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Belfast (UK Parliament constituency)

Belfast was an Irish Borough constituency in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Comprising the city of Belfast, it elected one Member of Parliament (MP) from 1801 to 1832, and then two MPs from 1832 until the constituency was divided for the 1885 general election.

Belfast
Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
18011885
Replaced byBelfast East, Belfast North, Belfast South and Belfast West

Contents

SummaryEdit

From To Chamber Members
1801 1832 House of Commons of the United Kingdom 1
1832 1885 House of Commons of the United Kingdom 2

RepresentationEdit

Under the Act of Union 1800 the Parliament of Ireland was merged with the Parliament of Great Britain to form the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The 300 members of the Irish House of Commons were reduced to 100 Irish members of the United Kingdom House of Commons. As part of that process Belfast lost one of its seats.

There was no new election for the 1st Parliament of the United Kingdom. In Irish constituencies, where the number of seats were reduced from two to one, the MP to go to Westminster was selected by drawing lots.

Boundaries and boundary changesEdit

The map and other details relate to the modern area of Belfast, but are included in this article to give a general idea of the location of the historic constituency.

This constituency was the Parliamentary borough of Belfast in County Antrim. In 1832 and 1868 the boundaries of that borough were extended. The boundaries in 1832 were defined as follows: "From the Point on the South-east of the Town at which the Blackstaff River joins the River Lagan, up the Blackstaff River, to the Point at which the same is joined by a small Stream which washes the Wall of Mr Campbell's Cotton Works [near where Divis Street joins the Westlink]; thence up the said small Stream to the Point at which the same would be cut by a straight Line to be drawn from the Chimney of Mr Campbell's Cotton Works to an old Fort on the West of the Town, in a field belonging to Mr Elliott, near a Brickfield on the Left of the old Lodge Road [near Denmark Street]; thence in a straight Line to the said old Fort; thence in a straight Line to the South-western Angle of the Graveyard which is to the West of the Infantry Barracks; thence along the Southern Wall of the said Graveyard to the Point at which the same makes an Angle; thence in a straight Line to the South-western Angle of the Enclosure of the Infantry Barracks; thence along the Western Enclosure Wall of the Infantry Barracks to the Northern Extremity thereof; thence along a Ditch which is the Boundary of the Ordnance Land to the Point at which the same reaches the South-western Angle of the Enclosure of the Artillery Barracks; thence along the Western Enclosure Wall of the Artillery Barracks; and along a Ditch in continuation of the Direction thereof, to the Point at which such Ditch meets a Road [the New Lodge Road] which leads from the Ballynure Road into the old Carrickfergus Road; thence along the Road so leading into the old Carrickfergus Road to the Point at which the same joins the old Carrickfergus Road; thence, Northward, along the old Carrickfergus Road to the Point at which the same meets the Mile Water [near Mountcollyer Street]; thence down the Mile Water to the Point at which the same joins the River Lagan; thence along the River Lagan to the Point first described; also beyond the Lagan, the Townland of Ballymacarrett."[1]

The Representation of the People (Ireland) Act 1868, provided that all that part of the Borough situate beyond the limits of the Parliamentary Borough as defined in 1832, but within the Municipal Limits, should form part of the Borough for all Purposes connected with the Election of a Member or Members to serve in Parliament for the Borough.[2] See Belfast Borough Extension Act 1853 (16 & 17 Vict.) c. 129.

In the redistribution of 1885 Belfast was further expanded (including parts of County Down as well as County Antrim) and split into four single member divisions; Belfast East, Belfast North, Belfast South and Belfast West.

Electoral system and electorateEdit

The parliamentary representatives of the borough were elected using the bloc vote for two-member elections and first past the post for single-member ones.

Until 1832 the electorate were the members of Belfast Corporation (the local Council). This had long been resented by reformers as it made the constituency a pocket borough of the Marquess of Donegall.

In 1784 a petition was sent to the Parliament of Ireland.

"Your petitioners in the most humble and respectful manner, take leave to represent to your Hon House,

That Belfast is a large and populous town, containing above 15,000 inhabitants, carrying on a very extensive foreign commerce, as well as inland trade, and paying annually upwards of £80,000 towards the public revenue.

