Boston (UK Parliament constituency)

Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
Number of members two (1547-1885); one (1885-1918)
Replaced by Holland with Boston
Created from Lincolnshire
Number of members two
Replaced by Lincolnshire

Boston was a parliamentary borough in Lincolnshire, which elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons from 1547 until 1885, and then one member from 1885 until 1918, when the constituency was abolished.


Boston first elected Members of Parliament in 1352-1353, but after that the right lapsed and was not revived again until the reign of Edward VI. The borough consisted of most of the town of Boston, a port and market town on the River Witham which had overgrown its original boundaries as the river had been cleared of silt and its trade developed. In 1831, the population of the borough was 11,240, contained 2,631 houses.

The right to vote belonged to the Mayor, aldermen, members of the common council and all resident freemen of the borough who paid scot and lot. This gave Boston a relatively substantial electorate for the period, 927 votes being cast in 1826 and 565 in 1831. The freedom was generally obtained either by birth (being the son of an existing freemen) or servitude (completing an apprenticeship in the town), but could also be conferred as an honorary status, and Boston charged a consistently escalating sum to its Parliamentary candidates who wanted to be admitted as freemen - set at £20 in 1700, it was raised to £50 in 1719, to £100 in 1790 and to £135 in 1800.

Major local landowners had some influence over election outcomes through deference of the voters - the Duke of Ancaster, for example, was generally allowed to choose one of the members up to the end of the 18th century - but in the last few years before the Reform Act at least one of the two members seems consistently to have been the free choice of the people of the town. However, bribery was rife in some of the early 19th-century elections, and the election of Thomas Fydell in 1802 was overturned when it was discovered that not only had he been paying electors five guineas for a vote, but that many of these were not qualified to vote anyway. (They were freemen not resident in the borough, whose names had been fraudulently entered as paying the poor rate at houses where they did not live, so as to appear eligible.)

Boston retained both its MPs under the Reform Act, but its boundaries were extended slightly, taking in more of the town and part of the neighbouring parish of Skirbeck. This increased the population of the borough to 12,818, although only 869 of these were eligible to vote in the first election after Reform; this had grown to just over 1,000 by the time of the Second Reform Act, when the widening of the franchise more than doubled it, over 2,500 electors being registered for the 1868 general election which followed. But by the 1870s, electoral corruption had again become a problem in Boston. The result of the 1874 election was overturned for bribery, and a Royal Commission set up to investigate; when the next general election, in 1880, had to be declared void for the same reasons, Boston's representation was suspended for the remainder of the Parliament.

Boston had its right to vote restored for the 1885 election, but the boundary changes which came into effect at the same time slightly reduced the size of the borough and allowed it only one MP. The constituency at this period was mainly middle-class but non-conformists had a strong presence, enabling the Liberals to be competitive where they might otherwise have struggled. The deciding factor which may have tilted the constituency towards the Conservatives in its final years may have been the benefit that the local fisherman saw in Tariff Reform.

The borough was abolished with effect from the general election of 1918, Boston being included in the new Holland with Boston county division.

Members of Parliament


YearFirst memberSecond member
1547 John Wendon William Naunton[1]
1553 (Mar) Leonard Irby George Foster [1]
1553 (Oct) Francis Allen George Foster [1]
1554 (Apr) Leonard Irby George Foster [1]
1554 (Nov) Leonard Irby George Foster [1]
1555 Leonard Irby George Foster [1]
1558 Leonard Irby George Foster [1]
1559 (Jan) Robert Carr Leonard Irby [2]
1562/3 Thomas Heneage, sat for Lincolnshire,
replaced Jan 1563 by
John Tamworth
Leonard Irby [2]
1571 Christopher Hatton, sat for Higham Ferrers,
replaced 1571 by
Thomas Lyfield
Leonard Irby [2]
1572 Stephen Thymbleby William Dodington [2]
1584 (Nov) Nicholas Gorges Vincent Skinner [2]
1586 (Oct) Vincent Skinner Richard Stevenson [2]
1588/9 Vincent Skinner Anthony Irby [2]
1593 Anthony Irby Richard Stevenson [2]
1597 (Sep) Anthony Irby Richard Stevenson [2]
1601 (Oct) Anthony Irby Henry Capell [2]
1604 Anthony Irby Francis Bullingham
1614 Anthony Irby Leonard Bawtree
1621 Anthony Irby Sir Thomas Cheek, sat for Harwich
replaced by
Sir William Airmine
1624 William Boswell Sir Clement Cotterell, sat for Grantham
replaced by
Sir William Airmine
1625 Sir Edward Barkham William Boswell
1626 Sir Edward Barkham Richard Oakley
1628 Richard Bellingham Richard Oakley, unseated after petition
replaced by
Anthony Irby
1629–1640 No Parliaments summoned


