Search Results for: the ballot

‘The ballot without jokes has no meaning for members’: Henry Berkeley and the parliamentary campaign for secret voting, 1848-66

Following the Voting reform 150 years on from the 1872 Ballot Act: A symposium at the IHR in honour of Valerie Cromwell event earlier this month, our research fellow, Dr Martin Spychal, discusses Francis Henry Berkeley and his stewardship of the … Continue reading

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Online event marking the 150th anniversary of the Ballot Act

Join the History of Parliament Trust and the Parliamentary Archives on 18 July 2022 in an online event marking the passing of the 1872 Ballot Act, 150 years ago. UPDATE: This event was recorded and can now be viewed here. … Continue reading

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Ballot boxes, bills and unions: Harriet Grote (1792-1878) and the public campaign for the ballot, 1832-9

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the 1872 Ballot Act, which introduced secret voting at general elections in the UK. In this extended blog, our research fellow, Dr Martin Spychal, explores the role of Harriet Grote (1792-1878) in the … Continue reading

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The 1872 Secret Ballot and Multiple Member Seats

Following on from our recent events and blogs marking the 150th anniversary of the introduction of  the secret ballot, Dr Philip Salmon explores some of the Act’s lesser known and unintended consequences. The Ballot Act of 1872 sits alongside the … Continue reading

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Voting reform 150 years on from the 1872 Ballot Act: A symposium at the IHR in honour of Valerie Cromwell

This event taking place at the Institute of Historical Research on Tuesday 13th September may be of interest to some readers of our Victorian Commons blog. Three of our 1832-68 team, Dr Philip Salmon, Dr Kathryn Rix and Dr Martin … Continue reading

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‘Damn the secret ballot’: the UK’s public voting system before 1872

This online event was recorded and can be viewed here. As we approach next week’s online event celebrating the 150th anniversary of the act which introduced the secret ballot for municipal and parliamentary elections, it’s perhaps worth looking again at … Continue reading

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Elections after the secret ballot

Following on from Philip Salmon’s recent post about elections before the secret ballot, you can now see Kathryn Rix’s post on the main History of Parliament blog about the first poll under the 1872 Ballot Act, held at Pontefract 141 years … Continue reading

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Elections before the secret ballot

This month marks the 141st anniversary of the first use of the secret ballot to elect an MP, at a by-election in the Yorkshire borough of Pontefract. Before the 1872 Ballot Act, and throughout the period covered by our Victorian … Continue reading

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‘Another of my female politicians’ epistles’: Harriet Grote (1792-1878), the 1835 Parliament and the failed attempt to establish a radical party

In the fourth of his blogs on Harriet Grote (1792-1878), our research fellow Dr Martin Spychal looks at Harriet’s involvement in the abortive attempt to establish a radical party at Westminster in the wake of the 1835 election. In November … Continue reading

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Harriet Grote (1792-1878) and the first reformed Parliament, 1833-34: a woman at Westminster

Harriet Grote (1792-1878), our research fellow Dr Martin Spychal, looks at Harriet’s introduction to politics at Westminster during the first ‘reformed’ Parliament of 1833-34. Continue reading

Posted in Harriet Grote, Harriet Grote, Legislation, Parliamentary life, party labels, Uncategorized, women | 5 Comments

‘Like partridges in February’: parliamentary pairing in the reformed Commons

In 1832 parliamentary reformers fondly hoped that the need to satisfy the demands of a larger electorate might spur MPs to attend more closely to their parliamentary duties. However, one way of avoiding long hours in the Commons was for … Continue reading

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‘A strenuous and able Reformer’: Dr Stephen Lushington (1782-1873)

This month we take a look at Dr Stephen Lushington (1782-1873). One of six anti-slavery campaigners whose names are inscribed on the Buxton Memorial Fountain in London, Lushington famously served as Queen Caroline’s legal counsel in 1820. As MP for … Continue reading

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‘The House divided’: the creation of a second division lobby for the Commons in 1836

With the creation of a second division lobby in 1836 having been mentioned during yesterday’s Commons debate on Restoration and Renewal, it seemed a good opportunity to share this post from our assistant editor Dr Kathryn Rix which originally appeared … Continue reading

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MP of the Month: Charles Stanley Monck (1819-94) and Canadian Confederation

Today we mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Stanley Monck (1819-94), MP for Portsmouth, 1852-7, who in 1861 found himself at the head of Britain’s North American colonies at a turbulent time in their history. With a … Continue reading

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MP of the Month: William Tooke and the royal charters of the University of London

Following our blogs on the creation of the University of London constituency in 1868 and its first MP, Robert Lowe, August’s MP of the Month is William Tooke. As MP for Truro from 1832, Tooke worked tirelessly to secure a royal charter for the London University (later University College London) in order that it could grant degrees to its students. Continue reading

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MP of the Month: John Fenton (1791-1863)

In 1832 John Fenton, a Nonconformist Whig from a local banking and textile manufacturing family, was elected as the first MP for his native Rochdale, which had been given a parliamentary seat by the 1832 Reform Act. He lost to … Continue reading

