Bandon (UK Parliament constituency)

Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
Number of members One
Replaced by South East Cork
Created from Bandonbridge

Bandon (sometimes called Bandon Bridge or Bandonbridge) was a Parliamentary constituency covering the town of Bandon in County Cork, Ireland. From 1801 to 1885 it elected one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

Bandon had been one of the borough constituencies which had had two representatives in the Parliament of Ireland before 1801. The area retained one member after the Act of Union, until the borough was disenfranchised in 1885.


This constituency was the parliamentary borough of Bandon, County Cork.

In 1832 a new boundary was formed for electoral purposes closely encircling the town, and comprising an area of 439 acres (1.78 km2). The exact definition, contained in the Parliamentary Boundaries (Ireland) Act 1832 (c. 89 2& 3 Will. 4), was as follows.

"From the Point at which the Eastern Road to Macroom leaves the old or Northern Road to Cork, in a straight Line in a Westerly Direction, to the North-western Corner of Mr. Swanson's Garden; thence along the Wall of the said Garden to the South-western Corner thereof; thence in a straight Line across the River Bandon, and across the Enniskane Road, to the Point at which the old Road to Clonakilty is joined by a Bye Road which runs thereto from the new Road to Clonakilty; thence along the said Bye Road to the Point at which the same joins the new Road to Clonakilty; thence towards Bandon, along the new Road to Clonakilty, to that Point thereof which is nearest to the Northern Pillar of the Gate of Mr. M'Creight's House; thence in a straight Line to the said Northern Pillar; thence in a straight Line across the centre Kilbritten Road to the Point at which the Eastern Kilbritten Road is joined by a small Bye Road running Westward to the Fields, about Three hundred and thirty Yards to the South of the Point at which the Eastern Kilbritten Road leaves the Innishannon Road; thence in a straight Line to the Southern Corner, on the Ballinade Road, of the Premises of Mr Ormond's Distillery; thence, Eastward, along the Boundary of the Premises of Mr. Ormond's Distillery to the Point at which the same meets the Southernmost Road to Innishannon; thence in a straight Line across the River Bandon to the Point at which the old Innishannon Road is joined by a Bye Road which runs North-west in the Direction of the Kilbrogan Chapel; thence in a straight Line to the Northern Pillar of a Gateway on the old Cork Road, about Four hundred and thirty Yards to the North of the Point at which the same leaves the Innishannon Road; thence in a straight Line to the Point first described."


The borough, which existed as a local government unit until it was abolished by the Municipal Corporations (Ireland) Act 1840, had an oligarchic constitution.

The corporation of the borough was formally known as "The Provost, Free Burgesses, and Commonalty of the Borough of Bandon-Bridge" and consisted of a provost, 12 burgesses, and an unlimited number of freemen. The common council, a body not mentioned in the borough charter, was constituted by a by-law of the corporation made in 1621. It consisted of twelve members, who were elected from the freemen by the corporation at large, as vacancies arose. The burgesses were chosen from the common council, on vacancies occurring, by the provost and burgesses. The provost was elected annually from and by the burgesses at Midsummer. The provost entered upon his office at Michaelmas. The freedom was acquired by birth for the eldest son of a freeman, and nomination of the provost, who during the year of his office had the privilege of naming one. The freemen were elected by a majority of the body at large assembled in a court of D'Oyer Hundred; neither residence nor any other qualification was considered necessary.

Before 1832 the Parliamentary franchise for this constituency was extremely restricted. Only the provost (who was the returning officer for the borough) and the twelve burgesses were enfranchised. The population of the town, in 1821, was 10,179. All the elections in this period were unopposed returns; except for one election in 1831, where only ten voters participated and eleven votes were cast (including the returning officer's casting vote).

Stooks Smith gives an account of this contested election. It was the second by-election of 1831. As his book is out of copyright, the whole passage is set out below.

"This election took place on 22 July. After the Provost, (John Swete, Esq.) had been sworn, the Hon. W.S. Bernard rose, and without preface or remark, proposed Sir Augustus William Clifford, Kt., (the Duke of Devonshire's nominee) as a fit and proper representative for the borough of Bandon in Parliament; John Leslie, Esq., seconded the proposition. The Rev. Somers Payne then rose and proposed Viscount Lowther to the burgesses; the Rev. Richard Meade seconded the nomination. By way of ruse, or pairing off, Viscount Bernard was proposed by John Beamish, Esq., and seconded by Ambrose Hikey, Esq., two gentlemen of opposite opinions.

