The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England, existing from the early 13th century until 1707, when it united with the Parliament of Scotland to become the Parliament of Great Britain after the political union of England and Scotland created the Kingdom of Great Britain.
The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. The Acts created a new unified Kingdom of Great Britain and dissolved the separate English and Scottish parliaments in favour of a single parliament, located in the former home of the English parliament in the Palace of Westminster, near the City of London. This lasted nearly a century, until the Acts of Union 1800 merged the separate British and Irish Parliaments into a single Parliament of the United Kingdom with effect from 1 January 1801.
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known internationally as the UK Parliament, British Parliament, or Westminster Parliament, and domestically simply as Parliament or Westminster, is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the Sovereign, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. The two houses meet in the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London.
The constituency was first known to have been represented in Parliament in 1545 and continued to exist until the redistribution of seats in 1918. The constituency's most famous former representatives are John Stuart Mill and Charles James Fox. The most analogous contemporary constituency is Cities of London and Westminster.
John Stuart Mill, usually cited as J. S. Mill, was a British philosopher, political economist, and civil servant. One of the most influential thinkers in the history of classical liberalism, he contributed widely to social theory, political theory, and political economy. Dubbed "the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century", Mill's conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state and social control.
Charles James Fox, styled The Honourable from 1762, was a prominent British Whig statesman whose parliamentary career spanned 38 years of the late 18th and early 19th centuries and who was the arch-rival of William Pitt the Younger. His father Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland, a leading Whig of his day, had similarly been the great rival of Pitt's famous father William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham. He rose to prominence in the House of Commons as a forceful and eloquent speaker with a notorious and colourful private life, though his opinions were rather conservative and conventional. However, with the coming of the American War of Independence and the influence of the Whig Edmund Burke, Fox's opinions evolved into some of the most radical ever to be aired in the Parliament of his era.
Cities of London and Westminster is a constituency returning a single Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons in the United Kingdom Parliament. It is a borough constituency for the purposes of election expenses and type of returning officer. As with all constituencies, the election is decided using the first past the post system of election. Since its creation at the 1950 general election, the constituency has always elected the candidate nominated by the Conservative Party. It has been represented since 2001 by Mark Field. This is the constituency in which the British Parliament is located.
Middlesex is a former constituency. It was a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of England, then of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800, and finally of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1885. It returned two members by various voting systems including hustings.
The City of Westminster is an Inner London borough that also holds city status. It occupies much of the central area of Greater London including most of the West End. Historically in Middlesex, it is to the west of the ancient City of London, directly to the east of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and its southern boundary is the River Thames. The London borough was created with the 1965 establishment of Greater London. Upon its creation, it inherited the city status previously held by the smaller Metropolitan Borough of Westminster from 1900, which was first awarded to Westminster in 1540.
Inner London is the name for the group of London boroughs which form the interior part of Greater London and are surrounded by Outer London. With its origins in the Bills of mortality, it became fixed as an area for statistics in 1847 and was used as an area of local government from 1855 to 1965 principally as the County of London or earlier as the Metropolitan Board of Works Area (metropolis). It now has two common definitions. The first is the statutory definition delineated in the London Government Act 1963, coming into force on 1 April 1965, comprising twelve Inner London boroughs and almost identical to the County of London that was abolished at the same time. The second is the current definition used by the Office for National Statistics comprising eleven of the statutory Inner London boroughs and two of the statutory Outer London boroughs, and the City of London.
The River Thames, known alternatively in parts as the Isis, is a river that flows through southern England including London. At 215 miles (346 km), it is the longest river entirely in England and the second-longest in the United Kingdom, after the River Severn.
The Metropolitan Borough of Westminster was a metropolitan borough in the County of London, England, from 1900 to 1965.
The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Commonly known as the Houses of Parliament after its occupants, the Palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster, in central London, England.
