Shropshire Politics and Men at the Accession of George III

  • Lewis Namier


For several reasons Shropshire politics about 1760 deserve attention. Here was a county which returned twelve Members to Parliament, but among its five boroughs there was only one that, by the standards of the time, could be described as corrupt. In none of them had the right of returning Members passed into the hands of a narrow, self-recruiting Corporation; in none was it attached to burgages which, if bought up in sufficient numbers, would have secured its representation to their owner; in none had the Government much electoral influence; and in none were the resident burgesses swamped by out-voters. In all the Shropshire boroughs the franchise was fairly wide; and since the death of Henry, third Earl of Bradford, in 1734, the county was singularly free of an overtowering territorial influence. Still, the representation of the Shropshire constituencies was practically hereditary in about a dozen families, and in three of its boroughs remained so even after 1867.


Eighteenth Century East India Company Private Regard Election Contest Territorial Manager 
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  1. 3.
    J. B. Blakeway, The Sheriffs 0f Shropshire (1831), p. 145.Google Scholar
  2. 1.
    J. B. Blakeway, The Sheriffs of Shropshire (1831), p. 145. About him see also H. L. L. Denny, Memorials of an Ancient House, pp. 303–4.Google Scholar
  3. 1.
    See Rev. J. R. Burton, ‘Two Elections for Bishop’s Castle in the Eighteenth Century’, Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society, third series, vol. ix (1909), pp. 259–66; from Walcot MSS. now at the Salop R.O.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    John Stephens ’for many years was agent for the Duke [should be Earl] of Buckingham in managing the political affairs of the borough of St. Ives, but at last broke off the connexion by obtaining the return of his own son in 1751’ (G. C. Boase, Collectanea Cornubiensia(1890), p. 927). Samuel Stephens sat for St. Ives 1751–54, and contested it unsuccessfully in 1774 and 1775.Google Scholar
  5. 2.
    Rodney’s father had through Chandos’s interest the command of the royal yacht under George I, and the King and Chandos stood sponsors to the future admiral, named after them George Brydges; see Mundy, Life and Correspondence of Admiral Lord Rodney(1830), p. 36.Google Scholar
  6. 1.
    James Townsend, The Oxfordshire Dashwooods(1922), p. 28.Google Scholar
  7. 2.
    The Trelawnys were Recorders of East Looe 1677–1754; John Buller 1754–86; his brother William, Dean, and later on Bishop of Exeter 1786–97; etc. (see Thomas Bond, History of East and West Looe, 1823). The same Rev. William Buller was elected four times Mayor of East Looe, 1760, 1767, 1774, and 1780, obviously each time in anticipation of a general election; John Buller in 1746, 1754, and 1772; James Buller 1752 Francis Buller 1762 (see ibid. pp. 234–5).Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1978

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  • Lewis Namier

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