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MP of the Month: Sir Charles Tilston Bright (1832-1888), pioneering telegraph engineer

An important aspect of our study of the reformed Commons is the degree to which representatives of science and industry were incorporated into the legislature during a period of great economic expansion. Our MP of the Month was among those … Continue reading

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Innovation, corruption and bankruptcy: Charles John Mare (1814-1898)

Charles John Mare (1814-1898) was an innovative East End shipbuilder. Thought to be a millionaire when he was returned for Plymouth in 1852, his election proved the apex of his career. He was unseated for bribery in 1853, and declared bankrupt, for the first of four times, in 1855. Continue reading

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MP of the Month: George Williams (1765-1850) and Ashton-under-Lyne

In December 1832 the voters of Ashton-under-Lyne elected George Williams, ‘a Radical Reformer’, as the first MP for their newly enfranchised constituency. Born in Newfoundland, Williams had joined the British army in North America in 1777, aged just 12. After … Continue reading

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MP of the Month: Peter Rolt (1798-1882), the man who built HMS Warrior

A successful Deptford timber merchant, Peter Rolt rose to eminence as a dockyard contractor and became one of the greatest of London’s shipbuilders. He was elected as Conservative MP for Greenwich in 1852. An ebullient character who was known for … Continue reading

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‘So much for the behaviour of the first assemblage of gentlemen’: views from parliament by a Devonshire Tory

Our Victorian MP of the Month is the Conservative MP for Devonshire South, Montagu Parker. His correspondence with his mother between 1835 and 1841 provides a fascinating perspective on life at Westminster. Montagu Edmund Newcombe Parker (1807-1858) is best known … Continue reading

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MP of the Month: The ‘strange career’ of John Townsend (1819-1892)

Once a successful auctioneer and undertaker, Townsend’s short and controversial parliamentary career as MP for Greenwich ended in 1859 after a protracted struggle to escape bankruptcy. His ‘strange career’ was, however, far from over and he subsequently found fame in … Continue reading

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MP of the Month: Joseph Locke (1805-1860)

Our Victorian MP of the Month is Joseph Locke (1805-1860), who represented Honiton from 1847 until his death. With Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859) and Robert Stephenson (1803-1859), Locke formed the ‘triumvirate of the engineering world’, who laid the architecture of … Continue reading

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Party Affiliation in the Reformed Commons, 1832-68

As the election results were declared in each constituency at this month’s general election, they were swiftly collated by the media to give an assessment of the overall balance of power within the new House of Commons. With each candidate’s … Continue reading

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Five elections in seven years: Peterborough, Whalley and the Fitzwilliam interest

With suggestions of election fatigue setting in across Britain, this week’s blog – featuring our MP of the Month, George Hammond Whalley – looks at a constituency which saw five elections held in seven years between 1852 and 1859: the … Continue reading

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MP of the Month: John Gully (1783-1863)

Following on from the History of Parliament’s blog series on ‘Unlikely parliamentarians’ to mark Parliament Week 2016, our MP of the Month is another unlikely parliamentarian. John Gully, ‘an advanced reformer’, served as MP for Pontefract for five years from … Continue reading

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MP of the month: James Barlow Hoy (1794-1843)

As biographies of long-forgotten politicians go, this month’s MP ticks all the boxes, offering an extraordinary rags-to-riches tale, the beginnings of a brilliant political career accompanied by fraud and bankruptcy, and even an allegation of murder. Hoy, or Barlow as … Continue reading

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MP of the Month: Daniel Gaskell (1782-1875)

Our Victorian Commons project is shedding new light on the increasingly important role played in the behind-the-scenes business of the post-1832 House of Commons, particularly in the committee-rooms, by MPs who came from non-elite backgrounds. While a family inheritance enabled … Continue reading

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From ‘true blue’ Tory to Reformer: Samuel Adlam Bayntun (1804-1833)

While our MP of the Month sat only briefly in the Commons after 1832, his parliamentary career provides valuable insights into two important aspects of nineteenth-century politics: the fluidity of party labels and the influence which money had in the … Continue reading

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MP of the Month: the untimely death of James Platt, MP for Oldham (1823-57)

On this day in 1857, a shocking and tragic accident took place on the moors above Ashway Gap, near Saddleworth. One of Oldham’s recently elected Liberal MPs, James Platt, was shot dead by his close friend and relative, Josiah Radcliffe, … Continue reading

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A rather pale copy of the original: John Morgan Cobbett (1800-1877)

As we continue our research on the 1832-68 Commons project, one theme we are exploring is the importance of family connections in an MP’s parliamentary career. Long-standing family ties to an area could assist a candidate in securing election for … Continue reading

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Constituencies recently added to our preview site (2)

The 1832-68 House of Commons project includes studies of every constituency – more than 400 – in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Between 4,000 to 6,000 words in length, each study provides a detailed but accessible analysis of every parliamentary … Continue reading

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MP of the Month: William Turner

Elected as MP for his native Blackburn in 1832, William Turner (1776-1842) was derided by his erstwhile Radical opponent, John Bowring, as having ‘had absolutely no recommendation whatever’ to enter Parliament ‘but that he had wealth, and was willing to … Continue reading

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American presidential elections: the view from the Victorian Commons

Today marks the climax of one of the closest and hardest fought American presidential elections in history. The contest between the Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney has been copiously covered by the British press, reflecting … Continue reading

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190th Anniversary of the 1832 Reform Act

This month marks the 190th anniversary of the passing of the 1832 Reform Act, one of the iconic milestones in modern British political history. ‘Was the 1832 Reform Act “Great”?’ may not be the standard exam question it once was, … Continue reading

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Happy New Year from the Victorian Commons!

