The city of Cambridge: Parliamentary representation

A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3, the City and University of Cambridge. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1959.

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'The city of Cambridge: Parliamentary representation', in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3, the City and University of Cambridge, ed. J P C Roach( London, 1959), British History Online [accessed 12 July 2024].

'The city of Cambridge: Parliamentary representation', in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3, the City and University of Cambridge. Edited by J P C Roach( London, 1959), British History Online, accessed July 12, 2024,

"The city of Cambridge: Parliamentary representation". A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3, the City and University of Cambridge. Ed. J P C Roach(London, 1959), , British History Online. Web. 12 July 2024.


From 1295 to 1654 and 1658 to 1885 the Borough was represented in Parliament by two members. Until the last quarter of the 16th century the representatives seem to have been almost invariably townsmen. Sir John Say, member for the Borough in 1447, is an outstanding exception; later while representing Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire he was Speaker in three different Parliaments and held high office under both Henry VI and Edward IV. John Battysford, member in 1442, was a partial exception; he held land in Chesterton, was a county coroner and took part in county elections, (fn. 1) whilst many of the leading burgesses such as Roger of Harleston (fn. 2) also held land in the shire. Philip Cayley or Cailly who represented Cambridge in the Parliaments of February 1334, January 1340, and March 1340, was one of the six burgesses or citizens put on a committee with twelve knights of the shire, four judges, and ten lords, to go through the petitions presented in the last of these Parliaments (on the grant of which the vote of taxes was conditional) and put them into the form of statutes. (fn. 3)

Between 1295 and 1621 sixty or more Mayors are known to have served as Members of Parliament, and on at least 28 occasions during the year of their mayoralty. (fn. 4) In 1620 Richard Foxton, Mayor, was elected to serve in James I's third Parliament, but was unseated because no mayor of any corporation could be a burgess. (fn. 5) If this was still the law it was not enforced in 1785 when John Mortlock, one of the two members for the Borough, was elected Mayor. He held both positions again in 1788, but when he was ousted in March 1788 on a quo warranto (fn. 6) no reference was made to his parliamentary function. This seems to be the last occasion on which any Mayor served as Member of Parliament during his term of office.

The town treasurers' accounts from 1347 onwards supply both names of members that are not to be found on the official returns and also facts about their wages. The rate of pay was fixed at 1s. a day in 1427, (fn. 7) a departure from the national rate of 2s. paid in 1422 and 1424. (fn. 8) This scale remained unchanged until 1563 when by a resolution at the Hock Tuesday Common Day it was again raised to 2s. (fn. 9) In 1589 and 1598, however, 4s. a day was paid, (fn. 10) and by a resolution of 2 November 1602 it was agreed to pay the late members 4s. a day and to make this the scale henceforth. (fn. 11) This was made possible by the fact that outsiders, like Meautys, paid their own expenses. In 1624, the funds being low, the rate was again reduced to 2s., but in 1628 Purchas was voted 4s. In 1642 a present of £15 was voted to Cromwell and Lowry, (fn. 12) and Lowry continued to draw wages regularly until 1653. He then agreed to receive no more fees, provided that all arrears were paid. (fn. 13) Tymbs, burgess in the Parliaments of 1655–8, received £14 for 140 days. (fn. 14) The last sums due to Lowry were paid in 1660, (fn. 15) and as the succession of country gentlemen who thenceforth represented the Borough paid their own expenses, the item of wages ceased to figure on the town accounts.

No evidence about the method of election exists before 1414. The return for that year shows that twelve burgesses elected the two members in the County Court 'by the assent of the whole community of the Borough'. (fn. 16) The same practice, but with eight electors, was followed in 1426, 1427, 1433, and 1435. (fn. 17) In 1449, under the statute of 1445, the writ was directed to the Mayor, not the sheriff, and the election was accordingly held in the town court, eight burgesses acting for the whole community 'according to the custom of the liberty of the town'. (fn. 18) In 1452 it was ordained that the two members should be elected by all the burgesses in Guildhall instead of leaving the choice of one to the Mayor and his assessors 'as of old time had been used'. (fn. 19) It would seem that when the elections were held in the County Court, as they were in 1450, 1467, and 1478, (fn. 20) the formal election by eight burgesses merely registered a decision previously taken in the town assembly. The indentures were always sealed by the Mayor and bailiffs and sometimes by the coroners and other burgesses. In 1503 the procedure is described in detail; the Mayor and his assessors chose one burgess, the commonalty another, and those two elected the eight electors. This procedure was still in use in 1545. (fn. 21) In 1556 the preliminary choice was experimentally taken from the commonalty and given to the Four and Twenty and to the officers and ex-officers, in the interests of 'quietnesse'. (fn. 22) One of the orders of 1566 directed that the Recorder should always be one of the members and that the other should be an alderman elected by the commonalty from three names put forward by the Mayor and aldermen. (fn. 23) It does not seem, however, that this provisional order was made permanent, for in 1571 it was ordained that a majority of the eight electors should constitute a good election and this method appears to have been maintained until 1625. (fn. 24) In that year members are described as being elected by the greatest part of the burgesses (fn. 25) and it seems that thenceforward double election was abandoned and the franchise was regarded as resting with the whole body of freemen. In 1656 under the Instrument of Government inhabitants as well as burgesses voted, (fn. 26) but this election is unique and until 1832 the freedom of the Borough was the qualification for the parliamentary vote, the election taking place at a General Common Day.

