St. Alban's Tavern group

The St. Alban's Tavern group was an informal association of 78 British Members of Parliament who aimed to bring about a reconciliation of William Pitt the Younger and Charles James Fox in a unified Ministry. They were named after the St. Alban's Tavern where the members met from January 1784.

BackgroundEdit

The group were largely composed of 'independent country gentlemen' who held themselves free from party allegiance. On 26 January 1784 the group came to a resolution "to support the party who should in the present distracted moment manifest a disposition to union". Given the weakness of Pitt's government, which was in a minority in the House of Commons, he accepted the group's proposition but insisted that a government must be formed "with principle and honour". Fox spoke through the Duke of Portland, who had been titular Prime Minister during the Fox-North Coalition: the Duke insisted that Pitt had come to power through unconstitutional means, and therefore must first resign before a new Ministry was appointed.

In reality, neither Pitt nor Fox believed the group had any prospect of success, but both felt obliged to treat them with respect. Possibly in ignorance of the personal bitterness between Pitt and Fox, the promoters of reconciliation are described as "well-meaning and naive" by the History of Parliament. The failure of negotiations left the group itself split, with 45 members supporting Pitt and 30 supporting Fox.

Members of the groupEdit

The membership of the group was published in the Annual Register for 1784. Analysis in the introductory survey to the History of Parliament 1754-1790 indicates that five of the 78 were from Scottish constituencies, and a large proportion of the members were returned from English counties. The leader was Thomas Grosvenor, MP for Chester, who on 2 February 1784 successfully moved a House of Commons motion which called "for a firm, efficient, extended and united Administration". The members of the group were:

Member Constituency First elected
Francis Annesley. Reading 1774
Sir John Barrington, Bt. Newtown (Isle of Wight) 1780
Hon. George Cranfield Berkeley Gloucester 1783
Richard Wilbraham-Bootle. Chester 1761
Hon. William Henry Bouverie Salisbury
Thomas Berney Bramston. Essex 1779
The Viscount Bulkeley Anglesey 1774
John Buller. West Looe 1768
Sir George Cornewall, Bt Herefordshire 1774
Sir Robert Salusbury Cotton, Bt Cheshire 1780
John Dawes. Tregony 1780
Thomas, Baron Dimsdale Hertford 1780
William Drake, Jr. Amersham 1768
George Keith Elphinstone Dunbartonshire 1781
Earl of Euston Thetford 1782
William Ewer. Dorchester 1765
Archibald Campbell Fraser Inverness-shire 1782
Thomas Gilbert. Lichfield 1763
Ambrose Goddard. Wiltshire 1772
George Graham. Kinross-shire 1780
Sir Henry Gough Bramber 1774
Thomas Grosvenor Chester 1755
(Sir) Benjamin Hammet Taunton 1782
Thomas Harley Herefordshire 1761
E. Hervey, esq.
Sir Harry Hoghton, Bt Preston 1768
Arthur Holdsworth Dartmouth 1780
Filmer Honywood Kent 1774
Sir Richard Hotham Southwark 1780
Sir George Howard Stamford 1761
William Hussey. Salisbury 1765
Benjamin Keene Cambridge 1776
Thomas Kemp Lewes 1780
Richard Payne Knight Leominster 1780
Sir Robert Lawley, Bt Warwickshire 1780
Sir William Lemon Cornwall 1770
James Tylney Long Devizes 1762
Lieutenant the Hon. James Luttrell Stockbridge 1775
Hon General Luttrell Bossiney 1768
William Lygon Worcestershire 1775
Sir Horatio Mann Maidstone 1774
Hon. Charles Marsham Bt Kent 1768
Sir Joseph Mawbey, Bt Surrey 1761
Sir Roger Mostyn, Bt Flintshire 1758
John Parry Caernarvonshire 1780
Henry Peirse (younger) Northallerton 1774
William Pochin Leicestershire 1780
Thomas Powys Northamptonshire 1774
William Praed St Ives 1774
John Purling Weymouth and Melcombe Regis 1770
Sir Walter Rawlinson Queenborough 1774
Abraham Rawlinson Lancaster 1780
Henry Rawlinson Liverpool 1780
Sir Matthew White Ridley, Bt Newcastle-upon-Tyne 1768
John Rolle Devon 1780
Charles Boughton Evesham 1780
Thomas Scott Bridport 1780
Sir George Shuckburgh, Bt Warwickshire 1780
Humphrey Sibthorp Boston 1777
John Sinclair Caithness 1780
Sir Thomas Skipwith Steyning 1769
William Charles Sloper St Albans 1780
Robert Smith Nottingham 1779
Sir Robert Smyth, Bt Colchester 1774
John Smyth Pontefract 1783
Walter Spencer Stanhope Haslemere 1775
Thomas Stanley Lancashire 1780
John Strutt Maldon 1774
Hon. John Manners-Sutton Newark 1783
Clement Taylor Maidstone 1780
John Tempest Durham (County) 1762
Robert Thistlethwayte Hampshire 1780
Beilby Thompson Thirsk 1768
Sir John Trevelyan, Bt Somerset 1777
Thomas Whitmore Bridgnorth 1771
Sir John Borlase Warren Great Marlow 1774
John Eardley Wilmot Tiverton 1776
Glyn Wynn Caernarvon Boroughs 1768

ReferencesEdit

  • History of Parliament 1754-1790
  • Annual Register, 1784, p. 268-269