Double Member Borough

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in burgage holders

Number of voters:



16 Apr. 1754 William Murray
 Lewis Watson
20 Dec. 1754John Fuller vice Watson, chose to sit for Kent
15 Mar. 1755Sir Cecil Bisshopp vice Fuller, deceased
10 Dec. 1756Augustus Henry Fitzroy, Earl of Euston, vice Murray, apppointed to office
15 Jan. 1757Thomas Thoroton vice Euston, chose to sit for Bury St. Edmunds
27 Mar. 1761Sir Cecil Bisshopp
 Brice Fisher
8 June 1767James West jun. vice Fisher, deceased
18 Mar. 1768Nathaniel Cholmley
 James West sen.
27 July 1772Henry Clinton vice West, deceased
10 Oct. 1774Charles Mellish
 Anthony Eyre
13 Mar. 1775William Phillips vice Mellish, chose to sit for Pontefract
9 Sept. 1780Anthony Eyre
 Charles Ambler
1 Apr. 1784Henry Temple, Visct. Palmerston
 Sir Richard Sutton

Main Article

Aldborough and Boroughbridge were neighbouring boroughs, under the same owner and under joint management. The Duke of Newcastle used to refer to them as ‘my own two boroughs’. He owned most of the houses in Aldborough and a majority of the burgages at Boroughbridge. The Wilkinson family also owned property in both boroughs; they managed them on Newcastle’s behalf and were able to assert a claim to one seat. Still Newcastle, when offering a seat at Boroughbridge to Sir Cecil Bisshopp in 1755, could write:2 ‘You must be sensible that it is a seat in Parliament entirely my own, and without one farthing of expense.’

Nevertheless Lord Lincoln, Newcastle’s nephew and heir, having received from his friend Brice Fisher, M.P. for Boroughbridge, some information about Wilkinson and the borough, wrote to Newcastle, 21 Nov. 1762: ‘’Tis very material something should be done, and that immediately.’ In reply to further alarms, Newcastle wrote to Lincoln, 22 Mar. 1763:

I am sorry you take this affair of Mr. Wilkinson’s burgages so much to heart, as to press it so much as you do. Everything makes too strong an impression upon you; I know the state of those boroughs better than anybody who talks to you about them. You may depend upon it I shall not lose sight of the object you mention; but it must be done in a gentle, quiet way, and not by force; for no good can come from that. ... There can be no fear of the interest in both boroughs; leave it to me to manage; and I will take care to do what you desire if it can be done; pray, be easy about it.

Two years later Newcastle was negotiating for the purchase of the Boroughbridge burgages with Wilkinson, who wrote to him, 6 Jan. 1765:

I am very sorry I have not yet been able to accomplish what your Grace is desirous of, and what I wish to be done. I hope my son will take his resolution soon and give me the satisfaction of acquainting your Grace with his consent to part with the burgages.

To which the Duke replied, 12 Jan.: ‘I am very much obliged to you for your kind letter; and hope you will now soon prevail upon your son to comply with our request.’ On 3 Dec. Newcastle wrote to his friend John White about the break which had occurred between him and Lincoln—one alleged cause was ‘that I did not oblige old Mr. Wilkinson to force his son, (which he could not do) to sell his burgage houses in Boroughbridge to my Lord Lincoln’.3 It is not clear whether Wilkinson had already transferred these burgages to his son Charles, or whether his consent was required because of a family settlement; nor whether the burgages formed any part of the bargain when Lincoln, having succeeded as 2nd Duke of Newcastle, returned Charles Wilkinson for Boroughbridge in 1774. Anyway Aldborough and Boroughbridge remained Newcastle’s pocket boroughs.

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. T. Lawson-Tancred, Recs. of a Yorks. manor, 200, 213-14.
  • 2. Add. 32852, f. 367.
  • 3. Add. 32945, f. 114; 32947, ff. 263-4; 32965, ff. 97, 189; 33003, f. 32.