Midhurst (UK Parliament constituency)

Last updated

Midhurst
Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
1311–1885
Number of memberstwo (1311–1832); one (1832–1885)
Replaced by Horsham

Midhurst was a parliamentary borough in Sussex, which elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons from 1311 until 1832, and then one member from 1832 until 1885, when the constituency was abolished. Before the Great Reform Act of 1832, it was one of the most notorious of England's rotten boroughs.

Contents

History

From its foundation in the 14th century until 1832, the borough consisted of part of the parish of Midhurst, a small market town in Sussex. Much of the town as it existed by the 19th century was outside this ancient boundary, but the boundary was in any case academic since the townsfolk had no votes. As a contemporary, writer, Sir George Trevelyan explained in writing about the general election of 1768, [1]

the right of election rested in a few small holdings, on which no human being resided, distinguished among the pastures and the stubble that surrounded them by a large stone set up on end in the middle of each portion.

No doubt these "burgage tenements" had once included houses, but long before the 19th century it was notorious that several of them consisted solely of the marker stones, set in the wall of the landowner's estate. Even compared with most of the other burgage boroughs this was an extreme situation, and during the parliamentary debates on the Reform Bills in 1831 and 1832 the reformers made much play of Midhurst's "niches in a wall" as an example of the abuses they wished to correct.

The natural result of a burgage franchise was to encourage some local landowner to attempt to buy up a majority of the tenements, thereby ensuring absolute control of the choice of both of the members of Parliament, and this happened at an early stage in many other burgage boroughs. In Midhurst, however, there was still no single proprietor by the middle of the 18th century. The most influential figure was The Viscount Montagu, who in 1754 claimed to own 104 burgages, but Sir John Peachey owned 40 and there were more than 70 independent burgage holders. Montagu could usually control matters since he could count on the support of at least half of the independent voters, but for many years there had been an agreement not to force matters, and the Peacheys were allowed one of the two seats.

However, after 1754 Montagu began to buy up the independent burgages; meanwhile Peachey sold his property in the borough to Sir William Peere Williams, who in his turn also tried to increase his holding. At the general election of 1761, the two proprietors seem to have been unsure which would prove to have a majority, and both the Prime Minister and opposition leaders were drawn into the negotiations before a compromise could be reached to avoid a contest. However, when Williams was killed during the capture of Belle Île later the same year, his burgages seem to have been bought by Montagu, who thereafter had a clear field. In 1832 there were still said to be 148 burgage tenements, but only 41 qualified electors, of whom no more than 20 voted. Midhurst was now an undisputed pocket borough: its elections consisted, as Trevelyan related of 1768, in a legal fiction:, [1]

Viscount Montagu ... when an election was in prospect, assigned a few of [the burgage tenements] to his servants, with instructions to nominate the members and then make back the property to their employer.

In fact by 1761, Montagu's political affairs were being directed by his son, Anthony Browne, who put the borough's seats at the disposal of his parliamentary leader, Lord Holland – Holland used one of them to bring his son, Charles James Fox, into Parliament even though underage. But Holland died before the 1774 election, and Browne (by now the 7th Viscount Montagu) being short of money sold the nomination for both seats to the Treasury in return for a government pension.

After the 7th Viscount's death in 1787, the Montagu property in the borough was sold to the Earl of Egremont for £40,000. The earl used the seat to return two of his younger brothers, Percy and Charles William to the Commons, with Charles only serving one parliament for Midhurst. [2] Egremont in turn sold it to Lord Carrington, who used it more often than not to provide a parliamentary seat for one of his many brothers or nephews.

In 1831, the population of the borough was 1,478, and the first draft of the Reform Bill proposed to abolish it altogether. But after argument the government recognised that it was possible to make a more respectably-sized constituency by expanding the boundaries to bring in the whole of the town and some neighbouring parishes, and Midhurst was reprieved. The expanded borough consisted of the whole of nine parishes and part of ten others, and had a population of 5,627. Nevertheless, Midhurst was permitted to keep only one of its two seats. Under the reformed franchise, its electorate at the election of 1832 was 252; but this was not sufficient to lead to more competitive elections, since the MP was returned unopposed at every election between 1832 and 1868.

Midhurst was eventually abolished as a separate constituency in the boundary changes of 1885, the town being included from that date in the North Western (or Horsham) county division.

