Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Background Information

Estimated number qualified to vote:

over 8,000

Number of voters:

over 7,000 in 1820


17 Mar. 1820GEORGE BYNG4004
 William Mellish3093
20 June 1826GEORGE BYNG 
5 Aug. 1830GEORGE BYNG 
10 May 1831GEORGE BYNG 

Main Article

Middlesex, whose ‘independent’ freeholders had famously returned John Wilkes in 1769 and Sir Francis Burdett* in 1802, was an increasingly urban metropolitan county, bounded by the Rivers Thames, Lea and Colne. Described by William Cobbett† in 1822 as an ‘ugly county’, characterized by the ‘tax eaters’ showy tea-garden-like boxes’ and the ‘shabby dwellings of [the] labouring poor’, its only hunt, the ‘Old’ Berkeley, ceased to advertise its meets in 1820, ‘in order to avoid the pressure of a swarm of nondescripts starting from every suburb in London’.1 Briefing the home secretary Peel in November 1828 on likely local allies when the metropolitan police force was established, the chief commissioner of woods and forests Lord Lowther* emphasized how

Middlesex differs from almost all other counties. There is scarcely a man in it of activity and intelligence who is not embarked in some pursuit of gain; and chiefly in the building of houses, as the value of an estate in this county entirely depends upon existing buildings or those likely to be erected, and almost every vestryman’s judgement is warped in accommodating measures to suit his own particular interest.2

The market towns of Barnet, Enfield, Uxbridge, Staines and the election venue of Brentford were unincorporated and of only local significance, except as staging posts and dormitories for London, which, with Westminster and the Finsbury, Holborn, Kensington and Tower divisions of the neighbouring hundred of Ossulstone, dominated the constituency and by 1831 accommodated nearly 95 per cent of its population. Almost 62 per cent of the 261,871 families enumerated that year were engaged in trade, manufacture and handicraft and only three-and-a-half per cent in agriculture. From 1821-31 the population as a whole rose by 19 per cent to 1,358,330. The greatest increase, 27 per cent, was in the eastern hundred of Ossulstone. Smaller increases of 15, 13, 13, 11, ten and nine per cent were registered respectively in the western hundreds of Gore, Spelthorne, Elthorne, Isleworth, Westminster and Edmonton, while London’s population decreased by 1.4 per cent in the same period.3 Artisans employed in Middlesex’s burgeoning workshops and market gardens (including haymaking) tended to share the political outlook and aspirations of their masters, but in the Tower division the gradual withdrawal of protection for the Spitalfields silk industry after 1823 and the mass influx of largely Irish labour for the construction of the West India, St. Katharine’s and Ratcliffe (collier) docks proved socially and politically divisive.4

The office of sheriff and returning officer was performed jointly by the two sheriffs of London (appointed annually in October by the livery), ‘dividing the individual appointment between them and putting their plural signature to documents written in the singular, as by the sheriff of Middlesex’.5 Power was vested locally in the lord lieutenant, the 4th duke of Portland, who oversaw the militia and county administration. Much of the latter, including submission of returns and petitions to Parliament, was entrusted to small select committees of magistrates sitting ‘out of court’ and directed by the court of quarter sessions at Clerkenwell and adjourned divisional sessions in Finsbury, Holborn, Kensington, Westminster, Brentford and Uxbridge. They were meant to be accountable to the clerk of the peace Henry Collingwood Selby (a frequent absentee) or his deputy Thomas Stirling, but they generally reported directly to the chairman of the magistrates, the barrister Francis Const, or to the court.6 The conduct of the Middlesex court of requests and of the county treasurer George Boulton Mainwaring†, who like his father (the 1784-1802 Member) had vied with Burdett for a Middlesex seat, 1804-6, were subject to local and parliamentary scrutiny in the 1820s and brought into disrepute when their jobbing and peculation were exposed and the records were found to be defective and in disarray. Mainwaring was forced to resign in March 1822. Bills regulating the treasurer’s office and incorporating changes in rate assessment and collection were enacted that year and again in 1831, when distress, high administrative costs and the failure of 27 parishes to pay their rate contributions produced a fresh financial crisis and litigation in king’s bench. The Norfolk Member Edmond Wodehouse, who with the London bankers Sir Peter Pole* and Company, Hoares’, Everett Walker and Company and others had stood surety for Mainwaring’s debts, was almost bankrupted when the magistrates redeemed their bonds in 1828.7 In 1824, after a parliamentary campaign pursued since 1820 by the Ipswich Member Thomas Barrett Lennard, which Lord Castlereagh’s* brother-in-law Thomas Wood* of Littleton, acting as a Middlesex magistrate and militia colonel failed to stall, the clerk to the court of requests, Heath, and his deputy Dubois were successfully prosecuted for alleged misdemeanours in taking excessive fees.8 Coroners’ appointments to the eastern (Ossulstone and Edmonton) and western divisions and to the duchy of Lancaster and borough of Westminster within them were perceived as tests of political strength and hotly contested, and expenditure on Newgate prison, Millbank penitentiary, lunatic asylums (established by the metropolitan commission appointed in 1827) and on policing was always disputed.9 Tension also arose from Westminster’s lack of rating powers, which made it financially subservient to the county, and from what the radical Charing Cross tailor Francis Place termed the exertions of the ‘London mob and vestry reform party’, which remained ‘singularly heterogeneous’ and contained in its ranks ‘Whigs, radicals, republican free thinkers, Roman Catholics [and] even high churchmen’.10 Most large parishes employed officials to monitor parliamentary proceedings, especially the numerous transport, utility and private bills affecting ‘the metropolis’ - a term first applied in the 1820s to London and its Middlesex, Essex, Kent and Surrey suburbs. Power struggles within and between the select vestries of the wealthy and populous parishes of St. George’s, Hanover Square, St. James’s, Westminster, St. Andrew’s, Holborn, St. Marylebone, St. James’s, Clerkenwell, St. Lawrence, Shoreditch, St. Luke’s, Chelsea, St. Mary’s, Whitechapel and St. Pancras over the franchise, secrecy, spending, rating, compounded rents and local Acts, inevitably engaged Members with town houses and business interests.11 Meanwhile allegations of backhanders to Middlesex’s ‘trading (or brewster) justices’ and courts persisted in the press and Parliament while the attorney and banker Joseph Merceron and his allies amassed power to themselves unchecked in the hundred of Ossulstone.12 The 1823-4 sheriff Sir Peter Laurie’s insistence that the magistrates should meet in open session (from 1825), the contrite 1829 justices’ report and further parliamentary scrutiny helped to restore confidence in local government; but a letter to lord chancellor Brougham in 1830 confirms that the process of appointing suitable resident magistrates remained fraught with difficulty in Middlesex’s poor urban parishes.13

The political turbulence of 1802-7 had been allayed by the transfer of the leadership of metropolitan radicalism to Westminster with Burdett in 1807. That year the seat of the wealthy Whig moderate George Byng of Wrotham Park, first returned in 1790, had been vainly targeted by the ‘No Popery’ candidate Sir Christopher Baynes of Harefield Place. Rumblings of discontent and constant manoeuvring persisted, but Byng and his colleague since 1806, the shipping merchant and Bank director William Mellish of Bush Hill Park, Enfield, a ‘thick and thin man for the government and a jolly, comely, hereditary Protestant’, had remained unopposed in 1812 and 1818.14 Both sought re-election in 1820, when Mellish’s support for the Liverpool administration’s repressive legislation after Peterloo and a contest in Westminster, fuelled by the prosecution for denouncing it and sympathizing with Henry Hunt* of Burdett and John Cam Hobhouse*, made a county poll inevitable.15 The challenger, Byng’s 1818 proposer Samuel Whitbread, was the namesake son and self-professed political heir of the late advanced Whig reformer and a maternal nephew of Lord Grey. He was also a close associate of Hobhouse, whose father Sir Benjamin Hobhouse† possessed the largest single holding in Whitbreads’ brewery. Assisted by his brother-in-law Charles Shaw Lefevre*, his uncle by marriage Edward Ellice*, and his partner, the Quaker Jacob Yallowley, he ‘shouldered off’ the nominee of Major Cartwright’s Middlesex Freeholders Club, Thomas Truesdale Clarke of Swankleys, Ickenham (who proposed Hobhouse for Westminster), and helped to revive the Burdettite Whig-radical coalition, to which his father had previously been party, with Lord Duncannon*, Peter Moore*, Lord William Russell*, William Smith* and Lord Robert Spencer†. On 7 Mar. Whitbread was requisitioned at a meeting at the Freemasons’ Tavern convened by the radical cleric Dr. Henry Draper to press for lower taxes to alleviate distress and ‘rid’ Middlesex of ‘its ministerial tail’.16 The Whig Commons leader Tierney had doubted whether Whitbread could be brought in as proposed on a £5,000 subscription and cautioned him against financial commitment. However, he confirmed the ‘great zeal for him’ and Byng’s support ‘for the attempt’.17 Portland and Lord Grosvenor, a major landowner in Westminster and the western and northern suburbs, held aloof.18 Writing to Lord Holland, 10 Mar., the Whitbreads’ Bedfordshire neighbour and political ally the duke of Bedford observed:

