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 the freemen paying scot and lot

Number of voters:

about 50


19 Apr. 17541Merrick Burrell31
 Simon Fanshawe31
 Sir John St. Aubyn13
 Francis Beauchamp13
31 Mar. 1761Merrick Burrell 
 Simon Fanshawe 
19 Mar. 1768Grey Cooper 
 Charles Wolfran Cornwall 
21 Mar. 1774Cornwall re-elected after appointment to office 
10 Oct. 1774Sir Joseph Yorke 
 Richard Aldworth Neville 
8 Sept. 1780Sir John Ramsden 
 Thomas Lucas 
3 Apr. 1784John Sommers Cocks 
 Francis Baring 

Main Article

The most permanent natural interest in the borough was in the Hawkins family, seated at Trewithen, two miles from Grampound; but during most of the period 1754-90 it was in abeyance. In 1754 Christopher Hawkins and Robert Andrews, auditor general of the duchy of Cornwall, controlled one seat, and Lord Edgcumbe the other. Two Government candidates were returned: Burrell on Edgcumbe’s, and Fanshawe on the Andrews-Hawkins interest; while St. Aubyn and Beauchamp were ‘proposed by the malcontents but without their knowledge’.2

The ordinary expenditure at Grampound during the six years preceding 1754 amounted to about £2,100 for each of the two partners; besides £1,600 for legal expenses incurred in reducing the electorate to ‘frugal’ dimensions by disfranchising a good many freemen created when the borough was in dispute. For some time past there seems to have been hostility to the Edgcumbes at Grampound, and the opposition, spontaneous and unsupported in 1754, soon afterwards turned to Edward Eliot and William Trevanion.3 On 16 Sept. 1755 Thomas Jones, Edgcumbe’s agent, wrote by his order to Hawkins on the ‘odd situation’ at Gram-pound where the discontented found themselves in a majority on the aldermanic bench, and consequently had it in their power to increase the number of freemen. The change came on the death of Richard, 1st Baron Edgcumbe (22 Nov. 1758). Eliot wrote to Newcastle on 28 Nov. that the mayor and magistrates of Grampound had prevailed on Trevanion and himself to accept the parliamentary interest of that borough; that when it was first offered to him, he had refused because he ‘did not propose to attack Lord Edgcumbe’; they replied that after Lord Edgcumbe’s death they were determined ‘to have no further connexions with the family’, and if refused by Eliot and Trevanion would ‘most certainly make an offer elsewhere’. Deeming it their duty to the Government and themselves, these therefore accepted the offer, and on 25 Nov. went to Grampound where they were received with the greatest joy and the strongest assurances of support. With the Edgcumbe interest disappeared also that of Hawkins and Andrews.

The transfer had no political significance. In the new partnership Eliot was from the outset the moving spirit, and after Trevanion’s death in 1767 remained sole patron of the borough; he placed its two seats at the disposal of the Government at all elections barring that of 1780, when he returned Rockingham’s candidates; charging each time the current rate which rose from £2,000 per seat in 1761 to £3,000 in 1780 and 1784. At no time during this period did Eliot meet with serious opposition at Grampound, but he had far less hold on the borough than at St. Germans or Liskeard; and in 1774 he seems to have felt ‘some little concern about Grampound’.4

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


Namier, Structure, 344-55.

  • 1. Poll sheet, Hawkins mss, Royal Inst. Cornw.
  • 2. Note on poll sheet in Hawkins mss.
  • 3. Structure, 353.
  • 4. Gibbon to his stepmother, 4 Oct. 1774.