1889 West Carmarthenshire by-election

The West Carmarthenshire by-election of 1889 was called following the death of W.R.H. Powell of Maesgwynne, who had represented the constituency since its formation in 1885.


The Liberals had won the seat comfortably in 1885, with Powell heavily defeating the former Conservative member for Carmarthenshire, Viscount Emlyn. The party moved quickly to choose a new candidate and there was a strong feeling that the new candidate should be a nonconformist. Their choice fell upon John Lloyd Morgan, son of William Morgan, former principal of the Presbyterian College at Carmarthen, who was chosen unanimously following a selection conference at Carmarthen.[1]

There was no certainty that the Conservatives would contest the seat, and an editorial in the Liberal-inclined Carmarthen newspaper, the Welshman, expressed the view that unless the former member, Lord Emlyn, could be induced to come forward, the party's prospects were poor.[2] Emlyn declined, and the Conservative choice, fell upon Hugh Williams-Drummond, a member of another prominent Carmarthenshire family.

Thus, within a couple of weeks, both the Liberal and Conservative parties had chosen candidates who were of a similar age and who were both fighting their first parliamentary campaign. John Lloyd Morgan, the Liberal candidate, was thought to have an advantage over his Conservative opponent, Hugh Williams-Drummond, in that he was known to the electorate, having spoken for the former member at the previous election.[3]


The election was won by John Lloyd Morgan.[4][5]

West Carmarthenshire by-election, 1889[6][5] Electorate 9,379
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal John Lloyd Morgan 4,252 62.7
Conservative Hugh Henry John Williams-Drummond 2,533 37.3
Majority 1,719 25.4
Turnout 6,785 72.3
Liberal hold Swing


  1. ^ "Conference of Liberals at Carmarthen". Welshman. 5 July 1889.
  2. ^ "editorial". Welshman. 5 July 1889.
  3. ^ "Editorial". Carmarthen Journal. 12 July 1889. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  4. ^ "West Carmarthenshire Election". Carmarthen Journal. 19 July 1889. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  5. ^ a b The Constitutional Year Book, 1904, published by Conservative Central Office, page 177 (201 in web page)
  6. ^ British parliamentary election results, 1885-1918 (Craig)