|Former Borough constituency |
for the House of Commons
|Number of members||Two|
|Replaced by||East Suffolk|
Dunwich was a parliamentary borough in Suffolk, one of the most notorious of all the rotten boroughs. It elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons from 1298 until 1832, when the constituency was abolished by the Great Reform Act.
In medieval times, when Dunwich was first accorded representation in Parliament, it was a flourishing port and market town about thirty miles from Ipswich. However, by 1670 the sea had encroached upon the town, destroying the port and swallowing up all but a few houses so that nothing was left but a tiny village. The borough had once consisted of eight parishes, but all that was left was part of the parish of All Saints, Dunwich - which by 1831 had a population of 232, and only 44 houses ("and half a church", as Oldfield recorded in 1816).
In fact, this made Dunwich by no means the smallest of England's rotten boroughs, but the symbolism of two Members of Parliament representing a constituency that was essentially underwater captured the imagination and made Dunwich one of the most frequently-mentioned examples of the absurdities of the unreformed system.
The right to vote was exercised by the freemen of the borough. Originally, these freemen could vote even if they did not live in the borough, and at times this was abused as elsewhere, notably in 1670 when 500 non-resident freemen were created to swamp the resident voters. From 1709, however, by a resolution of the House of Commons, the franchise was restricted to resident freemen who were not receiving alms. By the 19th century, the maximum number of freemen had been set at 32, of whom the two "patrons", Lord Huntingfield and Snowdon Barne, could nominate eight each, so that between them they controlled half of the votes and needed only one other voter to gain control of elections.
Earlier, in the 1760s, Sir Jacob Downing had been the sole patron, but in theory he also was considered to have only influence, rather than the absolute power to dictate the choice of the Members. Unsurprisingly, in 1754 Downing was able to occupy one seat himself and sell the choice of the other member to the Duke of Newcastle (then Prime Minister) for £1,000; it is not recorded whether he needed to share some of this largesse with his co-operative voters.
Dunwich was abolished as a constituency in 1832, when what remained of the village became part of the new Eastern Suffolk county division.
|Parliament||First member||Second member|
|1372||Peter Cuddon I|
|1373||Peter Cuddon I|
|1383||Peter Cuddon I|
|1386||Peter Cuddon I||Hugh Thorpe|
|1388 (Feb)||Augustine Knight||William Woodward|
|1388 (Sep)||Peter Cuddon I||John Bagge|
|1390 (Jan)||Peter Cuddon I||Robert Runton|
|1391||Robert Runton||William Havene|
|1393||Robert Cook||Augustine Knight|
|1395||Robert Cuddon I||William Chock|
|1397 (Jan)||Peter Helmeth||Nicholas Goodber|
|1399||Peter Cuddon II||Peter Helmeth|
|1410||Peter Cuddon II||William Barber|
|1411||Richard Griston||Thomas Clerk|
|1413 (May)||Thomas Clerk||Thomas Brantham|
|1414 (Apr)||Nicholas Barber||Philip Canon|
|1414 (Nov)||Thomas James||Philip Canon|
|1416 (Oct)||John Luke||Philip Canon|
|1419||Nicholas Barber||Philip Canon|
|1420||John Luke||Richard Russell|
|1421 (May)||William Barber||Robert Cuddon II|
|1421 (Dec)||John Luke||Nicholas Barber|
|1472||William Rabett (Rabbes)|
|1478||Robert Brewes||Edmund Jenny|
|1510-1523||No names known|
|1529||Sir William Rous||Christopher Jenney|
