Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Background Information

Estimated number qualified to vote:

3,000 to 4,000

Number of voters:

3,658 in Sept. 1831


26 Feb. 1823EDWARD BERKELEY PORTMAN II vice Portman, deceased 
16 Feb. 1826HENRY BANKES vice Pitt, vacated his seat 
15 June 1826HENRY BANKES 
 Henry Bankes1176
30 Sept. 1831ANTHONY ASHLEY COOPER, Lord Ashley vice Calcraft, deceased1847
 Hon. William Francis Spencer Ponsonby1811

Main Article

Dorset, a predominantly rural county, had long been politically moribund, but it was notable for staging, during the reform crisis of 1831, one of the most nationally significant by-elections in this period. Administratively, it was split into nine divisions, while Poole, the most prosperous borough, was technically a county in its own right, although its freeholders were allowed to vote in county elections. With a population of 159,000 in 1831, Dorset had few large settlements, and most of these were its parliamentary boroughs, which (Shaftesbury excepted) lay on or near the sea and derived their prosperity from maritime trade and related activities. The other principal market towns, which also had small manufacturing interests, included Beaminster (sail cloth) and Cerne Abbas (gloves) in the west, Sherborne and Stalbridge (silks) in the north-west, Gillingham and Sturminster Newton (various types of cloth) in the north, Blandford Forum (shirt buttons) in the centre and Wimborne Minster (knitted worsted stockings) in the east. Despite objections from various places, it was agreed in 1825 that the quarter sessions would be held only in the quiet county town of Dorchester.1 The strongly Tory Dorset County Chronicle was published there, while the two Sherborne newspapers, the Mercury (usually known as the Western Flying Post) and the Journal, were Whig in outlook.2 The representation was considered to be independent, with the ‘influence divided amongst a large body of nobility and gentry’.3 Of the resident peers, almost all Tories, the 2nd Baron Rivers of Rushmore Lodge, who (as George Pitt) had been Member for Dorset, 1774-90, was too elderly to exert his former influence. The two most powerful were the 2nd Earl Digby of Sherborne Castle, the lord lieutenant, and the 6th earl of Shaftesbury of St. Giles House, Wimborne St. Giles, who controlled one seat at Dorchester and was chairman of committees in the House of Lords, and they were joined by the lord chancellor, the 1st earl of Eldon of Encombe. The 1st marquess of Anglesey of Plas Newydd, Anglesey, who controlled Milborne Port, across the county boundary in Somerset, was unusual among his Tory colleagues in returning to office (as lord lieutenant of Ireland) under the Grey ministry in 1830 and so supported parliamentary reform. The only other Whig peers were the 3rd earl of Ilchester of Melbury House and another non-resident, the 2nd Earl Grosvenor of Eaton Hall, Cheshire, who purchased estates in and near Shaftesbury in the early 1820s.

No peer had an overriding interest, and the freeholders were ‘principally composed of country gentlemen of small fortunes, very much inclined to Toryism, and "the existing order of things"’. As one typical exemplar wrote in relation to the infrequency of county meetings: ‘though in this quiet county we have I hope no chance of any troublesome people, it is as well not to call the county together more often than is absolutely necessary’.4 Contests were rare as the sitting Members, invariably resident gentlemen of mildly ministerialist bent, were not usually challenged once they had established themselves.5 William Morton Pitt of Kingston House, who was active in a wide variety of local and charitable associations, had sat for Dorset since 1790 and enjoyed an unassailable position. He had been joined at the general election of 1806 by Edward Berkeley Portman of Bryanston, who both that year and the next survived contests against Henry Bankes of Kingston Lacy, the proprietor of Corfe Castle, which he had represented since 1780. Bankes, who retained what were generally thought of as unwelcome ambitions for a county seat, evidently again decided to bide his time at the general election of 1820. Pitt, who rebutted rumours that he would retire because of ill health, and Portman, who restated his independence, were therefore re-elected without opposition.6 Petitions from the agriculturists of Dorset complaining of distress were presented to the Commons by Portman, 11 May, and by John Fleming, the Hampshire county Member, 19 May, and to the Lords, 24 May 1820. Similar petitions were brought up in the Commons, 23 Feb. (by Pitt), 19 Mar., and in the Lords (by Digby), 30 Mar. 1821. The occupiers of land forwarded petitions for relief and continued agricultural protection, which were presented to the Commons, 18, 21 Feb., 5, 20 Mar., 8, 21 May, and to the Lords, 21 Feb., 1 Apr. 1822.7 Portman’s death in Rome in January 1823 was not known in Dorset until about 8 Feb., when the errant Tory and oddly unattractive Bankes, who was in his mid-sixties, immediately offered and began an active canvass. Portman’s eldest son and namesake, who remained in Italy for some weeks, was also seized on as a candidate, although, as he was only in his twenties, his political views and abilities were unknown.8 Grosvenor intended to start a Whig candidate in the person of his third son Robert Grosvenor, the young Member for Shaftesbury, who was also abroad, but concurred with the advice of the 3rd Baron Suffield of Gunton, Norfolk, a former Dorset resident, and his London agent John Jones, against risking a contest at this time against Bankes, especially as Portman did eventually stand.9 Nothing came of the rumoured candidacy of Lord Ashley, probably because the idea was rejected on the ground of expense by his father, Shaftesbury, who favoured Bankes.10 Sir William Oglander† of Parnham House and Nunwell, Isle of Wight, who was suspected of retaining his former aspirations for the county, committed himself to Bankes, but later stated his preference for Portman.11 Also spoken of was the leading Dorset landowner and huntsman James John Farquharson of Langton House, who had a substantial political influence in his own right, but he threw in his lot with Portman.12

Bankes received letters of support from Anglesey, Digby, Rivers, the bishop of Bristol and the Rev. William England, archdeacon of Dorset, as well as many country gentlemen, including Robert Williams of Bridehead, who occupied a seat on his own interest for Dorchester. Several Whigs wrote to Bankes in his favour, but they and even some of the Tories gave their promises only ‘if Mr. Portman is not up’, as it was put by the veteran Whig John Calcraft of Rempstone, the proprietor of and Member for Wareham.13 Bankes’s fortunes therefore ebbed and flowed as the prospects rose and fell for Portman, whose interests were represented by two unexceptionable country gentlemen, Sir James Wyldbore Smith of Sydling St. Nicholas and Down House and Edward Morton Pleydell of Whatcombe House. They initially issued an address, 9 Feb. 1823, stating Portman’s ambition to succeed his father, but withdrawing his pretensions in the face of Bankes’s offer, and they probably envisaged that he would soon take over the other seat from the ageing Pitt. However, it rapidly became evident from private expressions of disquiet, a public meeting in Blandford and the numerous addresses in Portman’s favour, that the freeholders resented this compromise with the unpopular Bankes. On the 12th Smith and Pleydell agreed to allow Portman to be put forward at the nomination meeting, but the following day this was contradicted again, when it was announced that he had positively declined.14 The Tories, therefore, expected Bankes to walk over the course, even though it was known that other leading Whigs would insist on proposing Portman.15 In driving rain at Dorchester on 18 Feb., Bankes was nominated by the Tories James Frampton of Moreton, Ilchester’s brother-in-law, and Lieutenant-General John Michel† of Kingston Russell. Bankes, who had to struggle for a hearing, emphasized his long experience in the Commons and his independence of ministers on financial matters, and denied that he was intolerant on religious issues or was inimical to the less opulent freeholders. Farquharson and Calcraft nominated Portman, while Smith, Pleydell and others stressed his unblemished character and scholarly accomplishments and claimed that he would do nothing to endanger the church. The sheriff, Henry Charles Sturt* of Crichel House, a friend of Bankes, judged the show of hands to be against him. Bankes disputed this, but withdrew the following day in order to avoid the ‘struggle and contention’, and the expense, of a contest.16 The Times, which attacked Bankes’s campaign, commented that ‘we will do that credit to his sagacity to observe, that he very soon knew the county, as well as it knew him’.17 According to the diary of the farmer Henry Kaines of Manston, this result was ‘to the great joy and satisfaction of the major part of the county’; but Anglesey’s agent William Castleman of Wimborne wrote of Bankes, that ‘there was a certainty of his success if he had persevered’.18 Portman was duly elected unopposed, 26 Feb., being introduced by Farquharson and Smith, and represented by his relative William Wyndham of Dinton, Wiltshire. The crowd showed overwhelming support for Portman, but as the Dorchester attorney and joint county treasurer Edward Boswell gloated to Bankes, 27 Feb. 1823, there were only eight resident gentlemen and two clergymen present that day.19

This by-election revealed several aspects of the nature of electoral politics in Dorset, including the accepted practice that the other county Member should observe ‘a most perfect neutrality’, as Pitt put it.20 Bankes’s initial momentum showed how important it was to have an early start of any competitor, even though in this case his attempt to take advantage of Portman’s death and his son’s unavoidable absence was reckoned to be in bad taste.21 Personal standing largely accounted for Bankes’s failure, as he was considered untrustworthy and cowardly, even by the Tory gentry. According to one of Grosvenor’s correspondents, ‘on a former occasion Mr. Bankes is supposed to have said or done something disgracious in the "county’s eye"’, which made him vulnerable to any respectable rival; and Digby observed that the opportunity would have been favourable for Farquharson, ‘for I am persuaded Mr. Bankes will withdraw, sooner than face a stout opponent’.22 By contrast, Portman’s success was connected with his very inoffensiveness, and he inherited the good will which had been enjoyed by his father, whose politics he was expected to follow. His assumption of the cause of independence was also vital, and Jones, who noted that ‘Dorsetshire appears to me so to partake very largely of the character of most counties in its reluctance to adopt strangers and the connections of peers’, had advised Grosvenor that

as your county is so strongly impregnated with Toryism, our language upon politics should be as general as possible: the main ground to be taken, being the desire to maintain the fair independence of the county against ministerialist influence and any compromise over the rights of the freeholders in general.23

