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

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the freemen

Estimated number qualified to vote:

about 160

Number of voters:

54 in 1820


14,142 (1821); 20,917 (1831)1


 Henry John Adeane18
 George Pryme16
4 Feb. 1825JAMES GRAHAM, mq. of Graham vice Madryll Cheere, deceased 
9 June 1826JAMES GRAHAM, mq. of Graham24
 George Pryme4
8 Feb. 1828GRAHAM re-elected after appointment to office 
9 June 1829TRENCH re-elected after appointment to office 
2 Aug. 1830JAMES GRAHAM, mq. of Graham 
29 Mar. 1831JAMES GRAHAM, mq. of Graham 

Main Article

When the municipal corporations commissioners took evidence in public at Cambridge in the autumn of 1833, The Times commented, 16 Nov:

Probably no judicial investigation into a public trust ever brought to light more shameless profligacy or more inveterate dishonesty, more bare-faced venality in politics, a more heartless disregard of the claims of the poor, in the perversion of the funds left for their benefit, or a more degrading subserviency to the views of the rich, when they appeared in the shape of patrons or distributors of places, a more insatiable cupidity in the corporate officers to enrich themselves with the corporate property, or a more entire neglect of their duties and functions as magistrates, than are presented by the evidence now before us.2

This corrupt, irresponsible and self-perpetuating corporation, which consisted of a mayor, four bailiffs, 12 aldermen and 24 common councillors, was the instrument by which the 5th duke of Rutland, high steward of Cambridge, who had an estate at Cheveley, 12 miles to the east, maintained his electoral control over the borough. Political opponents were excluded from the corporation and, as far as possible, from the freedom. Rutland’s access to government patronage enabled him to cement his interest with good things for his leading supporters; and the exclusive Rutland Club, whose regular meetings provided lavish free dinners for its members, gave it a focus. The great majority of the well-to-do inhabitants of the borough, a flourishing market and university town and centre of riverborne commerce, were excluded not only from the parliamentary franchise, but from any say in municipal affairs.3 The Rutland interest had been managed since the late 1780s by John Mortlock, a wealthy local banker, but after his death in 1816 it appeared temporarily vulnerable. Mortlock’s eldest son, Sir John Cheetham Mortlock, was his half-hearted successor. He served as mayor of Cambridge for the last time in 1820-1, became a commissioner of excise, and ceased thereafter to be much involved in local affairs.4 Resentment of the Rutland hegemony and the corporation’s exclusivity was widespread and strong. There was a small pocket of opposition within the corporation itself, and more substantial ones among the resident freemen and the inhabitants at large, including liberal minded members of the university. The notion of independence and Cambridge’s long tradition of religious Dissent did at least as much to sustain this resistance as did partisan hostility to Rutland’s Tory politics.5 At the general election of 1818 Rutland’s nominees were run quite close by Henry John Adeane* of nearby Babraham, then a practising barrister, standing on the independent interest. Rutland’s subsequent attempt to introduce 40 non-resident freemen, mainly his tenants, was thwarted; but he secured the admission by purchase of 33 carefully selected residents. Thereafter, very few admissions were made: there were only 38, mostly by apprenticeship, in the period 1820-31, which kept the electorate in the range of 160-170, of whom about half were non-resident.6

At a by-election in December 1819 Rutland put up his friend and sycophant Frederick William Trench, an egregious Irish staff officer, whose only connection with Cambridge was his period as an undergraduate at Trinity College 20 years previously. He was mercilessly barracked by the unfranchised inhabitants. Although Adeane was nominated by Aldermen James Burleigh and Thomas Bond, he perversely declined to demand a poll; but after his departure from the hall, the formality of one was gone through, in which he received two votes (those of a bookbinder and a tailor) to Trench’s 56. A furious mob later attacked the inn where the Rutlandites were celebrating, and rioting occurred elsewhere.7 Among those arrested was Weston Hatfield, the printer and editor of the Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, which he had recently established in the town to provide a counterweight to the Tory Cambridge Chronicle and a medium for the dissemination of liberal and reforming views on the model of Benjamin Flower’s long defunct Cambridge Intelligencer. Tried on a charge of riot at Cambridge sessions, 14 Jan. 1820, he was acquitted, though his fellow defendants were convicted and imprisoned. He immediately published an account of his Trial and Acquittal, in which he attacked Rutland’s domination of the borough and the corrupt corporation’s subserviency to him. Hatfield also personally petitioned the Commons in complaint against the ‘corrupt influence’ exercised by Rutland at the by-election and his own persecution by the borough authorities. The petition was presented, 23 Feb. 1820, by Lord John Russell, who did not elaborate on it, hinting that more would be heard on the subject of Rutland’s electoral interference in the next Parliament.8 Hatfield’s newspaper continued to campaign as the outspoken organ of the independent, reforming interest in both county and borough. When it ran into financial trouble in 1824 it was baled out by a group of Whig noblemen and gentry. Control of its finances was vested in trustees, who included Hatfield’s brother William, George Pryme of Barnwell Abbey, a barrister of liberal views and university lecturer on political economy, and Samuel Wells, the eccentric radical attorney of Huntingdon.9

