Abingdon (UK Parliament constituency)
Abingdon was a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (and its predecessor institutions for England and Great Britain), electing one Member of Parliament (MP) from 1558 until 1983. (It was one of the few English constituencies in the unreformed House of Commons to elect only one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election.)
|Former County constituency|
for the House of Commons
Boundary of Abingdon in Berkshire, boundaries 1974-83
|Number of members||One|
|Replaced by||Wantage and Oxford West & Abingdon|
|Created from||Berkshire and Abingdon|
|Number of members||One|
|Type of constituency||Borough constituency|
- 1 History
- 2 Boundaries
- 3 Members of Parliament
- 4 Elections
- 4.1 Elections in the 1830s
- 4.2 Elections in the 1840s
- 4.3 Elections in the 1850s
- 4.4 Elections in the 1860s
- 4.5 Elections in the 1870s
- 4.6 Elections in the 1880s
- 4.7 Elections in the 1890s
- 4.8 Elections in the 1900s
- 4.9 Elections in the 1910s
- 4.10 Elections in the 1920s
- 4.11 Elections in the 1930s
- 4.12 Elections in the 1940s
- 4.13 Elections in the 1950s
- 4.14 Elections in the 1960s
- 4.15 Elections in the 1970s
- 5 See also
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 Bibliography
Abingdon was one of three English parliamentary boroughs enfranchised by Queen Mary I as anomalous single-member constituencies, and held its first Parliamentary election in 1558. The borough consisted of part of two parishes in the market town of Abingdon, then the county town of Berkshire. The right to vote was exercised by all inhabitant householders paying scot and lot and not receiving alms; the highest recorded number of votes to be cast before 1832 was 253, at the general election of 1806.
Abingdon's voters seem always to have maintained their independence, and the constituency never came under the influence of a "patron" who assumed the right to choose the MP. Nevertheless, this did not always guarantee a pure election, and Porritt records that Abingdon offers the earliest case he was able to trace of a candidate trying to bribe voters with the promise of official office, later one of the most widespread abuses in English elections. In 1698, the defeated candidate, William Hucks, petitioned against the election of Sir Simon Harcourt, but during the hearing of the case it emerged that Hucks had promised that should he be elected an MP he would be made a Commissioner of the Excise, in which case he would use that power to appoint several of the voters to well-paid excise posts. The petition was dismissed and Hucks was committed to the custody of the sergeant-at-arms. (But ten years later, defeated again by Harcourt at the election of 1708, Hucks petitioned once more, on grounds of intimidation and other illegal practices, and this time Harcourt was ejected from his seat and Hucks declared to have been duly elected. Harcourt complained that the decision was a partisan one – which would have been by no means unusual at the period – "insisting to the last that he was the legal member, by a clear majority, by the most fair estimation".)
In 1831, the population of the borough was approximately 5,300, and contained 1,192 houses. This was sufficient for Abingdon to retain its MP under the Great Reform Act. (Indeed, it would have been big enough to retain two MPs had it had them, but there was no question of its representation being increased.) Its boundaries were unaltered, and under the reformed franchise 300 of the residents were qualified to vote.
In 1885 the borough constituency was abolished and the town was moved into a new county, The Northern or Abingdon Division of Berkshire. This constituency consisted of the northern part of the historic county, and as well as Abingdon included the towns of Wantage and Wallingford; it was predominantly agricultural at first, although its character changed during the 20th century with the growth of light industry round Abingdon, and it was generally a safe Conservative seat. This constituency survived essentially intact, with only minor boundary changes, until the 1983 general election, by which time it was simply called Abingdon County Constituency.
Changes in administrative boundaries during the 1970s moved most of the northern part of the historic county of Berkshire, including Abingdon, into the county of Oxfordshire. These changes were reflected in the constituency boundary changes introduced in 1983, and the Abingdon constituency was divided; most of its electors were placed in the new Wantage constituency and a significant minority including electors in the town of Abingdon were placed in the Oxford West and Abingdon constituency. A small part to the south of the constituency had been retained within Berkshire and this area was transferred to Newbury.
Northern or Abingdon Division of Berkshire, 1885 – 1918Edit
The constituency was defined as consisting of: The Abingdon, Faringdon, Wallingford, and Wantage petty sessional divisions of Berkshire, the municipal borough of Wallingford and the parts of the boroughs of Abingdon and Oxford in Berkshire.
