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Willoughby Bertie, 4th Earl of Abingdon's electoral influence over the borough of Westbury

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Willoughby Bertie, 4th Earl of Abingdon's electoral influence over the borough of Westbury

Author
Date
1767
Medium
Manuscript

In 1767 the town of Westbury, in Wiltshire, was a burgage borough under the control of Willoughby Bertie, 4th Earl of Abingdon. The only people eligible to vote in these boroughs were the owners of property known as a burgage. In the fifty years prior to 1767, Westbury had witnessed "great Contests" for the two parliamentary seats and "as most of the Tenants were Poor, it afforded great Scope for any adventurer to fight his Lordship with his own Weapons by buying off his Tenants." This "Case of the Borough of Westbury" describes how the Earl of Abingdon was able to secure dominance over elections in the borough. Among the measures described here are the placing of "Relations, Friends and Domestics of Lord Abingdon" and other persons "nominated by and supposed to be firmly attached to his Lordship" as twelve of the thirteen capital burgesses which comprised the Westbury corporation. The Earl was also able to secure fifty-seven of Westbury's sixty-one burgages.

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