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 freeholders and inhabitants paying scot and lot

Number of voters:

about 500


19 Apr. 1754Henry Drax
 Thomas Erle Drax
 John Pitt
 William Augustus Pitt
 Double return. HENRY DRAX and WILLIAM AUGUSTUS PITT declared elected, 30 Dec. 1754.
24 Nov. 1755Edward Drax vice Henry Drax, deceased
27 Mar. 1761Thomas Erle Drax
 John Pitt
18 Mar. 1768Ralph Burton
 Robert Palk
16 Nov. 1768Whitshed Keene vice Burton, deceased
28 Jan. 1774Thomas de Grey vice Keene, appointed to office
8 Oct. 1774William Gerard Hamilton
 Christopher D'Oyly
29 May 1776D'Oyly re-elected after appointment to office
9 Sept. 1780John Boyd
 Thomas Farrer
1 Apr. 1784Thomas Farrer
 Charles Lefebure
15 July 1786John Calcraft vice Fefebure, vacated his seat

Main Article

According to a survey in the Calcraft papers at Rempstone there were in 1753 about 500 tenements at Wareham, of which more than a hundred belonged to the Draxes, and above 50 to the Pitts. On 19 May 1750 John Pitt wrote to Henry Pelham1 about a project on foot ‘for bringing about a reconciliation between me and Mr. Drax, which ... will secure me the constant nomination of a Member at Wareham’. It obviously failed; only after the election of April 1754 had been declared void2 was a compromise concluded, and each family returned one Member, 30 Dec. 1754 and 1761. But in 1763 John Calcraft started buying out smaller owners in Wareham. Thomas Erle Drax wrote to George Grenville, 26 Mar. 1764:3

Though by what I can yet learn our Wareham matters are not in so dangerous [a] way as the enemy give out, yet the attack is not to be despised nor any method for defence neglected. They have bought a few lands and got together such of the inhabitants who are naturally for disturbance with a mercenary view. The corporation is my point.

But after George and John Pitt had sold their Wareham estate to Calcraft, Drax did likewise; and although the indenture of his sale of the manor and borough of Wareham for £10,000 is dated only 16 Aug. 1768,4 the borough had passed into Calcraft’s hands at least a year earlier. On 2 Nov. 1767 he wrote to Lord Loudoun that Wareham would choose whomever he recommended, ‘let vacancies happen when they will’;5 and the Government was in fact negotiating with him for John Pitt’s re-election.6 In March 1768 Calcraft had the choice of both Members, and Wareham was henceforth a Calcraft pocket borough, never again contested in this period.

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Newcastle (Clumber) mss.
  • 2. CJ, 19 Dec. 1754.
  • 3. Grenville mss. (JM).
  • 4. Copy in Calcraft mss.
  • 5. Loudoun mss.
  • 6. Grafton, Autobiog. 181.