Abingdon Division of Berkshire, 1918 – 1950Edit
The constituency's boundaries were adjusted slightly by the Representation of the People Act 1918, gaining a small part of the Newbury Division. It was redefined in terms of the administrative county of Berkshire and the county districts created by the Local Government Acts of 1888 and 1894 as follows:
- The rural districts of Abingdon (the civil parishes of Abingdon St Helen Without, Appleford, Appleton-with-Eaton, Besselsleigh, Cumnor, Draycot Moor, Drayton, Frilford, Fyfield, Garford, Kingston Bagpuize, Lyford, Marcham, Milton, North Hinksey, Radley, South Hinksey, Steventon, Sunningwell, Sutton Courtenay, Sutton Wick, Tubney, Wootton, and Wytham), Wallingford (the civil parishes of Aston Tirrold, Aston Upthorpe, Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, Cholsey, Didcot, East Hagbourne, Little Wittenham, Long Wittenham, Moulsford, North Moreton, South Moreton, and West Hagbourne), and Wantage (the civil parishes of Aldworth, Ardington, Beedon, Blewbury, Brightwalton, Catmore, Chaddleworth, Childrey, Chilton, Compton, Denchworth, East Challow, East Hanney, East Hendred, East Ilsley, Farnborough, Fawley, Goosey, Grove, Hampstead Norris, Harwell, Hermitage, Letcombe Bassett, Letcombe Regis, Lockinge, Peasemore, Sparshlt, Upton, West Challow, West Hanney and West Hendred, and West Ilsley);
- The part of the rural district of Bradfield which consists of the civil parishes of Ashampstead, Basildon, Frilsham, Streatley, and Yattendon;
- The part of the rural district of Faringdon which is within the administrative county of Berks (the civil parishes of Ashbury, Baulking, Bourton, Buckland, Buscot, Charney Bassett, Coleshill, Compton Beauchamp, Eaton Hastings, Fernham, Great Coxwell, Great Faringdon, Hatford, Hinton Waldrist, Kingston Lisle, Little Coxwell, Littleworth, Longcot, Longworth, Pusey, Shellingford, Stanford in the Vale, Uffington, Watchfield, and Woolstone);
- The municipal boroughs of Abingdon and Wallingford;
- The urban district of Wantage.
Abingdon County Constituency, 1950 – 1983Edit
The Representation of the People Act 1948 reorganised parliamentary constituencies, and Abingdon County Constituency was altered marginally, with the part of the rural district of Bradfield being transferred to the County Constituency of Newbury. The official definition of the constituency was:
- The boroughs of Abingdon and Wallingford;
- the urban district of Wantage;
- the rural districts of Abingdon, Faringdon, Wallingford and Wantage.
The constituency was not altered by the Parliamentary Constituencies (England) Orders of 1970, and continued virtually unchanged until it was abolished in 1983.
Members of ParliamentEdit
|Parliament of 1558||Oliver Hyde|
|Parliament of 1559||Robert Byng|
|Parliament of 1563–1567||Oliver Hyde (Died during the Parliament)|
Anthony Forster (Elected 1566)
|Parliament of 1571||Anthony Forster|
|Parliament of 1572–1583||Anthony Forster (Died during the Parliament)|
Richard Beake (Elected 1572)
|Parliament of 1584–1585||Hon. Edward Norreys|
|Parliament of 1586–1587||Griffith Lloyd, chose to sit for Cardiganshire, replaced by Miles Sandys|
|Parliament of 1588–1589||Hon. Sir Edward Norreys|
|Parliament of 1593||William Braunche|
|Parliament of 1597–1598||Francis Little|
|Parliament of 1601||Robert Ryche|
|Parliament of 1604–1611||Sir Richard Lovelace|
|Addled Parliament (1614)||Sir Robert Knollys|
|Parliament of 1621–1622||Robert Hyde|
|Happy Parliament (1624–1625)||Sir Robert Knollys|
|Useless Parliament (1625)||Sir Robert Knollys|
|Parliament of 1625–1626|
|Parliament of 1628–1629||Sir John Stonhouse, 2nd Bt.|
|No Parliament summoned 1629–1640|
After the abolition of the parliamentary borough of Abingdon, a new county division of Berkshire was created.
|Non Partisan||Henry Thrale||100||42.92||N/A|
- Seat vacated on appointment of Morton as Chief Justice of Chester
- On petition Nathaniel Bayly seated in place of John Morton, 8 February 1770
- Tory hold from previous general election; Tory gain from Whig, from change on petition.
- Election declared void, 6 March 1775
- Change is calculated from the previous general election.