There may be some connexion between the abandonment of indirect election and the growing interest of outsiders in the Borough seats. In 1557 the Duke of Norfolk, High Steward, wrote to the Mayor, aldermen and burgesses asking them to elect his servant, Sir Nicholas Le Strange, as their member, (fn. 27) and was informed of the 'Statute' of 1460 which had laid down that every burgess for Parliament must be resident in the town. (fn. 28) The Borough's policy, however, of soliciting the patronage of great men produced the order of 1571 that the Recorder was not to be regarded as a foreign burgess for the purposes of an election. (fn. 29) In 1614 both the Lord Chancellor and the queen's attorneygeneral were making interest with the Corporation for the representation of the Borough, and, at the Mayor's instance, the rule against foreigners was waived (fn. 30) and does not seem to have been afterwards enforced. As has been seen, it had been evaded already by ad hoc elections to the freedom. In 1620 Thomas Meautys was made a freeman and elected an alderman on the same day that he was chosen Borough member; (fn. 31) he was clerk of the Privy Council from 1623, and a protégé of Lord Keeper Coventry, High Steward of the town 1626–40, who wrote in 1628, 'not doubting of your readiness to gratify me', to request Meautys' re-election for the fourth time. (fn. 32) In 1626 Coventry also secured the second seat for his secretary John Thompson. The Corporation then explained that 'according to their charters' Thompson must be sworn a free burgess before election. (fn. 33) But the dominance of the noble patron was dwindling. The town itself picked Cromwell as Meautys' partner in the Short Parliament of 1640. (fn. 34) In October 1640 Lord Keeper Finch's letters recommending Meautys and Sir Nathaniel Finch for election were disregarded and Cromwell was again returned with John Lowry, a freeman by apprenticeship and one of the Common Council of Cambridge. (fn. 35) From 1654 to 1660 Cambridge was represented by resident burgesses; (fn. 36) in 1660 the régime of the country gentry began. Sir Dudley North of Kirtling and Sir Thomas Willis of Fen Ditton, who had been defeated in the county election, were made freemen of the Borough and elected to the Convention Parliament. (fn. 37) For the next 25 years one of the town's representatives was its Recorder; the other was drawn from one of the old county families.

In the Exclusion Bill elections party manipulation became evident. In February 1679 Roger Pepys lost his seat, (fn. 38) and Lord Allington, 'a court cully, by pension and place obliged to vote according to the court's desire', (fn. 39) was given as his fellow member Sir Thomas Chicheley of Wimpole, Privy Councillor and High Steward of the town. A petition alleging abuses in the election was never decided because Parliament was so soon dissolved. The two defeated candidates, Pepys and Willis, were removed from the commission of the peace immediately afterwards. (fn. 40) According to a contemporary pamphlet, the Mayor had threatened Pepys with the loss of the recordership if he stood against Chicheley; some of the town tradesmen had been told they would be debarred from the charitable loans administered by the Corporation and had been threatened with the loss of University custom, and open house was kept at various ale houses owned by the burgesses, the Mayor making 'all the neighbour gentlemen free of the town'. (fn. 41) The creation of freemen for electoral purposes also began in 1679; (fn. 42) it was repeated on a larger scale in 1688 after the purging of the Corporation by James II, but had no permanent effects. (fn. 43) With the revival of the Whig interest, one of the two seats was usually filled by wealthy Whig clothiers like Watlington (1695) and his brother-in-law Thompson (1702). A Tory ascendancy was gradually established, however, by Sir John Cotton of Madingley, members of whose family sat for the Borough or the county on and off until 1780. (fn. 44) In 1708 Cotton's hold of the Borough was strong enough for him to introduce a candidate for the second seat and a fierce tussle took place between his nominee, Samuel Shepheard, a wealthy London merchant, and Thomas Bendyshe, who stood for the dissenting minority in the Corporation. (fn. 45) The parliamentary inquiry of 1710 into the conduct of the election revealed widespread bribery and some intoxication of voters: Shepheard was unseated but as Bendyshe had not the resources to stand again, Shepheard was re-elected unopposed. (fn. 46) There was no contest in 1710, but in 1715 Cotton and Shepheard were opposed by Sclater and Jennings, and Cotton and Sclater were returned. Again the defeated candidates demanded an inquiry and the evidence before the Committee of Privileges showed that the Mayor had said that if the freemen previously admitted would not carry the election against Shepheard he would make 60 or 100 more. This outweighed the evidence of bribery by the other party and Sclater was unseated in favour of Shepheard. (fn. 47)