Whitbread has no chance. It is well that [Lord] Tavistock* did not go to the meeting, as I understand it was composed almost entirely of radicals. Have you subscribed? I feel no inclination to do so.19

Mellish’s committee, chaired by his ship owner brother Thomas, with Thomas Barton Bowen of the crown office as counsel, met daily from 1 Mar. at his business premises at 112 Bishopsgate and established at least 20 branches at inns throughout the populous districts. Whitbread’s, chaired by Lefevre, with Philip Martineau (a brewery partner) as agent and Service as secretary, met at the Freemasons’ from 8 Mar. Ransom Morland and Company (formerly Hammersely’s) of Pall Mall and Martin and Company of Lombard Street acted as bankers. The brewery provided ale, transport and clerical support, the banker Coutts and the bookseller Ridgeway opened subscription lists and Place and his Nonconformist and radical friends, who made it conditional on Whitbread declaring ‘for a thorough reform in Parliament’, came to assist with his canvass. They ensured that his addresses were ‘drawn up quite in the Westminster way’.20 William Geering Clarkson of Doctors’ Commons managed Byng’s campaign. Whig defeats in the City prompted a pre-poll rally for Whitbread and Byng;21 and the walls from Hyde Park Corner to Isleworth were covered in placards when processions from London, sporting light blue for Mellish, light blue and orange for Byng and dark blue and pink for Whitbread, massed seven miles away in Brentford for the nomination, 17 Mar. Byng was proposed by the barrister Philip Martin and his 1818 seconder, the barrister Francis Plaistow Trapaud of Potter’s Bar; Mellish by Sir John Gibbons of Stanwell Place and the influential Bank director Jeremiah Harman, and Whitbread by Bedford’s son Lord John Russell* and the radical London Member, Alderman Matthew Wood. Mellish was shouted down and ‘Byng in the pulpit, Whitbread in the chair, Mellish in H...ll, drinking small beer’, became the popular refrain. Byng and Whitbread won the show of hands and the candidates’ totals after the first day’s poll (Byng 438, Whitbread 286, Mellish 262) confirmed Byng’s strength and the tussle for second place between Whitbread and Mellish, who immediately accused Byng of canvassing to secure the second votes of his Edmonton tenants on false pretences.22 Tierney expressed relief at Whitbread’s promising start and conduct, and the Morning Herald reported ‘the clamorous dissatisfaction at the progress made by Mellish’, who trailed overall throughout.23 To ministers’ relief, he outpolled Whitbread, whom he accused of condoning the Cato Street conspiracy, on the 6th day, and had reduced his deficit from 468 to 288 by the 8th, when the poll stood at Byng 3,155, Whitbread 2,700, Mellish 2,421 over the Sunday break.24 The Times calculated that of 6,905 already polled, 1,930 (28 per cent) had plumped (Mellish 1,385, Whitbread 466, Byng 79), 2,701 (54 per cent) had voted Byng-Whitbread, 868 (17 per cent) Byng-Mellish, and only 70 Mellish-Whitbread.25 The Tory Courier criticized the ‘whimsical prattle’ of Hobhouse and Whitbread, who had exposed the ordnance department’s interference at Enfield arsenal and elsewhere on Mellish’s behalf and ridiculed his claims to be a ‘defender of religious liberty’. The ‘neutral’ County Chronicle commented:

The most material features in the speeches of the candidates have consisted on the one side of the charge of ministerial influence being exerted in behalf of ... Mellish - on the other of ... Byng having coalesced with ... Whitbread ... Mellish has with difficulty obtained a hearing.26

The regular arrival of freeholders escorted by prominent politicians (Wood and his fellow London alderman Robert Waithman* for Byng and Whitbread on the third day, the chancellor of the exchequer Nicholas Vansittart* for Mellish on the fourth) was a feature of the election, even before the return of Hobhouse and Burdett for Westminster prompted a rush to support Whitbread and Byng. George Agar Ellis* commented, 27 Mar., that George Lamb*, the defeated Whig

and his friends seem to bear the event of the Westminster election with equanimity. Indeed the opposition quite forgot him in their anxiety for Mr. Samuel Charles Whitbread, whose cause unites the Whigs and radicals in the bond of fellowship. Can you conceive anything more disgraceful! Today Burdett and Hobhouse are expected to go in procession with all their committee to vote for him, while John Russell leads the Chelsea pensioners for the same purpose.27

On 27 and 28 Mar. contingents led by Sir Robert Wilson* from Stepney, Burdett and Hobhouse from the Crown and Anchor and Wood and Waithman from the City put Whitbread a further 251 ahead of Mellish, whose narrow daily lead on the 29th (Mellish 157, Byng 155, Whitbread 149) took the gross poll to Byng 3,876, Whitbread 3,457, Mellish 2,935. Buoyed by Byng’s firm declaration for reform that day, and undeterred by Mellish’s notices that he would poll on Good Friday (31 Mar.) and until 4 pm on 3 Apr. (the last day), Peter Moore hailed the triumph of Burdett and reform, proclaimed Byng and Whitbread ‘unassailable’ and demanded Mellish’s retirement.28 Denouncing Byng’s ‘false reassurances of support’, Mellish obliged on the 12th day, 31 Mar., as soon as sheriff Parkins had refused to accept the votes of the East India Company almsmen brought up from Poplar and directed to support him - one of several ‘dubious’ contingents. Byng and Whitbread were immediately chaired.29 Informing his brother-in-law Grey of Whitbread’s 500 majority, ‘which would have increased every day afterwards’, Ellice added:

We owe our success to a little good management, in conciliating all parties attached to the popular cause. All I feared from the beginning was some foolish dispute or jealousy amongst ourselves. We had nothing, or have nothing to dread, with decent management, in any popular coalition, from our opponents, and I am sure there is much more consistency in accepting as our principles even the support of the radical reformers, than in relying as Lamb must have done ... upon the continuance and active assistance either of the government or the Court ... We might easily have placed Sam at the head of the poll, and had great difficulty, till Burdett lent us assistance, in showing by example the need to persuade some of our wild brethren to split with Byng, after his declaration on the salient of reform, which the radicals say is all they will or can accept, at least from us ... [Whitbread] has had most zealous and efficient friends in the partners of the brewhouse, and it is creditable to the independent feelings of this great county, that a 12-days contest has been carried on, without the assistance of one paid agent, and under an expense of £3,000 (I believe not exceeding £2,500).30

On 7 Apr. he revised the figure to £5,000.31 Hobhouse attributed the Whigs’ success to the Westminster reformers.32 Holland delighted in the return of an additional opposition Member.33 Editorials in the Traveller, 31 Mar., and The Times, 11 Apr., claimed that the result demonstrated the unpopularity of a cabinet that refused all concessions on reform and retrenchment, and the liberals’ strength in metropolitan areas. ‘Long possession of his seat and extensive acquaintance with his constituents, ample fortune, liberal disposition and polished manners could not atone, in the person of ... Mellish, for his devotion to ministers’.34 Hailing his 1,959 plumpers, from whom he derived 64 per cent of his total vote, the Courier cautioned:

A youth is thrust forward ... by a radical reformer. The young gentleman proclaims that he is a ‘thorough reformer’. Shall this, his only pretension, for he has no other, be his passport into the ... Commons? Will the county of Middlesex suffer itself to be degraded as Westminster is degraded by becoming a mere instrument in the hands of Sir Francis Burdett?35

The Statesman reported that Whitbread, ‘by the suavity of his manners has conciliated the esteem of those most adverse to his principles’. Charles Shaw Lefevre published notices apologizing for any delay by Whitbread in thanking supporters and subscribers and hosted a celebration dinner at the Mermaid in Hackney, 17 Apr.36 Burdett, Byng and Whitbread were the main speakers and reform the theme at the Middlesex Independence dinner chaired by the leading Whig ‘Mountaineer’ Henry Grey Bennet at the Freemasons’, 3 June 1820.37 Hobhouse described it in his diary as ‘a complete failure, all head and no body; 34 Whig gentlemen at [the] upper table and not above 130 in all. The people feel no interest in Byng or any thing Whiggish and that is the truth’.38 Anniversary dinners at the Mermaid and the Freemasons’ to rally the metropolitan Whig-radical coalition and gauge its strength continued, 1820-26.39 No pollbooks or statistics for each hundred or division survive, so the precise number polled, and the contributions of the less urban districts, which Mellish’s committee conceded they had neglected during the canvass, cannot be quantified.40 Electioneering in the market towns was poorly reported but, perhaps significantly, Mellish enjoyed a surge of support on Saturdays when government offices were closed and it was market day at Brentford. Byng and Whitbread had the advantage when the artisans celebrated ‘Saint’ Monday.41 A historian of reform has interpreted the result as a ‘seat going to industry’.42 According to a checkbook for the Tower division, where 836 freeholders voted (Byng 589, Whitbread 446, Mellish 396), polling peaked on the first and fifth days, and only 253 (under 27 per cent) lived in their qualifying properties. Analysis bears comparison with The Times’s mid-poll survey: 241 (29 per cent) plumped, namely 174 for Mellish (44 per cent of his total), 61 for Whitbread (14 per cent) and six for Byng, who shared 373 split votes with Whitbread (63 and 84 per cent of their respective totals) and 210 with Mellish (36 and 53 per cent). There were only 12 Mellish-Whitbread splits.43

