Durham City


Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the freemen

Number of voters:

about 1,150


27 Mar. 1722CHARLES TALBOT860
 James Montagu563
2 May 1726TALBOT re-elected after appointment to office 
26 Jan. 1730JOHN SHAFTO vice Robert Shafto, deceased577
 Henry Lambton553
25 Jan. 1734HENRY LAMBTON vice Talbot, called to the Upper House 
29 Apr. 1734JOHN SHAFTO 
8 May 1741JOHN SHAFTO 
23 Apr. 1742JOHN TEMPEST vice Shafto, deceased 
29 June 1747HENRY LAMBTON737
 Robert Wharton538

Main Article

The bishop, dean, and chapter of Durham exerted considerable influence in the city, which always returned local landowners. Under the Jacobite bishop, Lord Crew, whose name was sent to the Pretender in 1721 as a probable supporter in the event of a rising,1 two Tories were unopposed in 1715; but from 1722, when the new Whig bishop, Talbot, nominated his son Charles, who was returned with a Tory by a big majority, each party took one seat. The only further contests occurred in 1730, when John Shafto, a Tory, narrowly defeated Henry Lambton, a Whig, who complained that the mayor, Robert Wharton, as returning officer, had admitted a great number of Papists to vote for his opponents; and in 1747, when Wharton challenged Lambton and John Tempest, the sitting Members, on which the Whig bishop Chandler wrote on 26 June 1747 to Newcastle:

If the friends of Government have set up Mr. Wharton it is more than I know. They did not concert it with me nor with the dean and chapter who have a better interest in the city by reason of their large property there than the bishop hath. ... What his political principles really are I cannot say but for these 16 years past he never acted with me nor my friends on the side of the Government, as he did not in Bishop Talbot’s time with him. ... Was I ever so well disposed to serve him, the chapter, I doubt, would be very unwilling to espouse his interest. ... But whether they will or will not, all past conduct shall be forgot by me at your Grace’s desire; but having already given Mr. Lambton wholly what interest I have, I think I cannot appear for Mr. Wharton without hurting him or without his leave.

It was expected that Tempest would ‘be thrown out, his people having lost him a great many votes ... by refusing to treat any longer’,2 but Wharton was narrowly beaten. Thenceforth members of the Lambton and Tempest families continued jointly to represent the city till the end of the century.

Author: R. S. Lea


  • 1. Stuart mss 65/16.
  • 2. E. Hughes, Country Life in 18th Cent. 260 n.3, 261-2, 282.