No other candidate being proposed, the Town Clerk asked the Provost for whom he would vote, in his official capacity? This was objected by Mr. Meade and Mr. Payne, who stated that, though a long time connected with the Corporation, they never knew this line of proceeding to be adopted. This was over-ruled by the assessor, who quoted in support of his opinion, an election case in the borough of Harwich, decided by a majority in the House of Commons. This point disposed of, the polling commenced, when the numbers were declared as follows.

The Provost, as returning officer, then gave his vote for Sir A.W. Clifford, who was about to be duly elected, when Mr. Payne said, I object to the monopoly of the Provost, He has no right to more than one vote. The assessor (A. Connell, Esq.):- We shall take your objection if you state it in writing. A protest was then entered by Mr. Payne and those who voted for Viscount Lowther; and Sir A.W. Clifford was declared duly elected."

In 1832, when the franchise was expanded to add the £10 householders to the electorate and the registration of voters was introduced, there were 266 registered electors and 233 votes were cast in the general election.

It appears, from the list of MPs and the report of the 1831 election, that the choice of the borough electorate both before and after 1832 was influenced by aristocratic patrons like the Duke of Devonshire and the Bernard family (whose head had the title of Earl of Bandon). If a Bernard was not elected then quite prominent political figures, notably the future Whig leaders George Tierney and Lord John Russell, were sometimes returned for the borough.

In 1868 the incumbent Bernard MP was defeated by William Shaw, standing in the Liberal interest. Later in his career Shaw was an associate of Isaac Butt in the Home Rule League. After Butt's death in 1879, Shaw became the parliamentary leader of Irish Nationalism until he was replaced by Charles Stewart Parnell in 1880.

The constituency was disenfranchised in 1885. The area was then represented in Parliament as part of one of the divisions of County Cork.

Members of Parliament

ElectionMember[1] PartyNote
1801, 1 January Sir Broderick Chinnery, Bt Whig 1801: Co-opted
1806, 15 November Hon. Courtenay Boyle Tory
1807, 15 May Henry Boyle, Viscount Boyle Tory Succeeded as the 3rd Earl of Shannon
1807, 3 August Rt Hon. George Tierney Whig
1812, 16 October Hon. Richard Boyle Bernard Tory Resigned
1815, 24 March William Sturges Bourne Tory
1818, 27 June Augustus William James Clifford Whig
1820, 13 March James Bernard, Viscount Bernard Tory
1826, 17 June John Ponsonby, Viscount Duncannon Whig Also returned by and elected to sit for County Kilkenny
1826, 19 December Lord John Russell Whig Later Prime Minister 1846–1852 and 1865–1866
1830, 7 August James Bernard, Viscount Bernard Tory Succeeded as the 2nd Earl of Bandon
1831, 6 January Francis Bernard, Viscount Bernard Tory Resigned
1831, 22 July Sir Augustus William James Clifford Whig
1832, 15 December Hon. William Smyth Bernard Conservative
1835, 14 January Joseph Devonsher Jackson Conservative Appointed Solicitor-General for Ireland
1842, 14 February Francis Bernard, Viscount Bernard Conservative Succeeded as the 3rd Earl of Bandon
1857, 14 February Hon. William Smyth Bernard Conservative Died
1863, 27 February Hon. Henry Boyle Bernard Conservative
1868, 21 November William Shaw Liberal
1874, 3 February Alexander Swanston Liberal
1880, 2 April Percy Broderick Bernard Conservative Resigned
1880, 25 June Richard Lane Allman Liberal Last MP for the constituency
1885 Constituency abolished


This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
By-Election 22 July 1831: Bandon
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Whig Sir Augustus William James Clifford 5 45.45 N/A
Tory William Lowther, Viscount Lowther 4 36.36 N/A
Tory Francis Bernard, Viscount Bernard 2 18.18 N/A
Majority 1 9.09 N/A
Turnout 11 (10 voters) 76.92 N/A
Registered electors 13
Whig gain from Tory Swing N/A
General Election 15 December 1832: Bandon
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Hon. William Smyth Bernard 133 57.08 N/A
Liberal Jacob Biggs 100 42.92 N/A
Majority 33 14.16 N/A
Turnout 233 87.59 N/A
Registered electors 266
Conservative gain from Whig Swing N/A

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