- Dunwich (UK Parliament constituency)
Dunwich Former Borough constituency for the House of Commons 12981832– Number of members Two Replaced by East Suffolk
Dunwich was a parliamentary borough in Suffolk, one of the most notorious of all the rotten boroughs. It elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons from 1298 until 1832, when the constituency was abolished by the Great Reform Act.
In medieval times, when Dunwich was first accorded representation in Parliament, it was a flourishing port and market town about thirty miles from Ipswich. However, by 1670 the sea had encroached upon the town, destroying the port and swallowing up all but a few houses so that nothing was left but a tiny village. The borough had once consisted of eight parishes, but all that was left was part of the parish of All Saints, Dunwich - which by 1831 had a population of 232, and only 44 houses ("and half a church", as Oldfield recorded in 1816).
In fact, this made Dunwich by no means the smallest of England's rotten boroughs, but the symbolism of two Members of Parliament representing a constituency that was essentially underwater captured the imagination and made Dunwich one of the most frequently-mentioned examples of the absurdities of the unreformed system.
The right to vote was exercised by the freemen of the borough. Originally, these freemen could vote even if they did not live in the borough, and at times this was abused as elsewhere, notably in 1670 when 500 non-resident freemen were created to swamp the resident voters. From 1709, however, by a resolution of the House of Commons, the franchise was restricted to resident freemen who were not receiving alms. By the 19th century, the maximum number of freemen had been set at 32, of whom the two "patrons", Lord Huntingfield and Snowdon Barne, could nominate eight each, so that between them they controlled half of the votes and needed only one other voter to gain control of elections.
Earlier, in the 1760s, Sir Jacob Downing had been the sole patron, but in theory he also was considered to have only influence, rather than the absolute power to dictate the choice of the Members. Unsurprisingly, in 1754 Downing was able to occupy one seat himself and sell the choice of the other member to the Duke of Newcastle (then Prime Minister) for £1,000; it is not recorded whether he needed to share some of this largesse with his co-operative voters.
Dunwich was abolished as a constituency in 1832, when what remained of the village became part of the new Eastern Suffolk county division.
Members of Parliament
Parliament First member Second member 1306 Robert Codoun 1332 Geoffrey Codoun 1373 Peter Codoun 1383 Peter Codoun 1386 Peter Cuddon I Hugh Thorpe  1388 (Feb) Augustine Knight William Woodward  1388 (Sep) Peter Cuddon I John Bagge  1390 (Jan) Peter Cuddon I Robert Runton  1390 (Nov) 1391 Robert Runton William Havene  1393 Robert Cook Augustine Knight  1394 1395 Robert Cuddon I William Chock  1397 (Jan) Peter Helmeth Nicholas Goodber  1397 (Sep) 1399 Peter Cuddon II Peter Helmeth  1401 1402 1404 (Jan) 1404 (Oct) 1406 1407 1410 Peter Cuddon II William Barber  1411 Richard Griston Thomas Clerk  1413 (Feb) 1413 (May) Thomas Clerk Thomas Brantham  1414 (Apr) Nicholas Barber Philip Canon  1414 (Nov) Thomas James Philip Canon  1415 1416 (Mar) 1416 (Oct) John Luke Philip Canon  1417 1419 Nicholas Barber Philip Canon  1420 John Luke Richard Russell 1421 (May) William Barber Robert Cuddon II  1421 (Dec) John Luke Nicholas Barber  1510-1523 No names known  1529 Sir William Rous Christopher Jenney  1536 ? 1539 ? 1542 Robert Browne George Coppyn  1545 Robert Browne Robert Coppyn  1547 Robert Coppyn John Harrison alias Hall died and
was repl. Nov 1548 by Thomas Heydon 
1553 (Mar) Francis Yaxley Robert Coppyn  1553 (Oct) Robert Coppyn Nicholas Hasborough  1554 (Apr) Robert Browne George Jerningham  1554 (Nov) Sir Edmund Rous Robert Coppyn  1555 George Saxmundham Andrew Green  1558 Thomas Pycto John Browne  1558/9 Sir Edmund Rous Gregory Coppyn  1562/3 Robert Hare Robert Coppyn  1571 William Humberstone Arthur Hopton  1572 Robert Coppyn, died
