Castle Rising


Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in burgage holders1

Number of voters:

about 60 in theory but ‘kept as low as possible’2


(1801): 254


14 July 1794 CHARLES BAGOT CHESTER vice Drummond, deceased
29 Jan. 1808 HON. FULK GREVILLE HOWARD vice Bagot, vacated his seat
21 Feb. 1817 GEORGE HORATIO CHOLMONDELEY, Earl of Rocksavage, vice Bradshaw, vacated his seat
17 June 1818GEORGE HORATIO CHOLMONDELEY, Earl of Rocksavage

Main Article

The Walpole and Howard families continued to name a Member each throughout this period. Since 1779 their representatives in this electoral pact had been George, 3rd Earl of Orford, by now insane, whose faithful friend Charles Boone continued to sit on his interest, and the dowager Lady Andover.3 In 1791 Orford died and was succeeded by Horace Walpole, who in 1796 returned his nephew Churchill and died in the following year. In 1794, on the death of her nominee Drummond, Lady Andover, in whose daughter Frances and son-in-law Richard Howard (formerly Bagot) the Howard property was vested by the terms of their marriage settlement, allowed Howard to bring in his nephew Bagot Chester. This was authorized by Pitt, since Howard held the lucrative place of receiver general for London and Middlesex ‘for which his seat at Castle Rising was to be at the disposal of government’.4 Subsequently Howard engaged an attorney, Joseph Hill, to investigate their title at Castle Rising and was informed by him, 25 July 1795:

I find Lord Orford is only tenant for life of his burgages at Castle Rising, and that no grants have been made for the purpose of creating votes since the year 1740—and he considers, as we did, that it would be imprudent, as well as in vain, to search for the legal representatives of former voters ... I apprehend the right of voting for this borough has never been decided upon in the House of Commons—and that there has never been any contest there [sic].

Howard’s aim was to enable himself to create more votes from the 30 burgages that belonged to his wife’s family, and he was advised by Hill to sell them to Chester or some other person in trust for himself and his wife, under power given in their marriage settlement with the consent of its trustees the Duke of Beaufort and Lord Paget. In September 1795 this arrangement was made, for a bond of £5,000. While Hill was sure it would avert all possibility of a contest, it is not clear whether any concrete threat existed; though Hill thought fit to mention that Anthony Hamond of Westacre, a Whig squire, had some votes, but had been secured by Lord Orford through the gift of a good living for his nephew.5

In 1797 the Orford interest passed to the 4th Earl of Cholmondeley, a friend of the Prince of Wales, who sold the seat from 1802 to 1812. In 1806, for instance, Richard Sharp, a Whig recommended by Lord Holland to George Tierney* and by Tierney to Cholmondeley, paid £4,000 into the Whig election fund at Praed’s bank. Tierney commented that Cholmondeley had let the Whigs have the seat on ‘the usual terms’ and

I presume or rather I fear his lordship means £4,000, in which case we shall receive no more than we pay, and consequently gain nothing for the stock purse. Some noblemen let us have their interest a good deal cheaper, that is to say require no more than the actual expense to which they are put for an election.

The terms were the same in 1807, when Sharp described the seat as ‘in all respects unexceptionable’ in offering to make way for Lord Howick if necessary.6

Richard Howard, despite his lucrative place, was unfriendly to the Grenville administration, and in July 1806 the ministry put pressure on him to induce his nephew, who had at his direction been voting against them, to toe the line, or else lose his place—or at least let government name the next Member. Howard was unco-operative, however, and opposed government in the Norfolk election of 1806.7 The result was that in the following year Thomas William Coke of Holkham, leader of the Norfolk Whigs, attempted to persuade Cholmondeley to put up Anthony Hamond of Westacre as a second man; but Cholmondeley was reluctant to disturb the status quo and he was prepared to buy out Hamond if given the chance.8 In the Parliament of 1807 Howard introduced another nephew of his, Charles Bagot, and subsequently his son-in-law: his daughter and heiress Mary acquired the family interest on his death in 1819. Cholmondeley went over to government with the Prince Regent and in 1812 returned the latter’s friend Cavendish Bradshaw, despite a previous engagement to bring in Lord William Charles Augustus Cavendish Bentinck*. In 1817 Bradshaw made way for Cholmondeley’s heir.9

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Not in the freemen as stated in HP 1754-90, i. 339.
  • 2. Oldfield, Rep. Hist. iv. 268.
  • 3. Oldfield, Hist. Boroughs, i. 409; Norf. RO, Howard mss HOW 742, Orford to Lady Andover, 22 Mar. [1779].
  • 4. Add. 41851, f. 262.
  • 5. Howard mss HOW 764/3-6; HOW 634, 636, 637, burgage lists, Oct. 1795.
  • 6. Add. 51823, Cholmondeley to Holland, 16 Oct.; 51584, Tierney to Holland, Sat. [Oct.], 51585, same to same, Tues. [Oct.]; 51593, Sharp to same, Fri. [1806]; Grey mss, Sharp to Howick, 23 May 1807.
  • 7. Fremantle mss, box 51, Temple to Fremantle [25 July 1806]; Add. 41851, f. 262; HMC Fortescue, viii. 394, 424, 437.
  • 8. Norf. RO, Hamond mss, Coke to Hamond [27 Apr.], 3 May Cholmondeley to Coke, 2 May 1807.
  • 9. Geo. IV Letters, i. 173; Add. 40350, ff. 28-30.