Anti-government sentiment ran high in May 1820 when the Peterloo convictions were upheld on appeal, and crowds celebrated the return of George IV’s discarded queen Caroline in June, escorted by Wood.44 Whitbread and his friends were among her chief partisans and both Members supported the parliamentary campaign on her behalf. A county meeting at the Mermaid, 8 Aug., chaired by sheriff Parkins, with Moore, Whitbread and Burdett as speakers, rejected an anti-monarchy resolution pressed by Hunt’s ally James Mills (of Bristol). Their address to the queen nevertheless incorporated a resolution giving the Members ‘full instructions to oppose’ the bill of pains and penalties ‘with every exertion’.45 It was presented to her with a great show of public support, 15 Aug., as were the heavily signed addresses adopted over the next month in St. Marylebone, St. Pancras, Paddington Green and Camden Town. The ‘married ladies’ addressed her separately.46 An editorial in the Courier, 15 Sept., criticized these ‘low class gatherings’ and ‘the three itinerant graces - Peter Moore, Sir Gerard Noel* and ... Whitbread ... exhibited’ at them, and the Evangelical vicar of Harrow, John Cunningham, published a pamphlet denouncing Whitbread. In St. Marylebone, the select vestry countered the inhabitants’ address with one backing the king and ministers.47 Similar meetings and tensions between parish hierarchies and inhabitants followed the illuminations, processions and church services in Hammersmith and the City that marked the abandonment of the bill of pains and penalties in November.48 Ealing, close to the duke of Kent’s seat, took up her cause, and in rural Stanmore, where Lord Aberdeen owned the Priory, the rector, the Rev. Arthur Robinson Chauvel, failed to prevent the church bells being pealed in her honour.49 A requisition of 6 Nov. for a county meeting to address the queen was rejected as ‘irregular’ and too extreme, and Cobbett and Mills prevailed when the freeholders met at Covent Garden, 1 Dec. Afterwards, a hurriedly convened county meeting at the Mermaid, 8 Dec. 1820, chaired by Waithman as sheriff, rejected at Byng’s behest Mills and Major Cartwright’s amendment for radical parliamentary reform; but their address nevertheless incorporated a resolution for the dismissal of ministers.50 Petitions for restoring Caroline’s name to the liturgy were brought up from Bethnal Green, Hammersmith, St. Marylebone, Paddington and Shoreditch, 26 Jan., and St. Andrew’s, Holborn, 13 Feb. 1821.51

Landowners and occupiers, meeting at Uxbridge, the only town with an independent bank (owned by the Quaker millers Hull, Smith and Company), contributed to the petitioning on agricultural distress, 12 May 1820, 6 Mar. 1821.52 Uxbridge also petitioned for revision of the penal code, 30 Mar. 1821, and legislation to facilitate small debt collection, 1 Apr. 1822;53 but on distress the momentum had passed to the radical reformers, whose petitions to the Commons in 1821 incorporated resolutions supporting the queen, advocating retrenchment and lower taxes and deploring the currency change.54 The 1822 Middlesex petition, from which Gibbons dissented on behalf of the Tory agriculturists, demanded wideranging reform and a return to 1792 prices. Byng, a moderating influence at its adoption, 14 Feb., subsequently failed to persuade Cartwright, Draper and fellow advocates of universal suffrage and annual parliaments to compromise. Draper maintained that his support for Whitbread in 1820 and attendance with Wilson at the queen’s funeral had cost him the readership of Pentonville chapel and chaplaincy to the 1st Horse Guards.55 The 5 Feb. 1823 reform meeting at the Mermaid considered moderate resolutions circulated beforehand by Peter Moore, with a view to preventing Major Cartwright dictating proceedings; but it ended in disarray, when Cartwright’s petition proposing annual parliaments and universal suffrage was narrowly carried and the sheriff Matthias Prime Lucas refused to sign it on the meeting’s behalf. The Morning Chronicle commented: ‘The resolutions, and a petition founded on them were adopted, which for the credit of those present, we must suppose few of them heard or understood. We should be sorry to think that the principles disclosed in the petition were entertained by any considerable body of reformers’; the petition apparently remained unpresented. No further county meetings were convened until 1830.56 The Commons received a joint petition from the labourers of Kent, Middlesex and Surrey for action to combat distress, ‘the cause of increased crime and poor rates’, 10 Mar. 1823. Staines petitioned in the name of Thomas Wood for repeal of the corn laws, 5 May 1823, and the radicals for reform, 30 June, 1 July 1823.57 The artisans and journeymen petitioned collectively in protest at the rapid mechanization of their trades, 12 Feb. 1821, for repeal of the combination laws in 1824, when Hume secured it, against their reintroduction in 1825, and for relaxation of the corn laws, 1 Mar. 1826.58 The licensing and excise laws, including the 1823 local Act regulating their enforcement by Middlesex’s ‘brewster’ sessions, were widely opposed in representations to the Brentford and Isleworth magistrates and hostile petitions, 1824-5;59 as were the repeal of the Spitalfields Acts and all changes in duties on textiles, which the larger manufacturers initially condoned, but the weavers and poor law authorities resented.60 Petitions for repeal of the assessed taxes were sent up from Bethnal Green, Brent and St. Marylebone in 1825.61 Brentford, Staines and the dockland parishes supported the 1823-5 campaign for repeal of the duty on coastwise coal.62 On Catholic relief, which both Members supported, petitions received in 1821, 1822, 1823 and 1825 reflected the hostility of their instigators - the clergy of Middlesex archdeaconry, Mellish’s Edmonton friends, and congregations in Clerkenwell, St. Pancras and Hampstead.63 However, certain Clerkenwell inhabitants also petitioned the Lords for the emancipation of Catholic peers, 21 June 1822.64 The Unitarian Society, the Dissenting Deputies, the Protestant Dissenters of London and Westminster, the London Society for the Abolition of Slavery and the Anti-Slavery Society handled most of ‘metropolitan’ Middlesex’s petitions for the abolition of colonial slavery, 1823-6, and several for criminal law reform and the abolition of capital punishment for forgery in 1821. Brentford, Staines and Uxbridge forwarded similar petitions in these years to the Members and Sir Edward Knatchbull for presentation to the Commons, and to Calthorpe and Grosvenor for the Lords. Finsbury’s Unitarians asked William Smith and Lord Lansdowne to represent their views.65 St. Marylebone, 1 Mar. 1824, and Twickenham petitioned urging the Commons to end bear-baiting and all cruelty to animals, 27 Feb. 1826.66

Legislation affecting several populous parishes and impacting on rating proved particularly contentious and costly to secure for the promoters of rival lighting, turnpike and water companies.67 Improvement bills for Brentford, Mile End, Somers Town and Brompton, and the Marylebone church, Poplar gas light and Chelsea rate bills were quietly enacted in 1821 and enclosure awards carried for Cranford (1820), Harlington (1821), Willesden (1823), Hillingdon and Northolt (1825).68 Competing local and commercial interests and the stance taken by interested Members, many of them engaged in commerce and vestry politics, ensured opposition and delays to the 1820 Newington church and 1821 Newington select vestry bills;69 the 1821 metropolitan gas light and policing bills;70 the 1824 Islington poor bill,71 and others for the new London, Staines and Hammersmith bridges.72 The contentious 1820 Marylebone road, 1821 metropolitan road, 1822 Highgate chapel, 1824 St. Katharine’s Docks and Mile End improvement bills; and the 1825 London waterworks bill all foundered.73 Petitioning on the 1824 and 1825 Equitable Loan Company bills, which compromised Moore, was widespread and mainly hostile.74 The 1825 Isle of Dogs docks bill (Ratcliffe collier docks), in which Byng and Mellish had proprietory interests, had to be enacted without the attendant railway.75

When a dissolution was anticipated in October 1825, Sir James Mackintosh* predicted that his party would forfeit a Middlesex seat, ‘more as Whigs than as Catholics’.76 However, the 1825-6 banking crisis and a downturn in the shipping trade augured against the anticipated challenge by Mellish at the general election in June 1826. Despite rumblings of discontent, especially with ‘Solon’ Whitbread, who had not sustained his early promise as a bold debater and left most constituency business to Byng, nothing came of approaches to the lord mayor of London, Alderman William Venables*, Burdett’s brother Captain William Jones Burdett and an unnamed third man, reported by ‘some noodles’ to be Ellice, and ‘no placards or even a banner’ was in sight when the Members arrived at Brentford to be returned unopposed. Both ignored the anti-Catholic Westbrook’s alarmist harangues, which the crowd hooted; but Hunt’s attendance, fresh from his defeat in Somerset, which he denounced, produced a late frisson of excitement.77 Lord William Russell and Trapaud nominated Byng, whose notices and speeches stressed his long service and attention to local interests. Byng promised to vote for retrenchment and to investigate abuses in the ‘charitable establishments, with which the county abounded’. In Burdett’s unexpected absence, the Whig banker Nicholas Ridley Colborne* proposed Whitbread and Hobhouse seconded. Both stressed his lineage, diligence, support for reform and opposition to the Liverpool ministry’s high taxes, and left Whitbread to clarify his stance on free trade (a radical priority for which he expressed qualified support) and denounce slavery and all ‘jobbing speculations in joint-stock companies’. He refused to pledge his future conduct.78 A scathing report in the Courier denounced both Members as ‘incompetent’ and Whitbread as a ‘dumb organ’ of the sentiments of Middlesex. The Globe noted the problems facing a Tory challenger: ‘The feeling of the majority of freeholders is decidedly in favour of liberal principles ... The direct influence which can be brought to bear upon them is smaller, or applied with more difficulty’ [than elsewhere].79