That this numerous body of people not being represented in your Hon House, are, contrary to the fundamental principle of the constitution, governed by laws to which they give no assent; for although the borough of Belfast sends two Members to parliament, yet those members are returned (under the immediate direction of a noble peer) by five or six Burgesses, in the appointment of whom your Petitioners have no share, and therefore the members so returned cannot in any sense, be deemed the Representatives of your Petitioners."

In such circumstances it is hardly surprising that there were no contested elections, for the United Kingdom Parliament, in the constituency until reform took place.

In 1832 the electorate was consideraby extended by the Irish part of the Reform Act 1832. Boroughs in Ireland were given a uniform franchise for the first time. The vote was given to occupiers of land valued at least £10 and resident freemen by birth or servitude (descent from or apprenticeship to an existing freeman of the borough) or who were admitted before March 1831.

Members of ParliamentEdit

ElectionsEdit

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 voters is unknowmn) this is calculated by dividing the number of votes by two. To the extent that voters did not use both their votes this will be an underestimate of turnout. If the electorate figure is unknown the last known electorate figure is used to provide an estimate 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.

Elections in the 1800sEdit

Co-option 1 January 1801: Belfast
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Tory James May

Co-opted N/A N/A
Tory gain from new seat Swing N/A
General election 12 July 1802: Belfast
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Tory James May

Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing N/A
General election 17 November 1806: Belfast
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Tory James May

Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing N/A
General election 15 May 1807: Belfast
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Tory James May

Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1810sEdit

General election 23 October 1812: Belfast
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Tory James May

Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing N/A
  • Death of May
By-election 16 September 1814: Belfast
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Tory James May

Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing N/A
  • Appointment of May as Collector of Customs in Belfast Port
By-election 3 May 1816: Belfast
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Tory John Michel Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing N/A
General election 8 July 1818: Belfast
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Tory Arthur Chichester Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1820sEdit

General election 16 March 1820: Belfast
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Tory George Chichester Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing N/A
General election 15 June 1826: Belfast
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Tory George Chichester Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1830sEdit

General election 6 August 1830: Belfast
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Whig Arthur Chichester Unopposed N/A N/A
Whig gain from Tory Swing N/A
General election 20 May 1831: Belfast
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Whig Arthur Chichester Unopposed N/A N/A
Whig hold Swing N/A
General election 21 December 1832: Belfast (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Arthur Chichester 834 29.8 N/A
Liberal James Emerson Tennent 723 25.8 N/A
Liberal Robert James Tennent 625 22.3 N/A
Liberal William Sharman Crawford 616 22.0 N/A
Turnout 1,659 85.6 N/A

Note: 1,420 electors voted. J. Emerson Tennent and presumably Chichester ceased to support Lord Grey in 1834 (see Emerson Tennent's article in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography).

General election 17 January 1835: Belfast (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative James Emerson Tennent 773 35.0 +9.2
Liberal John McCance 719 32.6 +32.6
Conservative Arthur Chichester 713 32.3 +2.5
Liberal John French 3 0.1 +0.1
Turnout 2,137 65.8 -19.8

Note: 1,407 electors voted. Stooks Smith suggests there were 1,451 registered electors. Walker gives the electorate figure as above.

  • Death of McCance
By-election 27 August 1835: Belfast
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative George Dunbar 162 66.4 +66.4
Liberal Robert James Tennent 82 33.6 +33.6
Majority 80 32.8 N/A
Turnout 2,458 9.9 -55.9
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing N/A

Note: Stooks Smith suggests there were 1,508 registered electors. Walker gives the electorate figure as above. Stooks Smith also indicates that 'Mr Tennent resigned in consequence of a decision of the Assessors'.

General election 5 August 1837: Belfast (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal James Gibson 941 25.9 +25.9
Liberal George Chichester 922 25.4 +25.4
Conservative James Emerson Tennent 901 24.8 +24.8
Conservative George Dunbar 869 23.9 -42.5
Turnout 3,641 50.5 +40.6

Note: 1,839 electors voted. Stooks Smith suggests there were 1,926 registered electors. Walker gives the electorate figure as above.

