Orford (UK Parliament constituency)

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Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
Number of members Two
Replaced by East Suffolk

Orford was a constituency of the House of Commons. Consisting of the town of Orford in Suffolk, it elected two Members of Parliament (MP) by the bloc vote version of the first past the post system of election until it was disenfranchised in 1832.


Orford was first represented in the Parliament of England in 1298, but did not regularly send members until 1529. The right of election was vested in the Mayor, eight portmen, twelve "capital burgesses" and the freemen of the borough. In the early days of its representation, Orford had been a prosperous port and its freemen were numerous, but by the 18th century the number of freemen was deliberately kept low to facilitate controlling the elections, and the town had become a pocket borough where most of the qualified voters consisted of the owner's family and retainers.

At one time Orford was owned by Viscount Hereford, but after his death in 1748 it was bought by the government, and by 1760, Orford was perhaps the most secure of all the "Treasury boroughs" – in other words boroughs where the influence of the Crown was so strong that the government could be sure of securing the election of whichever candidates they chose. As such, it was studied in detail by the historian Lewis Namier.

To secure government control, the Treasury started packing the Corporation with outsiders: Namier quotes a letter from John Roberts (who was managing the borough for the government) to Prime Minister Newcastle, urging an immediate decision on who should be nominated to a vacancy as capital burgess because otherwise "we shall be reduced to the necessity of chusing a townsman, the number of which it would be better not to encrease". Maintaining government control of the borough also involved considerable expenditure – £200 a year for rent of houses,and a further £100 for other expenses such as repairs and taxes, all met out of the secret service fund.

However, much of Viscount Hereford's estate had been bought by the Earl of Hertford, and he together with his brother Henry Seymour Conway, an influential minister, put pressure on successive Prime Ministers for the control of the borough to be given to him. Eventually in 1766, with the formation of Chatham's ministry, this pressure bore fruit, and Orford was transferred to the Earl of Hertford as partial compensation for his having been supplanted as Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. From this point it remained under the control of Hertford and his heirs until it lost its representation 66 years later, and all its MPs were either members of the Seymour-Conway family or their friends.

By the time of the Great Reform Act in 1832, the population of the borough was only 1,302, in 246 houses, with about 22 men entitled to vote, and this was too small to justify its existence being retained.

Members of Parliament

MPs 1529–1660

Parliament First member Second member
1510–1515 No names known[1]
1523 John Valentine  ?[1]
1529 Erasmus Paston Richard Hunt[1]
1536  ?Richard Poty  ?John Harman[1]
1539  ?Richard Poty  ?John Harman[1]
1542 John Cook  ?Richard Poty[1]
1545 John Harman Francis Sone[1]
1547 George Heneage John Harman[1]
1553 (Mar) William Honing Henry Cornwallis[1]
1553 (Oct) George Jerningham Thomas Harvey[1]
1554 (Apr)  ?
1554 (Nov) John Harman Leonard Sandell[1]
1555 Thomas Seckford Thomas Spicer[1]
1558 Francis Sone Thomas Seckford[1]
1558/9 Richard Wingfield Francis Sone[2]
1562/3 Lawrence Meres William Yaxley[2]
1571 (Mar) Anthony Wingfield Anthony Rush[2]
1572 Anthony Wingfield Anthony Rush[2]
1584 (Nov) Henry Wingfield John Cutting[2]
1586 (Oct) Richard Wingfield William Downing[2]
1588 (Oct) Richard Wingfield George Chittinge[2]
1593 Edward Grimston John North[2]
1597 (Sep) Thomas Rivett William Forthe[2]
1601 (Oct) Sir John Townshend Sir Richard Knightley[2]
1604 Michael Stanhope William Cornwallis[3]
1614 William Cornwallis Sir Francis Baildon
1621–1622 Sir Lionel Tollemache Sir Roger Townshend
1624 Sir Robert Hitcham William Glover
1625 Sir Robert Hitcham Sir William Whitepole
1626 Sir Robert Hitcham Charles Croft
1628 Sir Charles Legross Sir Lionel Tollemache
1629–1640 No Parliaments summoned
1640 Apr Sir Charles le Grosse Sir Edward Duke
1640 Nov Sir William Playters, 2nd Baronet Sir Charles Legross
1645 Sir William Playters, 2nd Baronet Sir Charles Legross
1648–1659 Not represented in Rump, Barebones and First and Second Protectorate Parliaments
1659 Thomas Edger Jeremy Copping

MPs 1660–1832

Year First member First party Second member Second party
1660 Walter Devereux Sir Allen Brodrick
1661 Walter Devereux Sir Allen Brodrick
Feb. 1679 Lord Huntingtower Sir John Duke
Sept. 1679 Henry Parker
1681 Thomas Glemham
1685 Lord Huntingtower
1689 Sir John Duke
1690 Sir Thomas Felton[4]
1695 Sir Adam Felton
1697 Sir John Duke
1698 Sir Charles Hedges
1700 Sir Edmund Bacon William Johnson
1701 Sir Edward Turnor
1708 Clement Corrance
1709 William Thompson
1710 Sir Edward Turnor
1721 Sir Edward Duke
1722 Dudley North William Acton
1727 Hon. Price Devereux
1729 William Acton
1730 Robert Kemp
1734 Richard Powys Lewis Barlow
1738 John Cope
1741 Viscount Glenorchy Henry Bilson-Legge
1746 Hon. John Bateman
1747 Hon. John Waldegrave
1754 John Offley Whig
1759 Hon. Charles FitzRoy Whig
1761 Thomas Worsley Whig
1768 Viscount Beauchamp[5] Edward Colman
1771 Hon. Robert Seymour-Conway
1784 Hon. George Seymour-Conway
1790 Hon. William Seymour
1794 Lord Robert Seymour Tory
1796 Viscount Castlereagh Tory
1797 Earl of Yarmouth Tory
1802 James Trail Tory
1806 Lord Henry Moore Tory
1807 William Sloane Tory
1812 Charles Arbuthnot Tory Edmund Alexander Macnaghten Tory
1818 John Douglas Tory
March 1820 Horace Beauchamp Seymour[6] Tory
May 1820 Edmund Alexander Macnaghten Tory
1821 The Marquess of Londonderry Tory
1822 Charles Ross Tory
June 1826 Sir Henry Cooke Tory Horace Beauchamp Seymour[7] Tory
December 1826 Quintin Dick Tory
1830 Spencer Kilderbee Tory
1832 Constituency abolished


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 "History of Parliament". Retrieved 1 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 "History of Parliament". Retrieved 1 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Kincaid, Arthur. "Cornwallis, Sir William, the younger". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/6345.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. Succeeded to a baronetcy as Sir Thomas Felton, 1697
  5. Beauchamp was styled Earl of Yarmouth from June 1793
  6. Seymour was also elected for Lisburn, which he chose to represent, and did not sit for Orford
  7. Seymour was also elected for Bodmin, which he chose to represent, and did not sit for Orford