Manuscripts and Special Collections

Election Issues

Diary extracts (with transcripts) and other useful sources are discussed below.  Where possible, images of the source items have been provided and can be viewed online.


Extracts from the Duke's diaries 

19 Feb 1846 (Ne 2 F 7, p. 242)

I have sent a short address to be published about Lincolns Election & I hope it may do good, opposing free trade & other bad notions, lamenting Lincoln's espousal of them, deeming him thoroughly beaten, & suggesting to him to resign - This will be a service to him & to the county -

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The most dramatic event of the election campaign was undoubtedly Newcastle's public declaration of hostility to his son. This appeared in a letter to the electors of South Nottinghamshire which appeared as a handbill and was reprinted in the local and national press. [The letter also appeared in the poll book for the by-election]. Newcastle's private view of what he had done was recorded in this diary entry. It suggests that, for him, the election issues were both personal and political.


22 Feb 1846 (Ne 2 F 7, p. 243)

My letter has made a great sensation. The London papers have taken it up & in a manner that I least expected - The Times even sides with me & condemns my Son - This being the case, I trust that sooner or later my poor son may see the extreme folly of his ways, & that his conscience may smite him for his heinous sin towards his Parent - The remarks which are made upon him & the mortification which he is likely to suffer may I trust teach him humility also - a virtue of which he stands much in need = My labours to form a [Protectionist or Country] party are I trust succeeding, if formed I pray that it may be an honest one in or out of office - In the latter case I shall form no part of it as I should decline office of any kind - I have no ambition but to benefit my Country & if I can see others doing this I shall be supremely happy -

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Here Newcastle records the outcome of his intervention in the election, noting the positive effect which public criticism might have on his son's personal and political behaviour. Newcastle's public statement of opposition to the repeal of the Corn Laws and the measures of Sir Robert Peel's ministry is clearly linked to attempts to organise peers and M.P.s in to a Protectionist or Country Party, which will oppose them in parliament.


Other relevant sources

Use the links to view images of these sources.  Transcripts are available for download:


G. Barron refuses to give Lincoln his vote, "on principle"

This letter demonstrates the variety of personal and political issues which were involved in the South Nottinghamshire by-election. It responds to an election address to the constituents of South Nottinghamshire which the Earl of Lincoln had issued a few days previously and which was published in the local and national press. In this, Lincoln defended his record as M.P. and urged his constituents to approve of his support for the repeal of the Corn Laws by re-electing him.

In the course of this letter, the writer refers to past political issues such as Catholic Emancipation and mentions the 4th Duke of Newcastle's views on Church and State. However, the writer is mainly concerned with defending the Corn Laws. He does so by using arguments which would have become familiar during the course of the election campaign. Throughout, the writer is keen to defend the agricultural interest from the arguments of Richard Cobden, a noted opponent of the Corn Laws and a leading figure in the Anti-Corn Law League.


Lord George Bentinck advocates a 'salutary lesson' for 'the delinquent Politicians'

Lord George Bentinck, a younger son of the 4th Duke of Portland, became a leading parliamentary opponent of Sir Robert Peel and the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846. This letter indicates that one of the reasons for this opposition was the sense of betrayal which Conservative M.P.s felt against the Prime Minister and his cabinet.


Response to the Earl of Lincoln's election address

Lord George Bentinck's response to the Earl of Lincoln's election address was to compare it with the comments he had made during the general election of 1841, when the defence of the Corn Laws had been an important issue for the Conservative Party. Bentinck also suggests the national importance which is attached to the South Nottinghamshire contest.


Stirring up local opposition to Lord Lincoln

This letter provides further evidence of the strength of feeling raised against the Earl of Lincoln when comparing his recent election address with the views and comments he had made in 1841. This could be used to stir up opposition amongst local Whigs, who might otherwise support Lincoln because of his support for the repeal of the Corn Laws.


J.E. Denison considers his support for the Earl of Lincoln

John Evelyn Denison of Ossington was an important political figure in the county and a former M.P. for South Nottinghamshire. Denison was a Whig in politics but was prepared to help the Earl of Lincoln on the basis of his support for repeal of the Corn Laws. However, Whigs and Conservatives held different views on Church and State, especially relating to Ireland. As this letter indicates, Lincoln's appointment as Chief Secretary to Ireland meant his views on these issues were particularly important and might prevent some constituents from offering him their votes.


Lord Lincoln reacts to Denison's questioning

In this letter to the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, we learn how the Earl of Lincoln responded to Denison's request for information on his attitude towards Ireland. The letter indicates the difficulties which ministers faced when giving their personal views on a subject during an election campaign.


News of Lincoln's appointment as a Visitor of Maynooth College breaks

On the first day of the poll for the South Nottinghamshire by-election, the Earl of Lincoln's appointment as a Visitor of Maynooth College in Ireland was announced. The government was already unpopular for having increased financial support to the college in 1845. At this late stage in the campaign, the announcement provided another reason to oppose Lincoln's re-election for the constituency.


Lord George Bentinck considers the extent of the potato disease in Ireland

One of the arguments used by supporters of agricultural protection was that the potato disease in Ireland was not serious enough to make the repeal of the Corn Laws necessary. Here, Lord George Bentinck uses information such as the price of potatoes in Ireland and the amount of oats exported from Ireland to England to make this point.


Lord George Bentinck considers the link between corn prices and wages

One of the arguments used by opponents of agricultural protection was that cheaper bread prices would result from the repeal of the Corn Laws but that this would not lead to lower wages for factory workers or agricultural labourers. Here, Lord George Bentinck asks his father for evidence that there is a connection between the price of corn and the level of wages.


The government faces increased opposition from its followers in the Conservative Party

Sidney Herbert was one of the Earl of Lincoln's parliamentary and ministerial colleagues and considered to be close to the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel. This letter indicates the difficulties which the government was facing from its followers in the Conservative Party following its decision to repeal the Corn Laws. Divisions between supporters and opponents of repeal became a key issue in by-election contests fought during this period.


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