The Donegall family dominated municipal life through their power as landlords
and their control of the Corporation. Civic events reflected traditional
Tory values of hierarchy and deference. However, the financial difficulties
of the second marquis led him to surrender his power as proprietor, while
parliamentary reform in 1832 ended the family’s control of the town’s two
seats in Parliament. Municipal reform in 1840 transferred control of
municipal affairs to an elected council dominated by the town’s business
elite, ending the era of proprietorship by the aristocracy.