Members of Parliament

1311–1640

ParliamentFirst memberSecond member
1386 Henry Exton Thomas Smith [3]
1388 (Feb) Richard Hobekyn Robert Hynkele [3]
1388 (Sep) William Baggele John Sarceller [3]
1390 (Jan) Richard Hobekyn John Mory [3]
1390 (Nov)
1391
1393 Thomas Clerk John G(renettour?) [3]
1394
1395 John Grenettour Robert atte Rode [3]
1397 (Jan) William atte Barre John Grenettour [3]
1397 (Sep) William Baggele Thomas Sarceller [3]
1399 Michael Baggele John Rombald [3]
1401 Gregory Fuller Robert Pechard [3]
1402 Robert Cooper John Ive II [3]
1404 (Jan) John Symkyn Thomas Westlond [3]
1404 (Oct)
1406 William Brereton John Stapleton I [3]
1407 Thomas Lucas John Puckepole [3]
1410
1411
1413 (Feb)
1413 (May) John Vincent Thomas Walsh [3]
1414 (Apr)
1414 (Nov) John Walsh John Rombald [3]
1415 John Ive II John Sewall
1416 (Mar) John Mousehole John Sewall [3]
1416 (Oct)
1417 William Chyngford Gregory Tanner [3]
1419 Walter Lucas Thomas Russell [3]
1420 Michael Maunser Gregory Pedlyng [3]
1421 (May) William Brereton William Chyngford [3]
1421 (Dec) William Brereton Simon Lopeshurst [3]
1425 John Sewall ? Westlond
1426 Walter Lucas
1510–1523No names known [4]
1529 George Gifford John Bassett [4]
1536 ?
1539 ?
1542 Nicholas Dering John Bourne [4]
1545 ?
1547 Edmund Ford William Wightman [4]
1553 (Mar) John Fitzwilliam William Denton [4]
1553 (Oct) Sir Thomas Lovell William Denton [4]
1554 (Apr) Michael Wentworth William Denton [4]
1554 (Nov) Thomas Harvey William Denton [4]
1555 William Denton Henry Heighes [4]
1558 Thomas Harvey William Denton
1558–9 William Denton Henry Heighes [5]
1562–3 Edward Banester William Denton, died
and replaced 1566 by
John Fenner [5]
1571 Thomas Bowyer Richard Porter [5]
1572 Thomas Holcroft Thomas Bowyer [5]
1584 Edward More Thomas Churcher [5]
1586 Thomas Lewknor Thomas Churcher [5]
1588–9 Samuel Foxe Thomas Churcher [5]
1593 John Boys Thomas Churcher [5]
1597 Lewis Lewknor James Smyth [5]
1601 Richard Browne Michael Haydon [5]
1604–1611 Francis Neville Sir Richard Weston
1614 Thomas Bowyer William Courteman
1621–1622 John Smith Richard Lewknor
1624 Sir Anthony Manie Richard Lewknor
1625 Richard Lewknor Samuel Owfield
1626 Richard Lewknor Sir Henry Spiller
1628 Christopher Lewknor Edward Savage
1629–1640No Parliaments summoned