YearFirst memberFirst partySecond memberSecond party
April 1640 William Ellis Parliamentarian Sir Anthony Irby
November 1640 Sir Anthony Irby Parliamentarian
December 1648 Irby excluded in Pride's Purge - seat vacant
1653 Boston was unrepresented in the Barebones Parliament
1654 William Ellis Boston had only one seat in the First and
Second Parliaments of the Protectorate
1656 Sir Anthony Irby
January 1659 Francis Mussenden
May 1659 William Ellis One seat vacant in restored Rump
February 1660 Sir Anthony Irby
April 1660 Thomas Hatcher
1661 Lord Willoughby de Eresby
1666 Sir Philip Harcourt
February 1679 Sir William Ellis
May 1679 Sir William Yorke
1685 Lord Willoughby de Eresby Peregrine Bertie
1689 Sir William Yorke
1690 Peregrine Bertie
1698 Richard Wynn Edmund Boulter
January 1701 Sir William Yorke
December 1701 Peregrine Bertie
1702 Sir Edward Irby
1705 Richard Wynn
1708 Peregrine Bertie
1711 William Cotesworth
1713 Henry Heron
1719 Richard Ellys
1722 Henry Pacey
1730 The Lord Coleraine
1734 Albemarle Bertie Richard Fydell
1741 Lord Vere Bertie John Michell
1754 Lord Robert Bertie Charles Amcotts
1761 John Michell
1766 Charles Amcotts
1777 Humphrey Sibthorp
1782 Sir Peter Burrell
1784 Dalhousie Watherston
1790 Thomas Fydell 1
1796 Viscount Milsington
1802 William Alexander Madocks
1803 Thomas Fydell 2
1806 Thomas Fydell 1
1812 Peter Drummond-Burrell
1820 Gilbert John Heathcote Whig Henry Ellis
1821 William Augustus Johnson
1826 Neil Malcolm
1830 John Wilks Whig
1831 Gilbert John Heathcote Whig
1832 Benjamin Handley Whig
1835 John Studholme Brownrigg Conservative
1837 Sir James Duke Whig
1847 Benjamin Bond Cabbell Conservative
1849 Hon. Dudley Pelham Whig
1851 James William Freshfield Conservative
1852 Gilbert Henry Heathcote Whig
1856 Herbert Ingram Whig
1857 William Henry Adams Conservative
1859 Meaburn Staniland Liberal
1860 John Wingfield Malcolm Conservative
1865 Thomas Parry [3] Liberal
1866 Meaburn Staniland Liberal
1867 Thomas Parry Liberal
1868 Thomas Collins Conservative
1874 William James Ingram Liberal Thomas Parry Liberal
1874 John Wingfield Malcolm [4] Conservative
1878 Thomas Garfit Conservative
1880 Representation suspended


1885 Representation restored and reduced to one Member
1885 William James Ingram Liberal
1886 Henry John Farmer-Atkinson Conservative
1892 Sir William Ingram Liberal
1895 William Garfit Conservative
1906 George Henry Faber Liberal
Jan. 1910 Charles Harvey Dixon Conservative
1918 constituency abolished


Elections in the 1880s

General Election 1885: Boston[5][6]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal William James Ingram 1,295 n/a
Conservative Nehemiah Learoyd 996 n/a
Majority 299 n/a
Turnout n/a
Liberal win (new seat)
General Election 1886: Boston[5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Henry John Farmer-Atkinson 1,192
Liberal William James Ingram 1,144
Majority 48
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing

Elections in the 1890s

G. Willoughby
General Election 1892: Boston[7]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal William James Ingram 1,355 51.2
Conservative Hon. Gilbert Heathcote Drummond Willoughby 1,293 48.8
Majority 62 2.4
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing
William Garfit
General Election 1895: Boston[7]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative William Garfit 1,633 56.9
Liberal Sir William James Ingram 1,237 43.1
Majority 396 13.8
Turnout 87.0
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing

Elections in the 1900s

General Election 1900: Boston[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative William Garfit 1,710 59.7
Liberal William Turner Simonds 1,155 40.3
Majority 555 19.4
Turnout 83.1
Conservative hold Swing
George Faber
General Election 1906: Boston[7]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal George Henry Faber 1,801 51.5 +11.2
Conservative William Garfit 1,694 48.5 -11.2
Majority 107 3.0 22.4
Turnout 89.7 +6.6
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +11.2

Elections in the 1910s

General Election January 1910: Boston[7]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Charles Harvey Dixon 1,975 53.5
Liberal Henry Simpson Lunn 1,715 46.5
Majority 260 7.0
Turnout 91.4
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing
Fitzroy Hemphill
General Election December 1910: Boston[7]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Charles Harvey Dixon 1,875 52.3 -1.2
Liberal Hon. Fitzroy Hemphill 1,712 47.7 +1.2
Majority 163 4.6
Turnout 88.9 -2.5
Conservative hold Swing -1.2

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. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "History of Parliament". Retrieved 2011-09-30.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "History of Parliament". Retrieved 2011-09-30.
  3. On petition, Parry's election was declared void and Staniland duly elected after scrutiny of the votes
  4. At the 1874 election, both Liberal candidates, Ingram and Thomas Parry, were initially declared elected but on petition Parry's election was declared void. After scrutiny 353 of Parry's 1,347 votes were struck off for bribery, and Malcolm, who had originally finished third, was declared elected. Following this election a Royal Commission was appointed to investigate the conduct of elections in Boston
  5. 1 2 Liberal Year Book 1907
  6. Debrett's House of Commons & Judicial Bench, 1886
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 British parliamentary election results, 1885-1918 (Craig)
  8. Debrett's House of Commons 1901
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