Bramber (UK Parliament Constituency)
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Bramber UK Parliament Constituency
Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
Number of membersTwo
Replaced byNew Shoreham

Bramber was a parliamentary borough in Sussex, one of the most notorious of all the rotten boroughs. It elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons in 1295, and again from 1472 until 1832, when the constituency was abolished by the Great Reform Act.


The borough consisted of the former market town of Bramber on the River Adur, which by the 19th century had decayed to the size of a small village. Bramber was barely distinguishable from neighbouring Steyning, with which it shared a main street, and for a century and a half after 1295 they formed a single borough collectively returning MPs. From the reign of Edward IV, however, they returned two MPs each, even though one part of Bramber was in the centre of Steyning so that a single property could in theory give rise to a vote in both boroughs. They were never substantial enough towns to deserve enfranchisement on their own merits, and both probably owed their status to a royal desire to gratify the courtiers that owned them with a degree of influence in the House of Commons.

Bramber was a burgage borough - the vote was restricted to inhabitants of ancient houses in the borough, or those built on ancient foundations, who paid scot and lot. In 1816 this amounted to only 20 voters, although as in 1831 the borough contained 35 houses and a population of approximately 170, this was a much higher proportion of the residents than in most burgage boroughs.

Bramber was slightly unusual in that the vote was accorded to the occupier rather than the owner of the burgage tenements, but in practice the owners had total control over the votes of their tenants - by bribery if not by threats - and therefore of elections in the borough. In Tudor times, the Dukes of Norfolk seem to have held sway. By the first half of the 18th century Bramber was wholly owned by Sir Harry Gough, who leased it (and the right to nominate its MPs) to Lord Archer; Lord Archer sold this right onwards in his turn, apparently being paid £1000 by the government to allow Lord Malpas to be elected in 1754. In 1768 the Duke of Rutland gained control, but Gough later regained power over one of the two seats and it was inherited by his descendants (who held the title Lord Calthorpe). These two families still shared the representation at the time of the Reform Act.

Bramber was abolished as a separate constituency with effect from the 1832 general election. However, the nearby borough of New Shoreham had already been expanded to include the whole of the Rape of Bramber as an antidote to its corruption, and survived the Reform Act with both its MPs intact. Bramber therefore formed part of the New Shoreham constituency from 1832.

Members of Parliament

before 1640


Year First member First party Second member Second party
April 1640 Sir Edward Bishopp Sir Thomas Bowyer Royalist
November 1640 [4] Arthur Onslow Parliamentarian
December 1640 Sir Thomas Bowyer Royalist
November 1642 Bowyer disabled from sitting - seat vacant
September 1645 James Temple
December 1648 Onslow excluded in Pride's Purge - seat vacant
1653 Bramber was unrepresented in the Barebones Parliament and the First and Second Parliaments of the Protectorate
January 1659 John Byne John Fagg
May 1659 James Temple One seat vacant
1660 John Byne Edward Eversfield
1661 Percy Goring
1662 Sir Cecil Bishopp
February 1679 Henry Goring Nicholas Eversfield
August 1679 Henry Sidney
1681 Percy Goring
1685 Sir Thomas Bludworth William Bridgeman
1689 John Alford Charles Goring
1690 Nicholas Barbon John Radcliffe
1695 William Stringer
1698 Sir Henry Furnese [5] William Westbrooke
February 1699 John Courthope
April 1699 John Asgill
January 1701 Thomas Stringer Thomas Owen
March 1701 Francis Seymour-Conway
1702 John Asgill [6]
1703 John Middleton [7]
1704 Samuel Vanacker Sambrooke
1705 The Viscount Windsor
1707 William Shippen
1709 [8] William Hale Sir Cleave More
October 1710 The Viscount Windsor [9] Andrews Windsor
December 1710 William Shippen
1713 The Lord Hawley
January 1715 Sir Richard Gough Sir Thomas Style [10]
June 1715 Edward Minshull
1722 William Charles van Huls
1723 David Polhill
1727 Joseph Danvers
March 1728 John Gumley [11]
April 1728 James Hoste
1734 Sir Harry Gough Harry Gough (senior)
1741 Thomas Archer
1747 Joseph Damer
1751 Henry Pelham Whig
1754 Viscount Malpas Nathaniel Newnham
March 1761 Hon. Andrew Archer [12] William Fitzherbert
December 1761 The Lord Winterton [13]
1762 Hon. George Venables-Vernon
1768 [14] Charles Lowndes
1769 Thomas Thoroton Charles Ambler
1774 Sir Henry Gough [15]
1782 Hon. Henry Fitzroy Stanhope
1784 Daniel Pulteney
1788 Robert Hobart
1790 Thomas Coxhead [16]
1796 Sir Charles Rouse-Boughton James Adams
1800 John Henry Newbolt
1802 George Manners-Sutton Henry Jodrell
1804 Richard Norman
1806 John Irving
1812 William Wilberforce Independent
1825 Arthur Gough-Calthorpe
1826 Frederick Gough-Calthorpe
1831 William Stratford Dugdale
1832 Constituency abolished


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "History of Parliament". History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved .
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "History of Parliament". History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved .
  3. ^ Son in law of Sir Thomas Shirley
  4. ^ Bishopp and Onslow were initially elected but their election was declared void. Bishopp was barred from standing again, but Onslow was re-elected
  5. ^ Expelled from the House of Commons, 1699, for holding an office incompatible with membership
  6. ^ Expelled from the House of Commons, 1707, for his controversial writings on religion
  7. ^ On petition, Middleton's election was declared void following a dispute over the franchise
  8. ^ At the general election of 1708, Windsor and Shippen were initially declared re-elected, but on petition the election was declared void
  9. ^ The Viscount Windsor was also elected for Monmouthshire, which he chose to represent, and never sat for Bramber
  10. ^ On petition (a dispute over the franchise), Style was found not to have been duly elected, and a by-election was held
  11. ^ On petition, Gumley was found not to have been duly elected, and a by-election was held
  12. ^ Archer was also elected for Coventry, which he chose to represent, and never sat for Bramber
  13. ^ The Earl Winterton from 1766
  14. ^ At the election of 1768, Winterton and Lowndes were initially declared elected, but on petition the result was reversed and their opponents Thoroton and Ambler were seated instead
  15. ^ Adopted the surname Calthorpe in 1788
  16. ^ Sir Thomas Coxhead from 1793


  • Robert Beatson, "A Chronological Register of Both Houses of Parliament" (London: Longman, Hurst, Res & Orme, 1807) [1]
  • D Brunton & D H Pennington, Members of the Long Parliament (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1954)
  • Cobbett's Parliamentary history of England, from the Norman Conquest in 1066 to the year 1803 (London: Thomas Hansard, 1808) [2]
  • Lewis Namier, The Structure of Politics at the Accession of George III (2nd edition - London: St Martin's Press, 1961)
  • J. E. Neale, The Elizabethan House of Commons (London: Jonathan Cape, 1949)
  • 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)
  • Frederic A Youngs, jr, "Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Vol I" (London: Royal Historical Society, 1979)
  • Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs - Constituencies beginning with "B" (part 5)

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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