For the next 20 years the Cotton ascendancy was complete and the Borough was represented by two Tories, Sir John's son, Sir John Hynde Cotton, being a determined opponent of Walpole. Sclater, who took the name of Bacon, became his adherent, whilst Shepheard lent his considerable financial support to the new influence which from 1727 began to challenge Cotton's domination. It was in the mayoralty of Filkin (1737–8) that, according to Cole, writing in 1743, 'the Corporation deserted the interests of Sir John Cotton and listed under the banner of Lord Montford that now is and Mr. Shepheard'. (fn. 48) Henry Bromley of Horseheath (Lord Montfort, and High Steward of Cambridge from 1741), whose father had sat for the county 1717–18, was nursing the constituency by frequent gifts to individual members of the Corporation and to town charities. Though defeated in 1727 and 1737 he succeeded in getting in two Whig candidates in 1741, Martin of Quy, the founder of Martin's Bank, and Lord Dupplin, an invaluable henchman of Newcastle's in the work of political patronage and election management. (fn. 49) From 1754 to 1762 Cambridge, 'solidly Whig', figures in the Newcastle papers as receiving an annual payment of £550, a retaining fee for steady support of the ministry by a succession of Bromleys or Bromley adherents. (fn. 50) In 1755 gambling debts led to the suicide of Lord Montfort, and his son vacated the Borough seat in favour of his brother-in-law, C. S. Cadogan. (fn. 51) It may have been this event which led Lord Hardwicke, who had recently acquired Wimpole, to take a share, though reluctantly, in the responsibility of retaining the Borough for the government interest. When Dupplin became Earl of Kinnoul in 1758, Soame Jenyns of Bottisham was returned unopposed in his place in a fashion which he himself found slightly comic. His letters to Hardwicke, with those of Dr. Ewin and Dr. Plumptre, the Master (or President) of Queens' College, (fn. 52) afford a running commentary on Cambridge affairs from 1753 to 1788, and bring out most clearly the nature of the Yorke interest in the town, county, and University. As Lord Lieutenant of the county, High Steward of the University, and joint patron of the Borough, the lord of Wimpole was a lesser providence to whom all matters must be reported; any action taken without reference to him was a sort of treason.

Jenyns's account of his canvass with Cadogan in 1774 'by your Lordship's direction' refers to 90 voters resident in the town of whom '44 are for us, 28 against, and 18 keep their votes for sale. We are sure of about 35 honorary freemen, but there is a long list of foreign freemen many of whom we as yet hear nothing of and many more are dead'. (fn. 53) In the event 181 votes were polled for Jenyns and Cadogan and 123 against after 'the most disagreeable day which I ever saw'. (fn. 54) The Hardwicke-Kinnoul interest was being challenged by 'the mob politicks of the times beginning from the Bill of Rights'; parliamentary reform was openly advocated on election day. The spokesman of the minority in the Corporation was Alderman Tunwell who proposed, before the poll, that the candidates should be invited to subscribe a declaration in favour of 'a more fair and equal representation in Parliament and the restoration of their rights to our fellow subjects in America' with further precise details. After a fierce debate, the majority approved the test and the new candidates, Byde and Meeke, signed it, (fn. 55) but though, as the poll-book shows, they had a majority of the votes of the resident freemen, they were defeated by the out-voters. (fn. 56) The declaration of the results was followed by a muffled peal from Great St. Mary's and an outbreak of rioting in which the chief government manager, Alderman Gifford, received injuries which, according to Cole, caused his death three months later. (fn. 57) Soame Jenyns's observation, 'we have a very good Mayor' is illuminated by Cole's remark that 'had it been Weales no one could have told how it could have succeeded'. (fn. 58)