|1542||Robert Browne||George Coppyn|
|1545||Robert Browne||Robert Coppyn|
|1547||Robert Coppyn||John Harrison alias Hall died and |
was repl. Nov 1548 by Thomas Heydon
|1553 (Mar)||Francis Yaxley||Robert Coppyn|
|1553 (Oct)||Robert Coppyn||Nicholas Hasborough|
|1554 (Apr)||Robert Browne||George Jerningham|
|1554 (Nov)||Sir Edmund Rous||Robert Coppyn|
|1555||George Saxmundham||Andrew Green|
|1558||Thomas Pycto||John Browne|
|1558/9||Sir Edmund Rous||Gregory Coppyn|
|1562/3||Robert Hare||Robert Coppyn|
|1571||William Humberstone||Arthur Hopton|
|1572|| Robert Coppyn, died |
and repl.1576 by Godfrey Foljambe
|1584||Walter Dunch||Anthony Wingfield|
|1586||Anthony Wingfield||Arthur Melles|
|1588||Edward Honing||Walter Dunch|
|1593||Henry Savile||Thomas Corbet|
|1597||Arthur Atye||Clipsby Gawdy|
|1601||John Suckling||Francis Myngate|
|1604|| Sir Valentine Knightley |
elected to sit for Northamptonshire
and replaced by Thomas Smythe
|1614||Philip Gawdy||Henry Dade|
|1621||Clement Coke||Thomas Bedingfield|
|1624||Sir John Rous||Sir Robert Brooke|
|1625||Sir Robert Brooke|
|1628||Sir Robert Brooke||Francis Winterton|
|1629–1640||No Parliaments summoned|
|Year||First member||First party||Second member||Second party|
|1640 (Apr)||Henry Coke||Anthony Bedingfield|
|1640 (Nov)||Henry Coke- disabled||Anthony Bedingfield|
|1645||Anthony Bedingfield||Gen. Robert Brewster|
|1648 (Rump)||Gen. Robert Brewster||One seat only|
|1653 (Barebones)||Dunwich not represented in Barebones Parliament|
|1654 (1st Protectorate)||Gen. Robert Brewster||One seat only|
|1656 (2nd Protectorate)||Francis Brewster||One seat only|
|1658 (3rd Protectorate)||Robert Brewster||John Barrington|
|1660||Sir John Rous||Henry Bedingfield|
|1670||Sir John Pettus|
|February 1679||Sir Philip Skippon|
|September 1679||Sir Robert Kemp, Bt|
|1685||Roger North||Tory||Thomas Knyvett||Tory|
|1689||Sir Philip Skippon||Sir Robert Rich, Bt||Whig|
|1700||Sir Charles Blois, Bt|
|1701||Robert Kemp, Bt|
|1709||Sir Richard Allin, Bt||Daniel Harvey|
|1710||Sir George Downing, Bt||Richard Richardson|
|1713||Sir Robert Kemp, Bt|
|1715||Sir Robert Rich, Bt||Charles Long|
|March 1722||Sir George Downing, Bt||Edward Vernon|
|December 1722||Sir John Ward|
|1734||Sir Orlando Bridgeman, Bt|
|1749||Sir Jacob Downing, Bt|
|1761||Henry Fox||Eliab Harvey|
|1763||Sir Jacob Downing, Bt|
|1790||The Lord Huntingfield|
|1816||The Lord Huntingfield||Tory|
|1819||William Alexander Mackinnon|
|1820||George Henry Cherry|
|1831||Earl of Brecknock||Tory|
Dunwich is satirised in an episode of the British television show Blackadder the Third titled "Dish and Dishonesty". Named Dunny-on-the-Wold, and like Dunwich, described as being located in Suffolk, it has a population of three cows, a dachshund called "Colin", and "a small hen in its late forties"; only one person lives there and he is the voter. After an obviously rigged election (in which it is revealed that Blackadder is both the constituency's returning officer and voter, after both his predecessors had died in highly suspicious "accidents"), Baldrick is made an MP having received all 16,472 of the votes cast.
Great Grimsby is a constituency in North East Lincolnshire represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom since December 2019 by Lia Nici of the Conservative Party.
Mitchell, or St Michael was a rotten borough consisting of the town of Mitchell, Cornwall. From the first Parliament of Edward VI, in 1547, it elected two members to the Unreformed House of Commons.
