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 100


28 Jan. 1715JOHN PEPPER 
 William Wallis39
 John Middleton 
 WALLIS vice Leeves, on petition, 12 Apr. 1717 
24 Mar. 1722JOHN GUMLEY65
 Sir Robert Fagg19
 Sir Henry Goring16
 William Wallis11
23 Nov. 1724GUMLEY re-elected after appointment to office 
 Thomas Harrison 
26 Jan. 1726JOHN BRYDGES, Mq. of Carnarvon, vice Pepper, deceased 
24 Apr. 1727WILLIAM STANHOPE vice Carnarvon, deceased 
16 Aug. 1727WILLIAM VANE, Visct. Vane 
 Sir Robert Fagg 
27 Apr. 17341ROBERT FAGG93
 HENRY BRYDGES, Mq. of Carnarvon72
 William Vane, Visct. Vane36
26 Nov. 1740HITCH YOUNGE vice Fagg, deceased60
 Sir Charles Matthew Goring30
27 June 1747HITCH YOUNGE 

Main Article

Steyning was an independent venal borough, always returning government supporters, except in 1715, when on a petition against Robert Leeves, a Tory,

it was proved that thirty-four of the sitting Member’s voters received bribes for their votes from the sitting Member a few days before the election; some had five pounds, and others four guineas a piece, and that several hogs and some corn were distributed to them by the sitting Member’s orders.2

There was no predominant interest, though the Duke of Chandos tried hard to establish one after the general election of 1722, buying about one-third of the houses in the borough, for which his sons were returned in 1726 and 1734. When an opposition was threatened in 1726, the returning officer refused £500 for a false return and a voter 60 guineas to vote against the Duke, who estimated, nearly a month before the election, that he had already overdrawn his account between £700 and £1,000 ‘on account of the expense I am put to by Lord Carnarvon’s stand for Parliament man’, which was eventually unopposed. After the general election of 1727 he told a supporter that ‘though I cannot but say this has been the dearest election of any I have yet heard of, I am persuaded it would not have been had cheaper’.3 Chandos returned one Member from 1726 to 1741, when he transferred his son, Carnarvon, to Bishop’s Castle, leaving the borough to Charles Eversfield, who owned most of it4 and told Newcastle in 1740 that ‘Steyning is our own in every shape’.5 In 1747 two London business men were unopposed, one of them, Hume, paying £2,000 for his seat.6 In the 2nd Lord Egmont’s electoral survey, c.1749-50, Steyning is described as ‘to be bought for about £3,400 for two’.

Author: J. B. Lawson


  • 1. Duke of Chandos to Brydges, 29 Apr. 1734, Chandos letter bks.
  • 2. CJ, xviii. 535.
  • 3. R. G. Shafer, ‘A By-Election in a Rotten Borough’, Huntington Lib. Quarterly, xvii. 397-405; Chandos to Lewis, 25 Aug. 1727, Chandos letter bks.
  • 4. Dallaway & Cartwright, Western Sussex, iii. 159-60.
  • 5. 12 Nov. 1740, Add. 32695, f. 395.
  • 6. Add. 32995, f. 173.