At the dissolution in 1820 Adeane and Trench offered again, but the other sitting Member, Rutland’s kinsman General Robert Manners, retired, pleading poor health. (He died three years later.) He was replaced by Charles Madryll Cheere of Papworth, about 12 miles west of Cambridge, a relative newcomer to the county with a reputation for stinginess. The independents sought to expose the corporation’s corruption, persistent neglect of its municipal responsibilities and misappropriation of public funds. Trench was denounced as an Irishman, Rutland’s toady and a political rat (he had briefly acted with opposition as Member for Dundalk in 1812). Madryll Cheere was ridiculed as another Rutland stooge, unpopular, pushy and ‘of very moderate intellect’.10 Nine days before the election Adeane, who was clearly at odds with some of his supporters, withdrew, admitting that the Rutland interest was impregnable. On the day of election, however, he was nominated, without his consent, by Burleigh and John Finch. Trench and Madryll Cheere, whose sponsors were the aldermen William Coe, Benjamin Cotton, a brewer, Field Dunn Barker, a banker, and John Willimott, both made clear their support of the Liverpool ministry and its recent legislation to curb sedition. Trench also bragged of his efforts, so far unsuccessful, to improve procedures for the recovery of small debts, while Madryll Cheere paid lip service to the need for economy. Pryme, who was nominated by Michael Joseph Foster, a Whittlesford maltster, and Alderman Charles Bottomley, offered himself in conjunction with Adeane in a bid to keep the cause of independence alive. He promised to bring the inhabitant ratepayers’ claim to vote and ‘the prevalence of undue influence’ before the Commons. He declared his support for retrenchment and ‘moderate’ parliamentary reform, though he rejected annual parliaments and universal suffrage as ‘measures entirely wild and visionary’. Before the poll, Bottomley and Foster insisted on the bribery oath being administered. Thirty-three non-freemen, of whom all but two claimed the franchise as inhabitant ratepayers, tendered votes for Adeane and Pryme; but they were of course rejected by the mayor, John Purchas, who became the most active and influential figure in the corporation in this period. Of the 54 freemen who polled, 36 voted for the Rutland nominees; one (Thomas Wagstaff, a hair dresser) split for Trench and Adeane; one (Francis Smith) split for Madryll Cheere and Adeane, and 16 voted for Adeane and Pryme. In addition to Bottomley, Burleigh, Finch and Foster, the latter group included Thomas Wittred, King John Haggerstone, solicitor, and James Nutter, merchant. Only seven of the voting freemen were not Cambridge residents. The attempts of Trench and Madryll Cheere to return thanks were shouted down.11

Pryme orchestrated a bid to convene a public meeting to consider the state of the borough and the franchise, but in response to a requisition signed by 32 householders, including Hatfield and many of those who had tendered votes at the election, Purchas refused them use of the town hall. The formal sanction of Bond, a magistrate, was obtained for the meeting to assemble in the shire hall, 9 Apr., when Rutland’s ‘illegal, corrupt and unconstitutional influence’ and the corporation’s maladministration were condemned, Purchas was censured and appeals for support were made to the independents on the corporation. A committee was formed and a subscription opened to promote the ratepayers’ claim to the franchise. Besides Pryme and Hatfield, the leading spirits were Samuel Pickering Beales of Newnham Grange, a corn and coal merchant, the Dissenter Ebenezer Foster, a banker, and the attornies William Ashton and John Finch.12 On 11 May 1820 Pryme petitioned the Commons against the return of Madryll Cheere, claiming a legal majority over him by virtue of the rejected ratepayers’ votes and condemning Rutland’s ‘undue control and influence’. ‘Defective pecuniary resources’ prevented the independents from pursuing the issue further, and the petition lapsed, 26 May.13 In their next ploy, 29 Sept. 1820, Finch and Ebenezer Foster, along with four Nash brothers, claimed admission to the freedom as the sons of freemen; but they were turned down on the ground that they were not eldest sons. They tested the issue at law, but the verdict of king’s bench in December 1821 was against them.14

