1865 United Kingdom general election

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1865 United Kingdom general election
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
  1859 11–24 July 1865 (1865-07-11 1865-07-24) 1868  

All 658 seats in the House of Commons
330 seats needed for a majority
 First partySecond party
  Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston.jpg Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby (cropped).jpg
Leader Viscount Palmerston Earl of Derby
Party Liberal Conservative
Leader since12 June 1859July 1846
Leader's seat Tiverton House of Lords
Last election356 seats, 65.8%298 seats, 34.2%
Seats won369289
Seat changeIncrease2.svg13Decrease2.svg9
Popular vote508,821346,035

1865 UK general election map.svg
Colours denote the winning party—as shown in § Results

Prime Minister before election

Viscount Palmerston

Prime Minister after election

Viscount Palmerston

The 1865 United Kingdom general election saw the Liberals, led by Lord Palmerston, increase their large majority over the Earl of Derby's Conservatives to 80. The Whig Party changed its name to the Liberal Party between the previous election and this one.


Palmerston died in October the same year and was succeeded by Lord John Russell as Prime Minister. [1] Despite the Liberal majority, the party was divided by the issue of further parliamentary reform, and Russell resigned after being defeated in a vote in the House of Commons in 1866, leading to minority Conservative governments under Derby and then Benjamin Disraeli.

This was the last United Kingdom general election until 2019 where a party increased its majority after having been returned to office at the previous election with a reduced majority.


The 1865 general election was regarded by contemporaries as being a generally dull contest nationally, which exaggerated the degree of corruption within individual constituencies. In his PhD thesis, Cornelius O'Leary described The Times as having reported "the testimony is unanimous that in the General Election of 1865 there was more profuse and corrupt expenditure than was ever known before". [2] As a result of allegations of corruption, 50 election petitions were lodged, of which 35 were pressed to a trial; 13 ended with the elected MP being unseated. In four cases a Royal Commission had to be appointed because of widespread corrupt practices in the constituency. [3]

As a result, when he became Prime Minister in 1867, Benjamin Disraeli announced that he would introduce a new method for election petition trials, which were then determined by a committee of the House of Commons, resulting in the Parliamentary Elections Act 1868, whereby two Judges of the Court of Common Pleas, Exchequer of Pleas or Queen's Bench would be designated to try election petitions with full judicial salaries. [3]


Many new constituencies were used for this election:


1865 UK parliament.svg
UK General Election 1865
StoodElectedGainedUnseatedNet% of total%No.Net %
  Liberal 516369+1356.0859.52508,8216.2
  Conservative 406289943.9240.48346,035+6.2

Regional results

Great Britain

PartyCandidatesUnopposedSeatsSeats changeVotes%% change
Liberal 433133311Increase2.svg5457,28960.0
Conservative 347115244Decrease2.svg1304,53840.0
PartyCandidatesUnopposedSeatsSeats changeVotes%% change
Liberal 35988251Equals-sign-blue.gif406,97859.0
Conservative 30894213Increase2.svg4291,23841.0
PartyCandidatesUnopposedSeatsSeats changeVotes%% change
Liberal 513042Increase2.svg243,48085.4
Conservative 17711Decrease2.svg24,30514.6
PartyCandidatesUnopposedSeatsSeats changeVotes%% change
Liberal 211518Increase2.svg34,56574.0
Conservative 161214Decrease2.svg31,60026.0


PartyCandidatesUnopposedSeatsSeats changeVotes%% change
Liberal 832858Increase2.svg851,53255.6
Irish Conservative 592745Decrease2.svg841,49744.4


PartyCandidatesUnopposedSeatsSeats changeVotes%% change
Conservative 6267,39576.5
Liberal 2002,26623.5

Source: Rallings & Thrasher 2012 , pp. 8–9

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Sources and further reading