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 burgage holders

Number of voters:

about 300


17 Apr. 1754Henry Finch
 John Mostyn
27 Mar. 1761Henry Finch
 John Mostyn
11 Dec. 1761Savile Finch vice Henry Finch, deceased
22 Mar. 1768John Dawnay, Visct. Downe
 Savile Finch
11 Oct. 1774Savile Finch
 Edmund Burke
28 Feb. 1775William Weddell vice Burke, chose to sit for Bristol
11 Sept. 1780Savile Finch
 William Weddell
7 Dec. 1780Edmund Burke vice Finch, vacated his seat
4 Apr. 1782Burke re-elected after appointment to office
11 Apr. 1783Burke re-elected after appointment to office
1 Apr. 1784Edmund Burke
 Sir Thomas Gascoigne
10 Aug. 1784William Weddell vice Gascoigne, vacated his seat

Main Article

Oldfield wrote about Malton in 1792;1

There is no resolution respecting the right of election, but it is exercised by the burgage holders ... these are mostly the property of Earl Fitzwilliam, who has the sole disposal of its political favours.

Fitzwilliam had inherited Malton from his uncle Lord Rockingham, and it was always treated as a complete pocket borough of the Wentworth Woodhouse family. Even so, there were real voters at Malton and attention was necessary.

On 19 May 1761 Sir William St. Quintin, a Yorkshire country gentleman who lived near Malton, requested Rockingham as a ‘great mark of friendship’ to return his son for the borough in the room of Henry Finch who had just died;2 and at the beginning of June Rockingham received a petition, signed by over 150 electors of Malton, recommending St. Quintin, ‘a gentleman we imagine not disagreeable to your Lordship, otherwise we should never have mentioned him’. The petition concluded:

As we have always cheerfully and readily elected such gentlemen as your Lordship and your late worthy father recommended to us for our representatives, we flatter ourselves that you will indulge us in granting this request, and it will infinitely oblige.

About this petition James Preston, Rockingham’s agent, wrote on 2 June:

I wonder at their assurance to pretend to nominate a representative themselves. I think if their request was granted, at another time they may be so insolent as to petition to recommend two representatives.

According to another agent of Rockingham’s, ‘few of ’em knew what they were about’ and ‘most of ’em heartily repented’; while Preston wrote on 14 June that the petition was promoted ‘in conjunction with Mr. St. Quintin’. Rockingham’s answer to the petition is not known, but obviously he could not allow the St. Quintin family to gain a foothold at Malton. On 11 Dec. 1761 Savile Finch, a distant cousin of Rockingham, was returned unopposed.

In 1774 Rockingham nominated Finch and Edmund Burke for Malton, and wrote to Burke, 5 Oct.:

I have ... sent off an express to Malton to desire my friends there to choose you one of their Members. The election will be, I believe, on Monday ... I know it would give much pleasure at Malton if you could get there before the election. Mr. Finch is not to be there before Sunday morning, and I wish much that it might suit you to be at Malton sometime on Sunday.

Burke made the journey from Buckinghamshire (and en route was robbed of ten guineas by a highwayman), and arrived at Malton two days before the election. He and Finch were returned unopposed.

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. Boroughs, iii. 273.
  • 2. Rockingham mss.