Henry Thrale's 1780 election address

  • Posted on: 13 September 2009
  • By: David Thrale

Henry Thrale after Sir Joshua Reynolds 1777
This election address was written for Henry Thrale by Dr Samuel Johnson for the 1780 election1. Despite Thrale and Johnson's best efforts, Sir Richard Hotham and were both elected as Member of Parliament for Southwark with 1300 and 1138 votes respectively. Henry Thrale was defeated with just 855 votes.

To The Worthy Electors of the Borough of Southwark

GENTLEMEN,—A new Parliament being now called, I again solicit the honour of being elected for one of your representatives; and solicit it with the greater confidence, as I am not conscious of having neglected my duty, or of having acted otherwise than as becomes the independent representative of independent constituents; superiour to fear, hope, and expectation, who has no private purposes to promote, and whose prosperity is involved in the prosperity of his country. As my recovery from a very severe distemper is not yet perfect, I have declined to attend the Hall, and hope an omission so necessary will not be harshly censured.

I can only send my respectful wishes, that all your deliberations may tend to the happiness of the kingdom, and the peace of the borough. I am, Gentlemen, your most faithful and obedient servant,

Southwark, Sept. 5, 1780.

Henry Thrale - caricature as the Southwark Macaroni
On 14 May 1780 during a ten day electioneering stint Hester Thrale wrote the following account in Thraliana

I am come from Bath to canvass the Borough for my Husband, he will be elected and not pleased, I shall be fatigued and never thanked—no matter—it is fit he who is ill should rest, & fit that I who am well should work—We succeed pretty well upon the whole; I made Governor DevaynesWilliam Devaynes, M.P. for Barnstaple. & Sir Philip:J:Clerke, go out with me and beg Votes:—the Boro' folks called them my two edged Sword, as they cut upon Sir Richard Hotham both ways; the first as connected with the India house—the other as attached to the patriots. They good-naturedly dined with my Voters in St John's at a publick house, while Mrs Davenant attended me to Fournier's a principal Friend with whose Wife & Daughter we dined.—

I shewed my Consequence, frighted my Antagonists, got Mr Thrale many Promises, & shall return to Bath on Fryday 19: May 1780. if I can keep up my Master's Spirits, & detain him at a Distance from this noisy place, he may do well yet; and enjoy his Seat in Parliament for ought I know these next seven Years.—

Samuel Johnson wrote to Queeney of Hester Thrale's electioneering …

She has been very busy, and has run about the Borough like a Tigress seizing upon every thing that she found in her way.

  • 1. Source: Life of Johnson. James Boswell 1799. Entry dated 5 September 1780.