Warwickshire (UK Parliament constituency)

Warwickshire was a parliamentary constituency in Warwickshire in England. It returned two Members of Parliament (MPs), traditionally known as knights of the shire, to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, elected by the bloc vote system.

Former County constituency
for the House of Commons
Replaced byNorth Warwickshire and South Warwickshire


Boundaries and franchiseEdit

The constituency, which seems first to have returned members to Parliament in 1293, consisted of the historic county of Warwickshire, excluding the city of Coventry which had the status of a county in its itself after 1451. (Although Warwickshire also contained the borough of Warwick and part of the borough of Tamworth, each of which elected two MPs in its own right for part of the period when Warwickshire was a constituency, these were not excluded from the county constituency, and owning property within the borough could confer a vote at the county election. This was not the case, though, for Coventry.)

As in other county constituencies the franchise between 1430 and 1832 was defined by the Forty Shilling Freeholder Act, which gave the right to vote to every man who possessed freehold property within the county valued at £2 or more per year for the purposes of land tax; it was not necessary for the freeholder to occupy his land, nor even in later years to be resident in the county at all.

Except during the period of the Commonwealth, Warwickshire has two MPs elected by the bloc vote method, under which each voter had two votes. (In the First and Second Parliaments of Oliver Cromwell's Protectorate, there was a general redistribution of seats and Warwickshire elected four members; the traditional arrangements were restored from 1659.)


In the Middle Ages Warwickshire was mainly an agricultural county, but the realisation of the value of its mineral wealth, and eventually the coming of the Industrial Revolution, transformed its character. By the time of the Great Reform Act in 1832, Warwickshire had a population of approximately 337,000, of which 142,000 were in Birmingham and its suburbs; since Birmingham had been of little importance in medieval times it was not a borough, and was represented in Parliament only through Warwickshire's county members. The franchise being based on land ownership, the urban areas commanded a much smaller proportion of the votes than of the population: at the election in 1820 when Warwickshire recorded its highest turnout, only 399 of the 3,122 votes were cast in Birmingham, and a little under 300 in total from the other main towns (Warwick, Stratford-upon-Avon and Nuneaton).

Nevertheless, this gave the industrial and manufacturing interests some leverage, which they found necessary since the interests of the rest of the county were sometimes much at odds with their own. As a group of Birmingham manufacturers explained in 1780 letter to the Earl of Dartmouth (one of the most influential of the locally connected noblemen):

The various commercial regulations, so frequently made by the Legislature, affect the trade and manufacturers of this place very much and render it an object of great importance to its inhabitants that gentlemen may, if possible, be chosen for the county who are connected with the people, and not entirely uninformed of the particulars in which their interests consist.

- Letter published in the 13th Report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission, quoted by Porritt

In practice contested elections were rare: the general elections of 1705 and 1774 were the only ones of the 29 between 1701 and 1832 and which Warwickshire's two MPs were not elected unopposed. Elections were held at a single polling place, Warwick, and voters from the rest of the county had to travel to the county town to exercise their franchise; candidates were expected to meet the expenses of their supporters in travelling to the poll, making the cost of a contested election substantial. Potential candidates therefore preferred to canvass support beforehand and usually not insisting on a vote being taken unless they were confident of winning; at most elections, amicable negotiation had settled the outcome well in advance.

The representation was generally in the hands of the leading gentry of the county – notably the Mordaunts of Walton, who held one of the two seats for 82 of the 122 years between 1698 and 1820. But increasingly during the 18th century, it became necessary to defer to the preferences of the Birmingham freeholders in choosing between the available candidates. The 1774 election developed into a hard-fought contest when agreement could not be reached over who should replace Sir Charles Mordaunt, who had retired after forty years as the county's MP. After a poll that lasted 11 days, it was the nominee of the Birmingham interests, Sir Charles Holte of Aston, who emerged triumphant over Mordaunt's son. When Holte in his turn retired after one Parliament, the candidate chosen to replace him by the meeting of Birmingham freeholders was accepted by the county meeting without opposition, the other hopefuls being left to squabble over the one remaining seat.