So it was ironic that Portman proved to be not only pro-Catholic but also steadily Whig in the House. Another key element in his triumph was that his supporters (and Bankes specifically singled out the Shaftesbury attorney Charles Bowles of Barton Hill House in this respect) rapidly established an association of committees throughout the county. Added to this was Bankes’s known indifference to the poorer voters, and at Portman’s election dinner, Bowles claimed that Bankes had lost so much support because he had scorned to court the ordinary freeholders.24 By comparison, Portman, who returned to England in April 1823 to take up his parliamentary duties, took care to attend several meetings later that year to thank the freeholders in person.25

In the end, Grosvenor had given his support to Portman, and although, with his growing properties and by this act of expedient deference, he was deemed to have established the basis of a substantial future interest in the county, he does not appear to have renewed his attempt on the representation. One of his Shaftesbury agents argued that ‘from the disposition so generally evinced I am sure that whenever old Pitt goes Mr. Robert Grosvenor may be his successor as easily as any gentleman named by the noble lord will succeed him here’.26 However, when Pitt announced his retirement at the time of the expected dissolution in September 1825, Grosvenor, like his eldest brother Lord Belgrave, Member for Chester, was only mentioned in passing. Bankes, who had been given prior notice of Pitt’s intentions, recorded that this event ‘afforded to me a fresh opportunity of offering myself, without much chance of trouble or opposition’. It was thought that Portman might be challenged by an opponent of Catholic relief, perhaps by Farquharson or Bankes’s second son George Bankes of Studland, former Member for Corfe Castle; he began a canvass, but the dissolution was soon postponed to the following year.27 Following a requisition, the owners and occupiers of land in Dorset gathered in Blandford, 9 Jan. 1826, when Farquharson, who chaired the meeting, was elected president of a protectionist Agricultural Association, and petitions to both Houses against alteration of the corn laws were approved.28 The purpose of the meeting was attacked by ‘Artophagos’ in a published Letter to James John Farquharson (1826).

In December 1825, Pitt informed Henry Bankes that his friends, including Shaftesbury, agreed that he should resign on the eve of the session, ‘as being the most beneficial for your interest as well as for that of Portman’. Bankes’s elder son William Bankes* of Soughton Hall, Flintshire, who had already heard of this plan, warned his father against it, because of ‘a sort of menace that Calcraft still holds out ... that you will not succeed to that seat without opposition’. He concluded that

unless it can be known that Calcraft has dropped this tone altogether it is better not to try the experiment for the sake of only getting the seat a few months earlier. At a dissolution Portman’s friends will for his sake take care that the election shall pass off quietly, but if the seat is thrown open at this time he will run no risk whatever from your being wantonly put to ever so much expense and trouble.29

Bankes must have been reassured on this point, for he met with no opposition at the by-election in February 1826, when he was nominated by Frampton and Sturt, and, as he wrote in his diary

had the satisfaction of being returned with perfect unanimity, and apparently to the contentment and with the approbation of a numerous body of freeholders of the highest and the middle classes who attended. The trouble which it occasioned was personally very trifling as I scarcely canvassed anyone, or moved from home upon that account ... the expense also was very moderate by the good management and methodical arrangements of my friends at Dorchester ... so that this object of my long pursuit, which had been sought with so much anxiety, vexation and charge, fell at last, as it were of itself, unexpectedly into my hands, and when every approach to it seemed beyond all reasonable hope.30

As was widely foreseen, at the general election in June 1826 Portman, proposed by Smith and Sir Richard Carr Glyn† of Gaunts, and Bankes, nominated by Frampton and Sturt, were returned unopposed. The Members acknowledged their political differences, but put on a show of amicability at their joint election dinner.31

Petitions from the owners and occupiers of land against revision of the corn laws were brought up in the Commons, 15 Feb., and in the Lords, 19 Feb. 1827.32 That month ‘A Dorsetshire Farmer’ requested a county meeting on the equalization of county rates and, although nothing came of this, the following year the Rev. Harry Farr Yeatman of Stock House, rector of Stock Gaylard, wrote a pamphlet in favour of Inquiry into the Present State of the Existing County Rate.33 After meetings in Blandford, 28 Apr., and Dorchester, 10 May, both chaired by Farquharson, petitions from the growers, dealers and others involved in the wool trade against the importation of foreign wool were presented to the Commons by Portman and to the Lords by Digby, 28 May.34 A similar petition from the Isle of Purbeck was brought up, 4 June 1828, by George Bankes, who had replaced his father at Corfe Castle and held minor office in the duke of Wellington’s ministry.35 The county paper unsuccessfully called for the establishment of a Brunswick Club in Dorset in late 1828,36 and in the Commons on 6 Mar. 1829 Portman, who voted for Catholic emancipation, praised Henry Bankes, who did not, for not having agitated the question in their county. Yet there were several local meetings and many of the forthcoming petitions, including those from Blandford and Wimborne, were presented to the Commons, 9 Mar., by Henry Bankes, who also brought up a hostile petition from the archdeacon and clergy, 14 Apr. Pro-Catholic petitions from Blandford and Wimborne were presented by Robert Palmer, Member for Berkshire, 16 Mar., but the majority opinion was unfavourable and it was suggested that Eldon be presented with a piece of plate in recognition of his rearguard action against emancipation.37 Portman complained of the level of distress in Dorset, 16 Feb. 1830, when he pointed out that Calcraft, also now a junior minister, could inform his colleagues of the extent of the problem from his own knowledge of the county. Portman and Bankes were agreed in their opposition to the sale of beer for on-consumption, having indicated their support for a Blandford meeting on this subject, 4 May 1830.38

As expected, there was no alteration in the representation at the peaceful general election of 1830, when Portman, boasting of his ‘integrity and diligence’, was proposed by Glyn and Sir Edward Baker Baker of Ranston House, and Henry Bankes, insisting on his ‘constitutional principles’, was again nominated by Frampton and Sturt.39 In November and December 1830 several ‘Swing’ riots took place in the areas around Shaftesbury in the north and between Dorchester and Wimborne in the east. These were suppressed, but the decision by some local gentry, notably Portman, to concede higher wages was considered controversial.40 David Okeden Parry Okeden of More Crichel, whose late wife had been Anglesey’s niece, addressed a Letter to the Members in Parliament for Dorset (1830) in favour of alteration of the poor laws, but the idea of calling a county meeting on agricultural distress was not thought to be worth pursuing.41 Frampton, whose own house was threatened, became unpopular for his stout opposition to increasing wages and he was instrumental in the re-establishment of the Dorset yeomanry cavalry under Ilchester’s leadership early the following year. Three years later he was to prosecute the labourers from a neighbouring village whose attempt to combine for higher wages earned them fame as the ‘Tolpuddle Martyrs’.42 The unsettled state of the county was one of the reasons why a public meeting in favour of parliamentary reform was held in Sherborne, 31 Jan. 1831. It was chaired by the Member for Cricklade, Robert ‘Bum’ Gordon of nearby Leweston House, who, like Yeatman and others, spoke for reform and the ballot.43 The ensuing petition was presented to the Commons, 9 Feb., by Portman, who on the 26th stated that ‘it is my firm conviction that the question of reform has made great progress in the county which I have the honour to represent, where public opinion was formerly opposed to it’. Petitions in support of the Grey ministry’s reform bill were presented to the Lords on 23 Mar. Having voted for the second reading, 22 Mar., Portman brought up other Dorset reform petitions on the 23rd, when George Bankes, who (like his father) opposed reform, questioned whether the county was predominantly in its favour and pointed out that the Blandford petition, which had over 700 signatures, actually called for only moderate changes. Calcraft, who had just signalled his surprising return to his former Whig colleagues by voting for the reform bill, declined to adjudicate on the balance of opinion, stating that ‘we do not trouble ourselves much about politics in Dorsetshire, and in my mind the county is none the worse for that’. Nonetheless, another big reform dinner was held in Poole on 7 Apr. 1831, in the presence of Portman and the Poole Members Benjamin Lester Lester of Stone Cottage and William Francis Spencer Ponsonby of Canford House, a younger son of the 3rd earl of Bessborough.44

Portman, like Bankes, offered again at the general election of 1831, although he may already have wanted to withdraw from Dorset as Edward Littleton, Member for Staffordshire, had written to him on 7 Apr. to express his hope that ‘you will succeed in getting your neck out of the noose of county representation’.45 Several meetings were held in support of Portman and the candidacy of another reformer, but nothing came of approaches to Smith, Farquharson and Oglander, who all declined, or Gordon, whose name was raised ‘entirely without his sanction or concurrence’. Deputations from various towns met in Blandford on 28 Apr., when Calcraft issued an address accepting their requisition and embarked on a rapid canvass.46 The same day Lord Grey wrote in his favour to Anglesey, who replied on the 30th that he had already given instructions to his agent ‘most peremptorily, to oppose Bankes, if any reform candidate offered’.47 Portman, who refused to unite with Calcraft, made it clear to the freeholders that ‘I have not either directly or indirectly canvassed or authorized the canvassing of any vote, because I consider that I am to receive your judgement on the day of nomination’.48 As Charles Poulett Thomson*, vice-president of the board of trade, remarked to the Whigs’ Commons leader Lord Althorp, 11 May 1831, he even gave £3,000 to each of his opponent’s committees ‘in order, he says, that the sense of the county upon their rival pretensions may be taken. He richly deserves to be at the bottom of the poll for his absurdity’.49 Edward Ellice*, the patronage secretary, observed that ‘no party, I should think, will thank him for his liberality and munificence, except the postmasters, brewers and innkeepers’.50

Initially, the parties had hoped for another uncontested election; for example, Digby countenanced Portman’s return and Smith was willing to see Bankes re-elected.51 However, the entry of Calcraft, at a general election fought nationally on the reform issue, meant that the contest would be ‘conducted with a greater degree of ardour and staunchness than has been witnessed here for a long series of years’. Bankes’s addresses attacked the reform bill for condemning nine Dorset borough Members, upsetting the proportion of English seats and being of a generally revolutionary character, and, according to a statement signed by about 30 of his leading supporters, he was determined to stand a contest, if necessary.52 He relied on the support of the leading peers and gentry, and his committee included the London barrister Nathaniel Peach* (chairman), who had a residence at Hyde, Ashley, who the previous year had transferred from New Woodstock to Dorchester, Eldon’s grandson Lord Encombe* and Lord Wynford’s eldest son William Best*. His London committee was headed by the increasingly Tory-minded Alexander Baring*.53 In addition, perhaps learning the lesson of previous defeats, Bankes set up an organization of over 30 agents, led by the Dorchester attorney Thomas Gould Read. Committees were established in each of the major towns, responsible for circulating handbills, producing and acting on lists of electors and controlling the expenses.54 Such was the intensity of the canvassing, that one activist complained that