Whitehall is a road in the City of Westminster, Central London, which forms the first part of the A3212 road from Trafalgar Square to Chelsea. It is the main thoroughfare running south from Trafalgar Square towards Parliament Square. The street is recognised as the centre of the Government of the United Kingdom and is lined with numerous departments and ministries, including the Ministry of Defence, Horse Guards and the Cabinet Office. Consequently, the name 'Whitehall' is used as a metonym for the British civil service and government, and as the geographic name for the surrounding area.
In the 1918 redistribution the three seats were cut to two: Westminster St George's in the west and Westminster Abbey in the east, the latter wholly containing and slightly larger than the 1885–1918 Westminster seat (except for its Knightsbridge exclave which lay some way off in the west).
Westminster St George's, originally named St George's, Hanover Square, was a parliamentary constituency in Central London. It returned one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, elected by the first past the post system of election.
Westminster Abbey was a constituency in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It returned one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons by the first past the post system of election.
Knightsbridge is a residential and retail district in central London, south of Hyde Park. It is identified in the London Plan as one of two international retail centres in London, alongside the West End.
This was a prestigious constituency, because it represented the centre of British government and had such a large electorate that it was independent of the control of a patron.
Before the Reform Act 1832 the right to vote was held by the male inhabitants paying Scot and Lot (a kind of local property tax). This was an extensive franchise, by the standards of that era. Westminster had the largest electorate of any borough in the Kingdom. Only the largest county constituency of Yorkshire had more voters. Sedgwick estimated the electorate at about 8,000 in the first half of the eighteenth century. Namier and Brooke estimated that there were about 12,000 voters later in the century. The large size of the electorate made contested elections immensely expensive.
In the sixteenth century the Church officials associated with Westminster Abbey had a large influence in the area, but as the community became bigger that became less important. The Court (or His Majesty's Treasury) had some legitimate influence (by the standards of the age), because of the royal residences and government offices in the borough. The use of public funds to bribe the electorate was not unknown, during close elections (see the comments about the cost of the 1780 and 1784 contests below). Local landowners who were prepared to stir up ill-will by threatening to evict or raise the rents of tenants voting the wrong way, could also affect the result.
Unlawful means were sometimes used to make sure that the right candidates were elected. In 1722 the election of two Tories was declared void because of rioting which prevented some Whigs voting. In 1741 a Whig returning officer called upon the assistance of some troops to close the poll before the Tory candidates could catch up to the Whig votes.
The House of Commons declared the 1741 election void with the ringing resolution that "the presence of a regular body of armed soldiers at an election of members to sit in Parliament, is a high infringement of the liberties of the subject, a manifest violation of the freedom of election and an open defiance of the laws and constitution of this kingdom".
By the eighteenth century it was normal for the members to be Irish peers, the sons of peers or baronets, as it was thought appropriate for them to be of high social standing so as to be worthy to represent the seat.
The Treasury spent the enormous sums of more than £8,000 in 1780 and £9,000 in 1784, in unsuccessful attempts to defeat the opposition Whig leader Charles James Fox. So expensive were these contests that for the next general election in 1790, the government and opposition leaders reached a formal agreement for each to have one member returned unopposed. However, in the event a second Whig candidate did appear, but the Tory (the famous Admiral Lord Hood) and Fox were re-elected without too much difficulty.
The last MP for this constituency, William Burdett-Coutts, was connected with a family prominent in City of Westminster politics since the eighteenth century. He himself was born in the United States in 1851, his grandparents on both sides having been British subjects. After he married Baroness Burdett-Coutts in 1881 he changed his surname from Bartlett to Burdett-Coutts. He represented the area from 1885 until 1918 and continued to sit for the Abbey division until his death in 1921.
Lists of Members of Parliament
The English civil year started on 25 March until 1752 (Scotland having changed to 1 January in 1600). The years used in this article have been converted to the new style where necessary. Old style dates would be a year earlier than the new style for days between 1 January and 24 March. No attempt has been made to compensate for the eleven days which did not occur in September 1752 in both England and Scotland as well as other British controlled territories (when the day after 2 September was 14 September), so as to bring the British Empire fully in line with the Gregorian calendar.
