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Swansea (UK Parliament constituency)


In contrast to most of the Glamorgan seats, Swansea Town was not natural Liberal territory although the involvement of its powerful industrialists within the Liberal Association prevented the Conservatives from gaining the seat, apart from the 1895 election. After the turn of the century, labour candidates began to make an impact in municipal elections in Swansea, drawing support from the dockers as well as the miners and tin-platers, but this did not lead to a serious parliamentary challenge to the Liberals until after the First World War.


The constituency was created in 1885 when the previous Swansea District constituency - a combination of the boroughs of Swansea, Neath, Aberavon. Loughor and Kenfig, which had existed since 1832, was split into two. The new Swansea Town constituency consisted of the bulk of the borough of Swansea, while the northern part of the borough, centred on Morriston, together with the four smaller boroughs formed the new Swansea District constituency.

Members of ParliamentEdit


Swansea was represented by William Foxwist in the Third Protectorate Parliament of 1659. Otherwise it was a contributory borough to Cardiff until 1832 and then until 1885 it was the principal borough of the Swansea district of boroughs.

Swansea Liberal Association was presided over from the outset by industrialists such as Cory Yeo and Morgan Tutton, and their influence contributed to the return of a Liberal candidate at every election down to 1922, save that of 1895.[1] In relation to popular support, the substantial Irish community in Swansea supported the Liberals. However, the most powerful feature in the last years of the nineteenth century was the substantial nonconformist vote, which was strongly influenced by ministers such as Gomer Lewis of Capel Gomer Baptist Church in the centre of the city.[1]

Lewis Llewelyn DillwynEdit

The first member, from 1885, was the veteran radical Lewis Llewelyn Dillwyn. Although Dillwyn was an Anglican, he was considered to have 'advanced' views in relation to the disestablishment of the Anglican Church in Wales and he regularly sought to introduce legislation on this issue in the House of Commons.[2] Dillwyn was opposed in 1885 by the little known 22-year-old Conservative candidate, W.H. Meredyth. Meredyth belonged to a leading Anglo-Irish family and drew much of his support during the campaign from various members of the aristocracy who came to Swansea to support him. At several meetings, he struggled to gain a hearing but polled remarkably well given his youth and inexperience.[3]

In 1892, Dillwyn, now aged 78, had every intention of contesting the General Election. On 1 June a joint meeting of the Swansea Conservative and Liberal Unionist associations resolved to nominate F. Ormesby-Gore as the candidate in the forthcoming election.[4] However, on 18 June, Dillwyn, having attended a meeting at Swansea Liberal Club where David Randell was re-adopted as Liberal candidate for the Gower constituency, Dillwyn was taken ill at a meeting to plan his own campaign and died the following day at the Royal Hotel, Swansea.[5]

Robert BurnieEdit

Shortly after Dillwyn's death, Ormesby-Gore withdrew and the Conservatives selected his nephew, Sir John Llewelyn as their candidate.[6] Llewelyn was commonly regarded as being the strongest candidate available to the Conservatives but due to the family connection he was unable to contest Swansea Town. The Liberals selected R.D. Burnie, who was well known for his radical views and was, as a result, popular amongst the working class electorate.[6] At his adoption meeting, Burnie declared himself sternly in favour of disestablishment, reflecting the views of his predecessor, but also expressed strong support for Home Rule for Wales as well as Ireland,thus placing himself firmly in the Cymru Fydd camp.[6]

Burnie was another local industrialist whose somewhat advanced views on social questions made him popular with the labour element but somewhat suspect amongst his colleagues. Burnie launched his campaign at a public meeting at the Albert Hall, Swansea, where Sir Hussey Vivian presided and endorsed Burnie's campaign in a speech resonating with references to his own father's time as MP for Swansea. Vivian's intervention may have been calculated to counter the impact of the Conservatives' decision to adopt Sir John Llewelyn, a very popular figure locally and nephew of the late member, Lewis Llewelyn Dillwyn.[7]

Sir John LlewellynEdit

Burnie was a casualty of the 1895 election when he was defeated by Sir John Dillwyn-Llewellyn, Bt, a prominent local Conservative and one of the few non-Liberals to be elevated to the aldermanic bench on Glamorgan County Council.

George NewnesEdit

By 1900 Burnie's opposition to the South African Wr ensured that he was not re-adopted.[1] In his place the Liberals selected Sir George Newnes, a newspaper magnate whose wealth far outweighed his political skills.

