Available from Boydell and Brewer
Number of voters:
about 4,000 in 1715
|9 Feb. 1715||WILLIAM HELYAR||2789|
|SIR WILLIAM WYNDHAM||2664|
|11 Apr. 1722||SIR WILLIAM WYNDHAM|
|23 Aug. 1727||SIR WILLIAM WYNDHAM|
|THOMAS STRANGWAYS HORNER|
|15 May 1734||SIR WILLIAM WYNDHAM|
|THOMAS STRANGWAYS HORNER|
|26 Nov. 1740||THOMAS PROWSE vice Wyndham, deceased|
|13 May 1741||HENRY WILLIAM PORTMAN|
|1 July 1747||SIR CHARLES KEMYS TYNTE|
The Somerset electors invariably chose local Tory country gentlemen, who were usually unopposed. Only twice was an attempt made by the Whigs to challenge Tory ascendancy. In 1715 George Speke and John Pigott stood in the Whig interest. Speke’s father circularized the freeholders on behalf of his son as follows:
This is to desire you to know that my son, George Speke, Esq. does stand for Parliament man for this county at the request of several freeholders of Bristol, Milborne Port, and other places, and several dukes earls and lords of the King’s Majesty’s court above have sent down to the stewards in the country to make interest for my son George Speke Esq. Now this is to desire you to know that there is one Sir William Wyndham that they say does design to set up likewise, but this Sir William was lately turned out of a very profitable place at court, for he was very intimate with one Lord Bolingbroke, who had a hand in making the base and scandalous peace, and was turned out of his place even before the King’s Majesty came over. Had they not made that peace, we had had but some towns before we had gotten to the gates of Paris. Sir, your interest and vote is desired for my son George Speke, Esq.1
Speke and Pigott were heavily defeated.
The second challenge was made in 1733 by Lord Hinton, the son of Lord Poulett, a great Somerset landowner and a former Tory leader, who had recently gone over to the Government. At the county meeting in August, called to choose the candidates for the forthcoming general election, Lord Hinton
offered his service, and expressed a very earnest desire of having the honour of being one of their representatives in the next Parliament. After his Lordship had done, Mr. Horner and Sir William Wyndham stood up successively, thanked the gentlemen for their former favours, and assured them if they thought fit again to confer that trust and honour upon them, they would endeavour to serve them with the utmost zeal and fidelity. It was soon evident, that my Lord Hinton had no manner of hopes of success, not one gentleman in the assembly (the greatest that ever was known to meet at any assizes) attempting to put him in nomination against the other two.
A month later Hinton was reported to be
still very active, sparing neither pains nor cost, as if he doubted not of making, at least, a formidable appearance in the field. But, if I am rightly informed, he must fail in the attempt, and will soon be sensible it will be vain for him to struggle against the whole body of the gentry, animated with the warmest resentments and supported with very large fortunes, which they seem resolved not to spare in this quarrel.2
Early in 1734 Hinton was called to the Upper House, leaving Wyndham and Horner unopposed.