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Right of Election:
in the corporation
Number of voters:
|18 June 1790||SIR JOHN DUNTZE, Bt.|
|HON. DUDLEY RYDER|
|2 Mar. 1791||RYDER re-elected after appointment to office|
|26 Feb. 1795||HON. RICHARD RYDER vice Duntze, deceased|
|27 May 1796||HON. DUDLEY RYDER|
|HON. RICHARD RYDER|
|7 June 1800||HON. DUDLEY RYDER re-elected after appointment to office|
|6 July 1802||HON. DUDLEY RYDER|
|HON. RICHARD RYDER|
|8 July 1803||WILLIAM FITZHUGH vice Dudley Ryder, called to the Upper House|
|4 Aug. 1804||RYDER re-elected after appointment to office|
|3 Nov. 1806||HON. RICHARD RYDER|
|8 May 1807||HON. RICHARD RYDER|
|29 Jan. 1808||RYDER re-elected after appointment to office|
|30 Jan. 1810||RYDER re-elected after appointment to office|
|9 Oct. 1812||HON. RICHARD RYDER|
|17 June 1818||HON. RICHARD RYDER|
|6 July 1819||DUDLEY RYDER, Visct. Sandon, vice Fitzhugh, vacated his seat|
Since the bitter struggle of 1765 Tiverton had been under the joint control of Nathaniel Ryder, 1st Baron Harrowby, and his ally Sir John Duntze, an Exeter merchant and banker. The Ryders had no property in Tiverton, but their interest was the stronger of the two. It dated from the 1730s and was founded on and sustained by the provision of civil, military and ecclesiastical patronage for members of the corporation and their families and by loans and gifts to local tradesmen, especially during the wartime dislocation of the woollen trade. The borough was nevertheless classed as ‘open’ in the ministerial election surveys for 1790 and 1796 and it required attentive and tactful management, which the Ryders were careful to exercise.
In the expectation of Duntze’s crumbling health providing an opportunity to make a challenge, Capt. Thomas Newte, son-in-law of the rich banker Sir Charles Raymond, who had Devonian connexions, intrigued with certain members of the corporation for several years after 1784; but when Duntze died in February 1795 and his son declined to claim the seat it was Benjamin Dickinson, one of the wealthiest corporators, who made the first move, on behalf of his son-in-law, William Speke of Jordans in Somerset. Harrowby had no objections to Speke, but a majority of the corporation, inspired by personal animosity towards Dickinson and faith in Harrowby’s greater potential as a provider of good things, invited the latter to put up his second son Richard, a fledgling barrister. Harrowby at first demurred, fearing that Parliament might interfere with Richard’s legal career, but on being informed that if he did not sanction his son’s candidature Newte and others were resolved to oppose Speke in the name of a Mr Lushington, he gave his blessing. Dickinson and Speke acquiesced and Richard Ryder was returned unopposed as his elder brother Dudley’s colleague.
The Ryders continued to nominate to both seats for the rest of this period and encountered no serious challenge to their control. In 1801 Sir Thomas Carew, 6th Bt., whose ownership of Tiverton Castle made him a potential rival, tried to secure his son’s election to the corporation, but the move was apparently thwarted. Duntze’s son was taken care of by the Ryders’ support for his appointment as receiver-general of the land tax for Devon in the same year, though Harrowby, it seems, was no party to the condition attached by the corporation to their recommendation of Duntze that he should make them an annual donation out of his emoluments.1 The activities of the local dissenters and ‘Jacobins’, led by Martin Dunsford, his kinsmen and cronies, were carefully monitored by Harrowby’s confidant Bevis Wood, the town clerk, but they posed no electoral threat. On Harrowby’s death in 1803 Dudley Ryder, his successor in the peerage, replaced himself with the nabob William Fitzhugh, his cousin’s husband. There was talk of opposition within the corporation to Fitzhugh in 1806, but nothing came of it and he sat undisturbed until Harrowby’s son came of age in 1819.
Author: P. A. Symonds
This account is based on E. S. Chalk, ‘Tiverton Letters and Papers’, N and Q, clxx (1936), passim.
- 1. Ibid. 129, 131, 204; PP (1835), xxiii. 628-30.