I found today in Sherborne that many of my loyal soldiers are so annoyed at my endeavours for Mr. Bankes that, I am told, many mean to resign. This, to say the least, speaks volumes for their disappointment, and the speedy evaporation of their loyalty.55

Nevertheless, Bankes clearly found this necessary because ‘associations had been formed in several of the large towns, beginning with Poole and Blandford, by the activity of the sectarians of all descriptions, for counteracting my re-election’.56

Although Calcraft only put up £1,000 and had to open a subscription because his party were said to ‘want money to pay agents’, he reaped the benefit of his local popularity, particularly for his role in the abolition of the salt tax in the early 1820s. Bankes, who detailed Calcraft’s faults of private character and ‘shameless inconsistency’ over reform, noted bitterly in his journal that ‘in this time of excitement, which was indeed excessive and nearly universal among the lower orders, reform covered a multitude of sins’.57 His agents did their best to emphasize Calcraft’s abrupt about-turn, and Read observed that his decision to circulate a copy of Calcraft’s anti-reform Commons speech of 4 Mar. ‘has been much approved and has done a great deal of good’.58 In one print Calcraft appeared as ‘The Rival Mount O’Bankes or the Dorsetshire Juggler’, literally eating his words, and in numerous squibs and partisan songs he was satirized as a turncoat or weathercock, who was ‘always at the call of the craft’.59 Portman largely rode out the storm unaffected, but Bankes, using the slogan ‘Bankes and Old England’, was also the target of violent abuse, and Ponsonby, who rallied to the reformers, had to advise Bankes to avoid Poole, ‘as he would have been exposed not merely to disappointment, but to the violence of a highly excited populace’.60 Calcraft conducted a triumphant canvass, especially at Sherborne, and it was reported of Bankes that ‘the whole feeling, energy and intellectual force of the county are so strongly against him, that, in spite of his attorneys, out he must go’.61 Because of the large attendance at the nomination meeting, 6 May 1831, it was adjourned from the county hall in Dorchester to the nearby ancient earthwork of Poundbury (or Pomeroy). Portman, proposed by Farquharson and Parry Okeden, declared that he stood alone as a reformer and attempted to call the crowd to order. Bankes, nominated by Frampton and William Hanham of High Hall, was attempting to hold his ground against the predominating weight of reform sentiment when the sheriff, Henry Dawson Damer of Milton Abbey, had to dissolve the meeting because of disturbances. These were caused by clashes between an ugly band of Portlanders, groups of reformers from Poole and Wareham (led by Ponsonby and Granby Hales Calcraft, who succeeded his father to a seat at Wareham) and a troop of yeomanry cavalry under the command of John Sawbridge Erle Drax† of Charborough Park. Calcraft, who had been introduced by Oglander and Smith, complained at being left unheard and condemned the violence. Although Sawbridge Erle Drax was censured by Baring for his part in the proceedings, it was Bankes’s ‘hired blackguards’ who were roundly blamed for the trouble, which served to escalate the continuing tension.62 An address from John Justins of Sherborne stated that the undignified conduct shown to the anti-reformer had persuaded him to plump for Bankes, but this was very much a minority opinion. In contrast, it was reported that the

reformers are in high spirits, declaring that they have with them the whole of the intelligence of Dorsetshire, and that they are only opposed by an oligarchy of squireens and parsons, whose passions and prejudices will induce them, notwithstanding the hopelessness of success, to fight the battle of this veteran champion of their order, as long as the purse of the Charles Street gang remains unexhausted, but not one moment longer. They are using all kinds of dirty tricks to intimidate the poorer voters, but hitherto in vain.63

Since Bankes refused to oblige his opponents by withdrawing, a contest began on 10 May 1831, when the three candidates were proposed by the same sponsors and Bankes, the show of hands going against him, demanded a poll. Portman, who told the electors to ‘do as you please’ as to their second votes, led on all six days, during which Bankes and Calcraft exchanged allegations about obstructions given and objections made to each others’ voters, and the Shaftesbury printer and controversialist John Rutter enlivened the proceedings with his views on reform. Bankes blamed his first day failure on his agents, who thereafter made frantic efforts to increase his numbers, but he only polled more than Calcraft (and then only 15) on the fourth day, when he was already over 100 adrift. He admitted that ‘when things begin ill, it is difficult to retrieve them, and a first impression has often a decisive effect’, but was persuaded, by his son George and others, to keep the poll open an extra day.64 He eventually resigned on the 16th, after 2,654 electors had voted and about another 300 had withdrawn their votes or had had them rejected or left undecided.65 As Bankes himself wrote, his farewell speech ‘was well received upon the spot, and much commended wherever it was mentioned’. He retained enormous respect for his over 50 years’ service in the Commons, and although he finished 276 votes behind the main reform candidate, he was at least given credit for his spirited conduct during the contest; the ‘constitutionalists’ announced a subscription for a presentation of plate.66 His expenses, after he had received £450 from Portman to cover his share of their joint votes, amounted to just under £14,000 (which was about the same as he had spent in total for the 1806 and 1807 contests).67 Portman, who expressed his esteem for his former colleague and his hope for the re-establishment of amicable relations in county affairs, asserted his approval of the whole bill, but, like Calcraft, with whom he attended several celebratory dinners, he nevertheless argued that the franchise should be extended to the renters of landed property. Calcraft, although ‘not respected’ for having twice changed parties, gloried in the triumph of reform, which had altered the complexion of Dorset politics: he declared that it ‘had so long been in the trammels of a [i.e. the Tory] party, that it was thought impossible to return two Members of liberal principles’. The victory was marred by attacks on anti-reformers, notably in Blandford, and George Bankes, Best and Encombe were set upon in Wareham.68

The pollbook, taken from the nine divisional manuscript pollbooks (including Poole under the Shaftesbury division) was published that year by Weston, Symonds and Sydenham, the printers of the County Chronicle.69 According to this and two slightly inconsistent contemporary analyses,70 Portman, who received support from 64 per cent of the voters, and Calcraft (54 per cent) had only a negligible number of plumpers (28 and 96 respectively). However, Bankes, who received support from 44 per cent of the voters, had 850 plumpers (a third of all voters), which represented 72 per cent of his votes. He shared 320 splits with Portman (an eighth of the voters), which made up 27 per cent of his total (although it only amounted to 19 per cent of Portman’s). Since it can be surmised that most of these splitters were anti-reformers who had no objection to Portman as the other sitting Member, the anti-reform (broadly speaking, ‘Tory’) vote can be taken to be 44 per cent of the number of voters. Set against them were the other half (1,352 or 51 per cent) of the voters who split for Portman and Calcraft, and who represented 80 and 93 per cent of their respective totals. There was, therefore, a clear county divide over the reform bill, and only eight voters split between the two opposing party candidates, Bankes and Calcraft. Unsurprisingly, most of the gentry voted for the anti-reformer, and, following one calculation, of the 156 clergymen who voted, 98 plumped for Bankes and 41 split for him and Portman. The three divisions in which Bankes was dominant were (after Bridport) among the most populous and prosperous in the county, and they together accounted for 40 per cent of the electorate.71 He did best in Wimborne, the easternmost division which included his own estates and a concentration of other gentry houses, and also led by a comfortable margin in Sturminster in north-central Dorset. In the Dorchester division, the central coastal region which had been his only stronghold in the 1806 and 1807 contests, he finished only 12 ahead of Portman and 39 of Calcraft, though he did well in Dorchester itself, benefiting from Shaftesbury’s interest, and Weymouth and Melcombe Regis. That he was only narrowly ahead was because he did poorly in the Isle of Portland, ‘a most important district in an election for the county, as containing upwards of 300 voters, who generally act in concert’,72 and who on this occasion voted in the proportion of three to two for Portman and Calcraft. They, on the other hand, did comparatively well in the west and centre, including the biggest division, Bridport (accounting for 24 per cent of the electorate), which included the radical and Dissenting strongholds of Beaminster, Bridport borough and Lyme Regis, and the smallest, Cerne (four per cent). They also triumphed in the northern divisions of Shaftesbury, aided by the reformers in the borough, and Sherborne (together representing 15 per cent of the voters), and in the separate jurisdiction of Poole (five per cent), where Ponsonby had a significant interest. Naturally, they did well in their own domains: Portman in the east-central area around Blandford, like his father in 1806 and 1807; and Calcraft on the south-eastern coast at Wareham, despite the fact that Wareham borough and the port of Swanage were oases of reforming sentiment in the usually Tory Isle of Purbeck, which included the tiny borough of Corfe Castle.

Calcraft’s suicide on 11 Sept. 1831 reopened the representation of Dorset and led to another turbulent contest73 - just what ministers had attempted to avoid by excluding Portman and Calcraft himself, although his insanity would have precluded such a promotion, from the list of coronation peerages that month.74 As the diarist Mary Frampton, Henry’s sister, recorded, Calcraft’s death

threw all Dorsetshire into combustion. He had never been happy since his reception in London, after he had been returned for Dorsetshire. A gloomy melancholy never left him, and he put a period to his existence by cutting his throat ... and instantly the first inquiry made was, who would offer themselves to represent the county?75

As Henry Bankes was thought certain to stand, ministers, who urged Anglesey to use his influence, hoped for a credible reform candidate, and Sturt (surprisingly, since he had been a stopgap Member for Dorchester on his kinsman Shaftesbury’s interest in 1830), Farquharson, Oglander and Parry Okeden were mentioned. On the 13th it was settled that Ponsonby, the brother of Lord Duncannon*, the government whip, and brother-in-law of Lord Melbourne, the home secretary, should start with government support. He returned to Dorset to begin canvassing, but was evidently a reluctant candidate, as he stated that he would willingly have stood aside for Farquharson.76 He issued a pro-reform address that day, and a central committee composed of deputations from the principal towns immediately endorsed his candidacy. Meetings in his favour were held throughout the county, and extensive canvassing continued in anticipation of an anti-reform candidate eventually emerging, although for two weeks it looked as if he would face no opposition. He received the assistance of Ilchester’s interest, a local committee led by Parry Okeden and a London committee, which was chaired by Lord Uxbridge* (heir to the eager-to-intervene reformer Anglesey) and included nine other Members.77 On 26 Sept. Ponsonby resigned his seat for Poole, where he was replaced by a ministerialist reformer, although only after a closely fought contest.