A bid by Beales, Ebenezer Foster and Pryme to hold a meeting in support of Queen Caroline in October 1820 was frustrated by Mortlock. The town was partially illuminated to celebrate the abandonment of the bill of pains and penalties, 13 Nov., when there were serious outbreaks of violence between townsmen and Tory undergraduates. Three weeks later the corporation voted a loyal address to the king deploring the current ‘factious spirit of anarchy’.15 Mortlock refused to sanction a town meeting to petition the Commons for restoration of the queen’s name to the liturgy, but the organizers went ahead regardless, 22 Jan. 1821. Beales, from the chair, Ebenezer Foster, Hatfield, Pryme and Thomas Hovell, a linen draper, advocated parliamentary reform. The meeting adopted addresses of loyalty to the king and queen, the former calling for the dismissal of ministers and reform of abuses, as well as a petition to the Commons. When it was presented by Osborne, the Whig county Member, 6 Feb. 1821, Trench insisted that it expressed only a minority opinion of respectable Cambridge residents, but Lord Milton attacked the restricted franchise and corrupt management of the borough.16 The admission to the freedom of Andrew Drummond, the London banker, was formally though ineffectually protested against by four members of the corporation, 23 Apr. 1822.17 The inhabitants of Cambridge produced petitions for mitigation of the penal code, 8 May 1822, and the abolition of slavery, 7 May 1823.18 That year Pryme, in a Letter to the Freemen and Inhabitants, reviewed the history of the corporation’s subservience to Rutland: he admitted the failure of the independents to open the freedom to all sons of freemen, but attacked the corporation’s mismanagement, peculation and misappropriation of charitable funds and urged its opponents to sustain their ‘animated and decided efforts’ to obtain redress. He was one of the promoters, with Beales, Ebenezer Foster and Hovell, of a meeting to drum up support for the Spanish liberals, 3 July 1823.19 Another anti-slavery petition was presented by Trench, 4 Mar. 1824.20 A meeting to petition in favour of Lord Althorp’s county courts bill and repeal of the duty on seaborne coals, 27 Feb. 1824, was supported and attended by Aldermen Purchas and Cotton. Trench, who had allowed Althorp to take the initiative on the question of small debts recovery, subsequently presented a personal petition from the town clerk, George Busby White, for compensation for losses anticipated as a result of his measure.21 At a corporation common day, 4 May 1824, a proposal by William Freeman Coe, an ironmonger, and Robert Anderson, the chief constable, that written notice of future meetings should be sent to all resident freemen was met by the Rutland party’s amendment that freemen who required such notification should signify their wishes to the town clerk. This was carried by 17-9, with the minority including Alderman William Mortlock; but Hatfield publicized the result as a step forward and urged interested freemen to take immediate advantage.22

Madryll Cheere died suddenly, 10 Jan. 1825. In his room Rutland nominated his distant kinsman Lord Graham, the 25-year-old son and heir of the 3rd duke of Montrose and, like his father, a courtier. It was thought that Pryme might try again, but he announced that after consulting those who had supported him in 1820, he had decided to keep his powder dry until a general election. In an address of 19 Jan., one ‘George Sidney’ promised to stand as the champion of the ratepayers’ franchise, Catholic relief and parliamentary reform. Nothing came of this, and 18 months later it was claimed as his own handiwork by Lewis Flanagan, an Irish barrister on the Norfolk circuit, who said he had concocted it in an attempt to force Pryme to stand. (Pryme had a house in Sidney Street.)23 Graham, who was nominated by Purchas and Alderman Alexander Scott Abbott, a surgeon, praised the government’s economic policies. Some horseplay and buffoonery from the unfranchised spectators, one of whom produced a convincing imitation of the sound of bagpipes, marked the final minutes of the proceedings, which were otherwise peaceful.24 Majority opinion in Cambridge was markedly anti-Catholic, and in late February 1825 the Huntingdon, Bedford and Cambridge Weekly Journal, which was printed in Huntingdon, was launched to counter Hatfield’s paper and defend the Tory position. It enjoyed little success, being too close in outlook to the well-established Chronicle, and it expired in 1828.25 In October 1825 Graham and Trench accompanied a cavalcade of corporation dignitaries to Cheveley to present the duke of York with an address of thanks for his recent speech against Catholic claims.26 In 1824 Beales and other Cambridge merchants had combined and subscribed to challenge the corporation’s right to levy the deeply resented toll charge of 2d. on each laden cart entering or leaving the town, which brought in about £750 a year. By refusing to pay, they forced the corporation to go to law for recovery of the money from Beales in the name of Joseph Brett, one of their toll lessees. The case came before king’s bench, 17, 18 Jan. 1826, when a verdict was returned for Beales. Although the corporation immediately applied for the right to have the issue tried again in an action against Messrs. Fisher, bankers, Hatfield celebrated the outcome, and in the preface to his Full Report of the Important Toll Cause urged both the inhabitants of Cambridge and interested residents of the county, especially farmers, to subscribe to sustain the legal struggle.27

