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 the freemen

Number of voters:

about 700


(1801): 10,043


18 June 1790SIR JOHN HADLEY D' OYLY, Bt.3363231
 William Middleton306299
 George Rochfort255243
 William Middleton311 
8 Feb. 1803 WILLIAM MIDDLETON vice Crickitt, deceased  
29 Oct. 1806RICHARD WILSON II367 
 Robert Alexander Crickitt182 
 John Gibbons176 
 Richard Wilson II327 
 Richard Henry Alexander Bennet320 
 Henry Baring389356
 Sir William Bolton362335

Main Article

Parliamentary and corporation elections at Ipswich were still carried on under the colours of Yellow and Blue after 1790, but their significance had become so blurred that they served only to illustrate the factiousness of the freemen, one-third of whom were non-resident. Thus the sitting Members in 1790, Middleton and Crickitt, who originally sported the Blue and Yellow colours respectively, both supported Pitt and united as Blues against their Yellow opponents at that election, Sir John D’ Oyly and his Irish brother-in-law Maj. Rochfort. Crickitt had, since he became Member, opened a branch of his bank at Ipswich and become recorder of the borough. Both he and Middleton confronted the substantial dissenting element in the electorate with their votes in Parliament in favour of the repeal of the disqualifying statutes against them; with the result that the opponents of the corporation were divided. D’ Oyly, according to Crickitt, courted the ‘dissenters and the enemies of government’, though there is no evidence that his own politics were so inclined. Sir Gerard William Vanneck, a local Whig, had refused to try Ipswich ‘because he found the politics of that place would render him liable to receive instructions’.) The corporation backed the sitting Members. D’ Oyly’s success (he headed the poll) was doubtless assisted by his nabob’s purse; he was alleged to have spent ‘more than £20,000’ on electioneering.2 Middleton, pipped by Crickitt, failed to reverse the result on scrutiny; and it was to his ‘mismanagement’ that Crickitt attributed the triumph of D’ Oyly’s party in the election of bailiffs that ensued. D’ Oyly, whose success therein was considered a defeat for the friends of Church and King, had appealed to government to be impartial on the occasion.3

D’ Oyly was anxious to secure himself by a compromise with Crickitt over the patronage of the borough, believing this to be the wish of government also, as he was their ‘zealous friend’, 30 Aug. 1790. Crickitt refused, claiming later that D’ Oyly never had ‘recommended at all except on the very day or the next after his election when he obtained a little place that had been promised to Mr Middleton and myself two months before the general election’. When in March 1791 the Members clashed over an application for patronage, D’ Oyly informed the Treasury that he could not withdraw his claim, as his friends having been ‘kept in a state of depression by their opponents and totally excluded from influence in the borough’ and ‘having now regained their former station and become stronger than ever they were before, naturally expect at least an equal share of the patronage and look to me to support their rights’. He disputed the preference given to Crickitt as a friend of government and protested that if it continued he would forfeit his credibility in the borough. He went on pressing for patronage, but Crickitt got the upper hand. On 8 Sept. 1795, after a further clash between them, the latter informed the Treasury that he would not allow his preference to be ‘broke in upon’. D’ Oyly’s fate at the next election was ‘a matter of the most perfect indifference’ to Crickitt, as also was Middleton’s, though he knew the latter would not stand. Crickitt wrote: ‘My own reelection at a dissolution I am so sure of that the candidate who does not avowedly canvass for me also, will very soon find his chance not to be worth much’. He had that day carried the corporation elections unanimously and felt that D’ Oyly, who, when he first offered, ‘wished me to stand on the interest of my friends and ... always flattered himself he had some amongst them’, had spoilt his chances.4 George Rose, to whom this letter was addressed, commented to Pitt that the patronage of Ipswich was divided, though Crickitt ‘by his own account ... has had a pretty good share’. Rose had evidently urged Crickitt to ally himself with D’ Oyly to keep out Middleton, but Crickitt replied that ‘his conduct forbad it’. He offered instead to bring in any other friend of government.5

This came to pass at the election of 1796 when D’ Oyly retired. Crickitt undertook to return Sir Andrew Snape Hamond with himself, giving Rose leave to shoot him if he did not. Their coalition was made public. Middleton, who had been cultivating the borough for the last two years and had failed in overtures to renew his alliance with Crickitt, was defeated, though Hamond had been known to the electors for only a fortnight. In fact, Hamond headed the poll: ‘an event which Mr Rose will avail himself of someday or other to the disadvantage of Mr Crickitt’, according to one observer. As comptroller of the navy Hamond could count on additional support because of the borough’s admiralty jurisdiction on the Suffolk and Essex coast, which made him a source of patronage. In 1798 Crickitt, soliciting a place for his eldest son from Pitt, wrote that had he allied with Middleton he might have secured their return without ‘one single hundred pounds expense’, whereas obtaining Hamond’s had cost him thousands. He had now ‘stood four contested elections for Members at Ipswich and six for corporate officers nearly equal to those for Members’.6

Middleton did not contest the election of 1802 when Crickitt and Hamond were unopposed, standing jointly, but a year later Crickitt’s death gave him an opportunity to come in unopposed. He had previously courted ministerial support.7 The abeyance of Crickitt’s interest and the change of ministry in 1806 made for a complex situation. Middleton hoped for Lord Grenville’s backing in addition to his local support. Hamond, relieved of office, was still in the running with support from the portmen and the outvote. Crickitt’s heir was rebuilding his father’s interest in the corporation. Initially the ministry hoped to retain Middleton and put up Capt. Stopford against Hamond, but Middleton was not strong enough. Viscount Howick informed Lord Grenville, 14 July 1806, that he had assured him of support,

if he could unite in his favour that interest to which, in conjunction with their own strength, government must look to carry the borough. He is sanguine in his belief that if government declare strongly for him, the portmen will not persist in their objection, and that Sir Andrew Hamond will withdraw. All my information goes the other way, and induces me to believe that the only effect of his standing will be to throw a great part of the interest, which we might otherwise command, into the opposite scale, and to ensure the re-election of Sir Andrew Hamond.

