Co. Dublin


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

Background Information

Number of voters:

800-900 in 1800 rising to about 2,000 in 1815


14 July 1802HANS HAMILTON708
 Richard Wogan Talbot263
27 Nov. 1806HANS HAMILTON545
 Luke White357
26 May 1807HANS HAMILTON494
 Frederick John Falkiner337
19 Oct. 1812HANS HAMILTON 
4 July 1818HANS HAMILTON783
 Thomas White330

Main Article

Dublin was Ireland’s smallest county and the electorate was correspondingly limited, although as a result of the residential nature of the constituency it included a substantial proportion of well-to-do freeholders. Elections reflected the influence of a number of different interests, no one of which was dominant at the beginning of this period. There were several powerful territorial interests and those of Alexander and Rev. George Hamilton, both of Hampton Hall, Hans Hamilton of Sheep Hill Park, the Talbots of Malahide Castle, and Lord Mountjoy and Luke White* of Luttrellstown were the most important. In addition there were a number of minor territorial and personal interests: in 1801 the Castle possessed a list containing details of over 20. The Castle itself also had some influence; partly through proximity; partly through the archbishop of Dublin and his ecclesiastical patronage, and partly through the numerous civil servants in the constituency, especially those employed in the revenue. Finally, there were active ‘Catholic’, ‘independent’ and ‘popular’ interests, which obliged candidates to consider their political positions on the hustings with some care.1

The sitting Members at the Union were both anti-Unionists and it was probably for that reason that the Cornwallis administration had promised Alexander Hamilton of Hampton Hall the Castle’s support against them at the first post-Union election. This promise placed the new viceroy Hardwicke and his colleagues in a difficult position. Despite their anti-Unionist sentiments, both Falkiner and Hans Hamilton gave a general support to Addington’s government and Falkiner happened to be related to a close personal friend of the prime minister. An additional complication arose when Richard Wogan Talbot declared his candidature in December 1801 and, while stating that he hoped for the support of the Catholic interest, also applied for that of the Castle. Two other aspirants, Charles Ormsby* and Gen. William Gardiner, Lord Mountjoy’s uncle, withdrew, though the latter kept up the appearance of standing. After considerable discussion, which reflected the keen interest that was taken in the outcome of the first Imperial election in the constituency, Hardwicke decided to act in conformity with his predecessor’s promise and the prime minister’s inclination not to meddle unnecessarily in Irish county elections. Thus support was continued to Alexander Hamilton and neutrality maintained between the sitting Members and Talbot. Nominations were accepted on 12 July 1802. Hans Hamilton stressed that he was the servant of his constituents; Falkiner stated that his own means were limited (as indeed they were) and that he therefore sought a return ‘upon the purest grounds’; Talbot stood as a pro-Catholic; but Alexander Hamilton suddenly declined, arguing that he had no wish to disturb the tranquillity of the county with ‘an arduous and uncertain contest’. What he did not say publicly, however, was that he was unable and the Castle unwilling to spend over £1,000 on the election. The poll then got under way and ended two days later in the sitting Members’ favour.2

Of the two Members, Hamilton had by far the strongest territorial interest and this was to prove of considerable importance at the next two elections. In 1806 both were supported by Grenville’s government, but were joined as candidates by Talbot and Luke White. Falkiner underlined his incorruptibility and spoke warmly of the liberal views of Talbot, his opponent in 1802; Hamilton referred to his ‘constant’ attendance and attention to constituents’ interests; White no doubt spoke of his Whig politics, and Talbot, under pressure from the Castle, withdrew. The election was close run until White himself was persuaded to withdraw by a promise from Hamilton that he would not allow his tenantry to support Falkiner at an ensuing election. The sitting Members were therefore returned once again.3

In 1807 Hamilton and Falkiner were both strongly supported by the Castle, even though Hamilton could not personally support his colleague. The third candidate was Talbot, who now claimed that both sitting Members were political turncoats and, unlike himself, opponents of Catholic relief. At the polls, Falkiner was beaten and unsuccessfully petitioned the House that this was due to the Catholic clergy ‘improperly, indecently and unconstitutionally’ compelling the Catholics to vote against him. Of probably greater significance on this occasion, however, was the effect of Hamilton’s promise to White in 1806.4

Both Hamilton and Talbot possessed strong territorial interests, but in 1807 differed on the Catholic question. By 1810, however, Hamilton had been won over to the Catholic cause and it is most likely that his conversion was due to the growing strength of the Catholic interest in his constituency. Both, therefore, possessed interests that in combination would be invincible. In 1812 their election was unanimous. In 1818 two potential opponents did emerge, in the persons of a local squire, Sir Compton Domvile*, and Luke White’s son, Thomas. Domvile declined before the poll and gave his interest to Talbot. The poll commenced but Rev. George Hamilton of Hampton Hall soon declared his interest in favour of the sitting Members. Confronted with such a commanding combination of interests, White felt he had no alternative but to retire.5

Author: P. J. Jupp


  • 1. CJ, lviii. App. 1105; Dublin SPO 544/326/2; E. M. Johnston, Great Britain and Ireland 1760-1800, p. 136; Procs. R. Irish Acad. lvi, sec. C, no. 3 (1954), 246; Wakefield, Account of Ireland, ii. 304.
  • 2. Sidmouth mss, Abbot to Addington, 2 Nov.; PRO 30/9/1, pt. 2/2, Corry to Abbot, 20 Nov.; pt. 3/4, Ormsby to Corry, 19 Nov. 1801; Add. 35713, f. 122; 35723, f. 59; 35731, f. 264; 35772, ff. 7, 17a; Freeman’s Jnl. 9 Mar., 14 July; Dublin Evening Post, 19 Jan.; Wickham mss 5/10, Hardwicke to Wickham, 2 June 1802.
  • 3. Dublin Evening Post, 25 Oct., 20 Nov. 1806.
  • 4. Dublin Corresp. 21 May; Wellington mss, Wellesley to Hawkesbury, 28 May 1807; NLI, Richmond mss 59/151; CJ, lxii. 686, 837.
  • 5. Dublin Corresp. 15, 19, 30 June; Saunder’s News Letter, 19 June 1818.