A few months before the dissolution of 1826 there was a curious episode, which was rather obliquely reported in the Cambridge press. It was said that ‘a gentleman of fortune’ had arrived to canvass the freemen, initially at the instigation of White, but that he had subsequently offered Purchas, who was mayor again, financial inducements to obtain him Rutland’s backing. The corporation were supposed to have held an investigation and made hypocritical professions of shock at this attempted ‘undue interference with the elective franchise’. Hatfield welcomed the corporation’s decision of 11 Apr. 1826 to allow the treasurers to be chosen by the freemen at large and the accounts to be laid open for inspection after the annual audit; he attributed it to the financial effects of the toll case and the impending election. At the same time, he hinted at a split within the upper echelons of the Rutland party; and he gleefully reported their allegedly gloomy dinner, 25 Apr. 1826, which was attended by only five aldermen and reluctantly presided over by Graham, dragged away from Newmarket, and a downcast Trench, who had been summoned to use his charms on the ‘seceders’.28 While much of this remains obscure, it is clear that Trench, whose private opinion of his leading constituents bordered on contempt, was not at ease in the seat. In 1824 he had been persistently badgered by the cash-strapped corporation, who became ‘angry’ with him, to persuade ministers to provide a loan to help them finance the projected new town gaol. To Peel, the home secretary, who would only promise enabling legislation in the near future, he had commented, 16 Apr. 1824, that ‘we are in a ticklish state in that independent borough’.29 He had come under further pressure in 1825 on the subject of the university police bill, and by the summer of that year was, as he told his father, beginning to cultivate Scarborough, where Rutland returned one Member, as a more comfortable long term prospect than Cambridge.30 When he came forward again in 1826, he laid heavy emphasis on his hostility to Catholic relief, as did Graham, who also sought re-election. Haggerstone and Ebenezer Foster nominated Pryme, who explained that the only object of the independents on this occasion was to obtain a platform, which he duly used to attack Rutland’s domination of the borough and to advocate Catholic emancipation, reform and free trade in corn. White claimed that Adeane had declined his offer to nominate him because there was no hope of success. He went on to demand from Trench an explanation of stories that he had spoken slightingly of his constituents to a third party; that he possessed a written record of the disposition and circumstances of every voter, and that he was involved in an underhand plot to revise the by-laws in order to curb disaffection among the freemen. Trench admitted the second charge, describing his memorandum book as an essential electioneering tool, but he dismissed the others out of hand. There was a nominal poll, in which four votes were cast for Pryme. The chairing of Trench and Graham was cancelled. Four days after the election Flanagan, revealing his authorship of the address of January 1825, attacked Pryme, his fellow reformer, for his ‘weak ... flimsy, unmeaning, unintelligible speech’. He announced his intention of standing as an unflinching independent at the first opportunity; but no more was heard of him.31 Resentment of Rutland’s hegemony extended beyond the unfranchised townspeople and transcended party politics. A week after the borough election Lord Charles Manners*, warning the duke, his brother, of an impending contest for the county, told him that ‘even supporters of government and anti-reformers are out of humour about the borough’, and that ‘even the gentlemen, men most attached in politics, quietly hint that they feel insulted that the duke has sent to Ireland and Scotland for Members’. Rutland, evidently not much concerned, sought promotion at the excise board for Mortlock, though without success.32