The Members kept a low profile pending Canning’s succession as premier in April 1827 following Lord Liverpool’s stroke, and scrofula, ‘the Grey disease’, kept Whitbread away from the House for much of the 1826 Parliament.80 The Middlesex, Kent and Surrey labourers petitioned the Commons alleging distress, 3 Mar. 1827.81 The Protestant Dissenters petitioned the Lords between February and April and celebrated the repeal of the Test Acts at the Freemasons’ Tavern, 18 June 1828.82 Unitarians living within 12 miles of London and certain other congregations petitioned in favour of Catholic emancipation in 1829;83 but parishes and congregations in the Tower division, Brentford, Hampstead, Hillingdon, St. Marylebone and Uxbridge remained overwhelmingly hostile. The clergy of the archdeaconry confirmed their anti-Catholic sympathies in 1827, but subsequently failed to agree on a petition.84 Several opposed to colonial slavery and advocating criminal law reform were sent up when campaigning revived nationally in 1827-1828 and 1830.85 Outside the City, local differences in postal charges, state spending on new churches, vestry reform, parish rates and the assessed taxes were major petitioning issues, together with the new metropolitan police and the 1828 and 1829 Middlesex county bridges bills, which the magistrates promoted in a bid to reduce the county’s spending. Controversy was generated also by the numerous public and private schemes affecting metropolitan roads, water companies and property, initiated by Lord Lowther at the department of woods and forests.86 The Marylebone churches bill received royal assent, 14 June 1827, after a bitter struggle during which its provisions for commuting the Easter offering into a church rate were opposed in petitions and at a public meeting chaired by Thomas Spring Rice* and addressed by Hume, John Maberly* and Ralph Leycester*, 27 Apr. A local committee monitored its introduction and progress, but allegations of irregularities, secrecy and partial auditing persisted throughout 1828 and 1829.87 The conduct of district metropolitan road commissioners appointed under the 1829 Act and of the metropolitan police commissioners Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne, and the impact of the water companies’ policies on the Grand Junction and Regent’s canals and parish rates were all closely scrutinized, reported in parliamentary returns and criticized in memorials and petitions from urban and rural districts alike, 1828-30 (and again, 1831-2).88 Legislation for a new Smithfield market foundered in 1828 despite ministerial backing.89 A new St. Katharine’s Docks bill received royal assent, 23 Mar. 1829, but the 1829 and 1830 Ratcliffe gas and dock bills had to be abandoned.90 Memorials to ministers in February and March 1830 testified to the severity of the economic downturn in the county;91 and the Metropolitan Political Union established by Hunt, Daniel O’Connell* and a council of 36 (including Hume) following a mass rally outside the Eagle tavern in the City, 8 Mar., advocated a radical programme of universal manhood suffrage, annual parliaments, and the ballot, and petitioned the Commons accordingly, 21 June 1830.92

Speculation over a successor to Whitbread had commenced in Tory circles directly the severity of his illness was realized in 1828; but despite talk of Mellish, they were unable to field a viable candidate at the dissolution precipitated by the king’s death in June 1830. Hume, who had first been suggested as Whitbread’s replacement by Burdett and Hobhouse to prevent him attempting Westminster, and as a deterrent to Cobbett’s candidature, emerged as the front runner.93 Hobhouse recalled that Whitbread, realizing that he had no chance of being returned on subscription, had asked him on 15 June to draft his retirement address, and that Hume was adopted as his successor after prior consultation with Burdett, Shaw Lefevre, Place, and the leaders of the Whig party Lord Althorp* and Grey, who expressed unease over Shaw Lefevre’s estimate that the election would cost £7,000. Hume’s representative in their negotiations, the radical Henry Warburton*, promised a maximum of £2,500.94 After initially failing to secure the support of the dukes of Bedford and Devonshire, Hume prevaricated over money, and overtures were made to Lord John Russell, whose committee Althorp offered to chair, and to Hobhouse (Shaw Lefevre and Whitbread’s choice) before Warburton settled the matter with them by one-to-one and joint negotiations.95 According to Hobhouse’s ‘recollections’, on 25 June

Warburton showed me two letters signed Joseph Hume; one of them declining to stand for Middlesex, the other consenting to be a candidate. I said it was very hard to throw the weight of abandoning the project upon me, which would inevitably be the case if I accepted the letter of resignation. It was agreed it would be very difficult to find any another man besides Hume ... and so all of us confessing Joseph Hume to be a very shabby shuffling fellow, yet believing he might be a useful Member for Middlesex, we came to the resolution of standing by him, heart and hand. I made this remark in my diary: ‘If Hume should be returned for Middlesex, he of course will forget that he owes his seat to me twice over: once when I commended the project to Burdett and Place; and again, when I accepted his affirmative instead of his negative answer’. I went to the committee room, and commenced operations immediately, writing circulars and private letters.96

Hume’s committee, an uneasy coalition of Whigs and radicals chaired by Warburton, with Hobhouse occasionally deputizing, sported oak leaves as favours and sat at 8 Pall Mall East from 30 June, under the supervision of the radical George Wallace.97 Byng, whose commercial interests and support for select vestries were condoned by the Tories and wealthy Whigs, announced his candidature the following day. Making a virtue of his experience, he stated:

I know that it is desirable that one of your Members should be conversant with your local Acts, boards and interests, and with the local charities on which depend the health, relief and education of multitudes of inhabitants of this metropolitan county.98

Meanwhile the Globe and the Morning Herald looked to Hume to ‘apply his microscopic and unbending research to ... [county] finances and expenditure ... to which their Members hitherto appear to have paid but little attention’.99 On 16 July Hume, Hunt, Hobhouse and the surgeon and veteran of the London Corresponding Society, Colonel Leslie Grove Jones of Somers Town, ‘a troublesome man’ detested by Shaw Lefevre and the Whigs of Whitbread’s former committee, addressed a Freemasons’ Tavern reform meeting chaired by John Berkeley Monck*, which carried resolutions for the ballot, universal suffrage, one-day polls and triennial parliaments. Burdett and Place ensured that the radicals did not exploit Byng’s absence that day and, with a poll unlikely, political interest switched to infighting in the St. Marylebone select vestry, the forthcoming coroner’s election in Middlesex East and the revolution in France.100 At Brentford, 5 Aug., the uncontested election, described by the Morning Herald as ‘weary, stale, flat’ and unprofitable to the publicans, was postponed to 2 pm pending the arrival of the sheriff Sir William Henry Richardson, who had officiated when the king visited the Tower of London that morning. Whitbread and Lord William Russell nominated Byng, and Sir John Scott Lillie of North End, Fulham and the ship owner and Tower division magistrate George Frederick Young sponsored Hume, who, being unaware of Richardson’s obligations, had arrived embarrassingly early with Colonel Jones. On the hustings Hume applauded the recent revolution in France and advocated, economy, retrenchment and reform. Byng, who was severely heckled for ‘sitting too long’ and failing to oppose the metropolitan police bill, took pains to distance himself from the parliamentary radicals.101 Proposing a vote of thanks to Whitbread, Jones also praised Byng’s ‘honest votes’, but added that he had ‘occasionally lent himself to county jobs, in order to make himself popular’.102 Middlesex’s radical tail troubled Lord William Russell who observed, 20 Aug.:

[Lord] John [Russell] I have no doubt might have come in for Middlesex, but it would consequently have entailed on him more trouble, more work in detail, and more to harass his mind than his physical constitution would have carried him through.103

At the coroner’s election in September 1830 the Whig lawyer William Baker, proposed by Whitbread and the protectionist Member for Barnstaple Frederick Hodgson, defeated the radical surgeon and candidate of the vestry activists and unionists Thomas Wakley† by 3,670-3,534 after a hard-fought ten-day poll. Wakley, whose sponsors were the bookseller William Evans and the radical Bloomsbury tobacconist George Rogers, was strongly endorsed by Scott Lillie, Jones and Orator Hunt, an arch-opponent of Warburton’s coroners bill. They ensured that Whitbread was heckled on the hustings for ‘collusion’ at the general election.104

Petitions to both Houses in November 1830 and March and April 1831 requesting the abolition of colonial slavery were generally instigated by the county’s Dissenters and Wesleyan Methodists.105 St. Marylebone, where a meeting on 11 Aug. 1830 ignored Lord Kenyon and Sir Peter Laurie’s representations, condoned the French revolution and petitioned for reform and remedial action to curb peers’ influence at elections.106 Hume, a vestry member and the petition’s presenter, voted against the Wellington ministry when they were brought down on the civil list, 15 Nov. Byng left the House before the division, but he was expected to support Grey’s reform ministry. The activities of the Rotunda radicals, cancellation of the king’s 9 Nov. visit to the City and the growing influence of the unions coincided locally with the furore generated by the ‘Swing’ rioters. The Uxbridge yeomanry cavalry (the Old Berkeley Hunt formed the nucleus of the corps) and the militia were mobilized to shield London when rioting spread to Bedfont and Hounslow, 16 Nov., Heston and Staines, 24 Nov., and the ‘Harrow area’ the following week.107 Asking Hume to insist on the inclusion of the ballot in the ministry’s reform bill, 22 Nov., Place warned:

Burdett has ... refused to sign the requisition for the county meeting, because he thinks the new ministry should not be tied, because we ought to wait and see what they will do. He has forgotten that this trick was played in 1806 by the Whigs. That the reformers were duped and the consequence was that they were palsied ... The reformers will not, however, be again cajoled, nor put from their purpose.108

According to The Times, 500-600 attended the county meeting presided over by the sheriffs Sir Chapman Marshall and Sir William Henry Poland at the Mermaid, 15 Dec. 1830. Hobhouse described it as a ‘small meeting, but the hustings [and] full proceedings [were] prepared’. It adopted an all-embracing petition for retrenchment and reform, which expressly regretted the increasing distress and rioting and called for a 10,000-man reduction in the army, reform, an extended franchise, the ballot and changes in tax and tithe collection. Scott Lillie, Hobhouse, Warburton and Jones, whose speech was misreported by The Times to imply that Wellington would use the army against the populace, were joined as main speakers by the secretary of the St. Katharine’s Docks Company John Hall who, to popular acclaim, pressed for separate representation for the large metropolitan divisions of Tower Hamlets, Marylebone, St. Pancras, Lambeth and Brixton. The Cornhill merchant Ilbury Fearon (of Thompson and Fearon) carried a resolution criticizing the poor laws, all monopolies, excessive taxation and the supremacy of the aristocracy; and Wakley, an advocate of universal suffrage, carried an amendment in favour of a scot and lot franchise. Young’s attempt to propose another against free trade was shouted down. Speaking afterwards, Burdett was applauded when he expressed confidence in the Grey ministry, but heckled when he cautioned against premature opposition to their reform bill. Hume’s promise to ensure that government kept their pledges was well received, but no one could obtain a hearing for Byng, who declared his intention of opposing the ballot. His name was removed from the resolutions and the petition was entrusted to Hume and Warburton and presented to the Commons, 21 Dec. 1830, and the Lords, 7 Feb. 1831.109 Petitions for reform including the ballot were received by the Commons from Clerkenwell, Covent Garden, St. Pancras, Hammersmith, Holborn, Marylebone, Mile End, Newington and ‘Englishmen and women resident in the metropolis’, 4 Feb.-1 Mar.; Mile End, Newington and St. Pancras petitioned the Lords similarly, 15-28 Feb.110 St. Pancras, 14 Feb., Clerkenwell, 15 Feb., St. Marylebone, 16 Feb. 1831, were among the parishes that petitioned additionally for vestry and tithe reform and reductions in the assessed taxes.111 Petitions favourable and hostile to Hobhouse’s vestry reform bill were also forthcoming.112

Finsbury, Marylebone and Tower Hamlets were among the new two Member metropolitan boroughs announced in the ministerial reform bill, which also enfranchised Greenwich and Lambeth (two seats each) on the Kent and Surrey banks of the Thames, and extended the borough franchise to £10 householders. The county and Westminster retained two seats each. Hume, Jones, William Smith and their allies immediately rallied to the ministry and ensured that notwithstanding the omission from the bill of the ballot and shorter parliaments, favourable petitions were sent up in March from Bethnal Green, Bloomsbury, Brentford, Brompton, Chelsea, Edmonton, Fulham, Hammersmith, Hendon, Holborn, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington, St. Marylebone, Mile End, Paddington, St. Pancras, Shoreditch, Tower Hamlets and Whitechapel. Uxbridge, where Clarke of Swankleys declared unequivocally for the ‘whole bill’, petitioned similarly.113 Endorsements of the full radical programme, including universal suffrage, were added to the petitions (to the Lords) from Hammersmith, 7 Mar., and St. Andrew’s, Holborn, 21 Mar.114 After concentrating on local legislation, fresh complaints against the police and road commissioners and Hobhouse’s vestry bill, Byng declared unequivocally for the reform bill, 19 Mar., and again at the county meeting at the Mermaid on the 21st, when resolutions endorsing it were proposed by Serjeant Pell, Scott Lillie, Shaw Lefevre and Whitbread. Marshall as sheriff signed the petition. (They addressed the king similarly through Lord Grey, 20 Apr.)115 A hostile petition from the ‘western part of the metropolis’, where the failure to enfranchise Chelsea as a metropolitan borough was resented, was promoted by the Courier, and presented to the Commons with the county petition, 28 Mar.116 The magistrates declared collectively for reform and Sergeant Pell carried a resolution (by 24-13) criticizing Richards’s ‘plural’ appointment as magistrates’ clerk to the Finsbury and Holborn divisions as ‘highly detrimental to the interests of the county’, 14 Apr.117 At the dissolution precipitated by the reform bill’s defeat, 19 Apr., the Marylebone reform committee at the Horse Bazaar, Baker Street, with Jones as chairman and Thomas Thorne of Winchester Row as secretary, prepared and advertised lists of out-voters in boroughs countrywide resident in St. Marylebone, Paddington and the ‘western metropolis’.118 Warburton now advised lord chancellor Brougham to overcome his personal dislike of Jones, ‘a most useful friend of the present administration out of doors ... for he has considerable influence with a large body of the London shopkeepers, with such at least as are reformers’.119 Hume had canvassed Acton, Hanwell, Southall, Hayes, Hillingdon and Uxbridge, where he was not known, early, and encouraged the adoption of loyal addresses thanking the king and ministers for the reform bill and dissolving Parliament to safeguard it.120 Both Members rallied support at reform dinners in Southwark, 4 May, and Paddington, 5 May 1831, and they ‘rode together in the same carriage’ to the election on the 10th to ‘show they backed the same cause’. Newspapers reported that they promised to support ‘the bill, the whole bill and nothing but the bill’ and no opposition was raised to their return. Pell and the Southwark Member Charles Calvert proposed Byng; and Scott Lillie and Young sponsored Hume. The national anthem was sung on the hustings and the Members were chaired through Brentford and on to Kew Bridge, where their procession continued by carriage to London.121

Hobhouse’s vestry bill, designed to end plural voting and oligarchic control, received royal assent, 20 Oct. 1831, and improvement bills for Holborn and the parish of St. Luke’s were enacted in 1832, but reform dominated Middlesex politics, 1831-2.122 Byng ensured that his silent votes for the bill were well publicized, avoided meetings dominated by radicals, and concentrated on local issues. Hume, a voluble supporter of the bill throughout, also voted and addressed meetings with an eye on the electorate. He publicized his dislike of divided counties, which the radicals in general opposed, and confirmed his support for the ballot, shorter parliaments and retrenchment, for which he again harried ministers directly the reform bill was secure. Middlesex’s support for ministerial measures endured, 1831-2, but factional interests, influenced by London radicals and anti-reformers, tried to turn the shortcomings of the reintroduced and revised reform bills to their own advantage, especially in vestry politics.123 St. Pancras, where the vestrymen and ratepayers were at odds over the vestry bill, formed part of the proposed Finsbury constituency with Paddington, and petitioned the Commons for separate enfranchisement, citing its £420,000 annual rental and £80,000 contribution in assessed taxes, 12 July. Marylebone requested an extended franchise should the bill be changed, 14 July 1831.124 A Chelsea meeting that day, convened by the churchwardens, appointed a deputation to lobby Lord John Russell for a western metropolitan constituency based on the Kensington division, comprising Chelsea with Brompton, Fulham, Hammersmith and Kensington. They had a combined population in 1831 of 32,371, and paid £23,469 in assessed taxes in 1830.125 Concern persisted in ministerial and opposition circles over the likely preponderance of the urban vote and the unmanageability of a £10 franchise in metropolitan electorates where a £20 vestry franchise commonly applied; and a campaign was under way to raise the voting threshold in all great towns.126 Countering suggestions of £30 or £40 for suburban London, an editorial in The Times, 12 July 1831, alluded to the immense tax contributions made by Finsbury (£205,948), Marylebone (£290,378) and Tower Hamlets (£118,546), and recommended a £20 maximum for Middlesex.

