1940 voters



In the general election of Apr 1784, 1940 people voted. There were 3 candidates, with John Fitzpatrick & St. Andrew St. John elected.

Poll book data from:
Citation: A copy of the poll… (n.p., [1784])
Source: John Sims (ed.), A Handlist of British Parliamentary Poll Books (Leicester, 1984); Jeremy Gibson and Colin Rogers (eds.), Poll Books, 1696–1872: A Directory of Holdings in Great Britain (4th edn., Bury, 2008).

Timeline & Key Statistics

Contexts & Remarks

Some uncertain/illegible sections.

Transcription completed and kindly shared by James Collett-White.

Dates: Wednesday 7 Apr.-Monday 19 Apr. 1784.

Poll book reference: A copy of the poll... (n.pl., [1784]).

Candidates: John Fitzpatrick, earl of Upper Ossory (Whig, Opposition); Hon. St Andrew St John (Whig, Opposition); and Robert Henley Ongley, 1st Baron Ongley (Whig, Government).

John Fitzpatrick, 2nd earl of Upper Ossory had sat as Knight of the Shire for Bedfordshire since 1767, a position held by his father in the 1750s. In 1780, he switched from supporting the Government to the Foxite Opposition but continued to be supported by the 5th duke of Bedford.

Robert Henley Ongley had previously been a Knight of the Shire for Bedfordshire, but did not stand in the 1780 general election. A Pittite, he was supported by Lord Hardwicke, Lord Bute, the Osborns and the Whitbreads (a brewing family who had considerable support for the constituency of Bedford). Most of Ongley's voters were plumpers in the 1784 general election.

St Andrew St John had been elected Knight of the Shire in 1780. He was a supporter of the Foxite Opposition and was bolstered by the 5th duke of Bedford.

In a letter to Lord Hardwicke in April 1784, Joseph Pawsey recounted, 'The business of the day was conducted on the part of Lord Ossory with glaring insult upon almost all the gentlemen of property in the county and who almost to a man were in the interest of Lord Ongley; the insult was by Lord Ossory and Mr Baker the late Member for Hertford and one or two others with a mob of the dependents of his and the duke of Bedford got early possession of the Town Hall and by shouting etc rendered it impossible for Lord Ongley or his Friends to be heard or hardly set a foot in the door. A proper husting had been built but Lord Ossory and Mr St John would not go upon it as they well knew that if Lord Ongley and the gentlemen of the county could come to be heard that their late conduct in Parliament would be called into question' (Notes provided by James Collett-White).

Ossory and St John were elected as Knights of the Shire for Bedfordshire. However, the election result was challenged by Ongley declaring that there had been a mistake in the return. By July, he had been seated in place of St John. St John then submitted his own petition accusing Ongley of electoral bribery. After a scrutiny, votes were struck off from both candidates to correct the poll, which resulted in St John being re-seated.

Poll Book

Below is a digitised version of the poll book for this election: