Radnor (UK Parliament constituency)

Last updated

Radnor
Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
1542–1885
Replaced by Radnorshire

Radnor or New Radnor (also called the Radnor District of Boroughs or Radnor Boroughs, especially after 1832) was a constituency in Wales between 1542 and 1885; it elected one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons of the Parliaments of England (1542–1707), Great Britain (1707–1800) and the United Kingdom (1801–1885), by the first past the post electoral system. In the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885, the division was merged into Radnorshire.

Contents

Some very notable politicians represented the constituency in the House of Commons, including Robert Harley, later Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer, Sir George Cornewall Lewis, and the Marquess of Hartington, later 8th Duke of Devonshire.

History

Composition of the borough before the Reform Act

As elsewhere in Wales, the Act of Union 1536 provided Radnorshire with two members of parliament: one represented the county, and the other a borough constituency named after the county town but including other "contributory boroughs" who were jointly responsible for providing for the upkeep of the MP and, in return, were granted a say in his election. In both cases, the first return of a member was to the Parliament of 1542.

In Tudor times, seven towns apart from New Radnor itself seem to have been regarded at least occasionally as contributory boroughs: Cefnllys, Knighton, Knucklas, Norton, Painscastle, Presteigne and Rhayader. However, by the late 17th century, the exact rights were disputed, and the position was argued before a House of Commons committee after petitions against the result of elections in 1689 and 1690. The committee disallowed the votes from Presteigne and Painscastle (there seem to have been none from Norton to disallow), and thereafter the borough consisted only of New Radnor, Cefnllys, Knighton, Knucklas and Rhayader.

Franchise and character of the constituency

The right to vote in each of the component boroughs was restricted to the freemen of each town, who did not have to be resident within the borough to vote. The result was that honorary freemen were created solely to swing parliamentary elections, and the inhabitants of the towns which made up the constituency rarely had much say in the choice of MP. This abuse was well established in Radnor by the end of the 17th century (as in other constituencies, both in Wales and England, where honorary freemen could vote), and eventually broke the previously-established domination of the Harley family over the constituency; but it was still a matter of grievance to the town in 1779, when the inhabitants complained of it to the House of Commons.

At New Radnor, the town corporation controlled the creation of freemen, but the Steward of the King's Manors had the corresponding power at Knighton, Rhayader and Knucklas. These two sources of power competed with the other main landed interest, that of the Price family, for domination of Radnor elections in the 18th century, but it was the Steward who generally got his way. Henry Lewis was steward from 1746 until his death in 1768 and his brother, Thomas Lewis, was MP from 1715 to 1761 (when he was defeated because of technical errors in the registration of the freemen that supported him).

The new steward was the Earl of Oxford, but he was unable immediately to take control as the Durham Act of 1763 prevented honorary freeman from voting within a year of their creation; however, it transpired that Henry Lewis's patent as Steward had not been properly renewed on the accession of George III in 1760, so that all his more recent creations of freemen were invalid. This immediately undermined Thomas Lewis's majority, and at the 1768 election), although Thomas's son John was declared elected by the returning officer, the result was overturned on petition, the votes of the faultily-created freemen were disallowed, and his opponent Edward Lewis (no relation) was declared elected instead.

By 1774, Oxford's newly created freemen were qualified to vote, but the returning officer (remaining loyal to Thomas Lewis) attempted to disallow the votes of all non-resident freemen. Once more the defeated Edward Lewis petitioned against the result, and was once more successful, the committee deciding that the non-resident freemen of New Radnor and Cefnllys were not entitled to vote but that those of the other three boroughs were; and even in New Radnor and Cefnllys the rights of the non-residents seem to have been restored at the following election. In 1780, the returning officer made a double return, and the Commons decided again in Edward Lewis's favour. From this point onwards, for at least the next thirty years, the Earl's right (and that of his son) to be considered "patron" of the constituency was unchallenged; when in 1790 he withdrew his support from Edward Lewis and instead backed David Murray, Murray defeated Lewis by a two-to-one margin. However, in the last two decades before Reform Richard Price (already the sitting MP) had expanded his personal and family influence sufficiently to be sure of re-election independent of the Oxford interest.

The nature of the franchise dictated that the electorate of the constituency fluctuated considerably over the years, rising when a new creation of freemen was needed to change the balance of voting power, dwindling when the majority was secure since fewer voters made elections cheaper and the constituency easier to manage. In the 1750s there were around 1,000 qualified voters, and as late as 1790 a total of 922 – mostly non-residents – turned out to vote; but the only contested election between then and 1869 was the general election of 1820, when only 268 voters polled.

Reform and abolition

By 1831, none of the component boroughs was of any considerable size: New Radnor had a population of approximately 2,500, Knighton of 1,076, Rhayader of 669, Knucklas of 236 and Cefnllys of only 28. Under the Great Reform Act the constituency kept its one MP, but Presteigne (which had for centuries been recognised as the county town) was added as a contributory borough, and Rhayader's boundaries were slightly extended. This raised the total population of the constituency to around 6,355, and under the revised franchise there were 529 electors on the register at the 1832 election.