Members of Parliament 1545–1660
Some of the members elected during this period have been identified. The year first given is for the initial meeting of the Parliament, with the month added where there was more than one Parliament in the year. If a second year is given this is a date of dissolution. Early Parliaments sometimes only existed for a few days or weeks, so dissolutions in the same year as the first meeting are not recorded in this list If a specific date of election is known this is recorded in italic brackets. The Roman numerals in brackets, following some names, are those used to distinguish different politicians of the same name in 'The House of Commons' 1509–1558 and 1558–1603.
After 1832, when registration of voters was introduced, a turnout figure is given for contested elections. In two-member elections, when the exact number of participating voters is unknown, this is calculated by dividing the number of votes by two. To the extent that electors did not use both their votes this will be an underestimate of turnout.
Where a party had more than one candidate in one or both of a pair of successive elections change is calculated for each individual candidate, otherwise change is based on the party vote. Change figures at by-elections are from the preceding general election or the last intervening by-election. Change figures at general elections are from the last general election.
Candidates for whom no party has been identified are classified as Non Partisan. The candidate might have been associated with a party or faction in Parliament or consider himself to belong to a particular political tradition. Political parties before the nineteenth century were not as cohesive or organised as they later became. Contemporary commentators (even the reputed leaders of parties or factions) in the eighteenth century did not necessarily agree who the party supporters were. The traditional parties, which had arisen in the late seventeenth century, became increasingly irrelevant to politics in the eighteenth century (particularly after 1760), although for some contests in some constituencies party labels were still used. It was only towards the end of the century that party labels began to acquire some meaning again, although this process was by no means complete for several more generations.
Sources: The results for elections before 1790 were taken from the History of Parliament Trust publications on the House of Commons. The results from 1790 until the 1832 general election are based on Stooks Smith and from 1832 onwards on Craig. Where Stooks Smith gives additional information to the other sources this is indicated in a note.
Dates of Westminster general and by-elections 1660–1918
-2 Apr 1660 GE
-- Apr 1661 GE
27 Feb 1679 GE
19 Sep 1679 GE
15 Nov 1680 BE
10 Feb 1681 GE
23 Mar 1685 GE
21 Jan 1689 GE
13 Mar 1690 GE
-9 Nov 1691 BE
29 Oct 1695 GE
22 Jul 1698 GE
21 Jan 1701 GE
-9 Dec 1701 GE
-6 Aug 1702 GE
30 May 1705 GE
-7 Jul 1708 GE
-9 Oct 1710 GE
-- --- 1713 GE
24 Jan 1715 GE
27 Mar 1722 GE (1)
-3 Dec 1722 BE
15 Aug 1727 GE
22 Apr 1734 GE
-8 May 1741 GE (1)
31 Dec 1741 BE
-1 Jul 1747 GE
15 May 1750 BE
16 Jan 1753 BE
20 Apr 1754 GE
25 Mar 1761 GE
27 Apr 1762 BE
15 Mar 1763 BE
16 Mar 1768 GE
30 Apr 1770 BE
26 Oct 1774 GE
17 Dec 1776 BE
20 Apr 1779 BE
10 Oct 1780 GE
-3 Apr 1782 BE
12 Jun 1782 BE
-7 Apr 1783 BE
17 May 1784 GE
-4 Aug 1788 BE
-2 Jul 1790 GE
13 Jun 1796 GE
15 Jul 1802 GE
13 Feb 1806 BE
-7 Oct 1806 BE
19 Nov 1806 GE
23 May 1807 GE
-8 Oct 1812 GE
-5 Jul 1814 (2)
16 Jul 1814 BE
-4 Jul 1818 GE
-3 Mar 1819 BE
25 Mar 1820 GE
-- --- 1826 GE
-- --- 1830 GE
-- --- 1831 GE
-- Feb 1832 BE
-- --- 1832 GE
-4 Apr 1833 BE
11 May 1833 BE
-- --- 1835 GE
12 May 1837 BE
27 Jul 1837 GE
-1 Jul 1841 GE
19 Feb 1846 BE
30 Jul 1847 GE
-9 Jul 1852 GE
-- --- 1857 GE
-- --- 1859 GE
12 Jul 1865 GE
18 Nov 1868 GE
-7 Feb 1874 GE
11 Aug 1877 BE
-- --- 1880 GE
10 Feb 1882 BE
29 Jun 1885 BE
26 Nov 1885 GE
-- --- 1886 GE
-- --- 1892 GE
-- --- 1895 GE
-- --- 1900 GE
-- --- 1906 GE
-- Jan 1910 GE
-- Dec 1910 GE
(1) Election declared void
(2) Date of expulsion from the House of Lord Cochrane
Election results (Parliament of England) 1660–1690
Note (1689): Vote totals unavailable. Matthews and Dewey are described by Henning as radical candidates, but should not be confused with the followers of John Wilkes in the late eighteenth century or the radicals of the nineteenth century.
