Durham County


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

Background Information

Number of voters:

about 2,300


7 Feb. 1715JOHN EDEN 
4 Apr. 1722SIR JOHN EDEN1342
 Ralph Robinson1080
 William Vane, Visct. Vane1060
23 Aug. 1727JOHN HEDWORTH 
1 July 1747GEORGE BOWES 
3 May 1749VANE re-elected after appointment to office 
19 May 1753HENRY VANE vice Henry Vane, called to the Upper House 

Main Article

At George I’s accession the sitting Members for Durham County were a country gentleman, John Eden, Tory, and a wealthy Sunderland coal owner, John Hedworth, Whig, who were re-elected unopposed. They were returned again in 1722 after a contest in which a second Whig candidate, Lord Vane, was defeated owing to ‘a difference’ between him and Hedworth, causing them

to throw their loose votes on Sir John [Eden], who without this accident could have had no share in the election.1

In 1727 the situation seemed likely to recur, with three Whig candidates in the field, Hedworth himself, George Bowes, another local coal owner, and Henry Vane, Lord Vane’s nephew. On 4 July the bishop of Durham wrote to Bowes:

The divisions in the county of Durham on occasion of the ensuing election have given much uneasiness to my Lord Scarborough and myself. But we have now a proposal to make to you, which I doubt not, will be as acceptable to you, as the hopes of the success of it are pleasing to us. It is this: that if you will secure Mr. Vane to be elected at Morpeth, we will undertake he shall desist from Durham, and the whole Barnard interest shall be for you and Mr. Hedworth, which joined with my Lord Scarborough’s and mine must put a stop to any other opposition. By this method the county will be quieted, the true interest preserved, your election will be sure, and you will save a great deal of expense, whereas if the contest goes on, the expense will be certain, and the success may be very doubtful.2

Bowes had already made other arrangements for Morpeth, but another seat was found by the ministry for Vane,3 who withdrew, leaving Bowes and Hedworth to be returned unopposed. They continued to share the representation without opposition till Hedworth’s death in 1747 after which the second seat was filled by the Vanes.

Author: Romney R. Sedgwick


  • 1. E. Hughes, N. Country Life in 18th Cent. 280 n.
  • 2. Add. 40748, f. 28.
  • 3. Exton Sayer to Geo. Bowes, 18 July 1727, ibid. f. 31.