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:

about 700


20 Apr. 1754Lord Frederick Cavendish 
 George Venables Vernon 
30 Mar. 1761Lord Frederick Cavendish 
 George Venables Vernon 
5 May 1762William Fitzherbert vice Vernon, called to the Upper House 
26 Dec. 1765Fitzherbert re-elected after appointment to office 
29 Mar. 1768Lord Frederick Cavendish 
 William Fitzherbert 
31 Jan. 1772Wenman Coke vice Fitzherbert, deceased333
 Philip Gell208
8 Oct. 1774Lord Frederick Cavendish 
 Wenman Coke 
30 Jan. 1775John Gisborne vice Coke, chose to sit for Norfolk343
 Daniel Parker Coke329
 Coke vice Gisborne, on petition, 8 Feb. 1776 
11 Sept. 1780Lord George Augustus Henry Cavendish87
 Edward Coke80
 Daniel Parker Coke7
1 Apr. 1784Lord George Augustus Henry Cavendish 
 Edward Coke 

Main Article

Throughout this period the Cavendishes controlled one seat at Derby. Robinson wrote about the borough in his survey for the general election of 1780: ‘The Devonshire family certainly have this place if they were to exert themselves, but they have hitherto prudently given up one and probably may do so again.’ The 4th Duke of Devonshire had considerable influence in the choice of the second Member, but the 5th Duke was usually concerned with one seat only. Shortly before the by-election of 1772 Lord George Cavendish wrote to the Duke of Portland:1

His Grace had received letters from both candidates which he had answered to this purpose, that it would be disagreeable to him to the last degree to decide between two gentlemen to both of whom he wishes so well to, that for his part he rather wishes to follow than to lead and must be governed by the inclination of the town, and wishes for peace above all things.

In 1780 it was with reluctance that the Cavendishes agreed, at the request of the corporation, to allow their candidate to stand on a joint interest with Edward Coke.2

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. 8 Jan. 1772, Portland mss.
  • 2. Ld. Fred. Cavendish to Portland, 24 Aug. 1780, ibid.