To the disgust of Tories locally and nationally, Bankes, even when appealed to by Wellington and requisitioned by Encombe and 12 other Members (including Ashley, Best, Peach and Sturt) balked at what was certain to be an expensive contest. His sons William, now Member for Marlborough, whom John Herries* reckoned was ‘most to blame in this’, and George, who had aspirations at Weymouth, also declined.78 It was fear of the enormous costs involved that initially prevented the entry of Ashley, who had held office in the Wellington administration, and his father, on whom he was financially dependent, certainly discountenanced the idea when it was first mooted. However, the Tory leadership’s promise, which had failed to persuade Bankes, that these expenses would be met by subscription, gave Ashley the opportunity to offer, and Shaftesbury threw his weight behind the campaign.79 Ashley did not announce his candidacy until 27 Sept. 1831, when he issued an alarmist anti-reform address, and this delay was regretted as having let the reformers establish a significant lead, although there was some truth in the rumour that his entry had been put off until the last possible moment in order to make the Whigs drop their guard. On the 29th he was well received on his arrival in Dorchester with his principal sponsors, Farquharson and Smith’s son, John James Smith, who with about 70 others signed a declaration in his favour. Baring again took charge of the anti-reformers’ interests in London, while Ashley’s local committee, chaired by Peach, included Farquharson, his brother John Ashley Cooper*, the Bankes brothers, Baker and the former county Member Francis John Browne of Frampton.80 As had been the case with Bankes at the recent general election, a small army of attorneys, with Read at their head, managed the extensive canvassing.81 Ashley, who voted steadily against reform in the Commons, was quietly replaced at Dorchester by his brother Captain Henry Ashley Cooper, after the prospective Whig candidate, the Tory sheriff’s brother Colonel George Dawson Damer of Came House, was prevented from standing.

There was an unusual development just before the by-election began, which itself indicates the extent of partisanship in the county. On 28 Sept. 1831 Portman wrote to Ashley that

if you succeed in exposing Dorsetshire to the reproach of being the weathercock county you will secure to your supporters the pleasure of another election very shortly for I will not condescend to abandon my consistency to please any set of men and under such circumstances I could not duly represent so fickle a set of electors. Besides I do not think that you are now doing the county any service by disturbing its peace, particularly as you avow that you have no sort of wish to establish a permanent interest therein. I should on ordinary occasions wholly abstain from interference, but on the present I think the honour of the county is at stake and if needful I shall exert myself to support the majority of May.

Ashley, who laid the letter before his committee and made its contents public, brushed it aside by replying on the 30th that ‘nothing is more usual in counties than for two colleagues to differ upon subjects of great moment without either of them considering that it is his duty to defer to the other by retiring from his post’.82 Yet Portman persisted in his opinion, informing Henry Bankes of his views, 28 and 30 Sept., particularly that if Dorset had changed its position on reform since the general election, he could no longer feel confident in his mandate as the remaining pro-reform county Member.83 Portman, who soon spoke and voted for Ponsonby, took exception to the anti-reformers’ ridiculing of him in an election song (possibly ‘The Gentleman Vot Vishes to Retire’), and for the rest of the month exchanged an angry series of letters with Ashley.84

With the reform bill having just been taken up to the Lords, where both parties knew that it would probably receive a hostile reception, the Dorset by-election, like those in Cambridgeshire and elsewhere, took on great importance as a test of public opinion. Already in the Commons on 6 Aug. 1831 Charles Baring Wall had used his victory in the Weymouth by-election to argue that there had been a ‘reaction’ against reform in Dorset, and in this he was supported by George Bankes, though not by Portman. As the radical Lord Radnor commented to his fellow Wiltshire Whig Lord Suffolk, 12 Sept., ‘Calcraft’s death will give the county of Dorset an opportunity of showing, whether they have relaxed in their wishes for reform. I fear, however, that the battle will be to be fought there on very disadvantageous ground’.85 The leading Whigs were understandably anxious about the possibility of an embarrassing defeat and, as Lady Holland observed, ‘the getting in an anti-reformer just now would have a bad effect on the House of Lords’.86 One local reform paper specifically used the threat to the bill in the Lords as a means of exhorting the reformers to poll for Ponsonby.87 Even the survival of the Grey administration depended to some degree on the outcome. Ponsonby, who was reported as saying that ‘the government would not have brought the bill into the Lords if he had not stood for Dorsetshire’, was told by the prime minister that ‘he was the Atlas of the government and must win this battle for them’.88

As for the Tories, although some observers thought that Ashley was unlikely to succeed, several magnates were so encouraged by the perceived reaction of the Dorset farmers and small freeholders that they considered that they had a favourable chance of overturning the general election result.89 In his journal, Henry Bankes explained that Wellington was the ‘chief promoter’ of Ashley’s subscription because he conceived that

if the Whig candidate Mr. Ponsonby should be outnumbered, it would evince a strong reaction in the sentiments of the public with regard to the question of reform, and afford both confidence and argument to the adversaries of the bill in the House of Lords.90

The reformers had been aware that it would be as well to forward as many reform petitions as possible to the Lords, but the Blandford meeting went awry for them when the petition (which was nevertheless presented by Lord Holland, 4 Oct.) was amended to an expression of confidence in the Lords’ use of their own judgement. Lord Ellenborough (who wrongly recorded that this originated in Shaftesbury) was among Tories who lamented that it had not been a county petition, as that would have helped their cause. Yet the leadership of the Tory party were also hopeful of winning the seat, and Ellenborough predicted that ‘if we have a large majority [in the Lords], that is, 40, and if we carry the Dorsetshire election, I think Lord Grey’s resignation very probable’.91 The duke of Newcastle recorded, 29 Sept. 1831, that ‘it was observed to me today that if they are beaten in Dorsetshire and on the reform bill in our House, that the ministers will be check mated’.92

Throughout the full 15 days of the by-election, which began at Poundbury on 30 Sept. 1831, the reaction question dominated the debates.93 Oglander and Parry Okeden, who declared that ‘it is on the fields of Dorset that the battle is to be fought for the bill’, nominated Ponsonby, who advocated reform and urged his supporters to disprove the charge of reaction. Much was made of the fact that Farquharson, who was described by William Holmes* as ‘the most influential man in the county’,94 switched sides to propose Ashley, styling himself a friend only to ‘a fair and constitutional reform’ (and he later explained this inconsistency by asserting that he had been neutral, and had not even voted, at the recent general election). After Baker had seconded the nomination, Ashley denounced the bill as revolutionary and Hanham insisted that those who had supported the reformers in May should now abandon them because the bill had become too extreme. However, apart from the high profile case of Farquharson, there were few notable gains for the anti-reformers; and, for example, although Yeatman (who had once espoused reform) voted for Ashley, Sawbridge Erle Drax (who voted for Ponsonby) indignantly denied in a printed statement, 1 Oct., that his allowing his tenants to be canvassed by Ashley meant that he himself had altered his views on reform.95 Ashley finished the first day’s poll only 28 votes, out of 514, behind Ponsonby, which was considered very creditable given his late start.96 As on each of the following days, both candidates hailed their totals as indicative of their eventual success and appealed for further exertions from their supporters.

In addition to reform, several related issues emerged on the hustings. Not only was the reform bill seen as a general attack on the existing constitution, but the landowners believed themselves threatened by the loss of the borough seats (which would not be outweighed by the additional county seat) and feared that a reformed Parliament would undermine the corn laws. Ponsonby, who insisted that he was an agriculturist and deplored the attempt to divide the urban and rural interests, was heavily criticized for voting (with ministers and, incidentally, Portman) against Lord Chandos’s amendment to enfranchise £50 tenants-at-will; and, although he came from a noble family, he made a very ill-judged attack on the aristocracy on the sixth day of the contest, which Ashley turned against him. It was also not forgotten that he was Irish in origin and had only established himself in Dorset during the previous decade, so that in spite of Ponsonby’s being a resident of reasonably prosperous means, it was Ashley, the penurious heir to a peerage, who was able to pose as the pattern of an independent English country gentleman. Not surprisingly, most of the gentry voted for Ashley. His intellectual conversion to the cause of Catholic emancipation in the late 1820s was conveniently forgotten by his supporters, who contrived to represent Ponsonby, who had also voted for emancipation, and the reformers generally, as the enemies of the established church. This was brought home to Ilchester by the Tory votes of two of his brothers-in-law: the Rev. Townshend Selwyn, vicar of Melbury Bubb, who, on learning of Ilchester’s displeasure, repented of his having been ‘hurried off to Dorchester with my eyes shut fast asleep’ to vote for Ashley; and the Rev. Edward Murray, rector of Winterbourne Monkton, who only reluctantly resigned from Ashley’s committee under pressure from Ilchester, but insisted that the contest took ‘a great deal too much the appearance of an attack upon the church, to justify any clergyman in being passive’.97

The connections and character of the candidates greatly affected their fortunes, sometimes unfairly so. Ponsonby’s having rebuilt one of the churches in Poole counted for nothing when it was known that he was constructing a Catholic chapel at Canford for his wife, even though she, the daughter of the 5th earl of Shaftesbury, was Ashley’s first cousin. By contrast, Ashley’s wife was Melbourne’s niece and the daughter of the Whig society hostess Lady Cowper (probably with the Canningite foreign secretary, Lord Palmerston*). She, who had become an ardent Tory, lodged with the Framptons during the contest, appeared beside her husband and was considered an asset to his campaign.98 Ponsonby, who was satirized as ‘Poisonboy’ or ‘Poisonberry’, was made to appear an honest but ineffectual politician, despite being older and more experienced than his opponent. Ashley, although Ellenborough had at first doubted his political courage,99 proved himself to be quick-witted and pugnacious, shrugging off the hostility of the crowds of reformers and easily putting Ponsonby to shame as an orator. Ever one to turn an ineffective jibe into a telling riposte, Ashley responded to being called a long-nosed rascal by declaring that ‘he should be perfectly satisfied, if he at the termination of the election, were as far ahead of his honourable opponent as there was difference in the lengths of their noses’.100

The excitement increased on the second day, 1 Oct. 1831,101 when Shaftesbury and Farquharson used Dorchester’s market day to bring in Ashley’s local supporters, which gave him a lead of 204 and put him 176 votes ahead (out of 1,208). This was described by Lord Lowther* as ‘most cheering’, because ‘a great criterion of a candidate’s strength is the second day’s poll’, and it was probably sometime during this day that Ashley boasted to Wellington that he had (momentarily) overturned Calcraft’s majority of 276 at the general election.102 But the reformers, notably those from Shaftesbury under Rutter’s leadership, rallied to Ponsonby, who had majorities of 50 and 98 on the subsequent two days. At the end of the fourth day, 4 Oct., Ashley’s lead was only 28, but he triumphantly pointed out that he had now polled more than Bankes had in May (1,308 to 1,176). As many freeholders had now polled as had done so earlier in the year, so there was great interest in how the few remaining voters would act. On the 5th Ashley was only one ahead of Ponsonby, who finished the next day ahead by the same margin, and by the 8th, the last day on which he would lead, Ponsonby had a majority of only seven (out of 3,331). Considering that Ponsonby had nearly been returned unopposed, the very fact that an anti-reformer could stay level with him in a neck-and-neck contest was used by the press as a sign of a real reaction, and Ellenborough, who agreed with this assessment, wrote that ‘Ashley loses ground - but he makes so good a fight that the result cannot materially affect us’.103 In the national public debate, the by-election was related directly to the progress of the reform bill in the Lords.104 Ministers were clearly rattled for, in an undated letter, the Blandford draper and Ponsonby activist Malachi Fisher wrote to Rutter from Dorchester that

this contest is of the greatest importance. The letters from every department of the government received here this morning say (at least imply) that the bill depends on Dorsetshire. The Lords are looking to us for the present expression of public opinion.105

The Upper House would undoubtedly, in any case, have rejected the bill, as happened in the early hours of 8 Oct. 1831; but the reaction which the by-election was perceived to have revealed probably contributed to the size of the majority against the second reading.

News of this defeat caused some disappointment in Dorset, but the Tory paper claimed that when the by-election recommenced, on Monday, 10 Oct. 1831, it ‘did not appear to have caused any great sensation, that result having been so confidently anticipated by both parties’. During the next week, when another 300 electors were polled and Ashley led by daily majorities which fluctuated between seven and 32, great efforts were still made to win in order to provide an endorsement for, or a rejection of, the Lords’ decision. The sheriff had already refused Parry Okeden’s request for an additional assessor to be appointed to deal with the ever increasing number of disputed votes, and arguments about the doubtful legality of the last ones dominated the rest of the proceedings. When the poll closed on 17 Oct., with Ashley finishing only 36 ahead of Ponsonby, this winning margin was outweighed by the more than 12 times as many (451) votes left undecided. Despite Whig calls for a double or special return, the election was declared to be in Ashley’s favour. The sheriff, a Tory, and the assessor, the London barrister Philip Williams, a Whig, almost certainly acted impartially, but it was so close a result that it was bound to be referred to the Commons. As 260 of those left undecided had tendered for Ponsonby and only 191 for Ashley, the reformers naturally claimed that they should have won. Their opponents, of course, argued the opposite case: using the proportions of allowed and rejected votes for the 210 cases of disputed votes already decided in favour of Ashley (175 to 35) and the corresponding 204 for Ponsonby (121 to 83), a handbill entitled The Plain Truth ingeniously suggested that the anti-reformers majority should have been increased by five. This would have made the winning margin 41, the same as the majority in the Lords against the bill, showing the perceived identity of interests between the two events. Although repeated by Read, this was probably the idea of John Sydenham, the editor of the Dorset County Chronicle, whose many strongly anti-reform articles were said to have contributed significantly to Ashley’s success.106

Newcastle opined that the anti-reformer’s success in this ‘most extraordinary contest’ was ‘a valuable triumph under the peculiar circumstances of the times’, but, although grateful for the result, Ellenborough feared that ‘unless we are strongly supported in the country, we shall be beaten in the House of Lords when the bill comes up to us again’.107 Sydenham, who agreed, argued that at least the county’s ‘calm expression of opinion’ would force government to modify its provisions in order to safeguard the landed interest, and, in order ‘to convince the House of Lords that in its conduct it has not fallaciously depended upon the support of the middle classes’, he urged ‘the brave and patriotic yeomen of our country’ not to relax in their efforts.108 In contrast, John Penny, the editor of the Sherborne Journal, saw the result not as a victory for public opinion, but as a regrettable defeat for reformers who had trusted too much to money. As a consequence, unlike at the general election when the Whigs had relied on their principles, he argued that

the election was rendered too much a professional question. The union of action was destroyed, and the battle ... became an old-fashioned contest between two candidates, supported by their different agents and partisans.109

The fiercely fought by-election certainly saw a high degree of popular participation, including in the public quarrels between the competing party newspapers. A great many squibs, songs and other election handbills, many of them hostile to Ponsonby, circulated for several weeks.110 Amid the general atmosphere of scaremongering and intimidation, there were allegations of bribes being given to reformers to abstain and paupers being turned into electors. It was reported that ‘very few elections have taken place where as much acrimonious feeling has been manifested as by the agents and partisans of the two candidates’, and one tense session in the polling booths ended with a Devon attorney punching another from Blandford about the head.111 Violence exploded on the last day of the poll, when a pitched battle took place between some of Ashley’s Portlanders and a body of reformers who were intent on dislodging them from a strategic part of the field. Ashley, having returned thanks and deprecated the disturbances, led his supporters off on a victory parade, but he later had to make his way out of Dorset by a circuitous route.112 Ponsonby, who made the best of his showing and announced that he would consider challenging the result, also tried to prevent further trouble, but further riots at Poundbury were only ended by the return of the yeomanry, who had attended Ashley into Dorchester. There followed a spate of outbreaks against anti-reformers, including threats to the residences of Digby and Eldon, attacks on hate figures in Blandford, notably Ashley’s attorneys George Moore and Septimus Smith, and outrages in Poole, Sherborne and Yeovil.113 There were allegations that some of the pro-reform magistrates, notably Portman at Blandford, were reluctant to intervene to quell the troubles,114 and Melbourne was ‘extremely concerned to learn ... that the spirit of party ... prevails to such a degree in the yeomanry corps of that county that it is deemed inexpedient to call upon them to act in case of riot’.115 The legal proceedings arising out of the disturbances, which lasted into the following year, provided ample opportunity for re-entering into the squabbles and bad feeling engendered by the contest.116

The scale of the divisiveness of the contest can be judged from an analysis of the pollbook, which, taken from the 11 divisional manuscript pollbooks (with two each for Bridport and Dorchester, and including Poole under the Cerne division) was published the following year by Weston, Symonds and Sydenham.117 The number of voters rose by 1,004 (or 38 per cent) to 3,658, so that with the undecided votes the electorate as a whole was just over 4,000. Ashley had 50.5 per cent and Ponsonby 49.5 per cent of the vote, emphasizing the closeness of the result. Although their opponents attempted to argue that the anti-reformers had been boosted by a host of lower class voters, it was clear that Ashley had the support of most of the Tory gentry and, according to one estimate, 19-twentieths of the clergy.118 Ponsonby received the votes of Portman (which balanced Ashley’s vote for Bankes at the general election), Thomas Fowell Buxton and William Williams, the current and former Members for Weymouth and Sir Thomas Lethbridge, former Member for Somerset; but Ashley counted among his voters George and Henry Bankes, John Bond (Corfe Castle), John Gordon (Weymouth), Pitt, St. Paul (Bridport), Sturt, Robert Williams, Baring, Best, Grant (Queenborough), Lott (Honiton), Michel, Neale (Lymington), Peach and Wadham Wyndham (Salisbury). Ponsonby did very well in his own domain of Poole (87 per cent of the vote), but only led Ashley in three divisions: the reform strongholds of Shaftesbury (74), Sherborne (63) and Blandford (55), where Portman’s influence was obviously important. Yet these were among the smallest divisions and together accounted for only a quarter of the electorate. Ashley retained Bankes’s former dominance in Sturminster (61 per cent of the vote) and Wimborne (60), and converted the marginal Dorchester division (60) into a strongly anti-reform sector, no doubt because of his father’s influence in the county town and the about-face of the Portlanders. They, who apparently bitterly regretted their support for Calcraft, were rallied by Richard Steward of Nottington House, former Member for Weymouth, and now only voted seven to six against Ashley, a significant reversal.119 But Ashley’s success owed most to his strength among the remaining, formerly pro-reform, third of the electorate, comprising Cerne (where he had 60 per cent of the vote), Bridport (54) and Wareham (53). The last was particularly striking, and was partly caused by the fact that Calcraft’s elder son and heir John Hales Calcraft, former Member for Wareham, was opposed to reform. It was also probably due to the reassertion of the Bankes’s interest, although it was with no little exaggeration that Eldon could boast ‘that with the exception of a single individual, all Purbeck are "Ashley for ever!".’120

The Tories naturally saw their triumph as the vindication of their claims of a reaction.121 George Bankes declared at the election dinner, 17 Oct. 1831, that ‘I will positively state that a RE-ACTION has taken place, if that be the word; but I should rather call it a removal of delusion.’122 Called up in the Commons by a compliment to this effect, 20 Oct., the day he took his seat, Ashley endorsed this view, citing his lead over Calcraft’s total earlier in the year (1,847 to 1,452) and claiming that many freeholders had told him, ‘we voted the other way at the last election, but we have now discovered that the bill is all humbug’. Ashley had asserted during the poll that many of Calcraft’s voters were now supporting him, and this is borne out to a degree by a comparison of the pollbooks for divisions like Dorchester, where a net 25 voters out of 486 (about five per cent) switched from reform to anti-reform candidates, and Wareham, where a net 21 voters out of 173 (about 12 per cent) so switched. But given that many freeholders who voted at the general election did not do so in the autumn and that a large number of freeholders who had not voted in May appeared at the by-election, the result can hardly be said to have been determined by the relatively small number of those who switched votes from one side to the other. In other places the turnaround was much less marked: for instance, according to one analysis of 77 Sherborne voters, only four moved to Ashley, while three actually transferred away from Bankes.123 Some Tory observers were more discerning when they expressed their doubts about the scale of the supposed reaction. George Fortescue, former Member for Hindon, wrote that ‘the Dorset election I do not understand. I cannot, though I wish it, attribute it to reaction, and much shall I deplore it if, under that idea, opposition to the measure is persisted in’.124 The diarist Greville, who would also have liked to believe in a decided reversal of popular views, noted that the result was certainly ‘indicative of some change, though not of a reaction, in public opinion’. He doubted that anti-reform sentiment would gain any further ground because

although there may be fewer friends to the bill than there were, particularly among the agriculturists, reform is not a whit less popular with the mass of the people in the manufacturing districts, throughout the union, and generally amongst all classes and in all parts of the country.125

The narrow return of a reformer at the subsequent Cambridgeshire by-election partly counteracted the impression of a reaction, but both contests were unfortunate for ministers, who were wary of exposing themselves to any further tests of their popularity.126

In any case, the Dorset election had still to be decided in the Commons, and it was now that finance became a critical issue. No reliable total exists for Ponsonby’s campaign, although one figure put it at £30,000, out of an estimated total of £80,000.127 Individual vouchers and accounts indicate that many thousands of pounds of costs must have been incurred, some of which remained unpaid until the mid-1830s.128 Although Ponsonby had received monies from the Whig grandees, including ‘the northern reformers’, he was left considerably out of pocket,129 and it was probably for this reason that he declined to undertake any challenge to the result. Instead, the petition against Ashley’s return, for which a subscription was raised, was presented to the Commons on 7 Dec. 1831, in the names of John Fisher of Osmington and six other freeholders.130 Ashley, too, had been unable to spare any expense in canvassing, and his agents’ papers contain examples of invoices, such as one for a Wiltshire out-voter.131 His total costs, which amounted to at least £15,600, probably rose as high as £28,000; they were put by Sir John Benn Walsh* at £34,000, and took years to pay off.132 This was despite the subscription, raised from wealthy Tories by their central London organization in Charles Street, which brought in at least £11,000, and Arthur Perceval reported to Sir William Heathcote, 20 Jan. 1832, that Ashley, ‘poor fellow, is already in for £13,000’.133 Ashley, and even his mother-in-law, appealed to Wellington, as head of his party (a title he repudiated), to fulfil his promise of meeting the costs, but as Wellington felt that he had done enough, nothing came of a correspondence with him and Tory managers that lasted into the next year. Another subscription was begun, with Wellington again leading the fund-raising, and Mrs. Arbuthnot organized the collection of ‘ladies plate’ in order to ‘save our party from the deep disgrace of having him put out for want of means’. Yet, since Ashley was unconvinced that this would meet the expected expenses of an election committee, he, in a mood of some bitterness, refused to defend his seat.134 His determination was already widely known (indeed, it was said to have encouraged the Whigs to challenge the return) by the time he made a formal declaration to this effect in the Commons on 17 Jan.135 The Dorset reformers greeted this with glee, mistakenly thinking that it meant Ponsonby would be seated, but on 8 Feb. 1832 William Bankes brought up a petition from several freeholders in defence of Ashley’s election.136

The Dorset committee was chosen amid highly partisan scenes in the Commons, 1 Mar. 1832, and was several times put off because of the illness of the lord advocate, Francis Jeffrey, whom Ashley described as ‘my bitterest enemy’.137 The Tories hoped to undermine Ponsonby’s position by challenging the legality of the Poole voters, but Read doubted that reference to previous pollbooks could prove this either way.138 The main worry for the anti-reformers seems to have been that objections would be made to their having polled their agents, which was not improper if the attorneys had acted gratuitously, but a problem arose in that some had since been paid for services relating to the committee.139 Neither of these issues was, in fact, aired, as Ponsonby’s lawyers began with a catalogue of trifling errors and omissions from the names and addresses of Ashley’s palpably legal voters, and it was for this reason that at least four of the committee wanted to have the petition voted frivolous and vexatious. The reformers lost a substantive question, 19 Mar., when it was decided that the Morcombelake (or ‘Harddown Hill’) votes, which had been created for Ashley’s supporters, were valid, and in view of this precedent the petitioners conceded defeat. Ponsonby issued a farewell address that day, and the Tories celebrated in Dorchester and elsewhere.140 The eventual outcome of the by-election reopened the question of Portman’s resignation. After the return in October 1831, he, who had settled his quarrel with Ashley through the intermediation of Parry Okeden, assured Ilchester that he would await the result of the petition before making his threatened departure.141 While this was at issue there was little other political activity in Dorset that winter, except on the part of Parry Okeden, who pestered Ilchester and the leading Whig magnate Lord Lansdowne of Bowood, Wiltshire, with his idea for the establishment of a permanent Whig Club in the county, comprising ‘a central committee of the landed interest’ to unite with the local town committees. The scheme met with the approval of Ilchester, who would have been its president, Anglesey, Oglander, Portman, Gordon and others, but it came to nothing.142 The Whigs were immediately on the alert, however, when Portman, by an address dated 26 Mar. 1832, announced his resignation. Several towns held meetings calling on him not to embroil the county in another contest, and Oglander, Parry Okeden and over 60 freeholders signed a requisition to this effect. Such appeals succeeded, for Portman withdrew his resignation in another address, 7 Apr. This affair created a good deal of local acrimony, but both sides were probably relieved that there was no further prospect of another contest, which would perhaps have been between Ponsonby and one of the Bankeses, probably William.143 Portman’s wish at one point seems to have been that ‘the Dorsetshire freeholders would compromise in committee on the election and allow me to retire for such a purpose from the House of Commons’, meaning presumably that Ashley would be seated on the understanding that Portman would vacate for Ponsonby.144 This supposition is confirmed in three undated letters to Lady Holland, in which Lady Cowper insisted that

the fair and just proposal is what Mr. Portman himself proposed to some of Ashley’s friends, that he should resign his, Mr. Portman’s, seat to William Ponsonby and that the Tory party should bind themselves not to oppose William Ponsonby’s return in Portman’s place and that for the future the county should be always one and one.145

Yet Dorset opinion was evidently not prepared for such a compromise, and the county Members, reprising their argument over the by-election, clashed in the Commons on 17 May 1832.

The provisions of the reform bill had aroused little comment in respect of the county, although William Bankes had called for the addition of a fourth seat in order to safeguard the agricultural interest, 13 Aug. 1831, and George Bankes had urged the enfranchisement of the Isle of Purbeck (in place of Wareham), 14 Feb., 9 Mar. 1832. Portman made objections to minor changes in the county’s boundaries, 8 June, when ministers made clear that Poole freeholders would be allowed to continue to vote in county elections. On 22 June Portman resisted the Bankeses’ attempts to increase their influence in Wareham, but Wall alleged that the changes were inspired by ministers’ attempts to consolidate the Whig interest.146 Under the Reform Act, Bridport and Dorchester were saved from schedule B, but Corfe Castle was abolished, Lyme, Shaftesbury and Wareham were partially disfranchised and Weymouth and Melcombe Regis’s combined representation was halved to two seats. Dorset gained one Member to become one of the seven ‘triangular counties’, with polling places at Dorchester, Beaminster, Blandford, Shaftesbury, Sherborne, Wareham and Wimborne.147 The passage of the bill was greeted with celebrations, notably at Sherborne on 19 June, but the Tories advertised their continuing presence at the long-awaited dinner in honour of Henry Bankes, which was held in Dorchester on 26 July.148 That month Portman, perhaps aware that his personal standing had been weakened, announced that he would leave the representation of Dorset and, having briefly represented Marylebone in the new Parliament, he was given a peerage by the Whigs in 1837. Ponsonby, who in the meantime had been returned for Knaresborough, declined to contest the county again, but was gratified to come in unopposed as the third Member at the remarkably calm general election in December 1832, when there were 5,632 registered electors. He retired in 1837, being made Baron de Mauley the following year, and was replaced by another Liberal, John Fox Strangways, Ilchester’s half-brother, who transferred from Calne. The unopposed Conservative candidates in 1832 were Ashley, who later represented Bath before succeeding his father as 7th earl of Shaftesbury in 1851, and William Bankes, who was replaced by Sturt in 1835. In 1841 they were joined by George Bankes, who sat until his death in 1856, and although thereafter the county remained strongly Conservative and Protectionist, the minority Whig interest was sometimes able to win one seat.149

