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 inhabitants

Number of voters:

about 800


16 Apr. 1754Nicholas Fazackerley  
 Edmund Starkie  
31 Mar. 1761Nicholas Fazackerley  
 Edmund Starkie  
11 Mar. 1767Sir Peter Leicester vice Fazackerley, deceased  
2 Apr. 1768Sir Peter Leicester289276
 Sir Frank Standish276277
 John Burgoyne259589
 Sir Henry Hoghton239558
 Two polls were taken, one of freemen and the other of inhabitants. BURGOYNE and HOGHTON, on petition, 29 Nov. 1768.  
10 Oct. 1774Sir Henry Hoghton  
 John Burgoyne  
14 Sept. 1780Sir Henry Hoghton487 
 John Burgoyne468 
 John Fenton208 
6 Apr. 1784John Burgoyne536 
 Sir Henry Hoghton531 
 Ralph Clayton228 
 Michael Angelo Taylor225 

Main Article

By a determination of the House of Commons in 1661 the right of election was in the inhabitants, which was always understood to mean the resident freemen; and the borough was controlled by the corporation and the neighbouring gentry. Lord Strange, son of Lord Derby, had an estate around Preston and cultivated the borough; and in 1768, after one of the most violent elections of this period, wrested control from the corporation.1

Strange’s brother-in-law, John Burgoyne, stood on the Derby interest; and to him was joined Sir Henry Hoghton, of a very old Lancashire family, whose uncle had represented Preston. Hoghton was a Dissenter, and there seems to have been a large Dissenting element in the town. The corporation candidates, Leicester and Standish, were neighbouring gentry.

At first both sides polled freemen only, but as Burgoyne and Hoghton began to fall behind they claimed the right of election to be in the inhabitants, of which they had a majority. The mayor refused to poll any who were not freemen, and declared the corporation candidates elected. A second poll was then taken of inhabitants; Burgoyne and Hoghton petitioned, taking their stand on a literal interpretation of the resolution of 1661; and, with Government backing, won their case.

In 1780 and 1784 the corporation, again relying upon the freeman franchise, tried to win back control; but the joint Derby-Hoghton interest was too powerful.

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. W. Dobson, Parlty. Rep. Preston, 33-42.