1885 United Kingdom general election

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1885 United Kingdom general election
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
  1880 24 November – 18 December 1885 (1885-11-24 1885-12-18) 1886  

All 670 seats in the House of Commons
336 seats needed for a majority
 First partySecond partyThird party
  William Ewart Gladstone, 1892 (cropped).jpg Robert-Gascoyne-Cecil-3rd-Marquess-of-Salisbury (cropped).jpg Charles Stewart Parnell - Brady-Handy.jpg
Leader William Gladstone Marquess of Salisbury Charles Stewart Parnell
Party Liberal Conservative Irish Parliamentary
Leader sinceApril 1880April 188117 October 1882
Leader's seat Midlothian None (Lord) Cork City
Last election352 seats, 52.5%237 seats, 35.4%63 seats, 9.4%
Seats won31924786
Seat changeDecrease2.svg33Increase2.svg10Increase2.svg23
Popular vote2,071,8681,869,560299,178

United Kingdom general election 1885.svg
Colours denote the winning party

Prime Minister before election

Marquess of Salisbury

Prime Minister after election

William Gladstone

The 1885 United Kingdom general election was held from 24 November to 18 December 1885. This was the first general election after an extension of the franchise and redistribution of seats. For the first time a majority of adult males could vote and most constituencies by law returned a single member to Parliament fulfilling one of the ideals of Chartism to provide direct single-member, single-electorate accountability. It saw the Liberals, led by William Gladstone, win the most seats, but not an overall majority. As the Irish Nationalists held the balance of power between them and the Conservatives who sat with an increasing number of allied Unionist MPs (referring to the Union of Great Britain and Ireland), this exacerbated divisions within the Liberals over Irish Home Rule and led to a Liberal split and another general election the following year.


The 1885 election saw the first socialist party participate, with the Social Democratic Federation led by H. M. Hyndman standing three candidates.


1885 UK parliament.svg
UK General Election 1885
StoodElectedGainedUnseatedNet % of total %No.Net %
  Liberal 5753193347.6147.652,071,8687.3
  Conservative 597247+1036.8743.001,869,560+0.9
  Irish Parliamentary 9186+2312.846.88299,178+4.0
  Independent Liberal 3511+111.641.2855,652N/A
  Crofters 64+40.600.3816,551N/A
  Ind. Conservative 82+20.300.2912,599N/A
  Lib-Lab 4 1 +10.150.198,232N/A
  Independent 60000.156,570N/A
  Independent Nationalist 20000.072,889N/A
  Scottish Land Restoration 50000.052,359N/A
  Irish Loyalist 60000.041,869N/A
  Social Democratic Federation 30000.02657N/A

Voting summary

Popular vote
Irish Parliamentary
Independent Liberal
Independent Conservative

Seats summary

Parliamentary seats
Irish Parliamentary
Independent Liberal
Independent Conservative

See also


  1. All parties shown.

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Further reading