In February 1827 the corporation were empowered to proceed with their action for recovery of tolls from the Fishers, but only on condition that they paid the costs of the previous trial, which were put at £3,000. Later in the year, through the mediation of Trench, a loan of £2,000 at three per cent interest was obtained from William Leake, a London attorney. The verdict in king’s bench, 14 Dec. 1827, reversed the first judgment, but the anti-tolls committee promptly applied for another new trial.33 At a town meeting, 16 Jan. 1828, Beales, backed by Hovell, and the attornies Charles Pemberton and Francis John Gunning, son of the Whig esquire bedell of the university, accused the corporation of trying to enforce the payment of tolls before the judgment had been entered. A new subscription was opened to defray their legal costs, which were reckoned at about £1,600, and a deputation was sent to negotiate with the vice-chancellor for the co-operation of the university. Pending the new trial, which was successively deferred until Michaelmas 1829, the corporation borrowed an additional £1,000 from Leake, whose admission to the freedom, 15 Apr. 1828, was opposed by William Freeman Coe, Goodman Francis, a coal and corn merchant, and a handful of others.34

Graham was abroad when the duke of Wellington offered him a place in his new ministry in February 1828. The duke was assured by Rutland that there would not be ‘any difficulty’ about his re-election; and the proceedings, during which his younger brother, supported by Trench, stood in for him, were uneventful.35 A public meeting, which was addressed by two senior members of the university, 2 June 1828, produced petitions to both Houses for the amelioration and ultimate abolition of slavery.36 The government’s proposal to concede Catholic emancipation provoked much outrage in Cambridge, and several hostile parish petitions were sent to the Commons during March 1829.37 Both Trench and Graham set aside their previous hostility and supported emancipation, to the fury of some of their constituents, who were involved in the promotion of a meeting to petition the Lords against the relief bill, 31 Mar. The Rev. Temple Chevallier, rector of Great St. Andrew’s, took a leading part at the rowdy gathering, when an attempt by Ebenezer Foster and Gunning to get rid of the petition was overwhelmingly defeated, as was Beales’s protest against the disfranchisement of Irish 40s. freeholders. The petition was entrusted to the duke of Cumberland, while Rutland took charge of the similar one adopted by the corporation; the former does not seem to have been presented.38 When Trench, who had sought to allay the hostility to his change of stance through an explanatory letter to his supporter Captain William Jardine Purchas, was offered the post of storekeeper of the ordnance in late May, he went to Cambridge to assess the situation. He soon saw ‘quite enough’ to convince him that seeking re-election would ‘do good rather than harm’ to Rutland’s interest; and, encouraged by Purchas to disregard the croakers among Rutland’s ‘advisers and managers’ who advised delay, predicting that ‘I should not have a dozen votes’, he accepted the office and went ahead. He defended his support for emancipation on pragmatic grounds, but there was no threat to his return. He was scathingly denounced by Wells who, though a supporter of relief, attacked him as a foreign turncoat and time-server. Wells claimed to be standing ‘on a great public question, namely, whether the advocates of the people should be turned inside out to oblige’ Wellington, the ‘Irish dictator’. He castigated Rutland, to whom he had previously written a public letter condemning his ‘unconstitutional interference’ and lamented the sacrifice of national interests to ‘Jews, jobbers and loan contractors’. It was so much hot air, and he declined to go to a poll, though 15 votes were formally cast for Trench after Wells’s departure from the hall. On his return to London, Trench assured Wellington that

in forcing an election at Cambridge at this moment we have (much to my surprise and delight) done a most important service to the duke of Rutland ... I have annihilated (without exposing) a tissue of hypocritical duplicity which had been working upon really honest prejudices and indignation amongst our resident freemen, to such an extent that if Graham and I had vacated without my visit, and a month hence, I believe we should have found a very strong opposition arrayed under the banner of two neighbouring country gentlemen. As we now stand, our false friends crouch at our feet, and I don’t believe any man will venture to raise a hand against the interest of ... [Rutland]39

In December 1829 the toll cause was tried again, and a final verdict returned for the townspeople. This outcome was a severe blow to the corporation, whose appeal for a new trial was turned down, 8 Feb. 1830. Not only were they deprived of a considerable portion of their annual revenue, but the costs of the litigation obliged them to borrow a further £1,500 from Leake. (They paid back £1,000 in 1831 by selling houses in Mill Lane to the university for the new press building.)40 Their opponents celebrated their success at a dinner meeting, 25 Feb. 1830, when Beales and others lashed the corporation and Ebenezer Foster spoke of the ‘rising spirit of independence in the town’. Yet when Beales suggested that they should try to ‘beggar the corporation entirely’ in order to destroy its power as Rutland’s electoral instrument, Pryme intervened to quash any discussion of politics on that occasion. It was revealed that Osborne, Lord Hardwicke, the lord lieutenant, and other prominent county residents had subscribed to the cause.41 There was more embarrassment for the corporation in the flight to America in August 1829 of White, who had been indicted at the county sessions on a charge of forging entries in a baptismal register. His deputy died in April 1830, when William Coe, Michael Foster and Francis tried unsuccessfully to resist White’s formal dismissal. After renewed wrangling, Charles Harris was made town clerk for a year, 16 June 1830; but more litigation ensued when White tried to secure the appointment of one Cooper, a clerk in his department: king’s bench ruled in favour of Harris, 25 Jan. 1831. The corporation’s dispute with White went to chancery in 1832, when they settled on the terms offered by White’s legal representatives.42

