1695 English general election

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1695 English general election
Flag of England.svg
  1690 October–November 1695 1698  

All 513 seats in the House of Commons
257 seats needed for a majority
 First partySecond party
 
Party Whig Tory
Seats won257203
Seat changeIncrease2.svg16Decrease2.svg40

The 1695 English general election was the first to be held under the terms of the Triennial Act of 1694, which required parliament to be dissolved and fresh elections called at least every three years. This measure helped to fuel partisan rivalry over the coming decades, with the electorate in a constant state of excitement and the Whigs and Tories continually trying to gain the upper hand. Despite the potential for manipulation of the electorate, as was seen under Robert Walpole and his successors, with general elections held an average of every other year, and local and central government positions frequently changing hands between parties, it was impossible for any party or government to be certain of electoral success in the period after 1694, and election results were consequently genuinely representative of the views of at least the section of the population able to vote.

The Whigs were a political faction and then a political party in the parliaments of England, Scotland, Great Britain, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Between the 1680s and 1850s, they contested power with their rivals, the Tories. The Whigs' origin lay in constitutional monarchism and opposition to absolute monarchy. The Whigs played a central role in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and were the standing enemies of the Stuart kings and pretenders, who were Roman Catholic. The Whigs took full control of the government in 1715 and remained totally dominant until King George III, coming to the throne in 1760, allowed Tories back in. The Whig Supremacy (1715–1760) was enabled by the Hanoverian succession of George I in 1714 and the failed Jacobite rising of 1715 by Tory rebels. The Whigs thoroughly purged the Tories from all major positions in government, the army, the Church of England, the legal profession and local offices. The Party's hold on power was so strong and durable, historians call the period from roughly 1714 to 1783 the age of the Whig Oligarchy. The first great leader of the Whigs was Robert Walpole, who maintained control of the government through the period 1721–1742 and whose protégé Henry Pelham led from 1743 to 1754.

Tory A conservative political philosophy

A Tory is a person who holds a political philosophy known as Toryism, based on a British version of traditionalism and conservatism, which upholds the supremacy of social order as it has evolved in the English culture throughout history. The Tory ethos has been summed up with the phrase "God, Queen, and Country". Tories generally advocate monarchism, and were historically of a high church Anglican religious heritage, opposed to the liberalism of the Whig faction.

Robert Walpole British statesman and art collector, 1st Earl of Orford

Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford,, known between 1725 and 1742 as Sir Robert Walpole, was a British politician who is generally regarded as the de facto first Prime Minister of Great Britain.

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The election of 1695, however, was comparatively quiet, being fought mainly on local issues. The new government led by the Whig junto made gains in most contested constituencies, and their party was returned with a narrow majority. The junto's support was not certain, however, as their policies increasingly alienated backbench 'country' Whigs, who were willing to co-operate with the Tories, and the government frequently ran into trouble in the House of Commons. Eighty-five constituencies were contested, 31% of the total.

The Whig Junto is the name given to a group of leading Whigs who were seen to direct the management of the Whig Party and often the government, during the reigns of William III and Anne. The Whig Junto proper consisted of John Somers, later Baron Somers; Charles Montagu, later Earl of Halifax; Thomas Wharton, later Marquess of Wharton, and Edward Russell, later Earl of Orford. They came to prominence due to the favour of Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland and during the reign of Queen Anne, Sunderland's son, the 3rd Earl succeeded his father. Opponents gave them the nickname "the five tyrannising lords". Other figures prominent around the edges of the Junto include Sir John Trenchard and Thomas Tollemache.

Party strengths are an approximation, with many MPs' allegiances being unknown.

Summary of the constituencies

See 1796 British general election for details. The constituencies used in England and Wales were the same throughout the period. In 1707 alone the 45 Scottish members were not elected from the constituencies, but were returned by co-option of a part of the membership of the last Parliament of Scotland elected before the Union.

1796 British general election

The 1796 British general election returned members to serve in the 18th and last House of Commons of the Parliament of Great Britain. They were summoned before the Union of Great Britain and Ireland on 1 January 1801. The members in office in Great Britain at the end of 1800 continued to serve in the first Parliament of the United Kingdom (1801–02).

See also

3rd Parliament of King William III

The 3rd Parliament of William III was summoned by William III of England on 12 October 1695 and assembled on 22 November 1695. It was the first election to be contested under the terms of the new Triennial Act passed in the previous Parliament which, amongst other things, limited the duration of the Parliament to 3 years. Its composition was 257 Whigs, 203 Tories and 53 others; Paul Foley, a Country Whig and member for Hereford, was installed as Speaker of the House of Commons.

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