and repl.1576 by Godfrey Foljambe
Richard Sone  1584 Walter Dunch Anthony Wingfield  1586 Anthony Wingfield Arthur Melles  1588 Edward Honing Walter Dunch  1593 Henry Savile Thomas Corbet  1597 Arthur Atye Clipsby Gawdy  1601 John Suckling Francis Myngate  1604 Sir Valentine Knightley Philip Gawdy 1614 Philip Gawdy Henry Dade 1621 Clement Coke Thomas Bedingfield 1624 Sir John Rous Sir Robert Brook 1625 Sir Robert Rous Sir Robert Brook 1626 Sir John Rous Thomas Bedingfield 1628 Sir Robert Brook Francis Winterton 1629–1640 No Parliaments summoned
Year First member First party Second member Second party 1640 (Apr) Henry Coke Anthony Bedingfield 1640 (Nov) Henry Coke- disabled Anthony Bedingfield 1645 Anthony Bedingfield Gen. Robert Brewster 1648 (Rump) Gen. Robert Brewster One seat only 1653 (Barebones) Dunwich not represented in Barebones Parliament 1654 (1st Protectorate) Gen. Robert Brewster One seat only 1656 (2nd Protectorate) Francis Brewster One seat only 1658 (3rd Protectorate) Robert Brewster John Barrington 1660 Sir John Rous Henry Bedingfield 1661 Richard Coke 1670 Sir John Pettus 1671 William Wood 1678 Thomas Allin February 1679 Sir Philip Skippon September 1679 Sir Robert Kemp 1685 Roger North Tory Thomas Knyvett Tory 1689 Sir Philip Skippon Sir Robert Rich Whig 1691 John Bence 1695 Henry Heveningham 1700 Sir Charles Blois 1701 Robert Kemp 1705 John Rous 1708 Robert Kemp 1709 Sir Richard Allin Daniel Harvey 1710 Sir George Downing Richard Richardson 1713 Sir Robert Kemp 1715 Sir Robert Rich Charles Long March 1722 Sir George Downing Edward Vernon December 1722 Sir John Ward 1726 John Sambrooke 1727 Thomas Wyndham 1734 Sir Orlando Bridgeman 1738 William Morden 1741 Jacob Garrard Downing 1747 Miles Barne 1749 Sir Jacob Garrard Downing 1754 Soame Jenyns 1758 Alexander Forrester 1761 Henry Fox Eliab Harvey 1763 Sir Jacob Garrard Downing 1764 Miles Barne 1768 Gerard Vanneck 1777 Barne Barne 1790 The Lord Huntingfield 1791 Miles Barne 1796 Snowdon Barne 1812 Michael Barne 1816 The Lord Huntingfield Tory 1819 William Alexander Mackinnon 1820 George Henry Cherry 1826 Andrew Arcedeckne 1830 Frederick Barne 1831 Earl of Brecknock Tory 1832 Viscount Lowther Tory 1832 Constituency abolished
In popular culture
Dunwich is satirised in an episode of the British television show Blackadder the Third titled Dish and Dishonesty. Named Dunny-on-the-Wold, it has a population of three cows, a dachshund called `Colin', and "a small hen in its late forties"; only one person lives there and he is the voter. After an obviously rigged election (in which it is revealed that Blackadder is both the constituency's returning officer and voter, after both died in highly suspicious "accidents"), Baldrick is made an MP having received all 16,472 of the votes cast.
- Lewis Namier, The Structure of Politics at the Accession of George III (2nd edition - London: St Martin's Press, 1961)
- 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)
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "D" (part 4)
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "History of Parliament". History of Parliament. http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1386-1421/constituencies/dunwich. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "History of Parliament". History of Parliament. http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1386-1421/constituencies/dunwich. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
- ^ "Yaxley, Francis". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Dunwich 1558–1603". History of Parliament. http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1558-1603/constituencies/dunwich. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
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