Alfred MondEdit

Newnes served until 1910 when he was replaced by Alfred Mond. Mond was subjected to anti-semitic attacks by the Conservatives who mocked him as an unsuitable representative for the nonconformist Swansea middle-class. But as a Powerful capitalist who employed much of the Swansea population his position was, for the time being, beyond challenge.[1]

Election resultsEdit

Elections in the 1880sEdit

General election 1885: Swansea Town[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Lewis Llewelyn Dillwyn 3,660 59.2 N/A
Conservative William Herbert Meredyth[9] 2,520 40.8 N/A
Majority 1,140 18.4 N/A
Turnout 6,180 81.3 N/A
Registered electors 7,597
Liberal win (new seat)
General election 1886: Swansea Town[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Lewis Llewelyn Dillwyn 3,040 63.6 +4.4
Liberal Unionist Albert James Lambert[10] 1,740 36.4 -4.4
Majority 1,300 27.2 +8.8
Turnout 4,780 62.9 -18.4
Registered electors 7,597
Liberal hold Swing +4.4

Elections in the 1890sEdit

General election 1892: Swansea Town [8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Robert Burnie 3,733 55.4 -8.2
Conservative John Dillwyn-Llewellyn 3,011 44.6 +8.2
Majority 722 10.8 -16.4
Turnout 6,744 79.8 +16.9
Registered electors 8,447
Liberal hold Swing -8.2
General election 1895: Swansea Town [8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative John Dillwyn-Llewellyn 3,977 52.8 +8.2
Liberal Robert Burnie 3,556 47.2 -8.2
Majority 421 5.6 n/a
Turnout 7,533 82.9 +3.1
Registered electors 9,091
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing +8.2

Elections in the 1900sEdit

General election 1900: Swansea Town [8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal George Newnes 4,318 57.4 +10.2
Conservative John Dillwyn-Llewellyn 3,203 42.6 -10.2
Majority 1,115 14.8 N/A
Turnout 7,521 82.8 -0.1
Registered electors 9,079
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +10.2
General election January 1906: Swansea Town[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal George Newnes 5,535 57.6 +0.2
Conservative John Wright 4,081 42.4 -0.2
Majority 1,454 15.2 +0.4
Turnout 9,616 87.2 +4.4
Registered electors 11,030
Liberal hold Swing +0.2

Elections in the 1910sEdit

Alfred Mond
General election January 1910: Swansea Town[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Alfred Mond 6,020 50.8 -6.8
Conservative John Wright 4,379 37.0 -5.4
Independent Labour Ben Tillett 1,451 12.2 n/a
Majority 1,641 13.8 -2.8
Turnout 91.6 +4.4
Liberal hold Swing -1.4
General election December 1910: Swansea Town[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Alfred Mond 6,503 60.4 +9.6
Conservative David Villiers Meager 4,257 39.6 +2.6
Majority 2,246 20.8 -7.0
Turnout 83.2 -8.4
Liberal hold Swing +3.5

General Election 1914/15:

Another General Election was required to take place before the end of 1915. The political parties had been making preparations for an election to take place and by the July 1914, the following candidates had been selected;


  1. ^ a b c d Morgan 1960, pp. 12-13.
  2. ^ Rees 2004, pp. 58-60.
  3. ^ Rees 2004, pp. 61-63.
  4. ^ "The Coming Dissolution. Mr Dillwyn to be Opposed at Swansea". Cambrian. 3 June 1892. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  5. ^ "Sudden Death of Mr L.L. Dillwyn MP". Weekly Mail. 25 June 1892. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  6. ^ a b c "The Political Campaign in Swansea". Cambrian. 1 July 1892. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  7. ^ "Another Enthusiastic Liberal Demonstration at the Albert Hall". Cambrian. 1 July 1892. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Craig, F. W. S., ed. (1974). British Parliamentary Election Results: 1885-1918. London: Macmillan Press. p. 463. ISBN 9781349022984.
  9. ^ "Meredyth, W. H. (Swansea Town)". The Times. 26 November 1885. p. 6. Retrieved 12 December 2017 – via [].
  10. ^ "Swansea". Jersey Independent and Daily Telegraph. 3 July 1886. p. 1. Retrieved 12 December 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.


Books and JournalsEdit