Middleton was induced to withdraw with a promise of a seat elsewhere and government substituted John King* for him. But King took office incompatible with a seat in the House and their final choice was Richard Wilson II, who had inherited some local interest from Lord Chedworth. Hamond himself was not eager to stand again and was party to a sub-plot whereby he made over his interest to George Canning, a step approved by Hamond’s friends at Ipswich. He had been prepared to contemplate vacating for Canning at Easter or Whitsun 1806, but the opportunity passed, and when Hamond canvassed in July it was clear that ‘an immediate vacancy’ would not favour Canning. A fleeting ministerial project of putting up Sir Arthur Wellesley was divulged to Hamond, who thereupon admitted that Canning had received an invitation. Canning, who would have depended on a subscription if he had stood, did not expect an early dissolution and decided to be courted by, rather than court, his supporters at Ipswich: ‘Our great object must be not to get into that situation in which the Blues may imagine themselves entitled to our continual attention for the whole interval, perhaps of two years. Wilson and Stopford have fallen into this error.’8

In these circumstances the dissolution of 1806 placed Hamond at a disadvantage and he retired a few days before the poll. The vacuum was filled by Robert Alexander Crickitt, who produced a colleague and received common council support, only to face defeat. Before the dissolution, Wilson had informed the premier (9 Sept.):

My friends carried the bailiffs on Monday last by 62 which is quite decisive of our success at a general election. The other party had carried the bailiffs for these last twenty years. So much for an active and persevering canvass.

The bribery oath was administered to every voter at the election. This ‘Yellow’ triumph proved short-lived.9

In 1807 Wilson chose Bennet, another naval officer, as his colleague in an attempt to repeat his success; but his want of local standing and the change of government told against him. Ipswich was one of the constituencies where the ‘No Popery’ cry was heard. The Portland ministry supported Crickitt in conjunction with Adm. Popham (who had more Admiralty support than Bennet), and Hamond, who had settled locally and had at first offered to sponsor Sir Arthur Wellesley, secured them his friends. The Admiralty interest at Ipswich lapsed in 1812 when Crickitt assumed the same dominance as his father had once enjoyed and returned a fellow banker without a contest.10 But his hold was challenged in 1818. The rebellion was started by six London voters who, ‘on behalf of 200 more’, called for ‘any two gentlemen of independent principles’, 12 June. Henry Baring, scion of the merchant banking dynasty, and Sir William Bolton, Lord Nelson’s nephew, intended to revive the naval interest, were adopted and introduced the new colour of Orange. Crickitt, with a new colleague, was supported by the common council and by Hamond, but the portmen and outvoters and Middleton favoured the Orange candidates. After the expense of a six-day poll and a scrutiny, Crickitt was successful.11 It was a Pyrrhic victory, as the renewal of the contest in 1820 showed.

Authors: Winifred Stokes / R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Second vote: on scrutiny
  • 2. G. Clarke, Ipswich (1830), 59-60, 116; Ipswich Jnl. Apr.-May 1790; W. Suff. RO, E/2/42/4, Hertford to Clarke, 23 Feb. 1790; PRO 30/8/173, f. 286; Ginter, Whig Organization, 134-5; Farington, i. 71.
  • 3. Public Advertiser, 22 June 1790; PRO 30/8/130, f. 168; 173, f. 286.
  • 4. PRO 30/8/130, ff. 166, 172, 179, 181, 286; 173, f. 286.
  • 5. PRO 30/8/127, f. 115; 130, f. 282.
  • 6. PRO 30/8/127, f. 115; True Briton, 16, 23 May; Morning Chron. 24 May; Essex RO, Strutt mss micro. T/B 251/5, Bate Dudley to Strutt, 2 June 1796.
  • 7. Sidmouth mss, Middleton to Addington, 14 Oct. 1802.
  • 8. HMC Fortescue, viii. 233-4; Fortescue mss, Adam to T. Grenville, 23 July; Sidmouth mss, Sidmouth to J. H. Addington, 23 July 1806; E. Suff. RO, misc. mss 691; Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, 16 May, 21, 23 July 1806; Add. 42773, ff. 142, 157; HMC Fortescue, viii. 240.
  • 9. Fortescue mss, Wilson to Grenville, 9 Sept., 29 Oct.; Ipswich Jnl. 4, 25 Oct.; Bury Post, 12 Nov. 1806.
  • 10. Morning Chron. 25 Apr.; Ipswich Jnl. 2, 9 May; Pol. Reg. 13 June 1807; Clarke, 132; Wellington Supp. Despatches, v. 22; Morning Chron. 28 Sept. 1812.
  • 11. The Late Elections (1818), 149; The Poll for Ipswich (1820), App.