Double Member Cinque Port

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 the freemen

Number of voters:

about 1,000


15 Apr. 1754William Cayley 
 Lord George Sackville 
19 Apr. 1755Peter Burrell vice Cayley, appointed to office 
6 May 1756Hugh Valence Jones vice Burrell, deceased 
8 June 1759Edward Simpson vice Jones, appointed to office 
27 Mar. 1761Edward Simpson 
 Sir Joseph Yorke 
16 Jan. 1765John Campbell, Mq. of Lorne, vice Simpson, deceased 
23 Dec. 1766John Bindley vice Lorne, called to the Upper House 
18 Mar. 1768Sir Joseph Yorke446
 George Bussy Villiers, Visct. Villiers339
 Hughues Minet189
20 Jan 1770Sir Thomas Pym Hales vice Villiers, called to the Upper House483
 John Trevanion456
2 Apr. 1773Thomas Barrett vice Hales, deceased524
 John Trevanion385
11 Oct. 1774John Henniker 
 John Trevanion 
12 Sept. 1780John Henniker 
 John Trevanion 
5 Apr. 1784Robert Preston571
 James Luttrell529
 John Trevanion248
 John Bazeley180
14 Jan. 1789John Trevanion vice Luttrell, deceased511
 Charles Small Pybus454

Main Article

Government had considerable interest through the customs, the packet service, and the victualling office; and throughout this period at least one seat was always filled by a Government candidate. The lord warden claimed an interest, but it was based mainly on tradition and goodwill: he could not compete with Government as regards patronage. Sir Henry Erskine told Bute in February 1761 that the Duke of Dorset’s interest was ‘chiefly personal and natural, not consequential to his being warden’;1 and Lord North in 1784 failed to carry his candidates against Government. In 1754 the most important private interest was that of the Yorke family, based largely on the personal prestige of the first Lord Hardwicke, who was a Dover man.

But there was also another side to Dover politics. Lord George Sackville wrote to Newcastle on 17 Apr. 1756:2‘Your Grace knows that we have many votes in that borough who do not depend upon the Government, and who may not be sorry to stir up an opposition.’ And Philip Minet, of a leading Dover family, to Hardwicke on 22 Apr. 1756:3

The good people, my townsmen, have been much disgusted at persons being named, sent down, and recommended by the ministry, with very little notice or time given them.

They asked Newcastle to recommend to them Hugh Valence Jones, Hardwicke’s nephew and a native of Dover; and Newcastle thought it wise to comply.4

Of the eight representatives who sat for Dover 1754-68, five were outsiders. When the Treasury recommended Lorne and Bindley, neither of whom had any connexion with Dover, it was clear that the borough was being treated with very little consideration. The recommendation in 1768 of another outsider, Lord Villiers, provoked a revolt. The opposition was not directed against Yorke, who was returned head of the poll although he was not present at the election and from the nature of his employment as ambassador to The Hague could rarely attend Parliament.

At the by-election of 1770 the Government candidate, Sir Thomas Pym Hales, a Kentish gentleman, was challenged by John Trevanion, a London merchant and radical, who had been cultivating an interest at Dover. Trevanion had a clear majority of the residents (360 against 307), and was beaten only by the votes of the out-dwellers (96 to 176). On petition, the House of Commons confirmed that the franchise lay in non-resident as well as resident freemen. In October 1770 the second Lord Hardwicke proposed that Sir Joseph Yorke should vacate his seat at Dover and stand for Cambridgeshire. North, when applied to for the Chiltern Hundreds, was reluctant to comply. He wrote to Hardwicke on 27 Oct.:5

Though the ultimate success of our candidate at Dover may be tolerably certain, there will be much noise, trouble, and expense at the election. It will be much more agreeable to me not to open the borough at this time, and therefore I could wish that your Lordship would rather fix upon Mr. [John] Yorke for the county of Cambridge.

And on 1 Nov., after having consulted the Government agent at Dover: ‘Even the success may be uncertain, as there is no proper person to set up in the room of Sir Joseph Yorke.’ Possibly North’s fears were exaggerated, for at the by-election of 1773 Trevanion was well beaten by another Kentish country gentleman.

In 1774 Yorke left Dover, tired to death of ‘that noisy place’;6 and the Yorke interest lapsed by default. The Government interest at this time was managed by Peter Fector, a Dover merchant and banker, and it was with his support that Trevanion, although in opposition, was returned in 1774 together with a Government candidate. Possibly Fector believed that if Government tried for both seats they would gain neither. In 1780 Robinson hoped to find a candidate to try for the second seat, but Trevanion was again unopposed.

In 1784 the Government won both seats against candidates backed by North, the lord warden. It seems to have been the result of popular feeling against the Coalition. Trevanion won his seat back in 1789; and Oldfield wrote in 1792 that the borough was shared between Government and Opposition.

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. But mss.
  • 2. Add. 32864, f. 314.
  • 3. Add. 35692, f. 360.
  • 4. Namier, Structure, 122-4.
  • 5. Add. 35424, ff. 19-20.
  • 6. Yorke to Hardwicke, 1 Sept. 1772, Add. 35370, f. 46.