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 the freemen

Number of voters:

less than 50


17 Apr. 1754Sir Charles Powlett
 Harry Burrard
17 Jan. 1755Lord Harry Powlett vice Sir Charles Powlett, vacated his seat
27 Mar. 1761Adam Drummond
 Harry Burrard
18 Mar. 1768Adam Drummond
 Harry Burrard
23 Feb. 1769Hugo Meynell vice Drummond, chose to sit for St. Ives
10 Oct. 1774Sir Harry Burrard
 Edward Morant
4 Dec. 1778Henry Goodricke vice Burrard, vacated his seat
8 Sept. 1780Thomas Dummer
 Harry Burrard
25 June 1781Edward Gibbon vice Dummer, deceased
3 Apr. 1784Harry Burrard
 Robert Colt
1 July 1788George Rose vice Burrard, vacated his seat

Main Article

In the first half of the 18th century Lymington was controlled by the Burrards of Walhampton, and the Powletts, Dukes of Bolton. In 1745 Charles, 3rd Duke of Bolton, tried to secure sole control of the borough, but was defeated by the alliance of his nephew, Charles Powlett, and Harry Burrard, with the support of the Treasury. Burrard himself represented Lymington 1741-78; from 1754 to 1761 the other Member was a Powlett, and from 1761 to 1774 a nominee of the Treasury.

In 1774 Harry, 6th Duke of Bolton, tried to revive his family’s dormant interest, and, without consulting Burrard, recommended his friend Edward Morant to the corporation.

I was, as you may imagine [wrote Burrard to Sir Henry Paulet St. John1] not very well pleased, and really distressed what an answer to make him, for the thing was so sudden that I had formed no scheme at all, but I could not help telling him that I did not think myself well used, and took the liberty ... to tell him that I was not so blind as not to see the danger my interest was in.

‘After a great deal of altercation’ Bolton suggested a compromise, and the following agreement was signed on 7 Oct. 1774.2

It is agreed between his Grace the Duke of Bolton and Sir Harry Burrard...

That his Grace the Duke of Bolton shall relinquish from henceforth all his interest in the corporation of Lymington to the said Sir H. Burrard, and never interfere in person, or by his friends or agents, directly or indirectly, in the choice of any future mayor, or burgess, or Member to serve in Parliament.

That his Grace shall likewise agree in the choice and election of any number of burgesses the said Sir H. Burrard shall recommend to the mayor, to put in nomination before or immediately after the next ensuing election of Members to serve in Parliament, without attempting or desiring to name any one himself.

That his Grace shall take upon him to engage that Mr. Morant shall (previous to the election) give it under his hand and upon his honour, in a letter to be wrote to Sir H. Burrard for that purpose, that in case he is chosen to serve in Parliament for Lymington, he never will endeavour to interfere or meddle either directly or indirectly in any matter or business relating to the corporation of Lymington, or aim at making any personal interest among the burgesses thereof.

That on these conditions the said Sir H. Burrard consents not to oppose the Duke of Bolton’s recommendation of Mr. Morant to be chose to serve in Parliament for the said borough of Lymington for this election only.

Morant gave the required declaration, and he and Burrard were returned without opposition. Burrard then took steps to make his position impregnable. First, he arranged for 36 new freemen to be sworn. Of these, nine were of his own family or connected with it by marriage, and six Members of Parliament, presumably friends of his (John Bond sen., Lucy Knightley, Thomas Dummer, Henry Penton, Richard Hopkins, and Sir John Goodricke). Next, he carried two measures to prevent the corporation being similarly packed against him: the number of freemen henceforth was not to exceed 50, and no new freemen were to be chosen until the number was reduced to less than 20.3

Bolton did not honour his promise of 1774, but continued to intrigue in the borough both directly and through his friend Sir Philip Jennings Clerke. On 5 July 1775 Bolton moved in the King’s bench for a writ of quo warranto against the corporation, alleging that the meeting at which the new freemen were elected had been irregularly convened. Burrard soon countered this: on 6 July the freemen elected in 1774 were re-elected, the grounds for Bolton’s legal action disappeared, and he ceased to meddle in the borough. In 1780 and 1784 both Members were chosen on Burrard’s interest.

Author: John Brooke


Based on research by Miss A. M. Best of Lymington.

  • 1. S. Burrard, Annals of Walhampton, 101.
  • 2. Ibid. 91. Original in the possession of Mrs. M. F. Creagh-Osborne of Lymington.
  • 3. Lymington borough archives.