Double Member County

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

Number of voters:

about 4,000


1 May 1754Sir William Stanhope 
 Richard Lowndes 
4 Apr. 1761Sir William Stanhope 
 Richard Lowndes 
28 Mar. 1768Richard Lowndes 
 Ralph Verney, Earl Verney 
19 Oct. 1774Ralph Verney, Earl Verney 
 George Grenville 
25 Oct. 1779Thomas Grenville vice George Grenville, called to the Upper House 
13 Sept. 1780Ralph Verney, Earl Verney 
 Thomas Grenville 
21 Apr. 1784William Wyndham Grenville2261
 John Aubrey1740
 Ralph Verney, Earl Verney1716
19 June 1789Grenville re-elected after appointment to office 

Main Article

Buckinghamshire possessed a number of wealthy landed families with claims to the county representation: the Stanhopes, the Lowndes family of Winslow, the Hampdens of Hampden, the Claytons of Marlow, the Drakes of Shardeloes, the Lees of Hartwell, etc. The most considerable were the Grenvilles of Stowe and the Verneys of Claydon, and there was great rivalry between these two for pre-eminence in the county. In 1754 and 1761 Sir William Stanhope and Richard Lowndes were returned unopposed, and on Stanhope’s retirement in 1768 the county representation was thrown open. Lord Verney hastened to stake his claim to the vacant seat, and won a good deal of support from the country gentlemen, many of whom were not prepared to acquiesce in the predominance of the Grenvilles. George Grenville, the senior commoner in the family, did not wish to stand if his election were disputed; and thus Lowndes and Verney secured an unopposed return.

The claim of the Grenvilles to a county seat was postponed to the general election of 1774. Long before the dissolution Lord Temple was canvassing on behalf of his nephew and heir, George Grenville junior. In September 1774 Temple offered Lowndes a seat for Buckingham, if he would give up the county; and when that was declined, proposed that Grenville and Lowndes should stand jointly against Verney. A similar offer to stand on a joint interest was also made by Verney to Lowndes. A contest seemed inevitable, with the odds heavily on the Grenvilles; for both Lowndes and Verney were in low water financially. But at the last moment Lowndes declined, and Verney and Grenville were returned unopposed.1 When George Grenville succeeded to his uncle’s peerage in 1779, his brother Thomas was returned in his room for Buckinghamshire. Thomas Hampden came forward as a candidate but failed to find sufficient support. In 1780 Thomas Grenville and Verney were returned without opposition.

The situation in 1784 turned on the political attitude of the sitting Members, both of whom had been supporters of the Fox-North Coalition. Lord Temple had been the King’s principal instrument in the overthrow of the Coalition and was offended with his brother Thomas for remaining attached to Fox. Thomas was therefore replaced by his younger brother William Wyndham as the Grenville candidate for Buckinghamshire. Verney had also lost some of his popularity by his adherence to Fox, and a third candidate appeared in the person of John Aubrey. Aubrey was a comparative newcomer to Buckinghamshire, but he stood as a follower of Pitt, avowedly opposed to Verney. Verney made a brave showing on the poll, considering his ruined financial situation, and it seems clear that it was his support of Fox that tipped the scales against him.

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. Corresp. of Verney with Rockingham and Burke, Rockingham and Burke mss.