • 2. Arch. Cant. lxii. 1-10; New Romney corporation recs. bundle 114.