Elections in Great Britain
|Elections in Great Britain|
Territory of the Kingdom of Great Britain
|Languages||English (de facto official), Cornish, Scots, Scottish Gaelic, Norn, Welsh|
|Government||Parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy|
|•||1742–1743||Earl of Wilmington|
|•||1757–1762||Duke of Newcastle|
|•||1766–1768||William Pitt the Elder|
|•||1783–1801||William Pitt the Younger|
|•||Upper house||House of Lords|
|•||Lower house||House of Commons of Great Britain|
|Historical era||18th century|
|•||1707 Union||1 May 1707|
|•||1801 Union||1 January 1801|
|•||1801||230,977 km² (89,181 sq mi)|
|Density||70.8 /km² (183.3 /sq mi)|
|Today part of||United Kingdom|
| Cornish: Rywvaneth Breten Veur|
Scots: Kinrick o Great Breetain
Scottish Gaelic: Rìoghachd na Breatainne Mòire
Welsh: Teyrnas Prydain Fawr
England, Scotland, Wales.
Elections in the Kingdom of Great Britain were principally general elections and by-elections to the House of Commons of Great Britain. General elections did not have fixed dates, as parliament was summoned and dissolved within the royal prerogative, although on the advice of the ministers of the Crown. The first such general election was that of 1708, and the last that of 1796.
For details of the national elections of Great Britain, see:
- British general election, 1707
- British general election, 1708
- British general election, 1710
- British general election, 1713
- British general election, 1715
- British general election, 1722
- British general election, 1727
- British general election, 1734
- British general election, 1741
- British general election, 1747
- British general election, 1754
- British general election, 1761
- British general election, 1768
- British general election, 1774
- British general election, 1780
- British general election, 1784
- British general election, 1790
- British general election, 1796
Politics in Great Britain was dominated by the Whigs and the Tories, although neither were political parties in the modern sense but loose alliances of interests and individuals. The Whigs included many of the leading aristocratic dynasties who were most committed to the Protestant settlement of the throne, with later support from the emerging industrial interests and rich city merchants, while the Tories were associated with the landed gentry, the Church of England and the Church of Scotland.
Members of Parliament needed to appeal to a much smaller electorate than is the case today, especially in the boroughs. In the case of the rotten and pocket boroughs, a majority of the votes was usually controlled by one person, or by a small group. This gave less power to organized political parties and more to influential individuals, some of whom had themselves elected in the constituencies they controlled. Such seats were also sold for hard cash. Thus, many members were fundamentally Independents, even if they attached themselves to one party or another during their parliamentary careers.
Members of Parliament and Parliamentary constituencies
The constituencies which elected members in England and Wales remained unchanged throughout the existence of the Parliament of Great Britain.
- Table of parliamentary constituencies and seats in the House of Commons
|Country||BC||CC||UC||Total C||BM||CM||UM||Total Members|
- Key: BC - Borough or Burgh constituencies, CC - County constituencies, UC - University constituencies, Total C - Total constituencies, BMP - Borough/Burgh Members of Parliament, CMP - County Members of Parliament, UMP - University Members of Parliament.
There were few local elections in the Kingdom of Great Britain as the concept is now understood. Local government existed only in rudimentary forms, and much of the civil administration of the counties was carried out by the unelected Quarter Sessions and by magistrates. In the City of London, annual elections were held to the Corporation of London, but on a limited suffrage, and some improvement commissioners were elected by ratepayers, if not co-opted, while the borough and city corporations elsewhere were generally not directly elected.
For further information on local corporations during this period, see the reforming Municipal Corporations Act 1835.
- List of Parliaments of Great Britain
- History of the British constitution
- List of counties and boroughs of the Unreformed House of Commons at 1800
- List of parliamentary constituencies in Scotland from 1707
- Scottish Westminster constituencies
- Electoral system
- Election agent
- Polling agent
- Counting agent
- University constituency
- Rotten borough
- Keith Feiling; A History of the Tory Party, 1640–1714 (1924), online edition; The Second Tory Party, 1714–1832 (1938), online edition
- Chris Cook & John Stevenson, British Historical Facts 1760-1830 (The Macmillan Press, 1980)
- Monmouthshire, with one county constituency represented by two members and one single-member borough constituency, is included in England. In later centuries it was included in Wales.