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 inhabitant householders

Number of voters:

187 in 1734; 193 in 17411


 Tyringham Backwell9
 Sir Roger Hill 
16 Aug. 1727JAMES HAMILTON, Visct. Limerick 
18 Mar. 1728JOHN HAMILTON vice Hampden, chose to sit for Buckinghamshire 
 Sir Jeremy Vanacker Sambrooke 
23 Apr. 1734JOHN BOTELER100
 James Hamilton, Visct. Limerick88
 Boteler's election declared void, 17 Apr. 1735 
22 Apr. 1735JAMES HAMILTON, Visct. Limerick 
 John Boteler 
20 May 1735HAMPDEN re-elected after appointment to office 
2 May 1741RALPH VERNEY, Visct. Fermanagh116
 James Hamilton, Visct. Limerick100
26 June 1747JOHN HAMPDEN 
 RALPH VERNEY, 1st Earl Verney 
17 Jan. 1753RALPH VERNEY, 2nd Earl Verney vice Verney, deceased 
25 Feb. 1754JOHN CALVERT vice Hampden, deceased 

Main Article

At the beginning of the eighteenth century the Whig family of Hampden, who held the manors of Wendover Borough and Wendover Forrens, carrying the right to nominate the returning officers, controlled both Wendover seats. In 1715 Richard Hampden was able to bring in Richard Grenville under an agreement whereby the latter withdrew from the county in favour of Hampden.2 At the 1722 election Hampden, who had been dismissed from his office of treasurer of the navy for peculation, returned himself for Wendover with Sir Richard Steele, the Whig essayist. Steele had a majority of 71 over Sir Roger Hill, then aged 80, who had been returned on Hampden’s interest in six previous elections. Hampden was now a ruined man, whose estates became vested in government-appointed trustees. At the 1727 election these trustees wrote to Hampden’s steward that ‘it will be acceptable to our lords and masters here for you to gain all the votes you can ... at [Wendover] for Philip Lloyd ... We therefore desire you will use your interest for the said Mr. Lloyd’,3 who did not, however, stand. Hampden for his part, after attempting to sell one of the seats to the Crown,4 returned himself with Lord Limerick, an opposition Whig. After his death his brother and successor, John Hampden, was able to retain control of only one Wendover seat at considerable expense and by a narrow margin. Thus to secure his return in 1734 he paid out £583, including £116 in one day at public houses; in 1741 £1,103 was spent, of which 115 voters received six guineas apiece as ‘loans’ to avoid accusations of bribery; in 1747, when there was apparently no opposition, 189 voters were given three guineas each out of a total expenditure of £682, despite a petition to Hampden from 60 Wendover burgesses that there should be no money given, lent or spent, no ringers and no public or private bills.5 In 1734 John Boteler with government support defeated Limerick, who petitioned successfully on the ground that his opponent did not possess the necessary property qualification. At the ensuing by-election, Boteler, though armed with £500 from the secret service money, was defeated by Limerick.6 Before the 1741 election Lord Fermanagh, of Claydon, began to buy property in the borough, where at the time of the election he owned 110 houses occupied by voters. With this backing he was able to head the poll, ousting Limerick. Shortly afterwards, Fermanagh, now Earl Verney, acquired both the Wendover manors from Hampden, apparently on condition that the latter should have the right to be returned for the borough during his life or for so long as he wished. Should Hampden not be elected, the manors were to be handed back to him.7 In 1747, therefore, Hampden and Lord Verney were returned unopposed. The 2nd Lord Egmont in his electoral survey, c.1749—50, wrote against Wendover: ‘Earl Verney can bring in two’.

Author: R. S. Lea


  • 1. Poll lists, Earl of Buckinghamshire's mss 40/5,20, Bucks. RO.
  • 3. Chris. Tilson, M. Frecker and Thos. Bower to Hen. Harding, 8 July 1727, Earl of Buckinghamshire’s mss 39/15.
  • 4. See HAMPDEN, Richard.
  • 5. Earl of Buckinghamshire’s mss 40/4,8,27,34,35.
  • 6. Parl. Hist. xii. 629-30.
  • 7. Earl of Buckinghamshire’s mss 40/20,21,41.