  • 8 March 1838: On petition Gibson and the Earl of Belfast were unseated and Emerson Tennent and Dunbar declared elected

Elections in the 1840sEdit

General election 10 July 1841: Belfast (2 seats)[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative James Emerson Tennent 927 26.8
Conservative William Gillilan Johnson 913 26.4
Whig George Chichester 821 23.8
Whig David Robert Ross 792 22.9
Majority 92 2.7 N/A
Turnout 1,736 41.0
Registered electors 4,234
Conservative gain from Whig Swing
Conservative gain from Whig Swing

Note: 1,740 electors voted. Stooks Smith suggests there were 1,937 registered electors. Walker gives the electorate figure as above.

  • On petition Emerson Tennent and Johnson unseated and new writ issued
By-election, 19 August 1842: Belfast (2 seats)[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Whig David Robert Ross 886 39.5 −7.2
Conservative James Emerson Tennent 859 38.3 +11.5
Conservative Hamilton Francis Chichester 500 22.3 −4.1
Turnout 1,123 (est) 26.5 (est) −14.5
Registered electors 4,234
Majority 27 1.2 N/A
Whig gain from Conservative Swing −7.3
Majority 359 16.0 +13.3
Conservative hold Swing +7.6

Note: Stooks Smith comments that 'a compromise was entered into by which one of each party was to be returned'.

  • Resignation of Emerson Tennent
By-election, 20 August 1845: Belfast[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative John Chichester Unopposed
Conservative hold
General election 9 August 1847: Belfast (2 seats)[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Whig Robert James Tennent 929 39.3 −7.4
Peelite John Chichester 747 31.6 N/A
Conservative George Suffern 689 29.1 −24.1
Turnout 1,183 (est) 12.2 (est) −28.8
Registered electors 9,672
Majority 182 7.7 N/A
Whig gain from Conservative Swing +2.3
Majority 58 2.5 N/A
Peelite gain from Conservative Swing N/A

Elections in the 1850sEdit

General election 13 July 1852: Belfast (2 seats)[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Richard Davison 1,259 37.5 N/A
Conservative Hugh Cairns 1,193 35.5 N/A
Whig Robert James Tennent 904 26.9 −12.4
Majority 289 8.6 N/A
Turnout 2,130 (est.) 79.0 (est.) +66.8
Registered electors 2,697
Conservative gain from Peelite Swing N/A
Conservative gain from Whig Swing N/A
General election 3 April 1857: Belfast (2 seats)[12][13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Hugh Cairns 1,479 28.5 −7.0
Conservative Richard Davison 1,410 27.2 −10.3
Whig John Robinson McClean 995 19.2 N/A
Whig John Francis Ferguson 733 14.1 N/A
Whig Thomas McClure 566 10.9 N/A
Majority 415 8.0 −0.6
Turnout 2,592 (est.) 73.7 −5.3
Registered electors 3,518
Conservative hold Swing N/A
Conservative hold Swing N/A
By-election, 5 March 1858: Belfast[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative 'Hugh Cairns' Unopposed
Conservative hold
General election 2 May 1859: Belfast (2 seats)[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative ' Hugh Cairns' Unopposed
Conservative 'Richard Davison' Unopposed
Registered electors 3,303
Conservative hold
Conservative hold

Elections in the 1860sEdit

  • Resignation of Davison
By-election 15 June 1860: Belfast[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative 'Samuel Gibson Getty' Unopposed
Conservative hold
General election 15 July 1865: Belfast (2 seats)[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Hugh Cairns 1,822 40.1 N/A
Conservative Samuel Gibson Getty 1,728 38.1 N/A
Liberal John Hay 991 21.8 N/A
Majority 737 16.2 N/A
Turnout 2,766 (est.) 81.0 (est.) N/A
Registered electors 3,415
Conservative hold Swing N/A
Conservative hold Swing N/A
By-election 13 July 1866: Belfast[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative 'Hugh Cairns' Unopposed
Registered electors 3,615
Conservative hold
  • Appointment of Cairns as Lord Justice of Appeal in Chancery (of England and Wales)
By-election 2 November 1866: Belfast[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Charles Lanyon 1,263 99.0 N/A
Conservative William McMeechan 13 1.0 N/A
Majority 1,250 98.0 N/A
Turnout 1,276 35.3 −45.7
Registered electors 3,615
Conservative hold Swing N/A
General election 21 November 1868: Belfast (2 seats)[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative William Johnston 5,975 39.1 −1.0
Liberal Thomas McClure 4,202 27.5 −10.6
Conservative Charles Lanyon 3,540 23.1 +1.3
Conservative John Mulholland 1,580 10.3 N/A
Turnout 9,750 (est.) 80.1 (est.) −0.9
Registered electors 12,168
Majority 1,773 11.6 −4.6
Conservative hold Swing +2.2
Majority 662 4.3 N/A
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing −3.3