1640–1832

YearFirst memberFirst partySecond memberSecond party
April 1640 Robert Long Thomas May
November 1640 Dr Chaworth [6] Thomas May Royalist
February 1641 William Cawley Parliamentarian
November 1642May disabled from sitting – seat vacant
1645 Sir Gregory Norton
1653Midhurst was unrepresented in the Barebones Parliament and the First and Second Parliaments of the Protectorate
January 1659 William Yalden Benjamin Weston
May 1659 William Cawley One seat vacant
April 1660 William Willoughby John Steward
March 1661 John Lewknor Adam Browne
May 1661 John Steward
January 1670 Baptist May
February 1679 William Morley John Alford
October 1679 John Lewknor
1681 William Montagu John Cooke
1685 William Morley John Lewknor
1701 Lawrence Alcock
1705 Robert Orme [7]
1709 Thomas Meredyth
1710 Robert Orme
1711 John Pratt
1713 William Woodward Knight
1715 John Fortescue Aland
1717 Alan Brodrick
1721 Sir Richard Mill, Bt
1722 Bulstrode Knight
1729 Sir Richard Mill, Bt
1734 (Sir) Thomas Bootle
1736 Sir Henry Peachey, Bt
1738 Sir John Peachey, Bt
1744 Sir John Peachey, Bt
1754 John Sargent
1761 William Hamilton John Burgoyne
1765 Bamber Gascoyne
1768 Lord Stavordale Hon. Charles James Fox Whig
October 1774 Herbert Mackworth [8] Clement Tudway [9]
December 1774 Hon. Henry Seymour-Conway John Ord
September 1780 Hon. John St John [10] Hon. Henry Drummond
November 1780 Sir Sampson Gideon
April 1784 Benjamin Lethieullier [11]
June 1784 Edward Cotsford
1790 Hon. Percy Wyndham Hon. Charles Wyndham
1795 Peter Thellusson
1796 Sylvester Douglas [12] Charles Long
1800 George Smith
July 1802 Samuel Smith [13]
1802 Edmund Turnor
1806 John Smith [14] Tory William Wickham [15] Tory
January 1807 Henry Williams-Wynn William Plunket
May 1807 Samuel Smith James Abercromby Whig
July 1807 Thomas Thompson
October 1812 George Smith
December 1812 Viscount Mahon
1817 Sir Oswald Mosley
1818 Samuel Smith John Smith Whig [16]
1820 Abel Smith Tory [16]
1830 John Abel Smith Whig [16] George Smith Whig [16]
1831 George Robert Smith Whig [16] Martin Tucker Smith Whig [16]
1832 Representation reduced to one member

1832–1885

YearMemberParty
1832 Hon. Frederick Spencer Whig [16] [17] [18]
1835 William Stephen Poyntz Whig [16] [19]
1837 Hon. Frederick Spencer Whig [16] [17] [18]
1841 Sir Horace Seymour Conservative [16]
1846 Spencer Horatio Walpole Conservative
1856 Samuel Warren Conservative
March 1859 John Hardy Conservative
April 1859 William Townley Mitford Conservative
February 1874 Charles Perceval Conservative
September 1874 Sir Henry Holland Conservative
1885 Constituency abolished

Election results

Elections in the 1830s

General election 1830: Midhurst [16] [20]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Whig John Abel Smith Unopposed
Whig George Smith Unopposed
Whig hold
Whig gain from Tory
General election 1831: Midhurst [16] [20]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Whig George Robert Smith Unopposed
Whig Martin Tucker Smith Unopposed
Registered electors c.41
Whig hold
Whig hold
General election 1832: Midhurst [16] [21]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Whig Frederick Spencer Unopposed
Registered electors 252
Whig hold
General election 1835: Midhurst [16] [21]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Whig William Stephen Poyntz Unopposed
Registered electors 246
Whig hold
General election 1837: Midhurst [16] [21]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Whig William Stephen Poyntz Unopposed
Registered electors 248
Whig hold

Poyntz resigned, causing a by-election.

By-election, 12 December 1837: Midhurst [16] [21]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Whig Frederick Spencer Unopposed
Whig hold

Elections in the 1840s

General election 1841: Midhurst [21]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Conservative Horace Seymour Unopposed
Registered electors 289
Conservative gain from Whig

Seymour resigned by accepting the office of Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds in order to contest a by-election at Antrim, causing a by-election.

By-election, 30 January 1846: Midhurst [21]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Conservative Spencer Horatio Walpole Unopposed
Conservative hold
General election 1847: Midhurst [21]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Conservative Spencer Horatio Walpole Unopposed
Registered electors 304
Conservative hold

Elections in the 1850s

Walpole was appointed Home Secretary, requiring a by-election.

By-election, 5 March 1852: Midhurst [21]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Conservative Spencer Horatio Walpole Unopposed
Conservative hold
General election 1852: Midhurst [21]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Conservative Spencer Horatio Walpole Unopposed
Registered electors 279
Conservative hold

Walpole resigned, causing a by-election.

By-election, 7 February 1856: Midhurst [21]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Conservative Samuel Warren Unopposed
Conservative hold
General election 1857: Midhurst [21]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Conservative Samuel Warren Unopposed
Registered electors 411
Conservative hold

Warren resigned after being appointed a Master in Lunacy, requiring a by-election.