Beales and Ebenezer Foster organized a meeting, 16 Apr. 1830, to petition against the bankruptcy bill, which removed liability to arrest for debts of under £100.43 There was talk of a third man at the 1830 general election, when Trench and Graham stood again, but no opposition was forthcoming. The formalities were completed in the presence of about 40 freemen and an unruly audience of townspeople, who heckled and insulted the candidates and their sponsors. At the inauguration of the new mayor, 29 Sept. 1830, Rutland and the Members attended a dinner held to rally their supporters in borough and county, where the duke’s brother had been defeated.44 A public meeting, 18 Nov. 1830, voted petitions to both Houses for the abolition of slavery.45 Beales and Pryme headed the list of the 45 signatories of a requisition, 22 Dec. 1830, for a meeting to petition for parliamentary reform. Not only did Cotton, the mayor, create no difficulties, he chaired the meeting, 17 Jan. 1831, though he took no further active part. Beales, William Coe, proclaiming himself to be one of the small band of ‘independent men in the corporation’, and Ebenezer Foster attacked Rutland and the corporation, whose continued neglect of their municipal duties and abuse of charitable funds were highlighted. Foster announced the recent establishment of a Union Society, presided over by Beales, to carry on the struggle for local rights; while Pryme advocated reform on general grounds and as a means of strengthening the hand of the Grey ministry. Hovell indicated his preference for the ballot, but the petition which was unanimously adopted made no reference to specifics.46 Separate petitions from the coal merchants and the inhabitants at large for repeal of the tax on seaborne coal were presented to the Commons, 9 Mar., and the Lords, 14 Mar. 1831.47 The details of the reform bill delighted the independents, who had no doubt that it would free them from Rutland’s control. They were quick to organize a meeting, again not resisted by Cotton, to petition in its favour and address the king in support of the ministry. Cotton declined to take the chair because he disagreed with the object of the meeting, 16 Mar., and Hovell took over, before reading a letter of approbation from Pryme, absent on the circuit. The only discordant note was struck by Charles Humfrey, an architect, who delivered a muddled speech and proposed an amendment calling for ‘modifications’ to the bill, which he was browbeaten into dropping.48 At a common day meeting, 24 Mar. 1831, William Coe and William Herring Smith were defeated by 24-5 in their bid to have the corporation adopt their pro-reform bill petition, and by 16-5 in their subsequent attempt to commit the corporation to frame an approving petition of its own. Yet the corporation did not petition against the bill.49

Trench and Graham voted against it, but the great enthusiasm for it in Cambridge threatened only their physical safety, not their seats, at the general election which followed its defeat. In their addresses, they professed willingness to countenance moderate reform, but denounced the measure as revolutionary. So great was the ‘uproar and confusion’ during the formalities of their unopposed re-election that scarcely a word was audible to the reporters. Trench and Graham beat a hasty retreat from Cambridge as soon as the proceedings, which were conducted before four aldermen and 20 freemen, were over. That evening a large crowd paraded their effigies through the town by torchlight and burnt them ‘amidst loud vociferations’ on Parker’s Piece.50 In the House, 5 July 1831, Trench defended Rutland’s ‘legitimate and honourable and unpurchasable influence’ at Cambridge, but his opponents in the borough were content to bide their time until the bill became law.51 Beales, Coe, Ebenezer Foster, Gunning, Hatfield, Pryme and the independents met, 28 Sept. 1831, to petition the Lords to sanction the bill. The corporation got up a counter-petition and tried to rally their friends at a dinner, attended by the Members, the following day.52 There was a crowded meeting to petition the Lords to pass the revised bill unimpaired, 7 May 1832, when Hovell, Beales, Ebenezer Foster and Pryme were again the principal speakers. A requisition was started for a meeting to address the king in support of the bill during the ministerial crisis later that month, but the project was given up once Lord Grey was reinstated in office and the bill’s passage into law guaranteed.53

By the Reform Act, the electorate of Cambridge was massively increased to 1,499. No change was made to the boundaries.54 The Rutland interest was broken, and at the 1832 general election, when Graham retired and Trench lost at Scarborough, Pryme and a member of the Grey ministry beat a leading Conservative lawyer. Reform of Cambridge’s local government was still to come.