Maldon is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2010 by John Whittingdale, a Conservative.
Grampound in Cornwall, was a borough constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of England, then of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1821. It was represented by two Members of Parliament.
The UK parliamentary constituency of Seaford was a Cinque Port constituency, similar to a parliamentary borough, in Seaford, East Sussex. A rotten borough, prone by size to undue influence by a patron, it was disenfranchised in the Reform Act of 1832. It was notable for having returned three Prime Ministers as its members – Henry Pelham, who represented the town from 1717 to 1722, William Pitt the Elder from 1747 to 1754 and George Canning in 1827 – though only Canning was Prime Minister while representing Seaford.
Radnor or New Radnor was a constituency in Wales between 1542 and 1885; it elected one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons of the Parliaments of England (1542–1707), Great Britain (1707–1800) and the United Kingdom (1801–1885), by the first past the post electoral system. In the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885, the division was merged into Radnorshire.
West Looe, often spelt Westlow or alternative Westlowe, was a rotten borough represented in the House of Commons of England from 1535 to 1707, in the House of Commons of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800, and in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1832. It elected two Members of Parliament (MP) by the bloc vote system of election. It was disfranchised in the Reform Act 1832.
Ilchester was a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of England, then of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1832. It was represented by two Members of Parliament until 1832. It was one of the most notoriously corrupt rotten boroughs.
Bossiney was a parliamentary constituency in Cornwall, one of a number of Cornish rotten boroughs, and returned two Members of Parliament to the British House of Commons from 1552 until 1832, when it was abolished by the Great Reform Act.
The Cornish rotten and pocket boroughs were one of the most striking anomalies of the Unreformed House of Commons in the Parliament of the United Kingdom before the Reform Act of 1832. Immediately before the Act Cornwall had twenty boroughs, each electing two members of parliament, as well as its two knights of the shire, a total of 42 members, far in excess of the number to which its wealth, population or other importance would seem to entitle it. Until 1821 there was yet another borough which sent two men to parliament, giving Cornwall only one fewer member in the House of Commons than the whole of Scotland.
Durham or County Durham was a county constituency in northern England, which elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons from 1675 until 1832.
East Retford was a parliamentary constituency in Nottinghamshire, which elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons for the first time in 1316, and continuously from 1571 until 1885, when the constituency was abolished. Although East Retford was technically a parliamentary borough for the whole of its existence, in 1830 its franchise had been widened and its boundaries had been extended to include the whole Wapentake of Bassetlaw as a remedy for corruption among the voters, and from that point onward it resembled a county constituency in most respects.
Bramber was a parliamentary borough in Sussex, one of the most notorious of all the rotten boroughs. It elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons in 1295, and again from 1472 until 1832, when the constituency was abolished by the Great Reform Act.
Steyning was a parliamentary borough in Sussex, England, which elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons sporadically from 1298 and continuously from 1467 until 1832. It was a notorious rotten borough, and was abolished by the Great Reform Act.
Okehampton was a parliamentary borough in Devon, which elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons in 1301 and 1313, then continuously from 1640 to 1832, when the borough was abolished by the Great Reform Act.
Whitchurch was a parliamentary borough in the English County of Hampshire, which elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons from 1586 until 1832, when the borough was abolished by the Great Reform Act.
Higham Ferrers was a parliamentary borough in Northamptonshire, which was represented in the House of Commons from 1558 until 1832, when it was abolished by the Great Reform Act. It was one of the very small number of English boroughs in that period which was entitled to elect only one rather than two Members of Parliament.
Winchelsea was a parliamentary constituency in Sussex, which elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons from 1366 until 1832, when it was abolished by the Great Reform Act.
Hampshire was a county constituency of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which returned two Knights of the Shire to the House of Commons from 1295 until 1832.
Sandwich was a parliamentary constituency in Kent, which elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons from 1366 until 1885, when it was disfranchised for corruption.