New Windsor

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 300


13 Apr. 1754Henry Fox 
 John Fitzwilliam 
19 Nov. 1755Fox re-elected after appointment to office 
5 July 1757Fox re-elected after appointment to office137
 Charles Bowles86
25 Mar. 1761John Fitzwilliam 
 Augustus Keppel 
23 Dec. 1765Keppel re-elected after appointment to office 
16 Mar. 1768Augustus Keppel 
 Lord George Beauclerk 
18 May 1768Richard Tonson vice Beauclerk, deceased 
9 Nov. 1772John Montagu vice Tonson, deceased 
8 Oct. 1774Augustus Keppel 
 John Montagu 
8 Sept. 1780John Montagu214
 Peniston Portlock Powney174
 Augustus Keppel158
31 Mar. 1784John Montagu 
 Peniston Portlock Powney 
19 July 1787Richard Wellesley, Earl of Mornington, vice Montagu, deceased 
1 July 1788Powney re-elected after appointment to office 

Main Article

In 1754 the Duke of Cumberland, who resided at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park, had the chief interest, and the borough was managed by Henry Fox. The Duke of St. Albans had an interest dating back at least to 1722, and a number of local landowners had considerable influence. There was a large proportion of independent voters, and the borough was not easily managed.

In 1757 Fox, on standing for re-election after his appointment as paymaster general, had to face an expensive contest. Richard Rigby wrote that Fox’s opponent, Charles Bowles, ‘lives in the town, has a good estate in Oxfordshire, and was of the warmest on the side of the Old Interest [in the Oxfordshire election of 1754]. The cry at Windsor is True Blue and Old Interest for ever.’ And on 2 July:1

Fox’s election at Windsor is very doubtful. There is a Jacobite subscription of £5,000 raised against him, with Sir James Dashwood’s name at the head of it. The Beauclerk interest has joined it, and I am in the greatest fear for him; at all events it must cost him a vast deal of money.

In 1761 the Duke of St. Albans put up Aubrey Beauclerk against Cumberland’s candidates, Augustus Keppel and John Fitzwilliam, but a contest was averted by Beauclerk’s being provided with another seat. Cumberland’s death in 1765 enabled the Beauclerks to re-assert their influence. In October 1767 Lord George Beauclerk announced that he would stand at the coming general election, ‘but not without the support of Government’; Augustus Keppel, connected with Rockingham in opposition, also announced his candidature, ‘though ever so disagreeable to Administration’. Beauclerk asked the Treasury for a candidate to stand jointly with him, and Grafton recommended Richard Tonson, a large landowner near Windsor. But Tonson declined standing against Keppel ‘from his intimacy with Lord Albemarle’, and Grafton now suggested that Beauclerk should sound Sir William East, a Berkshire baronet.2

Keppel, fearing an expensive contest, would have liked an agreement recognizing Beauclerk as ‘the Minister’s Member’ and himself as ‘the town’s’; if this could not be secured, he was prepared to stand with Tonson, ‘firmly determined to risk purse and everything else with him’. On 5 Nov. 1767 Keppel wrote to Newcastle:

Lord George Beauclerk canvassed last Monday not very successfully, and he meant to have brought Sir William East as his partner. Why Sir William did not come they don’t write me, but that had he appeared, the Government votes were directed to support him. This step has inflamed the town against Lord George, for they say however inclined they might be to bring in a Member for the court they must warmly resist their offering two.

After this no more was heard of East, nor did the Treasury suggest another candidate to stand with Beauclerk.

East’s withdrawal brought Tonson forward again, and this time he was offered Government support if he would stand single. Tonson informed Keppel, and Newcastle, prompted by Keppel, sent Tonson the following suggestion:

My opinion is that Admiral Keppel and you should declare a junction and effectually join in all respects; and that Admiral Keppel should understand that you readily accept any of the Government votes which you can get, though they are not at the same time for the Admiral; and that both this junction and this circumstance of the separate votes should be publicly known and avowed.

Nothing came of this, and Beauclerk and Keppel were returned unopposed.3 Two months later Beauclerk died, and Tonson, with Government backing, was elected without a contest.

In 1772 Tonson died, and John Montagu, with Government support, was elected in his place. The source of the Montagu interest at Windsor has not been found, but that interest was strong: John Montagu was returned unopposed in 1772 and 1774, and at the contested election of 1780 was head of the poll.

In 1780 both Members for Windsor belonged to the Opposition, and Keppel had made himself particularly obnoxious to the court. On 10 Apr. the King wrote about Windsor to John Robinson:

The corporation has ever been adverse to Government ... Now the corporation is desirous of having a candidate recommended by Administration, and the inhabitants will warmly espouse such a person. Lt.-Col. [Robert Seymour] Conway says that Admiral Keppel can be thrown out without any difficulty, that the assiduity of Lord Beaulieu might make it more difficult to remove Mr. Montagu, though Lord Beaulieu certainly thinks Government could beat him.

And Robinson, in his survey for the general election, noted: ‘Mr. Montagu will it is thought come in again.’ When Peniston Portlock Powney, a considerable landowner near Windsor, offered to stand he was promised full support by Government. According to North, he ‘stipulated at first only for £1,000’, but altogether £2,600 was paid on account of Windsor out of the King’s private account. George III canvassed his tradesmen on Powney’s behalf, yet Keppel was beaten by only 16 votes.4

In 1784 Robinson expected that Montagu and Powney, both of whom supported Pitt, would be chosen again. On 30 Mar. the King wrote from Windsor to Pitt:5

There has been a ridiculous attempt here of Lord Penrhyn, but a few hours convinced him that he had no chance against the late Members. Mrs. Keppel [wife of the Dean of Windsor] has this day sent to her few tenants that a candidate will still arrive before the election, which is settled for nine tomorrow; but should one appear it cannot be of further mischief than of obliging the late representatives to have a poll.

Montagu and Powney were returned unopposed; and on Montagu’s death in 1787 Lord Mornington, a Government candidate, who had no connexion with Windsor, was elected.

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. Bedford mss 34, f. 67; Bedford Corresp. ii. 261.
  • 2. T. Keppel, Life of Keppel, i. 397-8; Bradshaw to Grafton, 20 Oct. 1767, Grafton mss.
  • 3. Add. 32986, ff. 30, 128, 257, 362.
  • 4. Abergavenny mss; Laprade, 37, 58-59.
  • 5. Chatham mss.