Single Member Welsh 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 2,000


30 Apr. 1754Sir William Owen 
7 Apr. 1761Sir John Philipps 
12 Feb. 1765Sir Richard Philipps vice Sir John Philipps, deceased778
 Hugh Owen701
12 Apr. 1768Sir Richard Philipps850
 Hugh Owen737
 Election declared void, 6 Mar. 1770 
20 Mar. 1770Hugh Owen 
25 Oct. 1774Hugh Owen 
25 Sept. 1780Hugh Owen1089
 Richard Philipps, Baron Milford912
6 Apr. 1784Sir Hugh Owen 
9 Feb. 1786Richard Philipps, Baron Milford, vice Owen, deceased 

Main Article

Electorally Pembrokeshire was the largest of the Welsh counties. Throughout this period its politics turned round the rivalry between its two leading families, the Owens of Orielton and the Philippses of Picton Castle. The struggle was fought between Sir William Owen and Sir John Philipps, and then between their sons, Hugh Owen (who succeeded his father in 1781) and Sir Richard Philipps (created Baron Milford in the Irish peerage in 1776). Owen was defeated in 1765, and again at the general election of 1768; but in 1770 the House declared Philipps’s election void on the grounds that the poll had been irregularly taken and it was impossible to decide which candidate had a majority of legal votes. Philipps did not stand at the ensuing by-election but instead put up John Symmons, who declined the poll when the sheriff decided to hold the election at Pembroke, a stronghold of the Owens, instead of Haverfordwest, the customary place.

In 1774 Owen was returned unopposed, but in 1780 Lord Milford, as Philipps had now become, renewed the contest. After Owen had won by nearly two hundred votes he boasted in the press that his interest was so clearly established ‘as to admit of neither doubt or dispute’.1 Yet Milford regained the seat on Owen’s death in 1786.

Author: Peter D.G. Thomas


  • 1. Glocester Jnl. 9 Oct. 1780.