In the Commons, 2 Aug. 1831, Thomas Wood’s formal protest that the metropolitan boroughs violated the principle of the bill paved the way for the anti-reformers’ trial of strength on the enfranchisement of Greenwich, 3 Aug., which ministers carried by 295-188. In debate Hobhouse and the leader of the House Althorp rejected Peel’s case for expanding the existing ‘metropolitan’ constituencies, poured scorn on arguments that Marylebone, as the home of so many Members, was already represented, and turned down Wood’s suggestion that Middlesex be awarded six Members on the Yorkshire model: two for Tower Hamlets, with its own lord lieutenant, county rate and militia; two for the eastern division polling at Hackney; two for the western, polling at Brentford, with similar adjustments for the London suburbs in Kent and Surrey. Countering, Macaulay spoke of the younger Pitt’s support for enfranchising the London suburbs and the high rateable values in Tower Hamlets, Finsbury and Marylebone. Their enfranchisement was carried the following day without a division, but with ‘much hot air, mainly Scottish’ (Cutlar Fergusson).127 Bloomsbury petitioned for measures to expedite the bill’s progress, 5 Aug., and Hume belatedly endorsed this, 27 Aug. 1831.128

Petitions urging the Lords to carry the bill were carried at mass meetings in Marylebone, which petitioned separately for vestry reform but against Hobhouse’s bill, 26 Sept., and in St. Pancras, 3 Oct.129 The county meeting at the Mermaid, 27 Sept., was intended as a precedent for others and chaired by sheriff Marshall, with Pell, Scott Lillie, Burdett and Scales as the main speakers. 130 They were assisted by John Wilks I* of Finsbury Square, who called for addresses to the king from every parish in the kingdom should the bill be lost. The barrister W.H. Bodkin (one of the counsel for the Hampshire ‘Swing’ rioters) defended the unions and their leaders Hall and Wallace. Serjeant Storks of the crown office (a major in the militia) and the radical surgeon John Carpue carried a resolution praising the Members, which they duly acknowledged. As the meeting requested, their petition was presented to the Lords in the names of the sheriffs by the duke of Sussex, 30 Sept.131 They also received favourable petitions from the vestry of St. James’s (30 Sept.) and the Parochial Reform Union of Clerkernwell, 4 Oct.; the Kensington and Hammersmith branch of the National Union of the Industrious Classes, 3 Oct.; Hounslow, 4 Oct.; St. Luke’s, Cheslea 5 Oct.; the inhabitants of St. Mary Abbots, Kensington and Holy Trinity, Brompton, who urged the bill’s passage to preserve tranquillity, 5 Oct.; and from Staines, 6 Oct.132 On 10 Oct. Chelsea, Clerkenwell, Marylebone and St. Pancras met in protest to address the king following the bill’s Lords’ defeat. The Marylebone meeting was deliberately held in the grounds of John Maberly’s* house in Regent’s Park to keep Hunt and the extreme radicals at bay.133 With similar objectives, Place now established the National Political Union on the Birmingham model as an alternative to the Hunt’s Metropolitan Union and Watson’s National Union of the Working Classes of the Metropolis, whose strongly worded petition for the ballot and against compulsory emigration had caused a furore, 8 Aug. 1831. National Political Union branches in Bethnal Green, Brentford and Edmonton also petitioned for the ‘speedy passage’ of the bill, and with St. Marylebone and Finsbury for the ‘repeal of laws affecting the liberty of the press’ and against levying stamp duty on newsprint. Numerically Place’s union remained weak.134

Amid intense lobbying pending the introduction of the revised reform bill and attendant overtures to the ‘Waverers’ (who demanded concessions on the £10 franchise, the abandonment of the proposed metropolitan boroughs and schedule B disfranchisements, and the exclusion of urban householders from the county franchise), complaints were voiced in the king’s household and elsewhere that the size of Middlesex’s metropolitan electorate had been grossly overestimated. The bill’s critics had hitherto ignored the natural reduction in the electorate effected by compounding rates and they failed to appreciate that in Finsbury, where ‘few tenements’ were rated under £10, most householders would be hard pressed to pay rent and poor rates for a full year to qualify.135 On 13 Nov. Grey informed the king’s secretary, Sir Herbert Taylor*, that

the evil of altering it [the bill] would now be greater than that of suffering it to remain as it is; and, from communications which I have had with some very respectable persons in the district of the Tower Hamlets, which has been supposed to be the one in which this right of representation would be most objectionable, I have the best grounds for believing that, by a provision to limit the right of voting to those who are actually rated in their own account, the inconvenience of a too numerous constituency would be avoided, and the measure as respects these districts rendered perfectly safe.136

Although Taylor made it clear that the king’s misgivings ‘applied more to the parishes of Marylebone and St. Pancras’, major changes specific to Middlesex as a whole were included in the revised bill.137 Chelsea and Hackney, however, had to wait until the 1867 Reform Act for separate enfranchisement. Criticizing the qualification clauses, a hostile editorial in The Times complained:

Thus all householders in the parishes of St. Pancras and Marylebone will be admitted to vote on a £10 rent; but proceed to Highgate and Hampstead, and you must rent a house of £50, otherwise you need not go to Brentford on the day of an election.138

The boundary commissioners’ February 1832 report acknowledged this ‘defect’, together with the difficulty of defining a boundary for Tower Hamlets, which they later revised.139

Lord Chandos’s fresh onslaught against the metropolitan boroughs was trailed as a means of placating the Lords and avoiding peer creations and defeated (by 316-236), 28 Feb. 1832. His speech incorporated sections of the report and points from the 2-4 Aug. 1831 debates, targeted the £10 vote and ‘formation of separate boroughs in the heart of London’, and suggested increasing the representation of Middlesex from two to four by ‘voting out’ the proposal for Tower Hamlets, adding it with Finsbury to the London constituency and attaching Marylebone to Westminster (and Lambeth to Southwark). A hard-hitting editorial in The Times, 1 Mar., criticized ‘20 Waverers’ for supporting Chandos and suggested that Middlesex should gain 40 Members, not six.140 The London metropolitan constituencies and their franchise remained in contention when the bill went to the Lords. Greville wrote in his diary, 1 Apr., that Grey’s son-in-law

Charles Wood* told me the other day that they [ministers] were well disposed to a compromise on two special points, one the exclusion of town voters from the right of voting for counties, the other the metropolitan Members. On the first he proposed that no man voting for a town in right of a £10 house should have a vote for the county in right of any freehold in that town. That would be half-way between Wharncliffe’s plan and the present. The second, that Marylebone should return two Members, and Middlesex two more - very like Grey’s proposition which Harrowby rejected - but I suggested keeping the whole and raising the qualification, to which he thought no objection would lie.141

Jones had also heard that concessions were likely, and accordingly mounted a campaign against the introduction of a £20 franchise in metropolitan Middlesex. Editorials also warned that the country would not abide by Chandos’s proposals, should Salisbury carry them in the Lords.142 On 9 May they received Clerkenwell’s petition urging the bill’s ‘unimpaired’ passage.143 When defeat, 7 May, the government’s tendered resignation and the prospect of a ministry headed by Wellington threatened the reform bill, Bethnal Green National Political Union petitioned the Commons for the withdrawal of supplies pending its enactment, 11 May, the inhabitants of Marylebone, St. Pancras and Paddington met in Regent’s Park with the same objective, 11-14 May, and a campaign for the non-payment of taxes and civil disobedience gathered momentum in the urban parishes.144 A prestigious meeting at Kensington, 15 May, chaired by Lord Teynham and addressed by the Members, carried resolutions for the bill and against Wellington’s appointment as premier. A meeting at Mile End that evening was adjourned in anticipation of the Grey ministry’s return, but delegates at White Conduit House and district meetings, 17 May, adopted petitions for the withholding of supplies and planned outright opposition to a ministry headed by Wellington.145 Their petitions were shelved until 13 July to expedite the progress of the bill following Grey’s reinstatement, and were eventually presented with others requesting extension of the English bill’s provisions to Ireland, from the vestrymen of St. Marylebone, Paddington and St. Pancras.146 A petition received by the Commons the same day from the vestrymen of St. Marylebone, St. Pancras and Paddington called specifically for an extension to the qualifying period for rate payments to facilitate registration.147 Meanwhile the radicals and anti-reformers of the St. Marylebone vestry conspired to wreck the bill by petitioning for an amended franchise and the introduction of a local ballot at the next election, 23 July 1832.148 Petitioning against colonial slavery and the government’s Irish education policy (educating Roman Catholics through the Maynooth grant) revived with the bill’s passage.149

As the boundary commissioners had recommended, Brentford remained the election venue for Middlesex, and Bedfont, Edgware, Enfield, Hammersmith, King’s Cross, Mile End and Uxbridge became polling places. The clerk of the peace was the returning officer.150 The registration of 6,939 county electors (from a population of 1,355,353) before the 1832 general election was closely scrutinized, and London and all five Middlesex constituencies were contested. In Tower Hamlets, where Whitbread and Hunt turned down requisitions to stand, the number of polling places was belatedly doubled from three to six.151 The Liberals returned nine of the ten Members, failing only in Finsbury, where a ‘purity of election’ society was established in June 1832 and the candidature of Wakley and Christopher Temple as additional reformers enabled the Conservative Serjeant Spankie to nudge the Liberal Charles Babbage into third place.152 Lord Henley’s intervention, Whig suspicions over Hume’s loyalty and the candidature of Scott Lillie inconvenienced the Liberals in the county constituency, but Hume and Byng topped the poll, leaving the Conservative Sir Charles Forbes* a poor third.153 Middlesex was contested a further eight times and the electorate increased six-fold before it was reorganized under the 1884 Reform Act. The Liberals, who forfeited Hume’s seat to the Conservatives, 1837-1847, returned both Members, 1847-68, when shared representation resumed. From 1874 the Conservatives held both seats.

Author: Margaret Escott


The poor survival of relevant information on West Middlesex, which had no local newspaper in this period, is reflected in this account, which does not offer a fully comprehensive survey of the numerous local bills introduced in this period.

  • 1. Cobbett’s Rural Rides ed. G.D.H. and M. Cole, i. 85; VCH Mdx. ii. 259-60.
  • 2. Add. 40397, f. 326.
  • 3. Census enumeration abstract (1821), 190-7; (1831), i. 364-83. Errors are acknowledged in the divisional returns for Ossulstone hundred in 1821.
  • 4. J.E. Martin, Greater London: An Industrial Geography, 1-28.
  • 5. K. Goodacre and E.D. Mercer, Guide to Mdx. Sessions Recs. 13; P.E. Mather, Compendium of Sheriff and Execution Law, 3; S. and B. Webb, English Local Govt. i. 244, 248; M. Robbins, Middlesex, 188-9.
  • 6. Goodacre and Mercer, 37, 87; The Times, 3 Nov. 1827.
  • 7. Webb, i. 504-5, 558-80; LMA, Mdx. acct. bks. MF/T/002/2, 004/9; sessions mss ACC/0809/BR/132; CJ, lxxvi. 5; lxxvii. 210, 246, 271, 308 310, 384, 390, 426, 446; lxxxiv. 415; The Times, 1, 3 Oct., 16 Nov. 1827, 18 Jan., 29 Feb., 18 Apr., 5 June 1828, 24 Sept., 7, 17 Dec. 1830.
  • 8. The Times, 26 July 1820, 19 Jan., 10, 13 Feb., 14 May 1824.
  • 9. Goodacre and Mercer, 31, 79, 82; G. Holford, Account of General Penitentiary at Millbank (1828); P. Bartlett, Poor Law of Lunacy, 37; P. Thurmond Smith, Policing Victorian London, 15-32; The Times, 31 Oct. 1828, 9 Feb. 1829, 22 Jan. 1830.
  • 10. D.J. Rowe, ‘Class and Political Radicalism in London, 1831-2’, HJ, xiii (1970), 31-47; Add. 27823, f. 369.
  • 11. Webb, i. 239-41, 555; Goodacre and Mercer, 15, 18; F.H.W. Shepherd, Local Government in St. Marylebone, 181-202, 274-81 and passim.
  • 12. Webb, i. 503-7, 579-81.
  • 13. Ibid.; Brougham mss, Byng to Brougham, 19 Dec. [1830].
  • 14. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 258-63; Robbins, 100.
  • 15. County Chron. 7 Mar. 1820.
  • 16. The Times, 8 Mar.; Morning Chron. 8 Mar.; Morning Herald, 8 Mar.; Add. 56541, f. 11; County Chron. 21 Mar. 1820.
  • 17. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 27, 29 Feb., 4 Mar. 1820.
  • 18. Add. 51830, Grosvenor to Holland, 2 Mar. 1820; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland mss PwH 423.
  • 19. Add. 51662.
  • 20. Add. 27789, ff. 76-77; 56541, ff. 13, 18; County Chron. 7, 21 Mar.; Courier, 10, 11, 14 Mar. 1820.
  • 21. Creevey mss, Folkstone to Creevey, 14 Mar.; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 17 Mar. 1820.
  • 22. The Times, 18 Mar.; London Chron. 18-20 Mar.; Courier, 18, 20, 21 Mar.; County Chron. 21 Mar. 1820.
  • 23. The Times, 21, 23-25, 27 Mar.; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 22 Mar.; Morning Herald, 27 Mar. 1820.
  • 24. Add. 38283, f. 357; Courier, 24, 25, 27, 28 Mar. 1820.
  • 25. The Times, 28 Mar. 1820.
  • 26. Courier, 20, 21, 23 Mar.; The Times, 21 Mar.; County Chron. 28 Mar. 1820.
  • 27. The Times, 21-23 Mar.; Add. 56541, f. 21; Keele Univ. Lib. Sneyd mss SC8/44.
  • 28. The Times, 28-30 Mar.; London Chron. 28, 29 Mar.; Courier, 29, 30 Mar. 1820.
  • 29. Morning Herald, 30, 31 Mar., 3 Apr.; Morning Chron. 1 Apr. 1820.
  • 30. Grey mss, Ellice to Grey, 31 Mar. 1820.
  • 31. Ibid. Grey to Ellice 7 Apr. [1820].
  • 32. Add. 55641, ff. 21-23.
  • 33. Add. 51782, Holland to C.R. Fox, 4 Apr. 1820.
  • 34. Traveller, 31 Mar. 1820.
  • 35. Courier, 30, 31 Mar. 1820.
  • 36. Statesman, 31 Mar.; 1, 3, 18 Apr.; Grey mss, Ellice to Grey, 17 Apr. 1820.
  • 37. Statesman, 5 June; The Times, 5 June 1820.
  • 38. Add. 56541, f. 39.
  • 39. The Times, 12 Apr. 1822, 1 Apr. 1824, 16 June 1825.
  • 40. Courier, 21 Mar. 1820.
  • 41. The Times, 27 Mar. 1820.
  • 42. M. Brock, Great Reform Act, 31.
  • 43. GL, Tower division checkbook (1820). Eleven disqualified Poplar voters are excluded from the calculations.
  • 44. S. Bamford, Passages in the Life of a Radical ed. H. Dunckley, ii. 286-96; State Trials ed. J. Macdonell, i. 490-4.
  • 45. The Times, 9 Aug. 1820.
  • 46. Ibid. 15, 16, 23, 30 Aug., 4, 5, 12, 15, 22 Sept., 5 Oct.; Pol. Reg. 21 Oct. 1820; J. A. Hone, For the Cause of Truth, 308-10; T.W. Lacqueur, ‘Queen Caroline Affair’, JMH, liv (1982), 436, 443.
  • 47. Ann. Reg. (1820), Chron. pp. 417-20; The Times, 18, 20 Sept. 1820; Lacqueur, 446-7.
  • 48. The Times, 14, 20 Nov., 7, 13 Dec.; Pol. Reg. 18 Nov. 1820; Hone, 311, 315; M.D. George, Cat. of Pol. and Personal Satires, x. 13714; Lacqueur, 452-66.
  • 49. The Times, 27 June, 28 Aug., 23 Nov., 27 Dec. 1820.
  • 50. Ibid. 10 Nov., 9 Dec.; Add. 51662, Bedford to Holland [21 Nov.]; Grey mss, Ellice to Grey, 7 Dec.; Pol. Reg. 9, 16 Dec. 1820; Hone, 319.
  • 51. CJ, lxxvi. 13, 67.
  • 52. Robbins, 353; CJ, lxxv. 201; lxxvi. 203.
  • 53. Robbins, 47; LJ, liv. 149; CJ, lxxvii. 160.
  • 54. The Times, 17, 25 Jan. 1821; CJ, lxxvi. 268, 447.
  • 55. The Times, 15 Mar. 1822; CJ, lxxvii. 208.
  • 56. The Times, 6 Feb.; Morning Chron. 6 Feb., Examiner, 9 Feb. 1823.
  • 57. CJ, lxxviii. 104, 438, 443.
  • 58. Ibid. lxxvi. 64; lxxix. 217, 253; lxxx. 310, 321, 383, 379, 391, 531; lxxxi. 115.
  • 59. The Times, 6, 23 May 1823, 22, 25 May 1824; CJ, lxxviii. 337; lxxix. 70, 162, 185, 216, 230; lxxx. 237, 380.
  • 60. CJ, lxxviii. 327, 357, 377; lxxix. 195; LJ, lv. 673.
  • 61. CJ, lxxx. 133, 157.
  • 62. Ibid. lxxviii. 124, 182, 227, 253, 285; lxxix. 54, lxxx. 128.
  • 63. Ibid. lxxvi. 172-3; lxxviii. 216; lxxx. 309, 321, 396; LJ, lv. 206; lvii. 765, 824, 826.
  • 64. LJ, lv. 258.
  • 65. The Times, 31 Mar., 18 May 1821, 15 Feb., 2 Mar. 1826; CJ, lxxvi. 350; lxxviii. 337; lxxxi. 361, 454, 506; LJ, liii. 739; liv. 149; lvi. 77; lviii. 36.
  • 66. CJ, lxxix. 111; lxxxi. 107.
  • 67. See Shepherd, 181, 185, 196, 202 and passim.; J.F.B. Firth, Municipal London, 295, 342-3; London in 19th Cent. ed. W. Besant, 316-74.
  • 68. CJ, lxxvi. 237, 384; lxxvii. 367; lxxix. 458; lxxx. 321; LJ, liv. 442; Goodacre and Mercer, 52.
  • 69. CJ, lxxv. 212, 216, 240, 244, 317, 335, 374; lxxvi. 355-6.
  • 70. Ibid. lxxvi. 150, 237, 263, 311, 316, 372, 385, 409, 467, 502.
  • 71. Ibid. lxxix. 45, 90, 100, 104, 194, 248, 264, 271, 329, 347, 410, 503.
  • 72. Ibid. lxxvii. 210, 346; lxxix. 281, 289, 428, 467; Hatherley Diary ed. W.R.W. Stephens, i. 64-65; The Times, 13 Apr. 1824.
  • 73. CJ, lxxv. 144, 159, 217, 234, 248, 256; lxxvi. 356, 376, 442; lxxvii. 373, 390, 406, 428, 431, 438, 442, 459; lxxix. 80, 97, 101, 189, 191, 215, 220, 234, 247-8, 254, 258, 265, 282, 302, 309, 317, 322, 329-30, 333-4, 346, 363, 373, 390, 394, 402, 410, 416, 429, 451, 529; lxxx. 466.