- Resignation of Mayor.
|Non Partisan||Henry Howorth||Unopposed||N/A||N/A|
|Non Partisan gain from Tory||Swing||N/A|
- Death of Howorth
|Whig gain from Non Partisan||Swing||N/A|
Elections in the 1830sEdit
|Whig||William Leader Maberly||43||21.4||N/A|
|Tory gain from Whig|
Elections in the 1840sEdit
Duffield resigned by accepting the office of Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds, cauising a by-election.
Thesiger was appointed Attorney General for England and Wales, requiring a by-election.
Elections in the 1850sEdit
Thesiger was appointed Attorney General for England and Wales, requiring a by-election.
|Whig gain from Conservative|
Caulfeild's death caused a by-election.
|Conservative||Daniel Higford Davall Burr||129||45.7||N/A|
Bertie succeeded to the peerage, becoming 6th Earl of Abingdon and causing a by-election.
|Whig||Joseph Haythorne Reed||125||51.7||−2.6|
|Radical||John Thomas Norris||117||48.3||N/A|
|Radical||John Thomas Norris||Unopposed|
|Radical gain from Whig|
|Liberal||John Thomas Norris||144||54.8||N/A|
|Conservative||John Godfrey Bellingham Hudson||119||45.2||N/A|
Elections in the 1860sEdit
|Liberal||John Thomas Norris||116||45.8|
|Conservative gain from Liberal||Swing|
Elections in the 1870sEdit
|Liberal||John Creemer Clarke||439||56.9||+12.0|
|Liberal gain from Conservative||Swing||+12.0|
Elections in the 1880sEdit
|Liberal||John Creemer Clarke||428||52.6||−4.3|
|Conservative gain from Liberal||Swing||+11.3|
|Liberal||Edward Colston Keevil||1,910||32.9||−8.4|
Elections in the 1890sEdit
|Liberal||Charles Alfred Pryce||3,239||47.6||+14.7|
|Liberal||Charles Alfred Pryce||3,019||42.6||−5.0|
Elections in the 1900sEdit
|Liberal gain from Conservative||Swing||N/A|
Elections in the 1910sEdit
|Conservative gain from Liberal||Swing||+7.2|
|Liberal||Martin Harcourt Sands||3,328||41.6||-2.3|
|C||Unionist||John Tyson Wigan||Unopposed|
|C indicates candidate endorsed by the coalition government.|
Elections in the 1920sEdit
|C indicates candidate endorsed by the coalition government.|
|Liberal gain from Unionist||Swing||+1.9|
|Labour||D F Brundril||1,355||5.8||n/a|
|Unionist gain from Liberal||Swing|
Elections in the 1930sEdit
Elections in the 1940sEdit
A General election was due to take place before the end of 1940, but was postponed due to the Second World War. By 1939, the following candidates had been selected to contest this constituency;
|Labour||Dale Hope Parkinson||11,980||31.5|
|Liberal||John Henry Charles Miller||7,031||18.5|
|Communist||John Clement Dix Dunman||1,668||4.4|
Elections in the 1950sEdit
|Labour||Robert Jarrett McCullagh||16,733||37.74|
|Liberal||Eric Digby Tempest Vane||6,612||14.91|
|Communist||John Clement Dix Dunman||396||0.89|
|Labour||John EG Curthoys||19,891||44.53|
|Liberal||George R Allen||3,060||7.09||n/a|
|Liberal||George R Allen||8,634||16.85|
|Liberal||Verdun Isabel Perl||6,651||12.90|
Elections in the 1960sEdit
|Labour||Frederick J Riddell||20,334||36.53|
|Liberal||Verdun Isabel Perl||8,627||15.50|
|Labour||Alan H.S. Matterson||24,447||40.8|
|Liberal||Denis H.V. Case||7,703||12.9|
Elections in the 1970sEdit
|Labour||Norman H. Price||23,136||34.8||−6.0|
|Liberal||S.R. Caradoc Evans||7,198||10.8||−2.1|
|Liberal||Michael Patrick Fogarty||18,458||24.9||+14.1|
|Liberal||Michael Patrick Fogarty||15,239||22.2||−2.7|
- Medlycott's election was declared void on petition, and a new election was held
- Southby was returned as elected by the Mayor, but on petition the Commons decided that Stonhouse and not Southby had received the most votes, and eventually declared Stonhouse duly elected
- Harcourt was initially declared elected, but on petition alleging "that Sir Simon, by menaces and by other illegal practices of himself and his agents, procured several votes for him, and several were admitted to vote for him who had no right", the result was overturned and Hucks declared to have been duly elected
- At the election of 1768, Morton was declared re-elected, but on petition the result was overturned and his opponent Bayly declared elected instead
- On petition, Mayor's election was declared void, since as High Sheriff of Berkshire he was not eligible to be elected MP for a borough within the county. A new election was ordered, by which time Mayor had completed his term as sheriff and was re-elected.
