Bedfordshire (UK Parliament constituency)

Former County constituency
for the House of Commons
Number of members two

Bedfordshire was a United Kingdom Parliamentary constituency, which elected two Members of Parliament from 1295 until 1885, when it was divided into two constituencies under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885.


The constituency consisted of the historic county of Bedfordshire. (Although Bedfordshire contained the borough of Bedford, which elected two MPs in its own right, this was not excluded from the county constituency, and owning property within the borough could confer a vote at the county election.)

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.

At the time of the Great Reform Act in 1832, Bedfordshire had a population of approximately 95,000, but under 4,000 votes were cast at the election of 1826, and under 3,000 in election of 1830, even though each voter could cast two votes. Although local landowners could never control a county the size of Bedfordshire in the way they could own a pocket borough, titled magnates still exercised considerable influence over deferential county voters, and the Duke of Bedford was regarded as the hereditary "patron" of the constituency.

Elections were held at a single polling place, Bedford, and voters from the rest of the county had to travel to the county town to exercise their franchise. In many other counties this could make the cost of a contested election prohibitive, since it was normal for voters to expect the candidates for whom they voted to meet their expenses in travelling to the poll; but this was less of a factor in a small county like Bedfordshire, and contested elections were not uncommon.

Under the terms of the Great Reform Act of 1832, the county franchise was extended to occupiers of land worth £50 or more, as well as the forty-shilling freeholders, but Bedfordshire was otherwise left unchanged. Under the new rules, 3,966 were registered and entitled to vote at the general election of 1832. While Bedford remained the place of election, where nominations were taken and the result declared, polling also took place at Luton, Leighton Buzzard, Ampthill, Biggleswade and Sharnbrook.

Under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885, the constituency was abolished and the county divided into two single-member county constituencies, Biggleswade and Luton.

Members of Parliament

MPs 1290–1640

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
ParliamentFirst memberSecond member
Parliament of 1295 Sir David Flitwick[1]
Parliament of 1313 (Jul) Peter de LoringDavid Flitwick, K.B.[1]
Parliament of 1313 (Sep) Sir Peter de LoringSir David Flitwick, K.B.[1]
Parliament of 1316 Roger Dakeney
Good Parliament (1376) Johannes Trayle
Parliament of Jan 1377 Sir Gerard Braybrooke I
Parliament of 1379 William Mordaunt
Parliament of 1381 Johannes Trayle
Parliament of 1385 Reynold Ragon
Parliament of 1386 Ralph Fitzrichard John Hervey
Parliament of Feb 1388 Sir Gerard Braybrooke II Robert Digswell
Parliament of Sep 1388 William Terrington Ralph Walton
Parliament of Jan 1390 Baldwin Pigot
Parliament of Nov 1390 Sir Gerard Braybrooke I Thomas Zouche
Parliament of 1391 William Terrington Ralph Walton
Parliament of 1393 John Worship
Parliament of 1394 Reynold Regan
Parliament of 1395 Philip Walwyn Giles Daubeney
Parliament of Jan 1397 William Terrington John Worship
Parliament of Sep 1397 Sir Baldwin Pigot
Parliament of 1399 Sir Gerard Braybrooke II Sir Roger Beauchamp
Parliament of 1401 Sir Baldwin Pigot Giles Daubeney
Parliament of 1402 Reynold Ragon John Worship
Parliament of Jan 1404 William Terrington
Parliament of Oct 1404 Thomas Durant William Wenlock
Parliament of 1406 Hugh Hasilden
Parliament of 1407 William Bosom John Worship
Parliament of 1409 Returns lost
Parliament of 1411 Returns lost
Parliament of May 1413 William Bosom Thomas Waweton
Parliament of Apr 1414 John Goldington
Parliament of Nov 1414 John Enderby Roger Hunt
Parliament of Mar 1416 William Bosom
Parliament of 1417 Thomas Roxton
Parliament of 1419 John Enderby Sir Thomas Waweton
Parliament of 1420 Robert Scott Roger Hunt
Parliament of May 1421 John Goldington II Thomas Mordaunt
Parliament of Dec 1421 Thomas Manningham Henry Cockayne
Parliament of 1424 Sir Thomas Waweton
Parliament of 1431
Parliament of 1433 John Wenlock
Parliament of 1436
Parliament of 1437
Parliament of 1439
Parliament of 1455 Sir John Wenlock
Parliament of 1529 Sir William Gascoigne George Acworth (died 1532)
John St John
Parliament of 1536
Parliament of 1539 Sir John St John John Gostwick
Parliament of 1542 Sir John Gascoigne
Parliament of 1545 John Gostwick, died 1545 Edmund Conquest
Parliament of 1547–1552 Oliver St John Lewis Dyve
Parliament of March 1553 Sir Humphrey Radclyffe
Parliament of October 1553 Sir John Gascoigne Sir John Mordaunt
Parliament of 1554 Sir Humphrey Radclyffe
Parliament of 1554-1555
Parliament of 1555
Parliament of 1558 Sir John Gascoigne
Parliament of 1559 Hon. John St John Thomas Pigott
Parliament of 1563–1567 Lewis Mordaunt
Parliament of 1571 George Rotheram Thomas Snagge
Parliament of 1572–1583 Sir Henry Cheyne (1572 - created a peer)
John Thomson (1572-1583)
Parliament of 1584–1585 Nicholas Luke
Parliament of 1586–1587 Thomas Snagge
Parliament of 1588–1589 Hon. Oliver St John Edward Radclyffe
Parliament of 1593 George Rotheram
Parliament of 1597–1598 Sir Edward Radclyffe Nicholas Luke
Parliament of 1601 Hon. Oliver St John
Parliament of 1604–1611
Addled Parliament (1614) Sir Henry Grey Sir Oliver Luke
Parliament of 1621-1622 Sir Beauchamp St John
Happy Parliament (1624-1625) Oliver St John
Useless Parliament (1625)
Parliament of 1625-1626
Parliament of 1628-1629 Oliver St John
No Parliament summoned 1629-1640

