1920 Louth by-election

The Louth by-election, 1920 was a parliamentary by-election for the British House of Commons constituency of Louth in Lincolnshire. Voting was held on 3 June 1920. The by-election took place 5 days after the Louth Flood of 29 May 1920 had claimed 23 lives.

1920 Louth by-election

← 1918 3 June 1920 1921 →
  Thomas Wintringham.jpg
Candidate Wintringham Turnor
Party Liberal Unionist
Popular vote 9,859 7,354
Percentage 57.3 42.7

MP before election


Subsequent MP

Margaret Wintringham


The seat had become vacant on the death on 28 April of the Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) Henry Langton Brackenbury. He had represented the constituency since the 1918 general election, and previously been Louth's MP from January 1910 to December 1910.

Electoral historyEdit

The constituency was created in 1885. The Liberals had won the seat six times and the Unionists three times. It was a marginal seat in 1910 but in 1918 the Liberal MP, Timothy Davies surprisingly did not receive endorsement from the Coalition Government, which instead was given to his Unionist opponent. The result at that General Election in was;

1918 general election Electorate [1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
C Unionist Henry Langton Brackenbury 9,055 54.5
Liberal Timothy Davies 7,559 45.5
Majority 1,496 9.0
Turnout 16,614 60.3
Unionist gain from Liberal Swing
C indicates candidate endorsed by the coalition government.



The writ for the by-election was moved on 13 May 1920. Polling Day was set for 3 June 1920, 36 days after the death of the former MP. On 25 May 1920 nominations closed to confirm that the election would be a two-way contest. Turnor immediately received the official endorsement of the Coalition Government and a letter of support from Prime Minister David Lloyd George and the Unionist Leader Bonar Law.[8]

Given the nature of the constituency, agricultural issues played a prominent part in the campaign and a subject on which Turnor, the Unionist candidate, felt comfortable given his background. Wintringham, the Liberal candidate was known to be a strong supporter of the temperance movement. The issue of how to resolve problems in Ireland was high on the agenda of the politicians in London. The Liberals argued for the implementation of the Irish Home Rule Bill that had been passed in 1914.

On 29 May, 5 days before polling day, the flooding occurred causing much damage and claiming 23 lives. This event substantially restricted campaigning in the final week. Both campaigns agreed to cancel all planned meetings.[9] The surprisingly large number of photographs that were taken of the flood aftermath was largely due to the presence of the press, who were already in the town, in advance of the by-election.

The Liberal campaign seemed to have gone down particularly well in the more rural areas and among women voters.[10]


The Unionist press were confidently predicting a Unionist victory. There was also talk of a very low turnout due to the recent flooding making it difficult for voters to get to the polls.[11] Despite this difficulty, the turnout was actually higher than it had been at the previous general election. The Liberal candidate Thomas Wintringham, won the by-election, gaining the seat from the Unionists on a large 11.8% swing;

Tom Wintringham
Louth by-election, 1920 Electorate [12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Thomas Wintringham 9,859 57.3 +11.8
C Unionist Christopher Hatton Turnor 7,354 42.7 −11.8
Majority 2,505 14.6
Turnout 17,213 63.1 +2.8
Liberal gain from Unionist Swing +11.8
C indicates candidate endorsed by the coalition government.

This was the Liberal Party's fourth gain of the parliament in just 18 months, equaling the number of gains made by the Labour party. The by-election was clear evidence that the Liberals could be restored to their pre-1918 position in agricultural constituencies where Labour candidates were unlikely to feature.


Thomas Wintringham died in office the following year, triggering another by-election which was won by his wife Margaret. The result at that election was;

1921 Louth by-election[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Margaret Wintringham 8,386 42.2 −15.1
Unionist Alan Hutchings 7,695 38.3 −4.4
Labour James L. George 3,873 19.5 N/A
Majority 791 3.9 −10.7
Turnout 19,954 72.1 +9.0
Liberal hold Swing

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ British Parliamentary Election Results 1918-1949, FWS Craig
  2. ^ "Trove - Turnor, Christopher Hatton (1873-1940)". Trove.nla.gov.au. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
  3. ^ "History - SECOND PLACE IN THE RESTORATION VILLAGE 2006 FINAL: Watts Gallery, Compton, Surrey". BBC. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
  4. ^ "The Building of the Gallery". Watts Gallery. 23 February 1903. Archived from the original on 15 April 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
  5. ^ "Christopher Hatton Turnor - History - Stoneham War Shrine". Northstoneham.org.uk. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
  6. ^ Willis Fleming Historical Trust (1 February 2010). "News - Design sketch by Christopher Hatton Turnor". Northstoneham.org.uk. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
  7. ^ Craig, F. W. S. (1975). Minor Parties in British By-elections, 1885-1974. London: Macmillan Press. pp. 53–54.
  8. ^ "A Straight Fight At Louth." Times [London, England] 28 May 1920: 7. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 6 August 2014.
  9. ^ "£14,500 For Louth." Times [London, England] 3 June 1920: 16. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 6 August 2014.
  10. ^ "Few Voters At Louth." Times [London, England] 4 June 1920: 18. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 6 August 2014.
  11. ^ "Few Voters At Louth." Times [London, England] 4 June 1920: 18. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 6 August 2014.
  12. ^ British Parliamentary Election Results 1918-1949, FWS Craig
  13. ^ British Parliamentary Election Results 1918-1949, FWS Craig