Author: Stephen Farrell


  • 1. Pigot’s Commercial Dir. (1830), 273-5, 280, 285, 293, 296, 302; VCH Dorset, ii. 229, 256, 325, 357-8, 362-3, 364.
  • 2. C.H. Mayo, Bibliotheca Dorsetiensis, 74-89.
  • 3. Oldfield, Rep. Hist. (1816), iii. 345; Peep at the Commons (1818), 7; [W. Carpenter], People’s Bk. (1831), 145; F. O’Gorman, Voters, Patrons, Parties, 60.
  • 4. Grosvenor mss 9/11/13; Dorset RO, Bankes mss D/BKL, Frampton to Bankes, 11 Feb. 1823.
  • 5. HP Commons, 1715-54, i. 231; HP Commons, 1754-90, i. 264; HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 129-31.
  • 6. Dorset RO, Anglesey mss D/ANG B5/26; Western Flying Post, 28 Feb., 6, 20 Mar. 1820.
  • 7. CJ, lxxv. 177, 226; lxxvi. 103, 179; lxxvii. 33, 47, 80, 121, 244, 284; LJ, liii. 82; liv. 149; lv. 36, 111; The Times, 12, 20 May 1820, 24 Feb., 31 Mar. 1821.
  • 8. Bankes mss, Frampton to Bankes, 11, 13 Feb.; Western Flying Post, 17 Feb. 1823.
  • 9. Grosvenor mss 9/9/9, 10, 24; 11/40-44; 13/6, 7; 110/3.
  • 10. Dorset RO, Ffooks mss D/FFO 43/2, Digby to Fooks, 11 Feb.; Western Flying Post, 17 Feb. 1823.
  • 11. Bankes mss, Frampton to Bankes, 11 Feb., Oglander to same, 12 Feb.; Western Flying Post, 24 Feb. 1823.
  • 12. Ffooks mss 43/2, Digby to Fooks, 11 Feb.; Bankes mss, Farquharson to Bankes, 15 Feb. 1823.
  • 13. Bankes mss (unlisted bdle.).
  • 14. Ibid. Scott to Bankes, 15 Feb.; Dorset RO, Colfox mss D/COL C12, Colfox to Ham, 11 Feb., replies, 11, 13 Feb.; Western Flying Post, 17 Feb. 1823; Grosvenor mss 9/11/40; Grove Diaries ed. D. Hawkins, 151.
  • 15. Ffooks mss 43/2, Digby to Fooks, 15, 17 Feb.; Western Flying Post, 17 Feb. 1823.
  • 16. Western Flying Post, 24 Feb. 1823; Bankes mss, Bankes jnl. 141.
  • 17. The Times, 21, 22 Feb., 1 Mar. 1823.
  • 18. Dorset RO, Kaines mss D391/1, 26 Feb. 1823; Dorset RO, Anglesey mss B5/32.
  • 19. Western Flying Post, 3 Mar. 1823; Bankes mss.
  • 20. Bankes mss, Pitt to Bankes, 13 Feb. 1823.
  • 21. Western Flying Post, 24 Feb. 1823.
  • 22. Grosvenor mss 9/9/24; Ffooks mss 43/2, Digby to Fooks, 10 Feb. 1823.
  • 23. Grosvenor mss 9/11/43; 110/3.
  • 24. Bankes jnl. 141; Western Flying Post, 3 Mar. 1823.
  • 25. Western Flying Post, 21 Apr., 14 July, 25 Aug., 15 Sept. 1823.
  • 26. Grosvenor mss 9/9/46; 11/42, 43, 45; 13/8.
  • 27. Dorset RO, Anglesey mss B5/36; Western Flying Post, 26 Sept., 3 Oct.; Dorset Co. Chron. 29 Sept., 6 Oct.; Bankes mss, Pitt to Bankes, 27 Sept. 1825; Bankes jnl. 155.
  • 28. Dorset Co. Chron. 29 Dec. 1825, 12 Jan. 1826.
  • 29. Bankes mss, W.J. to H. Bankes, 22 Dec., Pitt to same, 23 Dec. 1825.
  • 30. Dorset Co. Chron. 9, 16, 23 Feb. 1826; Bankes jnl. 156.
  • 31. Dorset Co. Chron. 8, 15, 22 June 1826; Bankes jnl. 158.
  • 32. CJ, lxxxii. 174; LJ, lix. 81.
  • 33. Dorset Co. Chron. 22 Feb., 8 Mar. 1827.
  • 34. Ibid. 3, 17 May; The Times, 29 May 1827; CJ, lxxxii. 498; LJ, lix. 347.
  • 35. CJ, lxxxiii. 397.
  • 36. Dorset Co. Chron. 30 Oct. 1828.
  • 37. Ibid. 26 Feb.; Western Flying Post, 2, 9 Mar.; Sherborne Jnl. 30 Apr. 1829; CJ, lxxxiv. 115, 141, 227.
  • 38. Dorset Co. Chron. 6 May 1830.
  • 39. Ibid. 29 July, 12 Aug. 1830.
  • 40. Ibid. 2, 9, 16 Dec. 1830; E. J. Hobsbawm and G. Rudé, Captain Swing (1985), 99-100; Dorset RO, Fox Strangways mss D/FSI 242, bdle. 1; W.H. Parry Okeden, ‘Agricultural Riots in Dorset in 1830’, Procs. Dorset Natural Hist. and Arch. Soc. lii (1930), 75-95; D. Kerr, Bound to the Soil, 101-15.
  • 41. Fox Strangways mss 242, Portman to Ilchester, 27 Nov. 1830.
  • 42. Jnl. of Mary Frampton ed. H.G. Mundy, 361-3; Dorset RO, Fetherstonhaugh-Frampton mss D/FRA X3, 4; C.W. Thompson, Recs. of Dorset Yeomanry, 108-10; VCH Dorset, ii. 173, 259-61; K.P. Bawn, ‘Social Protest, Popular Disturbances and Public Order in Dorset, 1790-1838’ (Reading Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1984), 92-94, 212-13.
  • 43. Dorset Co. Chron. 3 Feb. 1831.
  • 44. Ibid. 7, 14 Apr. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 226, 423; LJ, lxiii. 363.
  • 45. WCA D.Misc.169 (Dorset RO, Ph.470).
  • 46. Western Flying Post, 25 Apr., 2 May; Dorset Co. Chron. 28 Apr., 5 May 1831; Bankes jnl. 174.
  • 47. PRO NI, Anglesey mss.
  • 48. Dorset Co. Chron. 28 Apr., 5 May 1831.
  • 49. Add. 76382; M. Brock, Great Reform Act, 200.
  • 50. Derby mss 920 Der (14) 117/4, Ellice to Smith Stanley, 11 May 1831.
  • 51. Ffooks mss KY93, Digby to Fooks, 23 Apr.; Dorset Co. Chron. 28 Apr. 1831.
  • 52. Dorset Co. Chron. 28 Apr., 5 May 1831.
  • 53. Ibid. 19 May; Add. 51670, Bedford to Lady Holland, 12 May 1831; Shaftesbury mss OF51/19.
  • 54. Canvassing corresp. can be found in Shaftesbury mss OF51 (mostly Read with Shaftesbury’s St. Giles agent Gee); and Ffooks mss KY90, 93 (mostly Read with the Sherborne attorneys Lowman and Fooks); O’Gorman, 72, 74, 77, 83.
  • 55. Ffooks mss KY93, Goodden to Fooks, Wed. [n.d.]; O’Gorman, 100.
  • 56. Bankes jnl. 174.
  • 57. Ibid.; Add. 51680, Russell to Lady Holland [6 May 1831].
  • 58. Ffooks mss KY90, Read to Lowman, 2 May 1831; O’Gorman, 73.
  • 59. M.D. George, Cat. of Pol. and Personal Satires, xi. 16685; Procs. Dorset Natural Hist. and Arch. Soc. cix (1987), cover illustration. For a list of addresses and prints, see Mayo, 39-43.
  • 60. Shaftesbury mss OF51/1; Bankes mss, Ponsonby to G. Bankes, 4, 17 May 1831.
  • 61. The Times, 5, 7 May; Western Flying Post, 9 May; Anglesey mss, Grey to Anglesey, 4, 9 May 1831.
  • 62. Bankes jnl. 174; Kaines mss D391/1, 6 May; The Times, 9 May; Dorset Co. Chron. 12 May; Salisbury Jnl. 23 May 1831.
  • 63. Ffooks mss KY93, addresses; The Times, 11 May 1831.
  • 64. Bankes jnl. 174; Shaftesbury mss OF51/6, 8, 11, 17; Ffooks mss KY90, Castleman to Lowman, 7 May, Read to same, 10 May; Dorset Co. Chron. 12, 19 May; The Times, 13, 16, 18 May 1831.
  • 65. PP (1831), xvi. 181 gives the number of voters as 2,961.
  • 66. Bankes jnl. 174; Dorset Co. Chron. 19 May, 28 July 1831.
  • 67. Bankes mss, ‘Dorset election account’, May 1831. This volume of accounts should be supplemented by separate sheets in the unlisted Bankes mss of ‘Dorset election, May 1831’ and Castleman’s accounts for 1808.
  • 68. Greville Mems. ii. 147; Kaines mss D391/1, 10 May; Sherborne Jnl. 19, 26 May; Dorset Co. Chron. 19, 26 May, 9 June 1831.
  • 69. Dorset RO, Q[uarter] S[essions recs.] (Knights of the Shire) 6, ms Dorset pollbooks 1831. Rare copies of the printed pollbook are in GL; Weymouth Public Lib.; Dorset Co. Mus.; Fox Strangways mss 332, bdle. 3; Wilts. RO 865/482.
  • 70. Shaftesbury mss OF 51/25, Dorset Election. Abstract of Votes; Colfox mss X2, ‘Dorset County Election, May 1831, Analysis of Voters Polled’.
  • 71. E. Boswell, Civil Divisions of County of Dorset (1833), 141. Note that the divisional analysis is based on the location of the voter’s qualifying property and not his residence.
  • 72. The Times, 7 May 1831.
  • 73. For accounts of this by-election, see R. Morris, ‘Dorset by-election of 1831’, Procs. Dorset Natural Hist. and Arch. Soc. cix (1987), 5-15; G.B.A.M. Finlayson, Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, 60-64; W. Mate, Then and Now; Or, 50 Years Ago, 90-105.
  • 74. Howard Sisters, 200.
  • 75. Jnl. of Mary Frampton, 377-8.