The same Mayor, Alderman Newling, was the returning officer in 1776 when the succession of Cadogan to the peerage resulted in another contest and Keene, the son of the Bishop of Ely, held the seat for the Hardwicke interest. (fn. 59) A rival influence, however, was now becoming apparent. The marriage of the Marquess of Granby, the popular hero of the Seven Years War, to the heiress of Cheveley had introduced the Manners interest into the county. His son, a Cambridge friend of the younger Pitt, had been instructed by his tutor, Watson of Trinity, in 'the precepts of Locke and the Rights of Man' (fn. 60) and had become University Burgess in 1774. By June 1776 he was having 'public days' for the county with his beautiful wife at Cheveley. (fn. 61) The extent of the opposition to North's administration in the Corporation had been indicated in the manifesto sent to St. James's Palace in 1775 signed by 2 aldermen, 11 common councillors, and 144 inhabitants deprecating 'the most ruinous civil war in America'. A counter-manifesto was signed by 10 aldermen, the 2 Members of Parliament, the Town Clerk, James Day, and 81 inhabitants and expressed their loyalty to the king in face of the rebellion of his 'deluded subjects in America'. (fn. 62) To Dr. Ewin such talk was simply disloyalty to 'the old interest'. To William Cole at Milton, those who advocated parliamentary reform and conciliation with America were a gang of 'Republicans and anabaptists'. (fn. 63) The nonconformist element in the town had never been excluded from the Corporation and undoubtedly added weight to the demand for radical reform.

It was on 25 March 1780 that the hour of the old interest was struck. On that day 'a very numerous and respectable meeting of the nobility, gentry, clergy and freeholders of the county', less kindly described by Dr. Ewin as a 'prodigious motley crowd of all sorts, freeholders, townsmen, gownsmen, and country people' and by Sir John Cotton as 'an assemblage of tag, rag, and bobtail,' (fn. 64) was held in Senate House Yard. After reforming speeches from John Wilkes, Thomas Day, and many others, which seemed to the twelve-year-old Gunning excellent and irresistible, (fn. 65) a petition, drafted by Dr. Watson of Trinity, in support of parliamentary reform, was carried, and a committee was set up for such further action as was required for promoting the object of the petition. On this committee the young Marquess of Granby, now Duke of Rutland, improved his previous acquaintance with John Mortlock, who had a vote for the county by virtue of his land at Abington. (fn. 66) The alliance thus inaugurated between the Manners family and Mortlock was to govern the parliamentary history of Cambridge until 1832. Mortlock's considerable financial influence among the county gentry helped the duke to secure one of the two county seats for his brother in September 1780. In the Borough he supported Colonel Adeane of Babraham, who had announced as far back as 1776 that 'he knew nothing of Lord Hardwicke but would spend £10,000', and had been nursing the constituency by a subscription to the new town hall and 'buying everything that he wants here'. (fn. 67) The tide was turning and Hardwicke was not prepared to fight. Ewin had earlier noted the earl's 'declining the management of the Corporation' (fn. 68) and the coast was clear for Rutland, who was able without any opposition from the Yorke faction to secure the receiver-generalship of the Land Tax in 1781 for Mortlock, a valuable asset for a provincial banker. (fn. 69) By July 1782 Plumptre reported that it had been 'agreed at the club lately set up by Mortlock and Purchas (the future Rutland club) that the former is to offer himself as member for the town whenever there is an opening'. (fn. 70) The opening came in 1784; when Pitt, with Rutland a member of his cabinet, came to Cambridge to contest the University seat, Mortlock called on him to resign into his hands the receiver-generalship of Cambridgeshire. (fn. 71) This was a necessary preliminary to the parliamentary canvass which sufficed to secure the unopposed return of Mortlock and Adeane. 'The worthy freemen of Cambridge', as one of their own body said on nomination day, 'had a opportunity to assert their independence and to send one of their own sons to Parliament. Mr. Mortlock is not here today and gone tomorrow. He lives among you.' (fn. 72) It was indeed many years since 'a gentleman of the Corporation, a native of the place', had represented Cambridge in Parliament. Mortlock, alderman since 1782 and Mayor in 1785 and 1787, was, as a fellow Member of Parliament described him, 'master of the town of Cambridge', (fn. 73) by the beginning of 1787, but he was not yet finally committed to Pitt and Rutland. As Ewin phrased it, he stood for Parliament 'upon his own bottom'. (fn. 74) The securing of the receivership for his business partner Francis in May 1784 represented a victory of Manners over Yorke influence and created a sensation in Cambridge. (fn. 75) A year later, however, Pitt refused to extend Francis's term of office and this appears to have led Mortlock to coquet with the Bedford Whigs. (fn. 76) It was the support of Fox and Sheridan that saved Mortlock from explicit censure in the House of Commons in May 1786 when it was ascertained that the list of Cambridgeshire Land Tax Commissioners had been tampered with after it had left the House. (fn. 77) In June 1786 Fox and Sheridan were made freemen of the Borough, and Ewin remarked that 'it would be curious to see Mr. Fox member for the town and Mr. Pitt for the University'. (fn. 78) Rutland, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland since 1784, receiving reports of Mortlock's detachment from his henchman, Pulteney, (fn. 79) wrote to Pitt in September 1786: 'I wish you would allow me to make his peace with Government, if it be possible. Personally he weighs not a feather; but he has decided influence in the town of Cambridge, which I am apprehensive he will throw into the hands of the Duke of Bedford. . . . You may remember I made a proposition to you respecting the town of Cambridge before I quitted England.' (fn. 80)

