Double Member Borough

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in inhabitants paying scot and lot

Number of voters:

about 600


18 Apr. 1754William Strode324
 Charles Fane, Visct. Fane296
 John Dodd295
19 Nov. 1755John Dodd vice Strode, deceased 
25 Mar. 1761John Dodd396
 Sir Francis Knollys355
 Charles de Salis258
16 Mar. 1768Henry Vansittart400
 John Dodd396
 John Bindley193
7 Oct. 1774Francis Annesley326
 John Dodd302
 John Walter251
8 Sept. 1780Francis Annesley345
 John Dodd318
 Temple Luttrell199
21 Feb. 1782Richard Aldworth Neville vice Dodd, deceased267
 John Simeon179
31 Mar. 1784Francis Annesley 
 Richard Aldworth Neville 

Main Article

Six of the eight elections for Reading during this period were contested, and the contests were remarkably expensive; even John Dodd’s return in 1755, which did not go to a poll, was not a cheap affair. The election of 1754 between Strode (a Tory), Fane (an Opposition Whig), and Dodd (a court Whig) was particularly hotly contested. ‘The electors, principally of the court side, have been remarkably venal’, wrote the Rev. Ralph Shirley on 11 June 1754. ‘. ... The electors on the Tory side are comparatively upright.’ Towards the end of the poll, when Fane and Dodd were running neck and neck, from thirty to forty guineas were given for votes.1 John Robinson’s note on Reading in his survey for the general election of 1780 seems to characterize the borough:

A contest is much talked of at this place. The publicans give hopes to all that come in expectation of getting someone to offer and have their harvest. ... Probably someone will be got to step forward, to make a third man in order to create expenses.

The Members were almost invariably neighbouring landowners: outsiders, such as John Bindley and Temple Luttrell, fared badly. The election of 1754 was the last in which the names of Whig and Tory were used, and until the end of the American war political issues seem to have been absent. After Dodd’s death the London Courant wrote on 16 Feb. 1782 that a warm contest was expected. ‘The popular party are determined to oppose any candidate who shall offer himself on the ministerial side of the question, and are making every possible effort to prevail on some of the neighbouring gentlemen of minority principles to offer themselves.’ Neville, the successful candidate, who had hitherto been a Government supporter, gave a declaration that he would not vote for the American war. The politics of John Simeon, recorder of Reading, the unsuccessful candidate, are not known. In 1784 Annesley and Neville, both supporters of Pitt’s Government, were returned unopposed; Major John Halliday, who canvassed the borough, found the party supporting him too weak and declined the poll.

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. HMC 5th Rep. 364; Man, Hist. Reading, 241.