MPs 1640–1885

YearFirst memberFirst partySecond memberSecond party
April 1640 The Lord Wentworth [2]Royalist Sir Oliver Luke Parliamentarian
1641 Roger BurgoyneParliamentarian
December 1648 Burgoyne and Luke excluded in Pride's Purge - both seats vacant
1653 Nathaniel Taylor Edward Cater
Representation increased to five members in First and Second Parliaments of the Protectorate
YearFirst memberSecond memberThird memberFourth memberFifth member
1654 Sir William Boteler John Harvey Edmund Wingate John Neale Samuel Bedford
1656 Richard Wagstaffe Richard Edwards
Representation reverted to two members in Third Protectorate Parliament
YearFirst memberFirst partySecond memberSecond party
January 1659 Major Richard Wagstaffe Colonel John Okey
May 1659 Not represented in the restored Rump
9 April 1660 Lord Bruce of Whorlton Samuel Browne
10 April 1661 Sir Humphrey Winch, 1st Bt
2 May 1664 Sir John Napier, 4th Bt
18 February 1679 Lord Russell Whig Sir Humphrey Monoux, 2nd Bt
1 September 1679
14 February 1681
10 March 1685 Sir Villiers Chernock, 2nd Bt William Boteler
11 January 1689 Lord Edward Russell Whig William Duncombe Whig
27 February 1690 Thomas Browne
2 November 1695 William Duncombe Whig
20 July 1698 Sir William Gostwick, 4th Bt Whig
c. January 1701
11 December 1701
22 July 1702
23 May 1705 Sir Pynsent Chernock, 3rd Bt Tory
19 May 1708 Lord Edward Russell Whig
5 October 1710
2 September 1713 Sir Pynsent Chernock, 3rd Bt Tory John Harvey Tory
16 February 1715 William Hillersden Whig
19 July 1715 John Cater[3] Whig
4 April 1722 Hon. Charles Leigh Tory Sir Rowland Alston, 4th Bt Whig
1 September 1727 Hon. Pattee Byng
16 February 1733 Charles Leigh Tory
24 April 1734 Hon. John Spencer[4]
26 February 1735 Sir Roger Burgoyne, 6th Bt Whig
18 May 1741 Sir John Chester, 6th Bt Tory
6 July 1747 Sir Danvers Osborn, 3rd Bt Whig Thomas Alston[5] Whig
5 December 1753 The Earl of Upper Ossory Whig
24 April 1754
13 December 1758 Henry Osborn Whig
1 April 1761 Marquess of Tavistock Whig Robert Henley-Ongley[6] Tory
7 April 1767 The Earl of Upper Ossory Whig
28 March 1768
21 October 1774
27 September 1780 Hon. St Andrew St John Whig
19 April 1784
1 July 1784 The Lord Ongley[7] Tory
19 May 1785 Hon. St Andrew St John[8] Whig
28 June 1790
15 September 1794 John Osborn Tory
31 May 1796
10 July 1802
4 November 1806 Francis Pym Whig
11 May 1807 Hon. Richard FitzPatrickWhig
14 October 1812 Marquess of Tavistock Whig
23 June 1818 Sir John Osborn, 5th Bt Tory
21 March 1820 Francis Pym Whig
15 June 1826 Thomas Potter Macqueen Tory
9 August 1830 William Stuart Tory
5 May 1831 Peter Payne Whig
1832 Lord Charles Russell Whig William Stuart Conservative
1835 Viscount Alford Conservative
1841 William Thornton Astell Conservative
March 1847 Lord Charles Russell Liberal
August 1847 Francis Russell Liberal
1851 Sir Richard Gilpin, 1st Bt [9] Conservative
1872 Francis Bassett Liberal
1875 Marquess of Tavistock Liberal
1880 James Howard Liberal
1885 constituency divided: see Luton and Biggleswade

Election results

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.


  1. 1 2 3 Members of Parliament 1213-1702 (hardback), London: House of Commons, 1878
  2. Wentworth was summoned to the House of Lords in his father's barony, by writ of acceleration, before the Long Parliament had met for the first time
  3. Declared elected and Harvey unseated on petition
  4. Chose to sit for Woodstock
  5. Succeeded as 5th baronet in 1759
  6. Created Lord Ongley in 1776
  7. Declared elected and St John unseated on petition
  8. Declared elected and Ongley unseated on petition
  9. Sir Richard Gilpin: Obituary in The Times, Monday, Apr 10, 1882; pg. 7; Issue 30477; col F: Died "on Saturday", No issue, Baronetcy extinct.

See also


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