Pitt's answer is not extant, but at some date in 1787 or 1788 the transaction took place by which Cambridge became a Manners pocket borough. According to Mortlock himself, writing in 1791, it was negotiated by the Bishop of Ferns as Rutland's agent, and provided that Mortlock was to vacate the seat and make over his interest in the Borough to Rutland in return for a sinecure post of £1,000 a year. (fn. 81) The duke died in October 1787, just after he had been made an honorary freeman of Cambridge, (fn. 82) but his widow, always a keen politician, stepped into his shoes as patron and helped to finance the lawsuits brought by both parties in the Corporation as, stage by stage, the constitution of the Borough was manipulated to establish the dictatorship of Mortlock. (fn. 83) When in 1788 he resigned the recordership and the parliamentary seat, both positions were taken over by trusty adherents of the Manners interest. The Duchess of Rutland's brother became Recorder in April 1788, defeating a Yorke candidate, and Francis Dickins, who had married into the Manners family, became member for the Borough on 29 May. (fn. 84) In August and September 1788 73 non-resident freemen, all friends or dependants of the Manners family, were elected, (fn. 85) and from 1788 to 1818 the existence of a reserve of non-resident freemen made any contest for the seat hopeless. In 1789 Adeane, who had quarrelled with Mortlock, gave up his seat in the Borough. This was part of an arrangement (proposed by Pitt) between the Duchess of Rutland and the Yorkes, whereby she was to give Adeane all her interest in the county and they were to give up all their interest in the Borough to the Manners. (fn. 86) On 11 May the Hon. Edward Finch, a connexion of the Duchess, was elected Borough member, and on 19 May Adeane became county member, filling the seat vacated by the death of Sir Henry Peyton. (fn. 87) When Dickins made way for Lord Robert Manners in 1791 a partnership was established which lasted for the next 27 years.

In 1816 Mortlock died and opposition revived. Whittred's letter to the freemen of Cambridge launched an outspoken attack on the Rutland-Mortlock régime, (fn. 88) and in the election of 1818, Adeane, a grandson of Mortlock's fellow burgess of 1784, polled 56 votes against the Rutland candidate's 79. Seventy-four of the 135 voters were nonresident. (fn. 89) The immediate result was the creation of 39 new freemen. (fn. 90) In the election next year Adeane only received two votes as against 56 given to the Rutland candidate, more than half of which were given by newly created voters. (fn. 91) There was a demonstration in the evening by the disappointed voteless townsmen outside the Hoop Inn where the new members were celebrating their victory. Several of the demonstrators were arrested, including Hatfield, the editor of the Cambridge Independent Press, who with George Pryme, a former fellow of Trinity, was supporting the anti-Rutland minority in the Corporation with his pen. (fn. 92) Protest expressed itself also in satires like 'The Ratland Feast' attacking the freemen who could 'live full six years on a sordid vote', and the apostates who
For a glass of wine Cringed at the Eagle once a month to dine. (fn. 93)

The club in question had been founded in 1782 by Mortlock and Purchas as a rival to the old established alderman's club at the 'Rose'. (fn. 94) It met at the 'Eagle' just across the way from Mortlock's house. It had been the headquarters for political intrigue long before it became known as the Rutland Club where, as the municipal commissioners were told in 1833, good dinners were provided monthly and they 'never had so disgusting a ceremony as being called on to pay the bill.' (fn. 95) A more reasoned attack was made by Pryme, whose pamphlet dwelt on the 'intrusion into towns where he has neither property nor natural connection' of the master of Cheveley. (fn. 96) A meeting of the unenfranchised inhabitants at the Shire Hall in April 1820 protested against 'the secret and unconstitutional influence of a noble family' and set up a committee to take steps for procuring from the House of Commons the ancient rights and privileges of the inhabitant householders. (fn. 97) But the Corporation was invulnerable. In case of need, the nonresident voters could be brought up to vote 'just as gentlemen take a pack of hounds to cover', (fn. 98) and Cambridge remained a Rutland pocket borough until the Reform Bill.

