Double Member County

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

Number of voters:

about 3,000


25 Apr. 1754Lord George Cavendish 
 Nathaniel Curzon 
2 Apr. 1761Lord George Cavendish 
 Sir Henry Harpur 
10 Dec. 1761Cavendish re-elected after appointment to office 
29 Mar. 1768Lord George Cavendish2767
 Godfrey Bagnall Clarke1768
 Sir Henry Harpur1314
27 Oct. 1774Lord George Cavendish 
 Godfrey Bagnall Clarke 
4 Feb. 1775Nathaniel Curzon vice Clarke, deceased 
23 Sept. 1780Lord Richard Cavendish 
 Nathaniel Curzon 
29 Nov. 1781Lord George Cavendish vice Lord Richard Cavendish, deceased 
15 Apr. 1784Lord George Cavendish 
 Edward Miller Mundy 

Main Article

One seat was always held by a Cavendish, the other usually by a country gentleman. The only contest of this period, that of 1768, was between two country gentlemen—the Cavendish seat was not in dispute, and the family were neutral. Lord Frederick wrote to the young Duke of Devonshire (who was on his grand tour) on 17 Nov. 1767:1

We saw all the Tory gentlemen and the greatest part of the friends of your family incline to Mr. Clarke, the Rutland family and some of your friends to Sir H. Harpur. Your father if he had been alive would certainly have joined the strongest part in hopes of putting an end to the contest and have risked the disobliging the Rutland family, but that in our situation we did not think right. To join Sir Harpur we saw would turn the greatest part of the county against us in their hearts, so that we could not do. We therefore thought it best to take no part. We have not perhaps answered the sanguine expectations of some, but we displease none and leave the disposition of the county to your family just as we found it. Of the two I flatter myself rather improved, for our conduct seems to be generally approved of, and the Tory gentlemen acknowledge our moderation and do not deny but that we may have carried two, but that I think I have said to you before I hope you will never think of unless drove to.

Harpur and Clarke, wrote Lord Frederick to Portland,2

engaged to ask one vote for [Lord] George, and we have allowed them to canvass our tenants, and have desired all our friends to follow our own inclinations and be for either or neither just as they choose.

On the poll Lord George Cavendish had a clear majority; and of the country gentlemen Clarke, who had no aristocratic support, was preferred to Harpur, who was strongly backed by Granby and the Rutland family.3

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. Devonshire mss.
  • 2. 4 Nov. 1767, Portland mss.
  • 3. There is a great deal of correspondence about this election in the Rutland mss at Belvoir Castle.