By-election, 3 March 1859: Midhurst [21]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Conservative John Hardy Unopposed
Conservative hold
General election 1859: Midhurst [21]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Conservative William Townley Mitford Unopposed
Registered electors 429
Conservative hold

Elections in the 1860s

General election 1865: Midhurst [21]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Conservative William Townley Mitford Unopposed
Registered electors 309
Conservative hold
General election 1868: Midhurst [21]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Conservative William Townley Mitford 375 58.9 N/A
Liberal Daniel Adolphus Lange [22] [23] 26241.1New
Majority11317.8N/A
Turnout 63763.3N/A
Registered electors 1,007
Conservative hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1870s

General election 1874: Midhurst [21]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Conservative Charles Perceval 530 68.4 N/A
Conservative William Townley Mitford 18523.935.0
Liberal John Patrick Murrough 607.733.4
Majority34544.5+26.7
Turnout 77576.8+13.5
Registered electors 1,009
Conservative hold Swing N/A

Perceval succeeded to the peerage, becoming Earl of Egmont, and causing a by-election.

By-election, 23 Sep 1874: Midhurst [21]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Conservative Henry Holland Unopposed
Conservative hold

Elections in the 1880s

General election 1880: Midhurst [21]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Conservative Henry Holland 501 63.9 4.5
Liberal Charles Woodward Wallis [24] 28336.1+28.4
Majority21827.816.7
Turnout 78475.21.6
Registered electors 1,042
Conservative hold Swing 8.9

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References

Notes

  1. 1 2 G O Trevelyan, Life of Fox, quoted by Porritt
  2. Thorne, R. G (1986). The House of Commons, 1790–1820. History of Parliament Trust. ISBN   9780436521010 . Retrieved 9 December 2010.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 "History of Parliament". History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "History of Parliament". History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "History of Parliament". History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  6. The election of November 1640 was disputed. On 6 January 1641 the House of Commons resolved that "Mr Thomas May and Dr Chaworth, elected for this borough, shall sit till the election be avoided"; but a further resolution on 15 February decided that "Mr Cawley and Mr May are well returned".
  7. Orme was initially declared re-elected in 1708, but on petition his election was declared void
  8. Mackworth was also elected for Cardiff, which he chose to represent, and never sat for Midhurst
  9. Tudway was also elected for Wells, which he chose to represent, and never sat for Midhurst
  10. St John was also elected for Newport (Isle of Wight), which he chose to represent, and never sat for Midhurst
  11. Lethieullier was also elected for Andover, which he chose to represent, and never sat for Midhurst
  12. Created The Lord Glenbervie (in the Peerage of Ireland), November 1800
  13. Smith was also elected for Leicester, which he chose to represent, and did not sit for Midhurst in this Parliament
  14. Smith was also elected for Nottingham, which he chose to represent, and did not sit for Midhurst in this Parliament
  15. Wickham was also elected for Callington, which he chose to represent, and never sat for Midhurst
  16. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Stooks Smith, Henry (1845). The Parliaments of England, from 1st George I., to the Present Time. Vol II: Oxfordshire to Wales Inclusive. London: Simpkin, Marshall, & Co. pp. 87–90. Retrieved 26 November 2018 via Google Books.
  17. 1 2 "Hampshire Advertiser" . 23 December 1837. p. 2. Retrieved 26 November 2018 via British Newspaper Archive.
  18. 1 2 "Coventry Standard" . 22 December 1837. pp. 2–3. Retrieved 26 November 2018 via British Newspaper Archive.
  19. Churton, Edward (1838). The Assembled Commons or Parliamentary Biographer: 1838. p. 187. Retrieved 26 November 2018 via Google Books.
  20. 1 2 Spencer, Howard. "Midhurst". The History of Parliament. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  21. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Craig, F. W. S., ed. (1977). British Parliamentary Election Results 1832-1885(e-book) (1st ed.). London: Macmillan Press. pp. 211–212. ISBN   978-1-349-02349-3.{{cite book}}: |format= requires |url= (help)
  22. "Mr. Lange at Worthing" . Sussex Weekly Advertiser . 27 May 1865. p. 3. Retrieved 4 March 2018 via British Newspaper Archive.
  23. "The Sussex Elections" . Brighton Gazette. 19 November 1868. p. 5. Retrieved 4 March 2018 via British Newspaper Archive.
  24. "Election Preparations" . Belfast Telegraph . County Antrim, Northern Ireland. 20 March 1880. p. 3. Retrieved 21 December 2017 via British Newspaper Archive.