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. These figures include the resident members of the University (PP (1831-2), xxxviii. 52).
  • 2. See also H. Cam, ‘John Mortlock’, Procs. Camb. Antiq. Soc. xl (1944), 1-12.
  • 3. PP (1835), xxvi. 2185-2208; D. Cook, ‘Rep. Hist. County, Town and Univ. of Cambridge, 1689-1832’ (London Univ. Ph. D. thesis, 1935), 103-9.
  • 4. J. Milner Gray, Mayors of Cambridge, 55-56; Cam, 10.
  • 5. J.C. Mitchell and J. Cornford, ‘Pol. Demography of Cambridge’, Albion, ix (1977), 245; M.J. Murphy, Cambridge Newspapers and Opinion, 64-65, and ‘Benjamin Flower and Politics of Dissent’, Procs. Camb. Antiq. Soc. lxviii (1978), 77-87; G. Pryme, Autobiog. Recollections, 139.
  • 6. C.H. Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, iv. 522; Cook, 106, 198; Murphy, Newspapers, 64; PP (1831-2), xxxvi. 327; Cambs. RO, Cambridge borough recs. I/5; II/22.
  • 7. Cooper, iv. 526; Cook, 198-200; The Times, 6 Dec. 1819; Cambridge Election (1819).
  • 8. Cooper, iv. 526; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 15, 22 Jan., 26 Feb.; CJ, lxxv. 101; The Times, 24 Feb. 1820.
  • 9. Murphy, Newspapers, 60, 62-65.
  • 10. Cambridge Chron. 18, 25 Feb.; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 19, 26 Feb., 4 Mar. 1820.
  • 11. Cook, 201-2; Cambridge Chron. 3, 10 Mar.; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 4, 11 Mar; Pryme, 139-40; Cambridge borough recs. City/PB49/5 (ms pollbook).
  • 12. Pryme, 140; Cooper, iv. 528; Cambridge Chron. 7, 14 Apr.; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 1, 8, 15 Apr. 1820; Murphy, Newspapers, 66.
  • 13. CJ, lxxv. 188, 239; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 3 June 1820.
  • 14. Cambridge borough recs. City/PB17/248, 268, 323; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 30 Sept., 2 Dec. 1820, 27 Jan., 15, 22 Dec. 1821, 5 Jan. 1822; Cooper, iv. 534.
  • 15. Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 21 Oct., 14 Nov.; Cambridge Chron. 17 Nov., 8 Dec. 1820; Cooper, iv. 529.
  • 16. Cambridge Chron. 26 Jan., 9 Feb.; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 13, 20, 27 Jan., 3, 10, 17 Feb.; The Times, 7 Feb. 1821; CJ, lxxvi. 39; Cooper, iv. 530.
  • 17. Cambridge borough recs. City/PB17/335-336, 339.
  • 18. Cambridge Chron. 8 Mar. 1822, 25 Apr., 9 May 1823; CJ, lxxvii. 244; lxxviii. 292; LJ, lv. 724.
  • 19. Cook, 202; Murphy, Newspapers, 66; Cambridge Chron. 27 June, 4 July; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 21, 28 June, 5 July 1823; Cooper, iv. 543.
  • 20. Cambridge Chron. 13 Feb. 1824; CJ, lxxix. 120.
  • 21. Cambridge Chron. 27 Feb., 5, 19 Mar.; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 8 May 1824; CJ, lxxix. 149, 155.
  • 22. Cambridge borough recs. City/PB18/22; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 8 May 1824.
  • 23. Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 22 Jan. 1825, 24 June 1826.
  • 24. Cambridge Chron. 14, 21, 28 Jan., 4, 11 Feb.; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 15, 22, 29 Jan., 5, 12 Feb. 1825.
  • 25. Murphy, Newspapers, 70-71.
  • 26. Cambridge Chron. 14 Oct. 1825.
  • 27. A. Gray, Cambridge, 172-4; M.E. Keynes, House by the River, 14-16; Murphy, Newspapers, 67-68; Cambridge borough recs. City/PB18/41, 60; Cooper, iv. 550; Cambridge Chron. 20, 27 Jan.; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 21, 28 Jan. 1826.
  • 28. Cambridge Chron. 24 Feb.; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 25 Feb., 4 Mar., 15, 29 Apr. 1826.
  • 29. Add. 40361, f. 109; 40364, ff. 85-90; 40365, ff. 119, 121.
  • 30. Add. 40379, f. 322; 53816, f. 36.
