Available from Boydell and Brewer
Right of Election:
in burgage holders
Number of voters:
|16 June 1790||SIR ROBERT CLAYTON, Bt.|
|31 May 1796||SIR LIONEL COPLEY, Bt.|
|20 Feb. 1797||BENJAMIN HOBHOUSE vice Copley, chose to sit for Tregony|
|5 July 1802||JAMES MILNES|
|JOHN BENN WALSH|
|8 May 1805||NICHOLAS WILLIAM RIDLEY COLBORNE vice Milnes, deceased|
|31 Oct. 1806||JOSIAS DU PRE PORCHER|
|21 Jan. 1807||JOHN ALEXANDER BANNERMAN vice Porcher, vacated his seat|
|9 May 1807||WILLIAM KENRICK|
|25 Jan. 1809||CHARLES COCKERELL vice Heathcote, vacated his seat|
|28 June 1810||KENRICK re-elected after appointment to office|
|5 Oct. 1812||WILLIAM KENRICK|
|SIR CHARLES TALBOT, Bt.|
|28 Dec. 1812||ROBERT WILLIAM NEWMAN vice Talbot, deceased|
|24 Nov. 1814||JOHN BOLLAND vice Kenrick, vacated his seat|
|15 June 1818||MATTHEW RUSSELL|
|13 Feb. 1819||SIR WILLIAM CURTIS, Bt., vice Russell, chose to sit for Saltash|
|27 Feb. 1819||WILLIAM HENRY CAVENDISH CAVENDISH SCOTT BENTINCK, Mq. of Titchfield, vice Tennyson, vacated his seat|
Sir Robert Clayton, 3rd Bt.*, was sole proprietor of Bletchingley. Until his death in 1799, when not returning himself he took paying guests, who, like himself, opposed Pitt’s administration. Francis paid £4,200 in 1790 and Hobhouse £4,000, with freedom of action, in 1797.1 Clayton was succeeded as patron by his cousin John Kenrick†, who had purchased the reversion for £10,000 some 20 years before. On Kenrick’s death four months later he was succeeded by his brother Dr Matthew Kenrick, rector of the parish.
On 15 June 1800 the rector wrote to William Windham:
I flatter myself that my wish to serve government in my attaching myself to you will meet with Mr Pitt’s approbation as it no doubt tends to strengthen his administration in taking two Members from the opposition and adds two friends to his party, and gives me much influence in the county of Surrey and I may add that I have considerable interest in Kent should Mr Pitt want my interest there. As I am ever desirous of strengthening friendships, it will give me sincere pleasure to learn that the union of political interests will have that effect.
The offer was not disinterested, but on 19 Nov. Kenrick complained that his proposal had not been taken up. ‘I flatter myself that you will do me the justice to allow that my terms were friendly and liberal’, he explained, and added pointedly:
I have since had and do now daily receive many pressing applications from monied men—to none of which have I yet listened. Suspense to me is very unpleasant. I wish to know what I am to trust to—politics are fluctuating and precarious—and a sudden dissolution of Parliament would create bustle and confusion — a time certainly not the most favourable for business.
To judge from a letter of a friend of Kenrick’s to Windham on 1 Feb. 1801, the latter had not yet even mentioned the matter to Pitt and there it closed. Kenrick took paying guests in 1802, when he was offered 4,000 guineas ‘by the people in power’, but was prepared to sell privately for £5,000.2
On Kenrick’s death, 27 July 1803, he was succeeded by his brother Jarvis, vicar of Chilham in Kent, who returned his son William in 1806. The other seat went to friends of the ministry of the day, evidently at a price.3 On 7 May 1809 William succeeded his father as patron. The same arrangement was continued until his retirement in 1814 and was reputedly rewarded by his appointment to lucrative offices in 1810 and 1812.4 Kenrick offered his seat to the prime minister in 1814, but Lord Liverpool’s choice was seated elsewhere and the patron’s guest Bolland probably paid for it.5 In 1815 Kenrick sold out for £60,000 to William Russell of Brancepeth, from whom Bletchingley was inherited in 1817 by his son Matthew. It was he who had been offered a seat for £5,000 in 1802 and assured that he ‘need never see his constituents’. Russell returned himself and his father-in-law Tennyson on a temporary basis in 1818, until suitable occupants could be found. Curtis, whose return was secured by the Prince Regent, and Titchfield, whose return was arranged by William Huskisson*, were both paying guests.6 Russell remained patron until the disfranchisement of the borough in 1832.
Author: Brian Murphy
- 1. Blair Adam mss, Graham to Adam, 24 Jan., Hobhouse to ?, 30 Jan. 1797.
- 2. Add. 37879, f. 187; 37880, ff. 13, 61; Lincs. AO, Tennyson d’Eyncourt mss H61/28.
- 3. Add. 40222, f. 387.
- 4. Morning Chron. 28 June 1810; see KENRICK, William.
- 5. Add. 38458, ff. 195, 197.
- 6. Oldfield, Rep. Hist. iv. 613; Tennyson d’Eyncourt mss H83/12; 2 T d’E H/8, f. 50.