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 inhabitants paying scot and lot

Number of voters:

about 500


17 Apr. 1754Sir Charles Hanbury Williams 
 Richard Gorges 
1 Dec. 1759Chase Price vice Hanbury Williams, deceased 
27 Mar. 1761Jenison Shafto 
 Chase Price 
21 Mar. 1767Edward Willes vice Price, vacated his seat 
 Arthur Evans 
6 Feb. 1768John Carnac vice Willes, appointed to office 
16 Mar. 1768John Bateman, Visct. Bateman 
 John Carnac 
8 Oct. 1774John Bateman, Visct. Bateman 
 Thomas Hill 
27 Sept. 1776Frederick Cornewall vice Hill, deceased 
9 Sept. 1780John Bateman, Visct. Bateman357
 Richard Payne Knight345
 Thomas Mytton44
3 Apr. 1784John Hunter312
 Penn Assheton Curzon308
 Sir Gilbert Elliot171

Main Article

At Leominster, which was reputedly very open, several neighbouring landowning families seated within a radius of about five miles from the borough had an interest. The Coningsbys of Hampton Court, whose heiress married Charles Hanbury Williams, had represented Leominster in the first half of the eighteenth century as Whigs, the Harleys as Tories. But no family could obtain a permanent, still less an exclusive, hold on the borough. If at Leominster ‘two brothers were to stand, they must be clear of each other’.1

On the death of Hanbury Williams in 1759, Lord Bateman succeeded him as high steward of Leominster, and Chase Price as Member; and, hostile to each other, they next shared the representation of the borough (Jenison Shafto was returned in 1761 on Bateman’s interest). How Price first established his interest is uncertain—ranking as a Tory, and a nephew of Sir Richard Chase, in 1755 Lord Oxford’s candidate for Radnorshire, he may have had the support of the Harleys, whom in 1761 he supported in the county and borough of Radnor. But in time he acquired so strong a position as to be able in 1767 to barter away his seat to the Government, for the solicitor-general, Edward Willes. An opposition was attempted by Arthur Evans, a retired East India captain, and member of the Leominster corporation, who, however, declined after the poll had been open for two hours.2 When half a year later Willes was about to be promoted to the King’s bench, Price, on the worst terms with Lords Bateman, Powis, and Oxford, tried to secure Clive for ally against them; offered to return Clive’s brother on the vacancy at Leominster; and with Clive’s help, hoped to carry both seats against Bateman at the general election. But Clive would not endorse Price’s bold schemes or his over-subtle methods; in the end Price, by his ‘great personal influence’, carried the by-election for John Carnac, a nabob and follower of Clive.3

In 1768 Bateman and Carnac were returned unopposed. In 1774 Price does not seem to have played any part; and when he died in 1777, his interest, which was personal, vanished. Bateman retained his seat till 1784, when he retired from Parliament. Of the other Members, Thomas Hill and Richard Payne Knight sat primarily on their own interest, while Frederick Cornewall was of the Powis-Clive connexion. Knight voted with the Opposition, and in 1780 Administration thought of starting a candidate against him.4 But the candidature of Thomas Mytton, a Shropshire squire, declared on the day of election,5 was hardly serious. By 1784 Leominster seems to have become even more open to strangers: none of the three candidates had any old connexion with the borough. Hunter, an East India director, and Curzon were followers of Pitt, while Elliot, a brother-in-law of George Cornewall, M.P. for Herefordshire, was a Foxite; and their victory over Elliot is the more remarkable in view of the interest which three friends of Fox, Lord Clive, Lord Malden, who in 1781 had inherited Hampton Court, and Lord Surrey, whose wife inherited in 1782 the Scudamore estate of Holme Lacy, had at Leominster.

Author: J. A. Cannon


  • 1. Somerset Davies, receiver of the land tax for Shropshire, to Ld. Clive, 23 Oct. 1767, Clive mss.
  • 2. Glocester Jnl. 23 Mar. 1767.
  • 3. See PRICE, Chase.
  • 4. Robinson’s survey of July 1780.
  • 5. Glocester Jnl. 14 Oct. 1780.