  • 31. Cambridge Chron. 2, 16 June; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 10, 17, 24 June 1826; Pryme, 156.
  • 32. Rutland mss, (History of Parliament Aspinall transcripts), Manners to Rutland, 16, 18 June 1826; Add. 38302, ff. 57, 65.
  • 33. Cambridge Chron. 2, 9, 16 Feb., 18 May, 14, 21, 28 Dec.; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 3, 10, 17 Feb., 15, 22, 29 Dec.; The Times, 8, 9 Feb., 13, 15 Dec. 1827; Cambridge borough recs. City/PB18/204, 221-2.
  • 34. Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 12, 19, 26 Jan., 1 Feb., 1 Mar. 1828, 14, 21 Feb. 1829; Cambridge borough recs. City/PB18/254, 260, 264, 311.
  • 35. Wellington mss WP1/914/38; 915/56; Cambridge Chron. 8, 15 Feb.; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 9 Feb. 1828; Cambridge borough recs. City/PB49/3.
  • 36. Cooper, iv. 558; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 3 May, 7 June 1828; CJ, lxxxiii. 443; LJ, lx. 568.
  • 37. Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 28 Feb. 1829; CJ, lxxxiv. 94, 104, 148.
  • 38. Cooper, iv. 560; Cambridge Chron. 27 Mar., 3, 10 Apr.; The Times, 2 Apr.; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 4 Apr. 1829; Cambridge borough recs. City/PB18/294-8; LJ, lxi. 331.
  • 39. Wellington mss WP1/1023/10, 13; 1069/33; Cooper, iv. 563; Cambridge Chron. 5, 12 June; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 6, 13 June 1829; Cambridge borough recs. City/PB49/4.
  • 40. Cooper, iv. 564; Gray, 174-5; Keynes, 15; Cambridge Chron. 18, 25 Dec. 1829, 15, 29 Jan., 12, 19 Feb. 1830; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 19, 26 Dec. 1829, 2 Jan. 1830, 2 Apr. 1831; Cambridge borough recs. City/PB18/18 Mar., 2 Apr. 1830; PB19/70; Murphy, Newspapers, 67-68.
  • 41. Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 6, 13 Mar. 1830; Full Report of Speeches; Cambridge Central Lib. Cambridge Miscellanies, 93.
  • 42. Cambridge borough recs. City/PB18/2 Apr. 1830; PB19/1, 2, 11-20, 75, 76, 97; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 1 May 1830, 19 Jan. 1831; The Times, 26 Jan. 1831.
  • 43. Cooper, iv. 565; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 17 Apr. 1830; CJ, lxxxv. 395.
  • 44. Cambridge Chron. 16, 30 July, 6 Aug.; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 17, 24, 31 July, 7 Aug., 9 Oct. 1830.
  • 45. Cooper, iv. 567; Cambridge Chron. 19 Nov. 1830; CJ, lxxxvi. 157; LJ, lxiii. 125.
  • 46. Cooper, iv. 567-8; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 8, 22, 29 Jan.; Cambridge Chron. 14, 21, 28 Jan. 1831; Pryme, 180; CJ, lxxxvi. 309; LJ, lxiii. 306.
  • 47. Cambridge Chron. 4 Feb. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 355; LJ, lxiii. 319-20.
  • 48. The Times, 9 Mar.; Cooper, iv. 568; Cambridge Chron. 11, 18 Mar., 1 Apr.; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 12, 19 Mar. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 435; LJ, lxiii. 410.
  • 49. Cooper, iv. 569; Cambridge borough recs. City/PB19/59; Cambridge Chron. 25 Mar.; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 26 Mar., 2 Apr. 1831.
  • 50. Cambridge Chron. 29 Apr., 6 May; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 30 Apr., 7 May 1831.
  • 51. Cambridge Central Lib. Boro ‘Mongers’ Chron. or Corporation Purge, 7 July, 9 Aug., 7 Sept., 14 Dec. [1831].
  • 52. Cooper, iv. 572; Cambridge Chron. 23, 30 Sept.; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 24 Sept., 1 Oct. 1831; LJ, lxiii. 1056.
  • 53. Cooper, iv. 573; Cambridge Chron. 4, 11 May; Cambridge and Hertford Independent Press, 12, 19, 26 May 1832; LJ, lxiv. 200.
  • 54. PP (1831-2), xxxviii. 51-52.