- "Abingdon". History of Parliament Online (1558-1603). Retrieved 27 March 2019.
- "Abingdon". History of Parliament Online (1604-1629). Retrieved 27 March 2019. (currently unavailable)
- "Abingdon". History of Parliament Online (1640-1660). Retrieved 27 March 2019.
- "Abingdon". History of Parliament Online (1660-1690). Retrieved 27 March 2019.
- "Abingdon". History of Parliament Online (1690-1715). Retrieved 27 March 2019.
- "Abingdon". History of Parliament Online (1715-1754). Retrieved 27 March 2019.
- "Abingdon". History of Parliament Online (1754-1790). Retrieved 27 March 2019.
- "Abingdon". History of Parliament Online (1790-1820). Retrieved 27 March 2019.
- "Abingdon". History of Parliament Online (1820-1832). Retrieved 27 March 2019.
- Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885 c.23, Schedule 7
- Representation of the People Act 1918 c.64, schedule 9
- Representation of the People Act 1948, c. 65, Schedule 1
- Stooks Smith, Henry. (1973) [1844-1850]. Craig, F. W. S. (ed.). The Parliaments of England (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. pp. 6–7. ISBN 0-900178-13-2.
- Craig, F. W. S., ed. (1977). British Parliamentary Election Results 1832-1885 (e-book) (1st ed.). London: Macmillan Press. ISBN 978-1-349-02349-3.
- "Election Talk". The Spectator. 6 March 1852. p. 6. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
- Salmon, Philip (24 May 2016). "An 'upstart from the ranks': MP of the Month, John Thomas Norris (1808-70)". The Victorian Commons. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
- "General Election". Bell's Weekly Messenger. 26 July 1830. p. 8. Retrieved 5 September 2019 – via British Newspaper Archive.
- "Abingdon Election". Berkshire Chronicle. 15 December 1832. pp. 2–3. Retrieved 5 September 2019 – via British Newspaper Archive.
- "Abingdon Election". Berkshire Chronicle. 4 December 1852. p. 3. Retrieved 6 April 2018 – via British Newspaper Archive.
- "Abingdon Election". Reading Mercury. 30 April 1859. p. 5. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
- "Election Intelligence". Western Daily Press. 3 August 1868. p. 3. Retrieved 26 January 2018 – via British Newspaper Archive.
- Craig, FWS, ed. (1974). British Parliamentary Election Results: 1885-1918. London: Macmillan Press. ISBN 9781349022984.
- British parliamentary election results 1918–1949, Craig, F.W.S.
- The Liberal Magazine, 1939
- Boundaries of Parliamentary Constituencies 1885–1972, compiled and edited by F. W. S. Craig (Political Reference Publications 1972)
- British Parliamentary Election Results 1832–1885, compiled and edited by F.W.S. Craig (The Macmillan Press 1977)
- British Parliamentary Election Results 1885–1918, compiled and edited by F.W.S. Craig (The Macmillan Press 1974)
- British Parliamentary Election Results 1918–1949, compiled and edited by F.W.S. Craig (The Macmillan Press 1977)
- D. Brunton & D. H. Pennington, Members of the Long Parliament (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1954)
- Sir Lewis Namier and John Brooke, The House of Commons 1754–1790 (London: HMSO 1964)
- J. E. Neale, The Elizabethan House of Commons (London: Jonathan Cape, 1949)
- Robert H O'Byrne, The Representative History of Great Britain and Ireland, Part II – Berkshire (London: John Ollivier, 1848)
- T. H. B. Oldfield, The Representative History of Great Britain and Ireland (London: Baldwin, Cradock & Joy, 1816)
- Henry Pelling, Social Geography of British Elections 1885–1910 (London: Macmillan, 1967)
- J Holladay Philbin, Parliamentary Representation 1832 – England and Wales (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965)
- Edward Porritt and Annie G Porritt, The Unreformed House of Commons (Cambridge University Press, 1903)
- Henry Stooks Smith, The Parliaments of England (1st edition published in three volumes 1844–50; 2nd edition edited in one volume by F.W.S. Craig, Political Reference Publications, 1973)
- Frederic A Youngs, jr, "Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Vol I" (London: Royal Historical Society, 1979)
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "A" (part 1)