Parliamentary History of Penkridge, 1812 to 1831

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In 1812 Sir Edward Littleton died and was replaced by his grand nephew Edward John Walhouse, heir to the Hatherton estate. He beat Sir John Wrottesley in a contested by-election and retained it at the general election of the same year. He  changed his name to Littleton in order to inherit the Teddesley estate in 1812.

General Election, 12th October, 1812

Lord Granville Leveson-Gower

Edward John Littleton

returned unopposed


Edward John Littleton

Edward John Littleton  represented Staffordshire until 1833 and then the Southern Division of Staffordshire until 1835 when he was created Lord Hatherton. Nominally independent,  he supported the Tory governments of Lord Liverpool, Canning, Goderich and the Duke of Wellington until moving to the Whigs in 1830. He was part of the Boundary Commission which redrew constituency boundaries under the Great Reform Act of 1832 and was Chief Secretary to Ireland, 1833-4.


Lord Granville Leveson-Gower was created Viscount Granville and was replaced by his nephew, George Granville Leveson-Gower.

George Granville Leveson-Gower

Born in 1786, he was the son and heir of the Duke of Sutherland. MP for Newcastle 1812-15 and Staffordshire, 1815-20. Known as “Earl Gower”. Created Baron Gower in 1826.


General Election, 23rd June, 1818

Earl Gower

Edward Littleton

returned unopposed.


The General Election of 1820 was called on the death of King George III. Edward Littleton was marooned in Vienna with his sick wife and his campaign was conducted by his “friends”. Earl Gower was famously intimidated into standing down by the ferocious tactics adopted by Sir John Fenton Boughey in the canvassing and hustings.

General Election 16th March, 1820

Edward Littleton

Sir John Boughey

returned unopposed.

Sir John Fenton Boughey of Aqualate.

A fanatical anti-Gower campaigner, he had unseated them at Newcastle, 1812-1818. His victory in 1820 seemed to break the spirit of the Gower family and they gradually withdrew from County politics. His opposition to Gower unfortunately drew him into the anti Roman Catholic camp. He did little work in Parliament and died unexpectedly in 1823.


Sir John Wrottesley was returned unopposed at the following by-election. Born in 1771, he was the son and heir of Sir John Wrottesley MP, who died in 1787. He had been MP for Lichfield, 1799-1808. He tried to return to Parliament in 1812, but had been defeated by Edward Littleton. He was related to the Gower family but as he became more liberal he moved over to the Anson Whigs. He was the head of a large banking firm.


General Election June, 1826.

Edward John Littleton (Canningite Tory)

Sir John Wrottesley (Whig)

returned unopposed



Lord Liverpool resigned as PM in 1827 following a stroke. Canning replaced him but only lasted 7 months, when he too died. Lord Goderich made a failed attempt as PM to patch up a coalition between Tories, Canningite Tories and Whigs, but failed. All this happened in 1827. The Duke of Wellington took over. A general election was called in August 1830, following the death of King George IV. The Duke of Wellington returned as PM but there had been a marked swing in favour of Parliamentary Reform.


General Election 7th August, 1830

Edward John Littleton (pro Reform, Canningite)

Sir John Wrottesley (Whig)

returned unopposed



In November 1830 Edward Littleton told the Duke of Wellington that the Canningite Tories would go into opposition if he did not introduce elements of Parliamentary Reform. This had a disastrous effect on the Duke who made a calamitous speech in the House of Lords, saying the British Constitution was perfect and he would never introduce reform. Many liberal Tories drifted away and the King invited the Whig, Lord Grey, to form a government. The Whig government introduced a Reform Bill and the 1831 election was fought on the issue of “The Bill, the whole Bill and nothing but the Bill”.

General Election, 6th May 1831

Edward John Littleton (Whig)

Sir John Wrottesley (Whig)

returned unopposed.


Lord Grey introduced a second Reform Bill which was passed by the House of Commons but defeated by the permanent Tory majority in the Lords. In March 1832 the 3rd Reform Bill passed the Commons. It was passed by the Lords after King William IV threatened to create new peers to overturn the Tory majority. Edward Littleton was part of the Boundary Commission that drew up the new constituencies (establishing a tradition of integrity that lasts till this day). Most counties were split in two, with each new constituency getting two MPs. So now Staffordshire had a Northern and a Southern Division. Penkridge, of course, was in the Southern Division. The 1832 General Election was fought on the new boundaries.