This new year (2022) marks our tenth anniversary of blogging about Victorian politics and society. Almost 300 blogs have now appeared on these pages, mainly written by researchers (past and present) working on the 1832-68 House of Commons project at … Continue reading

Posted in Elections, Harriet Grote, Ireland, Monarchs, Parliamentary buildings, Parliamentary life, religion, Resources, Uncategorized, women | 1 Comment

From colonial council to Parliament: the career of John Dunn MP

How Victorian Britain exported a Westminster system of politics to its colonies, both in terms of parliamentary structures and personnel, has been a recurrent theme of much recent historical work. Our own project has also helped shed new light on … Continue reading

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‘The power of returning our members will henceforth be in our own hands’: parliamentary reform and its impact on Exeter, 1820-1868

This week Dr Martin Spychal, research fellow for the Commons 1832-68, uses polling and voter registration data to explore the 1832 Reform Act’s impact on elections in Exeter. This blog was originally published on the History of Parliament blog as … Continue reading

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Floods, Plagues and the Second Coming: Charles Augustus Tulk MP

Apocalyptic end days, doomsday scenarios and final judgements were prominent features of many people’s religious beliefs in the 19th century, but a few went further, maintaining that the Second Coming had already taken place. Among them was our MP of … Continue reading

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Elections and electioneering, 1832-1868

As voters across the country head to the polls this month, we thought it was an ideal opportunity to look back at some of the research on 19th century elections we have featured in our blogs over the past few … Continue reading

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Corruption at elections in Britain in the 19th century

Following on from Martin Spychal’s blog about the paper he gave at last month’s ‘From “Old Corruption” to the New Corruption?’ conference, organised jointly by Oxford Brookes and Newman Universities, we hear from our assistant editor Kathryn Rix. She gave … Continue reading

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MP of the Month: Josiah Wedgwood (1769-1843)

Our MP of the Month has a special significance for the History of Parliament Trust, being the great-grandfather (and namesake) of our founder, Josiah Wedgwood MP. This year the History of Parliament is marking the 75th anniversary of the death … Continue reading

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MP of the Month: John Barton Willis Fleming (1781-1844)

With modern electioneering tactics currently attracting so much scrutiny at home and abroad, our Victorian MP of the Month focuses on a notorious election fixer or ‘boroughmonger’, whose activities increasingly pushed the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. His refusal to answer … Continue reading

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‘A woman actually voted!’: Lily Maxwell and the Manchester by-election of November 1867

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the casting of a parliamentary vote by Lily Maxwell, a Manchester shopkeeper, more than half a century before the partial enfranchisement of women in 1918. On 26 November 1867, at a by-election in Manchester, … Continue reading

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Local polls and general elections: a Victorian perspective

As barometers of political opinion, local elections have long had a special place in British politics, offering useful (though not necessarily accurate) guides to national trends. The link between local and national polls, however, has always been complicated. As the … Continue reading

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MP of the Month: From pot boy to parliamentarian – John Lloyd Davies (1801-60)

Of all the ‘self-made’ men who made the mid-nineteenth century House of Commons distinct from earlier periods, few can have begun life in such humble circumstances as John Lloyd Davies, MP for Cardigan Boroughs from 1855-7. The son of a … Continue reading

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180th Anniversary of Town Council Elections

This month marks the anniversary of a completely new system of local elections being implemented throughout England and Wales. One hundred and eighty years ago, almost 180 boroughs in England and Wales began to publish the lists of all those … Continue reading

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Captain Brownlow Layard: The Soldier’s Friend

Contrary to popular perceptions of the nineteenth-century British army, a significant number of its officers who sat in the Commons held progressive and radical views. Among them was our MP of the Month, Captain Brownlow Villiers Layard (1804-53), who sat … Continue reading

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‘I am not in a position of life in which our Members usually are’: William Wood (1816-71), MP for Pontefract

The Lib-Lab MPs Thomas Burt and Alexander Macdonald, both miners who were elected to the Commons at the 1874 general election, are generally regarded as the first working men to enter Parliament. As we continue our research for the 1832-68 … Continue reading

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The mathematics of Victorian representation: part 1

In this new series of posts, we look at the Victorian multi-member constituencies that predated the UK’s current electoral system and highlight the mathematical challenges they pose for historians. The first-past-the-post system of electing MPs has long been viewed as … Continue reading

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