1841 United Kingdom general election

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1841 United Kingdom general election
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
  1837 29 June – 22 July 1841 (1841-06-29 1841-07-22) 1847  

All 658 seats in the House of Commons
330 seats needed for a majority
 First partySecond partyThird party
  Robert Peel by RR Scanlan detail.jpg William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, painted by John Partridge.jpg Daniel O'Connell.png
Leader Sir Robert Peel Viscount Melbourne Daniel O'Connell
Party Conservative Whig Irish Repeal
Leader since19 December 183416 July 183415 April 1840
Leader's seat Tamworth House of Lords County Cork
Last election314 seats, 47.6%344 seats, 52.4%Did not contest
Seats won36727120
Seat changeIncrease2.svg53Decrease2.svg73Increase2.svg20
Popular vote306,314273,90212,537
Percentage51.6%46.2%2.1%
SwingIncrease2.svg4.0%Decrease2.svg6.2%New party

United Kingdom general election 1841.svg
Colours denote the winning party

House of Commons - United Kingdom general election, 1841.svg
Composition of the Commons after the election

Prime Minister before election

Viscount Melbourne
Whig

Prime Minister after election

Sir Robert Peel
Conservative

In the 1841 United Kingdom general election, there was a big swing as Sir Robert Peel's Conservatives took control of the House of Commons. Melbourne's Whigs had seen their support in the Commons erode over the previous years. Whilst Melbourne enjoyed the firm support of the young Queen Victoria, his ministry had seen increasing defeats in the Commons, culminating in the defeat of the government's budget in May 1841 by 36 votes, and by 1 vote in a 4 June 1841 vote of no confidence put forward by Peel. The Whigs and Tories were at odds over whether Melbourne's defeat required his resignation, with the Queen being advised by Lord Brougham that calling an election would be without precedent, and that it should only be dissolved to strengthen the government's hands, whereas dissolution facing the Whigs in 1841 was expected to result in their defeat. Melbourne himself opposed dissolution, although his cabinet came to accept it, and Melbourne requested the Queen dissolve Parliament, leading to an election. [1] The Queen thus prorogued Parliament on 22 June. [2]

Contents

The Conservatives campaigned mainly on the issue of Peel's leadership, whilst the Whigs emphasised an impersonal platform of reforming the import duties on corn, replacing the existing sliding scale with a uniform rate. The Whig position lost them support amongst protectionists, and the Whigs saw heavy losses in constituencies like the West Riding, where aristocratic Whig families who held a strong tradition of unbroken representation in Parliament were rejected by the electorate. Even radical support coalesced around the Tories, with it being felt that Peel would be more open to electoral reform. Radical opinion also appeared to favour the business background of Peel and his supporters to the aristocratic and political background of Melbourne's Whigs, with it being felt that the Whigs made poor governors. [1]

The Whigs also lost votes to the Irish Repeal group. The Chartists picked up only a few votes despite their popular support, because voting was still restricted to a small percentage of the population. Only 3.17% of the total population voted. It is regarded as having been one of the most corrupt elections in British parliamentary history; the Westminster Review stated in 1843 that the "annals of parliamentary warfare contained no page more stained with the foulness of corruption and falsehood than that which relates the history of the general election in the year 1841". [3]

Results

1841 UK parliament.svg
UK General Election 1841
PartyCandidatesVotes
StoodElectedGainedUnseatedNet% of total%No.Net %
  Conservative 498367+5355.7851.62306,314+2.6
  Whig 3882717341.1946.15273,9024.8
  Irish Repeal 2220200+203.042.1112,537N/A
  Chartist 8000000.12692N/A

Voting summary

Popular vote
Conservative
51.62%
Whig
46.15%
Irish Repeal
2.11%
Chartist
0.12%

Seats summary

Parliamentary seats
Conservative
55.78%
Whig
41.19%
Irish Repeal
3.04%

Regional results

Great Britain

PartyCandidatesUnopposedSeatsSeats changeVotes%% change
Conservative 439185326+42286,65052.7+4.5
Whig 3338322942256,77447.24.6
Chartist 800Equals-sign-blue.gif6920.1New.png
Total780268555Equals-sign-blue.gif544,116100
England
PartyCandidatesUnopposedSeatsSeats changeVotes%% change
Conservative 374147277272,75553.1
Whig 27762187236,81346.8
Chartist 400Equals-sign-blue.gif3070.1New.png
Total655209464Equals-sign-blue.gif509,875100
Scotland
PartyCandidatesUnopposedSeatsSeats changeVotes%% change
Whig 40133116,35660.8
Conservative 3516229,79338.3
Chartist 300Equals-sign-blue.gif3850.9New.png
Total782953Equals-sign-blue.gif26,534100
Wales
PartyCandidatesUnopposedSeatsSeats changeVotes%% change
Conservative 2416214,10253.2
Whig 168113,60546.8
Chartist 100Equals-sign-blue.gif00.0New.png
Total412432Equals-sign-blue.gif7,707100

Ireland

PartyCandidatesUnopposedSeatsSeats changeVotes%% change
Whig 55304217,12835.1
Irish Conservative 59274119,66440.1
Irish Repeal 22122012,53724.8
Total1366910349,329100

Universities

PartyCandidatesUnopposedSeatsSeats changeVotes%% change
Conservative 666Equals-sign-blue.gifUncontestedUncontested
Total666Equals-sign-blue.gifUncontestedUncontested

Whig MPs who lost their seats

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References

  1. 1 2 Kemp, Betty (June 1952), "The General Election of 1841", History , 37 (130): 146–157, doi:10.1111/j.1468-229X.1952.tb00231.x, JSTOR   24402876
  2. Saint James's Chronicle Tuesday 22 June 1841, p.2.
  3. "Election Compromises", The Westminster Review, 39: 114, 1 January 1843, retrieved 28 November 2018
  4. British Electoral Facts 1832–2006, compiled and edited by Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher (Parliamentary Research Services, 2007)

Further reading