In the entire period between the first and second Reform Acts there was no contested election for the Radnor boroughs. The 1868 reforms doubled the electorate, and from this point onwards the constituency proved a safe seat for the Liberal candidate whenever a contest was held.

The constituency was abolished in the redistribution of seats in 1885, being merged into the Radnorshire county constituency.

Members of Parliament

1542–1640

ParliamentMember
1545 Thomas Lewis [1]
1547 Thomas Lewis [1]
1553 (Mar)not known
1553 (Oct) Rhys Lewis [1]
1554 (Apr) Robert Vaughan [1]
1554 (Nov) Robert Vaughan [1]
1555 Richard Blike [1]
1558 Rhys Lewis [1]
1559 Robert Vaughan [2]
1562/3 Morgan Price [2]
1571 Rhys Lewis II [2]
1572 Watkin Vaughan [2]
1584 Hugh Davies [2]
1586 Hugh Davies [2]
1588 James Walter [2]
1593 Thomas Crompton [2]
1597 Edward Lewis [2]
1601 Stephen Price [2]
1604–1611 Sir Robert Harley
1614 Rowland Meyrick
1621–1629 Charles Price
1629–1640No Parliaments summoned

1640–1885

ElectionMemberParty
April 1640 Richard Jones
November 1640 Philip Warwick Royalist
February 1644Warwick disabled to sit – seat vacant
1647 Robert Harley
December 1648Harley excluded in Pride's Purge – seat vacant
1653Radnor was unrepresented in the Barebones Parliament
and the First and Second Parliaments of the Protectorate
January 1659 Robert Weaver
May 1659 Unrepresented in the restored Rump
April 1660 Robert Harley
1661 Edward Harley
1679 Griffith Jones
1681 Sir John Morgan
1685 Owen Wynne
1689 Richard Williams
March 1690 Sir Rowland Gwynne [3]
November 1690 Robert Harley Country Whig
1711 Lord Harley Tory
1715 Thomas Lewis Whig
1761 Edward Lewis Tory
1768 John Lewis [4]
1769 Edward Lewis
1774 John Lewis [5]
1775 Edward Lewis
1780 John Lewis [6]
1781 Edward Lewis
1790 David Murray
1794 Viscount Malden
1799 Richard Price Tory [7]
1834 Conservative [7]
1847 Sir Thomas Frankland Lewis Peelite [8]
1855 Sir George Cornewall Lewis Whig [9] [10] [11]
1859 Liberal
1863 Richard Green-Price Liberal
1869 Marquess of Hartington [12] Liberal
1880 by-election Samuel Williams Liberal
1884 by-election Charles Rogers Liberal
1885 Constituency abolished – see Radnorshire

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "History of Parliament". History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "History of Parliament". History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
  3. Gwynne was initially declared the victor at the 1690 election, but on petition the towns of Presteigne and Painscastle were declared not to have the right to vote, and Gwynne's opponent Harley was declared duly elected instead
  4. On petition following the 1768 election, John Lewis was declared not to have been duly elected and his opponent, Edward Lewis, was seated in his place
  5. On petition following the 1774 election, John Lewis was declared not to have been duly elected and his opponent, Edward Lewis, was seated in his place
  6. On petition following the 1780 election, John Lewis was declared not to have been duly elected and his opponent, Edward Lewis, was seated in his place
  7. 1 2 Stooks Smith, Henry (1845). The Parliaments of England, from 1st George I., to the Present Time. Vol II: Oxfordshire to Wales Inclusive. London: Simpkin, Marshall, & Co. pp.  202–203. Retrieved 5 May 2020 via Internet Archive.
  8. Conacher, J. B. (1987). Britain and the Crimea, 1855–56: Problems of War and Peace (eBook ed.). New York City: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 25. doi:10.1007/978-1-349-18999-1. ISBN   978-1-349-18999-1 . Retrieved 22 August 2018 via Google Books.
  9. "The Peers and the Press" . Gloucester Journal. 7 August 1847. p. 3. Retrieved 4 August 2018 via British Newspaper Archive.
  10. "Political Terms". The Spectator . 18 June 1898. p. 18. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  11. Hawkins, Angus (1987). Parliament, Party and the Art of Politics in Britain, 1855–59 (eBook ed.). Basingstoke: Macmillan Press. p. 30. doi:10.1007/978-1-349-08925-3. ISBN   978-1-349-08925-3 . Retrieved 4 August 2018 via Google Books.
  12. Hartington was re-elected in 1880, but had also been elected for North East Lancashire, which he chose to represent, and did not sit again for the Radnor boroughs

Election results

Elections in the 1830s

General election 1830: Radnor [1] [2]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Tory Richard Price Unopposed
Registered electors c.350
Tory hold
General election 1831: Radnor [1] [2]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Tory Richard Price Unopposed
Registered electors c.350
Tory hold
General election 1832: Radnor [1] [3]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Tory Richard Price Unopposed
Registered electors 529
Tory hold
General election 1835: Radnor [1] [3]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Conservative Richard Price Unopposed
Registered electors 517
Conservative hold
General election 1837: Radnor [1] [3]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Conservative Richard Price Unopposed
Registered electors 551
Conservative hold

Elections in the 1840s

General election 1841: Radnor [3]
PartyCandidateVotes%±
Conservative Richard Price Unopposed
Registered electors 500
Conservative hold
General election 1847: Radnor [3]
PartyCandidateVotes%±
Peelite Thomas Frankland Lewis Unopposed
Registered electors 462
Peelite gain from Conservative

Elections in the 1850s

General election 1852: Radnor [3]
PartyCandidateVotes%±
Peelite Thomas Frankland Lewis Unopposed
Registered electors 484
Peelite hold

Lewis' death caused a by-election.

By-election, 8 February 1855: Radnor [3]
PartyCandidateVotes%±
Whig George Cornewall Lewis Unopposed
Whig gain from Peelite

Lewis was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, requiring a by-election.

By-election, 5 March 1855: Radnor [3]
PartyCandidateVotes%±
Whig George Cornewall Lewis Unopposed
Whig gain from Peelite
General election 1857: Radnor [3]
PartyCandidateVotes%±
Whig George Cornewall Lewis Unopposed
Registered electors 447
Whig gain from Peelite
General election 1859: Radnor [3]
PartyCandidateVotes%±
Liberal George Cornewall Lewis Unopposed
Registered electors 407
Liberal hold

Lewis was appointed Home Secretary, requiring a by-election.

By-election, 27 June 1859: Radnor [3]
PartyCandidateVotes%±
Liberal George Cornewall Lewis Unopposed
Liberal hold

Elections in the 1860s

Lewis' death caused a by-election.

By-election, 25 April 1863: Radnor [3]
PartyCandidateVotes%±
Liberal Richard Green-Price Unopposed
Liberal hold
General election 1865: Radnor [3]
PartyCandidateVotes%±
Liberal Richard Green-Price Unopposed
Registered electors 443
Liberal hold
General election 1868: Radnor [3]
PartyCandidateVotes%±
Liberal Richard Green-Price Unopposed
Registered electors 841
Liberal hold

Green-Price's resignation caused a by-election.

By-election, 25 February 1869: Radnor [3]
PartyCandidateVotes%±
Liberal Spencer Cavendish 546 75.7 N/A
Conservative George Henry Phillips [4] 17524.3N/A
Majority37151.5N/A
Turnout 72185.7N/A
Registered electors 841
Liberal hold

Elections in the 1870s

General election 1874: Radnor [3]
PartyCandidateVotes%±
Liberal Spencer Cavendish 612 79.1 N/A
Conservative George W Cockburn [5] 16220.9N/A
Majority45058.1N/A
Turnout 77480.0N/A
Registered electors 968
Liberal hold

Elections in the 1880s

General election 1880: Radnor [3]
PartyCandidateVotes%±
Liberal Spencer Cavendish Unopposed
Registered electors 945
Liberal hold

Cavendish was also elected MP for North East Lancashire and opted to sit there, causing a by-election.

By-election, 17 May 1880: Radnor [3]
PartyCandidateVotes%±
Liberal Samuel Williams 458 54.0 N/A
Conservative Cecil Alfred Tufton Otway [6] 39046.0N/A
Majority688.0N/A
Turnout 84889.7N/A
Registered electors 945
Liberal hold

Williams resigned, causing a by-election.

By-election, 30 Oct 1884: Radnor [3]
PartyCandidateVotes%±
Liberal Charles Coltman-Rogers Unopposed
Liberal hold

Sources

  1. 1 2 3 4 5
  2. 1 2 Escott, Margaret. "New Radnor Boroughs". The History of Parliament. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Craig, F. W. S., ed. (1977). British Parliamentary Election Results 1832-1885(e-book)|format= requires |url= (help) (1st ed.). London: Macmillan Press. pp. 512–513. ISBN   978-1-349-02349-3.
  4. "Local Intelligence" . Aberystwyth Times . 30 January 1869. p. 4. Retrieved 16 March 2018 via British Newspaper Archive.
  5. "Radnor Borough" . Jersey Independent and Daily Telegraph. 3 February 1874. p. 2. Retrieved 18 January 2018 via British Newspaper Archive.
  6. "Captain Cecil Afred Tufton Otway" . Western Daily Press . 22 August 1884. p. 6. Retrieved 21 December 2017 via British Newspaper Archive.

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