  • 76. Add. 40313, f. 155; PRO NI, Anglesey mss D619/27A/134, p. 79; 28A-B/80, p. 137 (NRA 10); Three Diaries, 136; Holland House Diaries, 53-54; Bankes jnl. 175.
  • 77. Dorset Co. Chron. 15, 22 Sept.; Western Flying Post, 19, 26 Sept.; The Times, 21, 30 Sept.; Derby mss 119/1/2, Anglesey to Smith Stanley, 15 Sept.; Fox Strangways mss 332, Ilchester to Ponsonby, 29 Sept. 1831.
  • 78. Dorset Co. Chron. 15, 22 Sept.; Bankes mss, Encombe and others to Bankes, 15 Sept.; Bankes jnl. 175; Wellington mss WP1/1197/5; Arbuthnot Corresp. 149, 150.
  • 79. Add. 60288, f. 410; Wellington mss WP1/1195/32; Shaftesbury mss OF50/6-8, 28, 29, 35, 36; Three Diaries, 130, 134.
  • 80. Wellington mss WP1/1195/24, 29; Dorset Co. Chron. 29 Sept.; The Times, 19, 30 Sept., 1 Oct. 1831.
  • 81. Canvassing corresp. can be found in Shaftesbury mss OF50 (mostly Read and Shaftesbury with Gee); Ffooks mss KY72, 85 (Fooks’s lists for Sherborne); KY 92 (mostly Read with Lowman and Fooks); and Dorset RO D1/4119B (mostly Read with the Salisbury attorneys Tinney and Cobb).
  • 82. Shaftesbury mss SE/NC/5/4-6.
  • 83. Bankes mss.
  • 84. Shaftesbury mss SE/NC/5.
  • 85. Sherborne Jnl. 22 Sept. 1831; Wilts. RO, Radnor mss 490/1381.
  • 86. Chatsworth mss 2337, Cavendish to wife, 14 Sept.; Add. 51670, Bedford to Lady Holland, 17 Sept. 1831; Lady Holland to Son, 116, 122.
  • 87. Sherborne Jnl. 15 Sept. 1831.
  • 88. Three Diaries, 136; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 433.
  • 89. Howard Sisters, 207; Wellington mss WP1/1195/24, 29; Hatfield House mss 2M/Gen. Delawarr to Salisbury, 17 Sept., Pare to same, 19 Sept., Dimsdale to same, 3 Oct.; Lonsdale mss, Beckett to Lowther [Oct.] 1831.
  • 90. Bankes jnl. 175.
  • 91. Shaftesbury and District Hist. Soc. [hereafter SDHS] acc. 3397, f. 26; LJ, lxiii. 1051; Lonsdale mss, Beckett to Lowther, 29 Sept. 1831; Three Diaries, 136-8.
  • 92. Unrepentant Tory ed. R.A. Gaunt, 165.
  • 93. Unless otherwise stated, the following account is based on reports in The Times and the three county papers. For the related ideological issues, see M. Flame, ‘Dorset By-Election of 1831 and Rhetoric of "Old" and "New England"’, Som. and Dorset N and Q, xxxv (2003), 201-7.
  • 94. Arbuthnot Corresp. 150.
  • 95. Morris, 7.
  • 96. Three Diaries, 138.
  • 97. Fox Strangways mss 332, Selwyn to Ilchester [5], 8, Murray to same [5, 7, 10 Oct.] 1831, 26, 29 Mar. 1832.
  • 98. Jnl. of Mary Frampton, 378.
  • 99. Three Diaries, 134.
  • 100. Morris, 10.
  • 101. See Wilts. RO, Poore mss 1915/40, Lowry Corry jnl. 2, 29 Oct. 1831.
  • 102. Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 2 Oct.; Wellington mss WP1/1196/37 (wrongly dated 30 Sept. 1831); 1198/2.
  • 103. NLW, Ormathwaite mss G39, ff. 98, 103; Dorset Co. Chron. 6 Oct.; Albion, 6 Oct. 1831; Three Diaries, 142, 145.
  • 104. For example, [Henry Rich], Second Part of What Will the Lords Do? (1831), 4, 6.
  • 105. SDHS acc. 3397, f. 18.
  • 106. Dorset Co. Chron. 20 Oct.; Dorset RO D1/4119B, Read to Tinney and Cobb, 22 Oct. 1831; Gent. Mag. (1847), i. 211; J. Hutchins, Hist. Dorset, i (1861), 67.
  • 107. Unrepentant Tory, 170; Three Diaries, 151.
  • 108. Dorset Co. Chron. 13, 20 Oct. 1831.
  • 109. J. Penny, Dorset Emancipated from Tory Dominion (1832), 24-25.
  • 110. Mayo, 43-45, lists the ephemera held at Dorset Co. Mus. For the 1831 general election, related material can be found in Dorset RO, Bartelot mss D/RGB LL33 and Rackett mss D/RAC 161.
  • 111. The Times, 5, 11, 15 Oct. 1831.
  • 112. Jnl. of Mary Frampton, 378-81.
  • 113. Ibid. 381-3; Twiss, Eldon, iii. 154-9; Dorset Co. Chron. 27 Oct. 1831; Bawn, 55-74.
  • 114. Bristol Univ. Lib. Pinney mss, domestic box B4, bdle. 5, John James Smith’s account of Blandford riots; box R, bdle. 5, Lady Smith to Frances Pinney [19 Oct. 1831].
  • 115. Melbourne’s Pprs. 134.
  • 116. Dorset Co. Chron. 15, 22, 29 Mar. 1832.
  • 117. Q[uarter] S[essions recs.] (Knights of the Shire) 7a, ms Dorset pollbooks Sept.-Oct. 1831; and Ffooks mss KY148 (for the misplaced Sherborne division pollbook). Copies of the printed pollbook are in IHR; GL; Soc. of Genealogists; Bodl.; Dorchester Public Lib.; Dorset Co. Mus.; SDHS acc. 3021; Dorset RO D399/8/1 and Weld mss D/WLC Z57.
  • 118. The Times, 26 Oct.; Dorset Co. Chron. 27 Oct. 1831.
  • 119. Bankes mss, Ashley to Bankes, Sun. [n.d.]; Arbuthnot Corresp. 151; Three Diaries, 138.
  • 120. Wellington mss WP1/1198/15; Twiss, iii. 156.
  • 121. Three Diaries, 149.
  • 122. Dorset Co. Chron. 20 Oct. 1831.
  • 123. Morris, 14.
  • 124. Keele Univ. Lib. Sneyd mss SC10/102.
  • 125. Greville Mems. ii. 206, 210.
  • 126. Wellington mss WP1/1199/13; Arbuthnot Corresp. 153; G. M. Trevelyan, Lord Grey of Reform Bill, 385.
  • 127. Sherborne Jnl. 19 Jan. 1832.
  • 128. Dorset RO D793/1; D1379/1, 2.
  • 129. Beds. RO, Russell mss R766, Ponsonby to Russell, 22 Oct., Tavistock to same, 23 Oct. [1831].
  • 130. Western Flying Post, 24 Oct.; The Times, 8, 30 Nov. 1831; Jnl. of Mary Frampton, 382-3; CJ, lxxxvii. 8-9.
  • 131. Dorset RO D1/4119C; Wilts. Arch. Mag. xlvii. 270-1; O’Gorman, 156-7.
  • 132. Shaftesbury mss SE/NC/5/29, 32-34, 36; E. Hodder, Life and Work of Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury (1887), 66-67; Finlayson, 64, 87; Morris, 13; Ormathwaite mss FG/1/6, p. 8.
  • 133. Lonsdale mss, Beckett to Lowther, 29, [30] [n.d.] Sept. 1831; Wellington mss WP1/1195/38; 1201/2; Hants RO, Heathcote mss 63M84/482; Three Diaries, 130, 134, 148.
  • 134. Wellington mss WP1/1202/39; 1204/2; 1205/12; 1206/3; 1213/5, 8, 11; 1216/23; 1219/3; Shaftesbury mss SE/NC/2/2-9, 11, 13, 23, 24; 5/36; Hodder, 67-69; Ffooks mss KY88/10; Rutland mss, Mrs. Arbuthnot to Rutland [26 Jan. 1832]; Arbuthnot Corresp. 158; Howard Sisters, 218-19.
  • 135. Berks. RO, Pusey mss D/EBp C1/1; CJ, lxxxvii. 34.
  • 136. Dorset Co. Chron. 19, 26 Jan., 16 Feb. 1832; CJ, lxxxvii. 82-83.
  • 137. CJ, lxxxvii. 155-6, 161-2; Southampton Univ. Lib. Broadlands mss SHA/PC/128.
  • 138. Wellington mss WP1/1205/12; Ffooks mss KY88/25.
  • 139. Shaftesbury mss SE/NC/2/25; 5/7-10, 25-28, 35.
  • 140. UCNW, Mostyn mss 265, Lloyd Mostyn to fa. [n.d.]; Ffooks mss KY92, Read to Lowman, 3 Mar.; Western Flying Post, 5, 12, 19, 26 Mar.; Dorset Co. Chron. 8, 15, 22 Mar.; Sherborne Jnl. 15, 22, 29 Mar. 1832; CJ, lxxxvii. 202.
  • 141. Shaftesbury mss SE/NC/5/16, 18, 19, 21; Fox Strangways mss 332, Ilchester to Portman, 18 Oct., reply, 19 Oct. 1831.
  • 142. Fox Strangways mss 332, Parry Okeden to Lansdowne, 11 Nov., to Ilchester, 28 Dec. 1831, 14, 21 Jan., reply [?Jan.] 1832.
  • 143. Dorset Co. Chron. 29 Mar., 5, 12 Apr.; Sherborne Jnl. 29 Mar., 5, 12 Apr.; Western Flying Post, 2, 9 Apr. 1832; WCA D.Misc.169 (Dorset RO Ph.470); Ormathwaite mss FG/1/6, pp. 48-49.
  • 144. Derby mss 128/10, Portman to Smith Stanley, 11 Mar. 1832.
  • 145. Add. 51601.
  • 146. See WAREHAM.
  • 147. PP (1831-2), xxxviii. 133; VCH Dorset, ii. 168-9; C. N. Cullingford, Hist. Dorset, 106.
  • 148. Sherborne Jnl. 14, 21 June; Dorset Co. Chron. 21 June, 2, 9 Aug. 1832; Bankes jnl. 176.
  • 149. Dorset Co. Chron. 5, 19 July, 29 Nov., 6, 13, 20, 27 Dec. 1832; D. Southgate, Passing of the Whigs (1965), 86-87.