How Bedfordshire Voted, 1735-1784

James Collett-White

How Bedfordshire Voted, 1735-1784


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First Published: 15 Apr 2012
13 Digit ISBN: 9780851550770
Pages: 332
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Bedfordshire Historical Record Society

Details updated on 04 May 2016

The third in Bedfordshire Historical Record Society's series of poll books covers the years from the fall of Walpole to the rise of William Pitt the younger. It was a period when Britain was constantly at war, when it suffered a dangerous Jacobite rebellion and when the American colonies were lost. Yet this constant warfare did not produce the revolutionary changes to the national and local economy that the Napoleonic wars subsequently created.
There is only one complete poll book for the county [1774] but surviving lists from Bedford borough, including a partial poll book of 1747, enable political allegiance to be gauged.
Lack of contested elections does not mean an absence of political activity. Detectable trends are illustrated from the Duke of Bedford's archives and the Hardwicke manuscripts in the British Library. They include the attempts of the Duke to increase his power, which was successfully challenged in Bedford Borough by the creation in 1769 of many new out-of-town freemen to detach it from his influence; the decline of formerly prominent political families; and, from the 1760s, the rise of the Whitbreads.
The volume also details the political dimension of the legal cases about the appointment of the rector of St John's, Bedford; the administration of the Harpur Trust; and turnpike and enclosure acts.

JAMES COLLETT-WHITE is an archivist at Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service, and to Sir Samuel Whitbread.


This volume creates a wealth of interesting material which will prove of enormous interest to both students of local Bedfordshire studies and to those interested in eighteenth-century society and policitics. The Bedfordshire Historical Record Society deserves praise for making more readily available a good deal of new material. HISTORY

This is a meticulously researched book. THE LOCAL HISTORIAN