Even when after 1832 the Rutland influence in the Borough had been extinguished and the number of voters increased from the neighbourhood of 200 to about 1,250, corruption died hard. 'There is a large class who only covet a vote that they may sell it', and the Cambridge voter had been accustomed to free drinks. For the first few elections after 1832, no bribery was alleged; in 1839, however, in a by-election, the Hon. J. H. Manners Sutton (the cousin of the Duke of Rutland) was returned by means which led to his being unseated for bribery in the following year. (fn. 99) From this time onwards, every election produced its scandals. In July 1852 the Conservative candidates were returned by an exceedingly narrow last-minute majority, and a select committee of the House of Commons after a brief investigation declared the election void. In response to an address from both Houses a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into the existence of corrupt practices in the Cambridge elections. Two hundred and ninetyeight witnesses gave evidence before them and it became clear that ever since 1839 a system had been in operation of treating at the public houses, of hiring flag bearers and the like at lavish prices, and of compiling lists of 'money men' whose votes were available for either party at an established market rate. Repudiated by some candidates, politely ignored by others, the system was regarded by the party agents as indispensable. The commissioners' report showed that only about 150 of the 1,180 voters took bribes but that the parties were so equally divided that this was enough to turn the election. (fn. 100) As a result, the town was disfranchised for over a year. In 1854 a fresh election reversed the results of that of 1852. (fn. 101) One of the two Conservatives elected in 1865 was unseated on a petition, but was replaced by one of his own party in 1866. (fn. 102) An inquiry in 1880 into a charge of corrupt practices in the municipal elections of 1879 showed that the practice of treating still obtained, but actual bribery could not be proved. (fn. 103)

The number of parliamentary electors decreased from 1,857 in 1840 to 1,769 in 1866. It rose to 3,900 after the second Reform Act, to 6,189 in 1886, and to 25,000 in 1918. In the elections of 1832 and of 1868 Liberal members were returned, but over the whole period, 1832–1950, the representation of Cambridge has been predominantly Conservative. In 1853 the commissioners observed that of sixteen candidates since 1832 only three had been connected with Cambridge. (fn. 104) Pryme, the Liberal member from 1832 to 1841, though a University professor, had, as we have seen, identified himself with the politics of the Borough since 1818, and had been a candidate for Parliament since 1820. (fn. 105) None of his successors had as close a connexion with the borough until 1945. Cambridge was represented by distinguished ministers and lawyers, such as Spring Rice (Liberal, 1832–9), Sir Fitzroy Kelly (Conservative, 1843–7), Sir John Eldon Gorst (Conservative, 1866–8), Stanley Buckmaster (Liberal 1906–10), Sir Robert Torrens (Liberal, 1868–74), and Sir Eric Geddes (Conservative, 1918–22); or by country gentlemen, hailing from Sussex, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Scotland. Penrose Fitzgerald, who was the Conservative member from 1885 to 1906, had his home in County Cork. Their closest association with the town before election was the Cambridge degree held by many of them. (fn. 106) Only one was a Cambridgeshire man, Sir Douglas Newton of Eltisley (1922–34). If he restored the 18th-century pattern for a while, A. L. Symonds (1945–50), the first Labour member for Cambridge, was the first representative of the Borough since Mortlock who had been born and bred in Cambridge, having been educated in a Cambridge elementary school, at the Perse Grammar School, and at Jesus College. (fn. 107)


  • 1. Wedgwood, Hist. of Parliament; Biographies of Members 1439–1509, 50, 744.
  • 2. See below, p. 123.
  • 3. Rot. Parl. ii. 113.
  • 4. J. M. Gray, Biog. Notes on Mayors of Camb., passim.
  • 5. Cooper, Annals, iii. 136–7; Camb. City Archives, Rental, a.d. 1620, f. ult.
  • 6. J. M. Gray, op. cit.; Cooper, Annals, iv. 411, 427; Camb. Hist. Jnl. viii (1946), 158.
  • 7. Cooper, Annals, i. 178.
  • 8. Ibid. 170, 172.
  • 9. Cooper, Annals, ii. 177.
  • 10. Ibid. 476, 593.
  • 11. Ibid. 617. For payments 1604–20: ibid. iii. 11, 30, 53, 137.
  • 12. Ibid. iii. 169, 206, 317.
  • 13. Ibid. 453.
  • 14. Ibid. 465.
  • 15. Ibid. 493.
  • 16. Camb. Univ. Libr. Baker MS. xxxiv. 51.
  • 17. Ibid. 52, 53, 54.
  • 18. Ibid. 51.
  • 19. Cooper, Annals, i. 205.
  • 20. Camb. Univ. Libr. Baker MS. xxxiv. 52, 54, 55.
  • 21. Cooper, Annals, i. 272, 422.
  • 22. Ibid. ii. 108.
  • 23. Ibid. 226–7.
  • 24. Ibid. 269, 600; iii. 136.
  • 25. Ibid. iii. 176.
  • 26. Ibid. 466.
  • 27. Ibid. ii. 140.
  • 28. Ibid. i. 211.
  • 29. Cooper, Annals, ii. 270.
  • 30. Ibid. iii. 61.
  • 31. Ibid. 137, n. 2.
  • 32. Ibid. iii. 200. Meautys was clerk of the Privy Council 1623–42, and secretary to Francis Bacon: A. Chambers Bunton, Sir Thomas Meautys (London, 1918).
  • 33. Cooper, Annals, iii. 183–4.
  • 34. Ibid. 298, where the inaccuracy of the narrative in Heath's Flagellum is exposed.
  • 35. Ibid. iii. 304.
  • 36. From 1655–8 the town was represented by one member only, Mr. Tymbs: Cooper, Annals, iii. 456, 465–6.
  • 37. Ibid. 476–7.
  • 38. In March Pepys was dismissed from the recordership and replaced by Allington and though he obtained a mandamus for his restoration, the King's Bench upheld the Corporation's right to dismiss him: ibid. iii. 578–9.
  • 39. B.M. Add. MS. 5813, f. 225.
  • 40. Hist. MSS. Com. House of Lords MSS. (1678–88), 174.
  • 41. The Case of Many Protestant Freeholders and Inhabitants of the County and Town of Cambridge . . . tendered . . . to the Commons in Parliament, (1680) (Bodl. Libr. Gough Camb, 103 (19), 14 sqq.
  • 42. See above, p. 48.
  • 43. Sixty-five non-resident and 85 resident freemen, the dependants of Lord Dover of Cheveley, James II's High Steward of the Borough: Cooper, Annals, iii. 640.
  • 44. For these and other details on the representation of Cambridge in the 18th cent. see unpublished thesis by D. Cook, in Institute of Historical Research, London.
  • 45. Cooper, Annals, iv. 84.
  • 46. Ibid. 87–97.
  • 47. Ibid. 126–37.
  • 48. B.M. Add. MS. 5803, f. 42d.
  • 49. L. B. Namier, Structure of Politics at the Accession of Geo. III (1929), 276, 294.
  • 50. Ibid. 525, 'Lord Montfort for Cambridge £550'; 530, 'Lord Dupplin for Cambridge, £550'; 560, 'Mr. Cadogan, . . . one year . . . as usual, £550', Secret Service Accounts.
  • 51. Cooper, Annals, iv. 292.
  • 52. B.M. Add. MSS. 35626, 35628, 35629, 35631. Ewin's house is still standing as 69 Bridge Street.
  • 53. B.M. Add. MS. 35631, 11 Sept. 1774. He had refused the mayoralty, expecting the election would come in the following year.
  • 54. Ibid. 15 Oct. 1774.
  • 55. Cooper, Annals, iv. 373.
  • 56. Ibid. 372 sqq.; B.M. Add. MSS. 5832, f. 98b, 5846 f. 44a; Poll Book, B.M. Add. MS. 35631.
  • 57. B.M. Add. MS. 35631, 25 Aug. 1774.
  • 58. B.M. Add. MS. 5832, f. 98b.
  • 59. Cooper, Annals, iv. 382–3.
  • 60. Anecdotes of the life of R. Watson, Bishop of Llandaff, published by his son (1817), 49.
  • 61. B.M. Add. MS. 35631.
  • 62. Cooper, Annals, iv. 379–80.
  • 63. B.M. Add. MS. 5855, ff. 140–53. Note annotation (f. 141d) to cutting from Cambridge Chronicle of 18 May 1782.
  • 64. Cooper, Annals, iv. 394; B.M. Add. MS. 35626, 26 Mar. 1780; 35631, 28 Mar. 1780; Cambridge Chronicle, 15 Apr. 1780.
  • 65. Gunning, Reminiscences, i. 326–7. Day's speech was printed by the Society for Constitutional Information.
  • 66. Cooper, Annals, iv. 395; B.M. Add. MS. 35626, 20 March 1780.
  • 67. B.M. Add. MS. 35626, 24 Nov. 1776; 7 Jan. 1780.
  • 68. Ibid. 20 Nov. 1775.
  • 69. B.M. Add. MS. 35628, Letters, June-July 1781.
  • 70. B.M. Add. MS. 35628, 21 July 1782.
  • 71. B.M. Add. MS. 35627, 30 Mar. 1784. Mr. Parker Hammond, considered a serious candidate in Dec., did not go to the poll. B.M. Add. MS. 35631, 1 Dec. 1783; 35627, 1 Jan. 1784.
  • 72. Cambridge Chronicle, 3 Apr. 1784.
  • 73. Hist. MSS. Com. Rutland MSS. iii. 374.
  • 74. B.M. Add. MS. 35626, 3 Oct. 1782.
  • 75. B.M. Add. MS. 35627, 16 May 1784. 'The Corporation is more divided than ever by Alderman Purchas's revolting from Mortlock, and bells ringing all day yesterday for Mr. Mortlock's victory in getting the receivership for Mr. Francis has added no small fuel to the town and county fires.'
  • 76. Correspondence between Rt. Hon. William Pitt and Charles, Duke of Rutland, 1781–87 (1890), pp. 99–100; Hist. MSS. Com. Rutland MSS. iii. 225, 303, 306. They had in fact made him 'tempting offers' as early as June 1784: ibid. 115.
  • 77. Cooper, Annals, iv. 418.
  • 78. Cooper, Annals, iv. 419; B.M. Add. MS. 35627, 7 June 1786.
  • 79. 'Mortlock who calls himself your member, will be against Pitt': Hist. MSS. Com. Rutland MSS. iii. 283–4.
  • 80. Pitt-Rutland Correspondence, 172.
  • 81. P.R.O. 30/8/12 (Letters of Mortlock to D. of Beaufort 4 and 15 July 1791). The Commissionership of Salt, to which Mortlock was appointed in 1789, was a troublesome office of small value, and it was not until 1792, when he had threatened to take back the Borough, that he was satisfied by being appointed Receiver-General of the Post Office. The Bishop of Ferns (1787–9) was William Preston (1729–89), sizar, scholar and fellow of Trinity Coll. He was a school-fellow of Bishop Watson, who was Rutland's tutor at Trinity, and himself chaplain and secretary to the duke.
  • 82. Camb. City Archives, Common Day Bk. 29 Sept. 1787; Hist. MSS. Com. Rutland MSS. iii. 424.
  • 83. H. M. Cam, 'Quo Warranto proceedings at Cambridge', Camb. Hist. Jnl. viii (1946), 145–65.
  • 84. Cooper, Annals, iv. 427–30.
  • 85. Ibid. 431. George Crabbe, the poet, was one of them: Camb. City Archives, Common Day Bk.
  • 86. P.R.O. 30/8/174. Duchess of Rutland to Pitt, 27 Mar. 1789.
  • 87. D. Cook, unpubl. London Univ. thesis.
  • 88. W. Whittred, Letter to the freemen of Cambridge (1818).
  • 89. Poll Bk.
  • 90. Report of Enquiry into Corrupt practices at Cambridge, H.C. [1685], p. 446 (1852–3), xlvi. A proposal to create 40 non-residents freemen was abandoned because of popular protest: Cooper, Annals, iv. 522.
  • 91. Cooper, Annals, iv. 526.
  • 92. Trial and Acquittal of Mr. Weston Hatfield, . . . at the Cambridge Sessions, On Friday the 3d of January 1820. Pryme, who was a barrister, defended Hatfield.
  • 93. 'The Ratland Feast' (Independent Press, Cambridge, 1820).
  • 94. J. M. Gray, Biog. Notes on Mayors of Camb. 53; Cooper, Annals, iv. 91.
  • 95. Digested Rep. as to Corporation of Camb. 36.
  • 96. G. S. Pryme, A Letter to the Freemen and Inhabitants of the Town of Cambridge on the State of the Borough (1823), 38.
  • 97. Cooper, Annals, iv. 528.
  • 98. Rep. on Municipal Corporations, p. 2206.
  • 99. Cooper, Annals, iv. 624.
  • 100. Cooper, Annals, v. 112, 117; Rep. of Enquiry into Corrupt Practices, H.C. [1685], pp. 1–708 (1852–3) xlvi; E. Scott, Cambridge Toryism and Tories (1853).
  • 101. Cooper, Annals, v. 179.
  • 102. Dod, Parliamentary Companion.
  • 103. Cambridge Chronicle, 24 Jan. 1880.
  • 104. Cooper, Annals, v. 113.
  • 105. G. S. Pryme, Autobiographic Recollections, 139 sqq., 156, 185; Cooper, Annals, iv. 528.
  • 106. One witness in 1853 said of Manners Sutton that during his residence as an undergraduate 'in the ordinary time of young men' he had made many friends in the town. Rep. of Enquiry into Corrupt practices, H.C. [1685], p. 491, (1852–3), xlvi.
  • 107. Dod, Parliamentary Companion.