Election results (Parliament of Great Britain) 1715–1800
Note (1784): Poll 40 days; 12,301 voted. After a scrutiny the members returned were unchanged and vote totals were amended to the figures as above. Original votes Hood 6,694; Fox 6,234; Wray 5,998. (Source: Stooks Smith)
Note (1847): 14,125 registered (Craig's figure above used for the turnout calculation); 7,185 voted. Evans was classified as a Radical, Lushington and Cochrane as Whigs and Rous as a Tory. (Source: Stooks Smith)
Windsor /ˈwɪnzə/ is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2005 by Adam Afriyie of the Conservative Party.
Inverness Burghs was a district of burghs constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1708 to 1801 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1918. It elected one Member of Parliament (MP).
Cork City was a parliamentary constituency in Ireland, represented in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. From 1880 to 1922 it returned two members of parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. From 1922 it was not represented in the UK Parliament, as it was no longer in the UK.
Cambridge University was a university constituency electing two members to the British House of Commons, from 1603 to 1950.
Oxford University was a university constituency electing two members to the British House of Commons, from 1603 to 1950. The last two members to represent Oxford University when it was abolished were A. P. Herbert and Arthur Salter.
Tain Burghs, was a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1708 to 1801 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1832, sometimes known as Northern Burghs. It was represented by one Member of Parliament (MP).
Berkshire was a parliamentary constituency in England, represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of England until 1707, then of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1885. The county returned two knights of the shire until 1832 and three between 1832 and 1885.
Buckinghamshire is a former United Kingdom Parliamentary constituency. It was a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of England then of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1885.
Cornwall is a former county constituency covering the county of Cornwall, in the South West of England. It was a constituency of the House of Commons of England then of the House of Commons of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1832. It was represented by two Knights of the Shire, elected by the bloc vote system.
The City of London was a United Kingdom Parliamentary constituency. It was a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of England then of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1950.
Birmingham was a parliamentary constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the city of Birmingham, in what is now the West Midlands Metropolitan County, but at the time was Warwickshire.
Wallingford was a constituency in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
Bristol was a two-member constituency, used to elect members to the House of Commons in the Parliaments of England, Great Britain (1707–1800) and the United Kingdom. The constituency existed until Bristol was divided into single member constituencies in 1885.
Surrey was a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of England then of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1832. It was represented by two Members of Parliament until 1832.
Portsmouth was a borough constituency based upon the borough of Portsmouth in Hampshire. It returned two members of parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, elected by the bloc vote system.
Liskeard was a parliamentary borough in Cornwall, which elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons from 1295 until 1832, and then one member from 1832 until 1885. The constituency was abolished by the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885.
Oxfordshire was a county constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of England then of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1885. It was represented by two Members of Parliament. In 1832 this was increased to three Members of Parliament. The constituency was abolished in 1885, being split into three single member divisions.
Stamford was a constituency in the county of Lincolnshire of the House of Commons for the Parliament of England to 1706 then of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1918. It was represented by two Members of Parliament until 1868 when this was reduced to one.
Norfolk was a County constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of England then of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1832. It was represented by two Members of Parliament. In 1832 the county was divided for parliamentary purposes into two new two member divisions – East Norfolk and West Norfolk.