Nevertheless, the choice remained one between the various gentry of the county, and by the early 19th century Birmingham had become one of the most vocal centres of agitation for parliamentary reform. This resulted in violent disruption of the 1830 Warwickshire election, even though the two candidates were unopposed. A mob from the Birmingham Union, 300 or 400 strong and accompanied by a band, invaded the hustings at Warwick and demanded assurances from the candidates that they would support reform. Peel regarded this "daring attempt to overawe the nomination of representatives at Warwick" as one of the most serious in a generally tumultuous election; yet it seems to have failed to intimidate the candidates, since one was already a reformer and the other refused to give any pledge of support.


The constituency was abolished in 1832 by the Great Reform Act, which divided the county into two new divisions, North Warwickshire and South Warwickshire, as well as establishing Birmingham as a borough electing MPs in its own right.

Members of ParliamentEdit


Parliament First member Second member
1320 Sir Robert Burdet
1325 Sir Robert Burdet
1327 Sir Robert Burdet
1377 Henry de Ardern
1380 Henry de Ardern
1386 George Castell Sir John Peyto[1]
1388 (Feb) Sir William Bagot Guy Spyne[1]
1388 (Sep) Sir William Bagot Guy Spyne[1]
1390 (Jan) Sir William Bagot Guy Spyne[1]
1390 (Nov) Sir William Bagot Guy Spyne[1]
1391 Sir William Bagot Guy Spyne[1]
1393 Sir William Bagot John Catesby[1]
1394 Sir William Bagot Sir Thomas Burdet[1]
1395 Sir William Bagot William Spernore[1]
1397 (Jan) Sir William Bagot Sir Thomas Clinton[1]
1397 (Sep) Sir William Bagot Thomas Crewe[1]
1399 Sir William Lucy Sir Alfred Trussell[1]
1401 Sir Thomas Burdet Sir Alfred Trussell[1]
1402 Sir William Bagot Sir Alfred Trussell[1]
1404 (Jan) Robert Hugford Roger Smart[1]
1404 (Oct) Thomas Crewe Thomas Raleigh[1]
1406 Sir Thomas Burdet Sir Thomas Lucy[1]
1407 Sir Alfred Trussell Henry Sutton[1]
1410 Sir William Mountfort[1]
1411 Sir Thomas Lucy Thomas Erdington[1]
1413 (Feb)
1413 (May) William Birmingham John Mallory[1]
1414 (Apr) Robert Castell Thomas Stafford[1]
1414 (Nov) John Harewell John Knightley[1]
1416 (Mar)
1416 (Oct)
1419 Sir Thomas Burdet John Mallory[1]
1420 Sir John Cokayne William Peyto[1]
1421 (May) William Holt John Mallory[1]
1421 (Dec) Sir John Cokayne John Chetwynd[1]
1422 Sir William Mountfort [2] Robert Castell[3]
1423 Sir William Mountfort [2]
1427 Sir William Mountfort [2]
1429 Sir William Mountfort [2]
1437 Sir William Mountfort [2]
1445 Sir William Mountfort Sir Thomas Malory
1450 Sir William Mountfort [2]
1463 Sir Simon Mountford <[4]
1485 Sir Simon Mountford William Hugford[4]
1491 Sir Simon Mountford[4]
1510–1523 No names known[5]
1529 Sir George Throckmorton Sir Edward Ferrers[5]
1539 Richard Catesby John Greville[5]
1545 Sir Fulke Greville Sir Marmaduke Constable[5]
1547 Sir Fulke Greville Robert Burdett, died
and replaced Jan 1552 by
Sir Marmaduke Constable[5]
1553 (Mar) Sir Richard Catesby Robert Throckmorton[5]
1553 (Oct) Robert Throckmorton Thomas Marrow[5]
1554 (Apr) (Sir) William Wigston Sir Fulke Greville[5]
1554 (Nov) Sir Fulke Greville Sir William Wigston[5]
1555 Sir Robert Throckmorton Sir William Wigston[5]
1558 Sir Ambrose Cave Thomas Throckmorton[5]
1558–1559 Sir Ambrose Cave Thomas Lucy[6]
1562–1563 Sir Ambrose Cave Clement Throckmorton[6]
1571 Sir Thomas Lucy John Huband[6]
1572 (Apr) Sir William Devereux, died
and replaced Nov 1584 by
George Digby
Clement Throckmorton, died
and replaced Mar 1575 by
John Huband[6]
1584 (Nov) Sir Thomas Lucy George Digby[6]
1586 (Oct) Sir John Harington Fulke Greville[6]
1588 (Oct) Fulke Greville Richard Verney[6]
1593 Fulke Greville Edward Greville[6]
1597 (Oct) Fulke Greville William Combe[6]
1601 Fulke Greville Sir Robert Digby[6]
1604 Sir Edward Greville Sir Richard Verney
1614 Sir Thomas Lucy Sir Richard Verney
1621 Sir Thomas Lucy Sir Fulke Greville ennobled 1621
and replaced by Sir Francis Leigh
1624 Sir Thomas Lucy Sir Clement Throckmorton
1625 Sir Thomas Lucy Sir Clement Throckmorton
1626 Sir Thomas Lucy Sir Clement Throckmorton
1628 Sir Thomas Lucy Sir Thomas Leigh, 2nd Baronet
1629–1640 No Parliaments summoned


