Whitchurch (UK Parliament constituency)
|Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
|Number of members||Two|
Whitchurch was a parliamentary borough in the English County of Hampshire, which elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons from 1586 until 1832, when the borough was abolished by the Great Reform Act.
Whitchurch was one of a number of new boroughs created in the south of England by Queen Elizabeth I. The borough consisted of most of the town of Whitchurch in northern Hampshire, a market town which by the 19th century had shrunk to insignificance. In 1831, the population of the borough was approximately 1,673, and the town contained 261 houses of which 214 were within the borough.
Following a House of Commons decision in 1708, the right to vote was exercised by the freeholders of any tenements which had not been divided since the time of William III (or by their husbands if the freeholder was a woman). Whitchurch was therefore in effect a "burgage" borough (one where the vote was tied to ownership of specific properties). There were still competitive elections around the turn of the 18th century when no one influence was entirely predominant, and it is recorded that in 1685 it was one of the constituencies that King James II thought worth visiting on an electioneering tour soon after his accession. But by 1700 the Duke of Bolton, as the most powerful local landowner, could generally see his preferred candidates elected, and by the middle of the century, as in other burgage boroughs, a majority of the burgages were concentrated in the hands of two owners and Whitchurch had become an utterly secure pocket borough.
By the time of the Great Reform Act the number of "voters" was estimated to be about 84, but there had been no contested election since 1721; only 13 of the burgages were not owned by one of the two patrons, according to Oldfield, writing in 1816. Of course, had there been an election the two proprietors themselves could not have voted more than once; but they would have been able to simply make a temporary conveyance of each property to a reliable deputy, as frequently happened elsewhere, to ensure that their majority share of the ownership was reflected in the voting.
In the 1740s, these "patrons" were John Selwyn and John Wallop, 1st Earl of Portsmouth, who chose one MP each; Selwyn invariably made use of the seat for himself. After Selwyn's death in 1751 his share was inherited by his son-in-law, Thomas Townshend, who used the seat for his son, a rising minister. By the 1770s the former Portsmouth share of the representation was also in Townshend hands, and was used to find a seat for another relative, George Brodrick, 4th Viscount Midleton.
Whitchurch was abolished as a separate constituency by the Reform Act, the town being included in the Northern division of Hampshire thereafter.
Members of Parliament
|Parliament||First member||Second member|
|1584||John Cooper||Henry Audley |
|1586||John Cooper||Henry Audley |
|1588||Richard Fiennes||Henry Audley |
|1593||Robert West||Richard Theakston |
|1597||Thomas Henshaw||Richard Carey |
|1601||Thomas Henshaw||Thomas Crompton |
|1604||Thomas Brookes||Sir Richard Paulet|
|1614||Sir Edward Barrett||Sir Richard Paulet|
|1621-1622||Sir Thomas Jervoise||Sir Robert Oxenbridge|
|1624||Sir Henry Wallop||Thomas Jervoise|
|1625||Robert Wallop||Sir Robert Oxenbridge|
|1626||Sir Thomas Jervoise||Sir Robert Oxenbridge|
|1628||Sir Thomas Jervoise||Sir John Jephson|
|1629–1640||No Parliaments summoned|
- "History of Parliament". History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2011-10-30.
- On petition, Tylney was declared not to have been duly elected
- On petition (in a dispute over the franchise), Lewis and Tylney were declared not to have been duly elected
- Expelled from the House of Commons for a corrupt attempt to influence a member of the committee on the South Sea Bubble in favour of his brother-in-law, John Aislabie
- On petition, Tylney was declared not to have been duly elected, and his opponent Conduitt was seated in his place
- Conduitt was re-elected in 1734, but the election was disputed. He had also been elected for Southampton, which he chose to represent; when the Commons eventually decided he had also been duly elected for Whitchurch, a by-election was held.
- Wallop was also elected for Andover, which he chose to represent, and never sat for Whitchurch
- Robert Beatson, A Chronological Register of Both Houses of Parliament (London: Longman, Hurst, Res & Orme, 1807) 
- D Brunton & D H Pennington, Members of the Long Parliament (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1954)
- Cobbett's Parliamentary history of England, from the Norman Conquest in 1066 to the year 1803 (London: Thomas Hansard, 1808) 
- Lewis Namier, The Structure of Politics at the Accession of George III (2nd edition - London: St Martin's Press, 1961)
- Maija Jansson (ed.), Proceedings in Parliament, 1614 (House of Commons) (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1988) 
- T. H. B. Oldfield, The Representative History of Great Britain and Ireland (London: Baldwin, Cradock & Joy, 1816)
- J Holladay Philbin, Parliamentary Representation 1832 - England and Wales (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965)
- Edward Porritt and Annie G Porritt, The Unreformed House of Commons (Cambridge University Press, 1903)
- Henry Stooks Smith, The Parliaments of England from 1715 to 1847 (2nd edition, edited by FWS Craig - Chichester: Parliamentary Reference Publications, 1973)
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "W" (part 3)[self-published source][better source needed]