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 Portrait gallery of eminent men and women of Europe and America - embracing history, statesmanship, naval and military life, philosophy, the drama, science, literature and art, with biographies (1873) (14587944860).jpg
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 Dublin City (defeated)
County Cork
Last election314 seats, 47.6%344 seats, 52.4%Compact with Whigs
Seats before31431430
Seats won36727120
Seat changeIncrease2.svg53Decrease2.svg43Decrease2.svg10
Popular vote306,314273,90212,537
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

Prime Minister after election

Sir Robert Peel

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. According to precedent, Melbourne's defeat required his resignation. However, the cabinet decided to ask for a dissolution, which was opposed by Melbourne personally (he wished to resign, as he had attempted in 1839), but he came to accept the wishes of the ministers. Melbourne requested the Queen dissolve Parliament, leading to an election. [1] The Queen thus prorogued Parliament on 22 June. [2]


The Conservatives campaigned mainly on an 11-point programme modified from their previous electoral effort and designed by Peel, whilst the Whigs emphasised 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.

O'Connell, who had been governing with the Whigs through a compact, felt the government's unpopularity rub off on him. His own party was shattered in the election. Barely a dozen Repealers retained their seats, and O'Connell himself lost in Dublin while his son was defeated in Carlow. [3] The Chartists picked up only a few votes.


1841 UK parliament.svg
UK General Election 1841
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
Irish Repeal

Seats summary

Parliamentary seats
Irish Repeal

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
PartyCandidatesUnopposedSeatsSeats changeVotes % % change
Conservative 374147277272,75553.1
Whig 27762187236,81346.8
Chartist 400Equals-sign-blue.gif3070.1New.png
PartyCandidatesUnopposedSeatsSeats changeVotes % % change
Whig 401331-216,35660.8
Conservative 351622+29,79338.3
Chartist 300Equals-sign-blue.gif3850.9New.png
PartyCandidatesUnopposedSeatsSeats changeVotes % % change
Conservative 2416214,10253.2
Whig 168113,60546.8
Chartist 100Equals-sign-blue.gif00.0New.png


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


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

Whig MPs who lost their seats

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  1. 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. Marriott, John (1913). England since Waterloo. p. 143. Retrieved 13 November 2021.
  4. British Electoral Facts 1832–2006, compiled and edited by Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher (Parliamentary Research Services, 2007)

Further reading