Dartmouth (UK Parliament constituency)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
Number of members two (1351–1832); one (1832–1868)

Dartmouth, also at some times called Clifton, Dartmouth and Hardness, was a parliamentary borough in Devon which elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons in 1298 and to the Commons of England, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom from 1351 until 1832, and then one member from 1832 until 1868, when the borough was disfranchised.


Clifton, Dartmouth and Hardness were three towns clustered round the mouth of the River Dart in southern Devon; all three are within the modern town of Dartmouth. The borough as first represented in 1298 seems to have included only the town of Dartmouth, but at the next return of members in 1350–1351 it also included Clifton; Hardness is first mentioned in 1553, though may have been included earlier. The boundaries by the 19th century included the whole of Dartmouth St Petrox and St Saviour parishes, and part of Townstall parish.

Dartmouth by the end of the 18th century was a prosperous small port, depending mainly on fishing but also with some shipbuilding interests; but the bulk of the inhabitants had little voice in the choice of its Members of Parliament. After a decision by Parliament that followed a disputed election in 1689, the right to vote in Dartmouth rested with the Corporation, which appointed its own successors, and with the freemen of the borough, who were made by the Corporation. This amounted to a total of 71 voters in 1832, although only 53 of these were resident; virtually all were officers of the custom house or other government employees.

This franchise meant that once control was gained of the borough it was easy to retain indefinitely. Around the turn of the 18th century, the Herne family had almost total control, but in the mid-to-late 18th and early 19th century, control had passed to the government and Dartmouth was considered a safe seat for the party in power, returning one member at the nomination of the Treasury and one of the Admiralty. (Even this control had its limits however – Namier and Brooke quote letters to show that when a vacancy arose in 1757, the government had to abandon their original intention of nominating a soldier, and instead acceded to the corporation's demand for a naval candidate.) The Holdsworth family managed the government's interests in the borough, and generally had first refusal on one of the seats. Indeed, the Holdsworths were sufficiently influential to defy the government on occasion, as in 1780 when Arthur Holdsworth arranged the re-election of the popular but opposition-supporting naval hero Lord Howe to one seat while taking the other for himself – no government candidates stood against them, and both Howe and Holdsworth voted with the opposition in the new Parliament.

At the time of the Great Reform Act, the 1831 census showed that there were 611 houses in the borough but a population of 4,447. Dartmouth was allowed to keep one of its two MPs, and the boundaries were extended slightly to include the whole of Townstall parish and part of Stoke Fleming, bringing the population up to 4,662.

The constituency was abolished at the next boundary revision, which came into effect at the general election of 1868, after which the towns were part of the Southern Devon county division.

Members of Parliament[edit]


Parliament First member Second member
1368 Richard Whitelegh [1]
1371 John Pasford[2]
1377 Thomas Raymond[3]
1386 Richard Whitelegh Robert More[4]
1388 (Feb) William Burlestone John Lacche[4]
1388 (Sep) William Bast Roger Scoce[4]
1390 (Jan) John Hawley Thomas Asshenden I[4]
1390 (Nov)
1391 John William John Brasuter[4]
1393 John Ellemede John Hawley[4]
1394 William Damiet John Hawley[4]
1395 John Bosom Edmund Arnold[4]
1397 (Jan) John Bosom William Glover[4]
1397 (Sep)
1402 John Hawley (the elder) Ralph North[4]
1404 (Jan)
1404 (Oct)
1406 John Foxley John White[4]
1407 Henry Bremeler John Pille[4]
1410 John Hawley (the younger) Edmund Arnold[4]
1411 John Hawley John Corp[4]
1413 (Feb)
1413 (May) John Hawley John Corp[4]
1414 (Apr)
1414 (Nov) John Hawley Edmund Arnold[4]
1415/6 (Mar) Edmund Arnold Walter Wodeland[4]
1416 (Oct)
1420 Thomas Asshenden II Walter Wodeland[4]
1421 (May) John Hawley Thomas Hankyn[4]
1421 (Dec) John Burley Henry Sadeler[4]
1510–1523 No names known[5]
1529 John Trevanion William Holland,
repl. 1534 by Nicholas Langmede[5]
1536  ?
1539 John Ridgeway William Holland[5]
1542 John Anthony William Holland[5]
1545 Nicholas Bacon John Ridgeway[5]
1547 Sir Peter Carew Richard Duke[5]
1553 (Mar) Nicholas Adams alias Bodrugan Gilbert Roupe[5]
1553 (Oct) Michael Adams Michael Roope
Parliament of 1554 Nicholas Adams Edmund Sture
Parliament of 1554–1555 John Petre Nicholas Enis
Parliament of 1555 Sir John St Leger James Courtenay
Parliament of 1558 Gregory Huckmore Thomas Gurney
Parliament of 1559 Thomas Southcote Edward Yarde
Parliament of 1563–1567 Sir John More John Lovell
Parliament of 1571 John Vaughan Thomas Gurney
Parliament of 1572–1581 William Cardinal Thomas Gurney died
and repl. 1576 by William Lyster
Parliament of 1584–1585 Hugh Vaughan Thomas Ridgeway
Parliament of 1586–1587 Robert Peter George Cary
Parliament of 1588–1589 Robert Papworth Richard Drewe
Parliament of 1593 Nicholas Hayman Thomas Holland
Parliament of 1597–1598 John Osborne [6](?)[7] William Bastard [6]
Parliament of 1601 John Traherne William Bastard
Parliament of 1604–1611 Thomas Holland Thomas Gurney
Addled Parliament (1614)
Parliament of 1621–1622 Robert Matthew William Nyell
Happy Parliament (1624–1625) Richard Matthew William Plumley
Useless Parliament (1625) Roger Matthew John Upton
Parliament of 1625–1626
Parliament of 1628–1629
No Parliament summoned 1629–1640


Year First member First party Second member Second party
April 1640 Andrew Voysey John Upton[8]
November 1640 Roger Matthew Royalist
1641 Samuel Browne Parliamentarian
February 1644 Matthew disabled from sitting – seat vacant
1646 Thomas Boone
December 1648 Browne excluded in Pride's Purge – seat vacant
1653 Dartmouth was unrepresented in the Barebones Parliament
1654 Thomas Boone Dartmouth had only one seat in the First and
Second Parliaments of the Protectorate
1656 Edward Hopkins
January 1659 Thomas Boone Colonel John Clarke
May 1659 Not represented in the restored Rump
1660 John Frederick John Hale
1661 William Harbord Thomas Southcote
1664 Thomas Kendall
1667 Walter Yonge
1670 William Gould (1640–1671) of Floyer Hayes, Exeter
1673 Josiah Child
February 1679 Sir Nathaniel Herne John Upton
August 1679 Edward Yarde
1685 Roger Pomeroy Arthur Farwell
January 1689 Charles Boone William Hayne
September 1689 George Booth[9]
November 1689 Sir Joseph Herne
1698 Frederick Herne
1699 ?[10]
1701 Nathaniel Herne
1713 Sir William Drake
1714 John Fownes
1715 Joseph Herne
1722 George Treby Thomas Martyn
1727 Walter Carey Whig
1742 Lord Archibald Hamilton
1747 John Jeffreys Whig
1757 Captain the Hon. Richard Howe[11]
1766 Richard Hopkins
1780 Arthur Holdsworth
1782 Charles Brett Rockingham Whig
1784 Richard Hopkins
1787 Edmund Bastard
1790 John Charles Villiers
1802 Arthur Howe Holdsworth
1812 Edmund Pollexfen Bastard Tory
1816 John Bastard
1820 Charles Milner Ricketts
1822 James Hamilton Stanhope
1825 Sir John Hutton Cooper
1829 Arthur Howe Holdsworth
1832 Representation reduced to one member


Year Member Party
1832 (Sir) John Seale[12] Whig
1844 Joseph Somes Conservative
1845 George Moffatt Whig
1852 Sir Thomas Herbert Conservative
1857 James Caird Whig
April 1859 Edward Wyndham Harrington Schenley[13] Liberal
August 1859 John Dunn Conservative
1860 John Hardy Conservative
1868 Constituency abolished


  1. ^ "WHITELEGH, Richard, of Osborn Newton in Churchstow, Devon.". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  2. ^ http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1386-1421/member/pasford-%28pafford%29-john
  3. ^ http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1386-1421/member/raymond-thomas-1418
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "History of Parliament". History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2011-11-12. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "History of Parliament". History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2011-11-12. 
  6. ^ a b "Dartmouth". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 11 October 2016. 
  7. ^ Browne Willis gives Lambert's name with a query against it, and does not list a second member
  8. ^ Died September 1641
  9. ^ Booth was originally declared elected, but on petition the House of Commons decided that some of his voters had not validly been made Freemen, and were therefore ineligible to vote; Booth's opponent, Herne, was consequently declared elected in his place. (House of Commons Journal, 28 November 1689 [1])
  10. ^ Sir Joseph Herne died 26 February 1699. There is apparently no record of a writ for a by-election being issued, and the seat may have remained vacant for the remainder of the Parliament
  11. ^ Succeeded as the 4th Viscount Howe (in the Peerage of Ireland, July 1758. Rear Admiral 1770, Vice Admiral 1775, Admiral 1782
  12. ^ Created a baronet, July 1838
  13. ^ On petition, Schenley's election was declared void and a writ for a by-election issued