Elections in the 1870sEdit

General election 5 February 1874: Belfast (2 seats)[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative James Corry 8,412 39.7 +16.6
Conservative William Johnston 8,176 38.6 −0.5
Liberal Thomas McClure 4,096 19.3 −8.2
Ind. Conservative John Rea[14] 506 2.4 N/A
Majority 4,080 19.3 +7.7
Turnout 12,896 (est.) 80.7 (est.) +0.6
Registered electors 15,979
Conservative hold Swing +10.4
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing +1.8
  • Appointment of Johnston as Inspector of Fisheries
By-election 2 April 1878: Belfast[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative William Ewart 8,241 62.7 −15.6
Ind. Conservative Robert Seeds[15] 4,895 37.3 N/A
Majority 3,346 25.5 +6.2
Turnout 13,136 65.7 −15.0
Registered electors 20,005
Conservative hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1880sEdit

General election 1 April 1880: Belfast (2 seats)[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative William Ewart 8,132 30.1 −8.5
Conservative James Corry 7,683 28.4 −11.3
Ind. Conservative Robert Seeds[16] 6,119 22.6 N/A
Liberal John Shaw Brown 5,122 18.9 −0.4
Majority 2,561 9.5 −9.8
Turnout 19,149 (est.) 90.4 (est.) +9.7
Registered electors 21,188
Conservative hold Swing −9.9
Conservative hold Swing −11.3
  • Constituency divided in the 1885 redistribution

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Parliamentary Boundaries (Ireland) Act, 1832, Schedule, paragraph 4
  2. ^ Section 9
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Stooks Smith, Henry (1842). The Register of Parliamentary Contested Elections: Containing the Uncontested Elections Since 1830. London: Simpkin, Marshall, & Co. p. 216. Retrieved 19 August 2019 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ a b c "Mayo Constitution". 10 January 1833. p. 3. Retrieved 19 August 2019 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  5. ^ a b "Leeds Intelligencer". 27 December 1832. p. 2. Retrieved 19 August 2019 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  6. ^ a b Boase, George Clement (1898). "Tennent, James Emerson" . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 56. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  7. ^ Churton, Edward (1838). The Assembled Commons or Parliamentary Biographer. pp. 98, 99. Retrieved 19 August 2019 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ a b "Belfast Election". Drogheda Journal, or Meath & Louth Advertiser. 8 August 1837. p. 4. Retrieved 19 August 2019 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  9. ^ a b "Belfast Election". Sussex Advertiser. 23 August 1842. p. 1. Retrieved 19 August 2019 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  10. ^ a b "Irish Members Returned". Tipperary Vindicator. 14 August 1847. p. 3. Retrieved 15 September 2018 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  11. ^ a b "The Irish Members". Dublin Weekly Nation. 14 August 1847. p. 4. Retrieved 15 September 2018 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Walker, B. M., ed. (1978). Parliamentary Election Results in Ireland, 1801-1922. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy. ISBN 0901714127.
  13. ^ "Irish Elections". Freeman's Journal. 21 March 1857. p. 3. Retrieved 15 September 2018 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  14. ^ "Belfast Election". Derry Journal. 6 February 1874. pp. 2–3. Retrieved 27 December 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  15. ^ "Belfast Election". Falkirk Herald. 4 April 1878. p. 3. Retrieved 27 December 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  16. ^ "Dr Seeds". Northern Whig. 20 March 1880. p. 4. Retrieved 27 December 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  • The Parliaments of England by Henry Stooks Smith (1st edition published in three volumes 1844-50), 2nd edition edited (in one volume) by F. W. S. Craig (Political Reference Publications 1973)
  • Parliamentary Election Results in Ireland, 1801-1922, edited by B. M. Walker (Royal Irish Academy 1978)

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit