Double Member County

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

Number of voters:

about 1,500


18 Apr. 1754William Morgan 
 Capel Hanbury 
9 Apr. 1761William Morgan 
 Capel Hanbury 
15 Dec. 1763Thomas Morgan vice William Morgan, deceased 
9 Jan. 1766John Hanbury vice Capel Hanbury, deceased 
31 Mar. 1768Thomas Morgan 
 John Hanbury 
18 July 1771John Morgan vice Thomas Morgan, deceased743
 Valentine Morris535
20 Oct. 1774John Hanbury 
 John Morgan 
28 Sept. 1780John Hanbury 
 John Morgan 
8 Apr. 1784John Hanbury 
 John Morgan 
1 July 1784Henry Nevill, Visct. Nevill, vice Hanbury, deceased 
28 Nov. 1785James Rooke vice Nevill, called to the Upper House 

Main Article

From 1754 to 1771 the representation of Monmouthshire was shared by the allied families of Morgan of Tredegar and Hanbury of Pontypool, hereditary Whigs. The interest of the Duke of Beaufort, leader of the Tories, wrote a correspondent to George Grenville in 1763, ‘has been much neglected ... for many years’.1 To some extent this was due to the long minority of the 5th Duke, and when he came of age in 1765 there were rumours that he would offer a candidate to the county. But Beaufort did not intervene either at the by-election of 1766 or at the general election of 1768.

On the death of Thomas Morgan in 1771 there took place one of the fiercest contests in Monmouthshire electoral history. John Morgan, brother of the late Member, stood as the candidate of the Morgan-Hanbury party; while Valentine Morris was supported by the Duke of Beaufort and Lord Abergavenny. The support of Lord Clive, who in 1768 had purchased the estate of Usk near Monmouth, was eagerly solicited by both sides. Although Clive was then negotiating the sale of the estate to the Duke of Beaufort, he gave his interest to Morgan; and it was this, according to Clive’s agent, which turned the balance in favour of Morgan.2

The campaign was prolonged by a dubious manœuvre on Morris’s part. The writ was issued on 4 June, and the election was due to take place at the next county court, held at Newport on 20 June. Newport being a Morgan stronghold, Morris had the messenger intercepted and obtained possession of the writ. The election was thus delayed until the county court of 18 July, at Monmouth. This trick seems to have availed Morris little, and was later the subject of an inquiry by the House of Commons; when Morris avoided punishment by making a full confession and apology.3

Beaufort succeeded Thomas Morgan as lord lieutenant of the county, and at the end of 1771 purchased the Usk estate for £55,000. But he did not challenge the sitting Members in 1774, and it came to be understood that Monmouth borough should be left to the Duke and the county to the Morgans. When Morgan and Hanbury offered themselves at the general election of 1784, they had Beaufort support. After the election was over, news came that Hanbury had died in France on 6 Apr. His cousin John Hanbury Williams then declared himself a candidate for the vacant seat. Beaufort supported Lord Nevill, son of the Earl of Abergavenny, and when the Morgans declared in his favour, Hanbury Williams stood down. And in 1785, James Rooke, another Beaufort candidate, was returned unopposed in place of Nevill.

Author: Peter D.G. Thomas


  • 1. Jacob Price to Grenville, 20 Aug. 1763, Grenville mss (Bodl. Lib.).
  • 2. Letter from Thos. Edwards, 19 July 1771, Clive mss.
  • 3. Egerton 234, pp. 128-66, 188-203.