  • 74. LJ, lvi. 303, 330, 406; lvii. 164, 538, 643; R. Harris, ‘Political economy, interest groups and repeal of Bubble Act in 1825’, EcHR, l (1997), 679-83.
  • 75. The Times, 19 Aug. 1825, 26 Dec. 1826; CJ, lxxx. 148, 518.
  • 76. Add. 51655, Mackintosh to Holland, 6 Oct. 1825.
  • 77. The Times, 14 Feb.; Courier, 20 June; Morning Chron., 21 June; Examiner, 25 June 1826.
  • 78. Globe, 7, 20 June; Courier, 7 June; The Times, 21 June; County Chron. 27 June 1826.
  • 79. Courier, 20 June; Globe, 20 June 1826.
  • 80. Russell Letters, 159; Grey mss, Ellice to Grey, 2 Apr. 1828.
  • 81. CJ, lxxxii. 121.
  • 82. LJ, lx. 55, 97, 118, 176, 178; Report of Speeches and Proceedings at a Dinner to celebrate the Passage of the Repeal of the Test Acts (1828).
  • 83. CJ, lxxxiv. 59, 109, 133, 182.
  • 84. Ibid. lxxxii. 282; lxxxiv. 8, 98, 115, 120, 140-2, 146; LJ, lxi. 92, 155 County Chron. 3 Mar.; The Times, 6, 7, 20, 24 Mar., 16 Apr. 1829.
  • 85. The Times, 31 May, 15 June 1827, 8, 13 Feb., 22, 26 July 1828, 31 Mar., 7 Apr., 19 June 1830; CJ, lxxxii. 490, 560; lxxxiii. 79, 181, 242; LJ, lx. 656; lxii. 758, 759.
  • 86. Shepherd, 274-92; CJ, lxxxii. 398; lxxxiii. 154; lxxxiv. 60, 244-6; lxxxv. 496; LJ, lix. 433, 562; lxi, 528; The Times, 16 Jan. 1829.
  • 87. The Times, 31 Mar., 6, 27 Apr. 1827, 19 June 1828, 3 Mar., 23, 28 July 1829; CJ, lxxxii. 558.
  • 88. CJ, lxxxiii. 177, 255, 450, 459; lxxxiv. 278, 322; lxxxv. 118, 170, 179, 334, 362-3, 376, 554; lxxxvi. 130, 151, 159, 240, 188, 336, 410, 471, 485, 513, 565; lxxxvii. 81, 276, 315; LJ, lxiii. 51, 128, 138, 269, 325; The Times, 4 Nov. 1829.
  • 89. CJ, lxxxiii. 404, 427.
  • 90. Ibid. lxxxiv. 63, 130, 136 158; lxxxv. 89, 102.
  • 91. Wellington mss WP1/1100/14.
  • 92. London Radicalism ed. D.J. Rowe (London Rec. Soc. v), 2-7; Add. 27789, f. 145; The Times, 9 Mar. 1830; CJ, lxxxv. 572.
  • 93. Add. 27789, ff. 79-81; 40395, f. 64; 56554, f. 104; St. Deiniol’s Lib. Glynne-Gladstone mss 195, T. to J. Gladstone, 29 June; Hopetoun mss 167, f. 142; Courier, 9 July 1830.
  • 94. Add. 56554, ff. 119-20; Broughton, Recollections, iv. 28-29; Add. 27789, f. 79; 36466, f. 154; J.R.M. Butler, Passing of Great Reform Act, 80.
  • 95. Add. 27789, ff. 88-100; 35146, ff. 114-16; 36464, f. 257; 36466, ff. 161, 163, 256; Russell Early Corresp. i. 156-7; ii. 257; R.K. Huch and P.R. Zeigler, Joseph Hume: the People’s MP, 64-69.
  • 96. Broughton, iv. 29-30.
  • 97. Add. 27789, ff. 87, 100-16; The Times, 30 June 1830.
  • 98. Add. 27789, f. 82; Morning Herald, 5 July 1830.
  • 99. Globe, 8 July; Morning Herald, 17 July 1830.
  • 100. Add. 27789, f. 105; Morning Chron. 17, 20 July, 12 Aug.; The Times, 31 July 1830; G. Wallas, Francis Place (1925), 243.
  • 101. The Times, 6 Aug.; Courier, 5, 6 Aug.; County Chron. 10 Aug. 1830.
  • 102. Morning Herald, 6 Aug. 1830.
  • 103. Russell Early Corresp. ii. 257.
  • 104. The Times, 10, 11, 16-18, 20, 21 Sept. 1830.
  • 105. CJ, lxxxvi. 53, 61, 74, 445; LJ, lxiii. 98, 136, 148, 172, 411, 473, 484.
  • 106. Morning Chron. 12 Aug. 1830; CJ, lxxxvi. 54.
  • 107. J. Belchem, ‘Orator’ Hunt, 211-14; E. Hobsbawm and G. Rudé, Captain Swing (1985), 104, 217; Robbins, 103; The Times, 4, 6 Dec. 1830.
  • 108. Add. 35148, f. 73.
  • 109. The Times, 16, 18 Dec. 1830; Add. 56555, ff. 74, 75; Wellington mss WP1/1159/163; CJ, lxxxvi. 195; LJ, lxiii. 207.
  • 110. CJ, lxxxvi. 211, 255, 324, 330; LJ, lxiii. 226, 248, 266.
  • 111. The Times, 17 Feb. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 189, 223, 209; LJ, lxiii. 227, 229.
  • 112. CJ, lxxxvi. 213, 222, 243, 282, 311, 362, 381, 390, 424.
  • 113. The Times, 8-11, 14, 15 Mar. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 378, 406, 416, 423, 446, 509; LJ, lxiii. 319, 336, 341, 346, 354, 378, 444.
  • 114. The Times, 8, 14, 15 Mar. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 406, 446, 509; LJ, lxiii. 297, 306, 346, 349, 354, 498.
  • 115. The Times, 22 Mar.; Morning Chron. 21 Apr. 1831.
  • 116. CJ, lxxxvi. 446.
  • 117. The Times, 15 Apr. 1831.
  • 118. Morning Chron. 30 Apr. 1831.
  • 119. Brougham mss, Warburton to Brougham, 7 May 1831.
  • 120. Morning Chron. 30 Apr.; County Chron. 3 May 1831.
  • 121. Morning Chron. 5, 6 May; Courier, 10, 11 May; County Chron. 10, 17 May; The Times, 11 May 1831.
  • 122. Shepherd, 290-2; CJ, lxxxvii. 219, 362.
  • 123. London in Age of Reform ed. J. Stevenson, 149-76; London Radicalism, passim.
  • 124. The Times, 12 July 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 644, 654.
  • 125. The Times, 15 July, 15 Aug. 1831.
  • 126. See J. Milton-Smith, ‘Earl Grey’s Cabinet and Objects of Parliamentary Reform’, HJ, xv (1972), 55-74.
  • 127. Broughton, iv. 127-8; The Times, 4, 5 Aug. 1831; Brock, 219-22.
  • 128. CJ, lxxxvi. 730; Brock, 215.
  • 129. The Times, 8, 27, 29 Sept., 4 Oct. 1831.
  • 130. Presumably the City alderman Michael Scales who defeated Daniel Whittle Harvey* in the ward election in February 1831.
  • 131. The Times, 28 Sept. 1831; LJ, lxiii. 1024.
  • 132. LJ, lxiii. 1023, 1038, 1046, 1049, 1062, 1067.
  • 133. The Times, 11 Oct. 1831.
  • 134. Wallas, 291; London in Age of Reform, 150; CJ, lxxxvi. 581, 873, 879; lxxxvii. 181, 307.
  • 135. The Times, 15 Oct. 1831; Grey-William IV Corresp. i. 424-5; Brock, 261-2; Wallas, 277-86.
  • 136. Grey-William IV corresp. i. 425-6.
  • 137. Ibid. i. 430.
  • 138. The Times, 5 Dec. 1831.
  • 139. PP (1831-2), xxxvi. 237-46; xxxix. 181-2.
  • 140. The Times, 27, 29 Feb., 1 Mar. 1832; Broughton, iv. 187.
  • 141. Greville Mems. ii. 277.
  • 142. Wallas, 289-94; The Times, 22 Apr., 4 May 1832.
  • 143. LJ, lxiv. 157.
  • 144. CJ, lxxxvii. 307; Wallas 297-303.
  • 145. The Times, 16, 18 May 1832.
  • 146. CJ, lxxxvii. 478, 487-8.
  • 147. Ibid. 487.
  • 148. Ibid. 512; The Times, 12 July 1832.
  • 149. LJ, lxiv. 148, 221, 399.
  • 150. PP (1831-2), xxxix. 179-201.
  • 151. The Times, 29 June, 5 Dec. 1832.
  • 152. Ibid. 22 June, 23 Aug., 28 Nov., 14, 21 Dec. 1832.
  • 153. Add. 40403, ff. 71, 83; Brougham mss, Henley to Brougham [20 Oct.]; Wellington mss WP1/1238/1; The Times, 1 Nov.; Add. 51787, Holland to C.R. Fox, 12 Dec. 1832.