Year First member First party Second member Second party
November 1640 Lord Compton Royalist Edward Combe[7]
December 1640 Richard Shuckburgh Royalist
March 1643 Compton inherited the Earldom
of Northampton – seat vacant
January 1644 Shuckburgh disabled from sitting – seat vacant
1645 Thomas Boughton Sir John Burgoyne
December 1648 Boughton and Burgoyne excluded in Pride's Purge – both seats vacant
1653 John St Nicholas Richard Lucy
Representation increased to four members in First Protectorate Parliament
1654 Richard Lucy, Thomas Willoughby, Sir Richard Temple, William Purefoy
1656 Richard Lucy, (Sir) Roger Burgoyne, Edward Peyto, Joseph Hawkesworth
Representation reverted to two members in Third Protectorate Parliament
January 1659 Richard Lucy Joseph Hawkesworth
May 1659 Warwickshire was not represented in the restored Rump
April 1660 Thomas Archer George Browne
1661 Sir Robert Holte, Bt Sir Henry Puckering, Bt
1679 Sir Edward Boughton, Bt Robert Burdett Tory
1681 Sir Richard Newdigate, Bt Thomas Mariet
1685 Sir Charles Holte, Bt Sir Richard Verney
1689 Sir Richard Newdigate, Bt
1690 William Bromley Andrew Archer
1698 Sir John Mordaunt, Bt Sir Charles Shuckburgh, Bt
1705 Andrew Archer
1710 Lord Compton
1712 Sir William Boughton, Bt
1713 Andrew Archer
1715 William Peyto
1722 Robert Digby Tory
1726 Edward Digby Tory
1734 Sir Charles Mordaunt, Bt
1746 Hon. William Craven
1765 William Throckmorton Bromley
1769 Thomas Skipwith, Bt
1774 Sir Charles Holte, Bt
1780 Sir Robert Lawley, Bt Sir George Shuckburgh, Bt
1793 Sir John Mordaunt, Bt
1802 Dugdale Stratford Dugdale
1804 Charles Mordaunt
1820 Francis Lawley Whig
1831 Sir Grey Skipwith, Bt Whig
1832 Constituency abolished


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa "History of Parliament". Retrieved 5 September 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f History of Parliament Online
  3. ^ History of Parliament
  4. ^ a b c The English Parliaments of Henry VII. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "History of Parliament". Retrieved 5 September 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "History of Parliament". Retrieved 5 September 2011.
  7. ^ The election of Compton and Combe was declared void on 2 December 1640, because the Sheriff had cut short the election; however, Compton was re-elected in the subsequent by-election


  • Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "W" (part 1)
  • Robert Beatson, A Chronological Register of Both Houses of Parliament (London: Longman, Hurst, Res & Orme, 1807) [1]
  • Michael Brock, The Great Reform Act (London: Hutchinson, 1973)
  • D Brunton & D H Pennington, Members of the Long Parliament (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1954)
  • John Cannon, Parliamentary Reform 1640–1832 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972)
  • Cobbett's Parliamentary history of England, from the Norman Conquest in 1066 to the year 1803 (London: Thomas Hansard, 1808) [2]
  • Maija Jansson (ed.), Proceedings in Parliament, 1614 (House of Commons) (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1988) [3]
  • Lewis Namier & John Brooke, The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1754–1790 (London: HMSO, 1964)
  • J E Neale, The Elizabethan House of Commons (London: Jonathan Cape, 1949)
  • 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)