Monmouth Boroughs (UK Parliament constituency)

Monmouth Boroughs
Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
Number of members one
Replaced by Monmouth and Newport
For constituencies which may be confused with Monmouth Boroughs, see Monmouth constituency

Monmouth Boroughs (also known as the Monmouth District of Boroughs) was a parliamentary constituency consisting of several towns in Monmouthshire. It returned one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons of the Parliaments of England, Great Britain, and finally the United Kingdom; until 1832 the constituency was known simply as Monmouth, though it included other "contributory boroughs".


Monmouth was first enfranchised (as the borough of Monmouth or Monmouth Town) during the reign of Henry VIII, at the same time as the counties and boroughs of Wales, and although it was legally regarded as being in England its electoral arrangements from the outset resembled those of the Welsh boroughs rather than those in the rest of England - it elected only a single member, and the borough consisted not only of the town after which it was named but also of a number of other "contributory boroughs" in the same county, which were required to contribute to the members' expenses and which had the right to send voters to take part in the election at the county town. In the case of Monmouth, there were initially six or perhaps seven contributory boroughs: Caerleon, Newport, Trellech, Usk, Chepstow, Abergavenny and possibly Grosmont; but by the late 17th century all of the electors were freemen of Monmouth, Usk and Newport.

The franchise was settled by a judgment in a disputed election in 1680, when Monmouth attempted to return a member to parliament without the involvement of the other boroughs, and the right to vote was declared to rest in the resident freemen of Monmouth, Newport and Usk. The number of electors seems once to have been substantial but to have fallen away sharply during the 18th century - from 2,000 in 1715 to about 800 in the 1754-1790 period; by the time of the Great Reform Act in 1832, there were only 280 qualified voters - 123 in Newport, 83 in Monmouth and 74 in Usk. In Tudor times the constituency was under the influence of the Duchy of Lancaster and around the start of the 18th century it was a pocket borough of the Morgan family of Tredegar, who were influential in the Newport area; but soon afterwards the Dukes of Beaufort gained control. After the Duke's candidate had won the election of 1715 decisively, this patronage was so clear that there were no further contests until 1820, the Beaufort candidates (many of them members of the family) all being returned unopposed for a hundred years.

At the time of the Great Reform Act the constituency had a population of just over 11,000 (of which Monmouth and Newport each contributed around 5,000 and Usk just over 1,000). This was a relatively large population for a borough constituency at the time - indeed, boroughs which had 2 MPs were generally allowed to keep them both under the Reform Act provided they had a population of 4,000. Nevertheless, all three of the component boroughs were enlarged slightly by including parts of the town outside the old borough, so bringing the combined population of the revised constituency to an estimated 13,101 and its electorate (under the reformed franchise) to 899. From this point onwards, the constituency was generally referred to as the Monmouth Boroughs.

From 1832 until the end of the 19th century the constituency was generally a marginal one, finely balanced between the Conservatives and Whigs or Liberals when it was contested (although Crawshay Bailey was returned unopposed four times after he was first elected). The constituency moved steadily towards the Liberals, however, as Newport grew in size; by the turn of the century 90% of the electorate was there, and it was a much more working class and industrial town than Monmouth or Usk. The Conservatives won in their landslide year of 1900 and held the seat in the by-election when the original election was declared void for various irregularities, but were probably helped by the association of the Liberal candidate with the campaign to extend the Welsh Sunday Closing Act to Monmouthshire. Otherwise, it was an increasingly safe Liberal seat, and at the time of the 1911 census had a population of 77,902.

The constituency was abolished by the Representation of the People Act 1918, with Newport becoming a parliamentary borough in its own right while Monmouth and Usk were included in the Monmouth county constituency.


The constituency consisted, at least from 1680 onwards, of the towns of Newport, Monmouth and Usk. There were minor boundary changes that redefined the extent of each of these contributory boroughs in 1832 and 1885.

Members of Parliament

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ParliamentFirst member
1542Thomas Kynnyllyn[1]
1545Richard Morgan, also elected for Gloucester [1]
1547Giles Morgan[1]
1553 (Mar)(not known)[1]
1553 (Oct)John Philip Morgan[1]
1554 (Apr)John Philip Morgan[1]
1554 (Nov)John Philip Morgan[1]
1555Thomas Lewis[1]
1558Matthew Herbert[1]
1559 Moore Powell [2]
1562 Moore Powell [2]
1571 Charles Herbert [2]
1572 Moore Powell, died
and replaced 1576 by
Sir William Morgan [2]
1584 Moore Gwillim [2]
1586 Moore Gwillim [2]
1588 Philip Jones [2]
1593 Edward Hubberd [2]
1597 Robert Johnson [2]
1601 Robert Johnson [2]
1604-1611 (Sir) Robert Johnson
1614 Sir Robert Johnson
1621-1622 Thomas Ravenscroft
1624 Walter Stewart or Steward
1625 Walter Stewart or Steward
1626 William Fortune
1628 William Morgan
1629–1640 No Parliaments summoned


April 1640 Charles Jones[3]
November 1640 Disputed election - seat effectively vacant [4]
1646 Thomas Pury
1653 Monmouth was unrepresented in the Barebones Parliament
and the First and Second Parliaments of the Protectorate
January 1659 Nathaniel Waterhouse
May 1659 Thomas Pury
April 1660 Sir Trevor Williams
1661 Sir George Probert
1677 Lord Herbert
February 1679 Sir Trevor Williams
September 1679 Lord Herbert [5]
1680 John Arnold Whig
April 1685 Marquess of Worcester
June 1685 Sir James Herbert
January 1689 John Arnold Whig
February 1689 John Williams
1690 Sir Charles Kemeys
1695 John Arnold Whig
1698 Henry Probert
1701 John Morgan
1705 Sir Thomas Powell
1708 Clayton Milborne
1715 William Bray
1720 Andrews Windsor
1722 Edward Kemeys
1734 Lord Charles Somerset
1745 Sir Charles Kemeys Tynte
1747 Fulke Greville
1754 Benjamin Bathurst
1767 (Sir) John Stepney [6]
1788 Marquess of Worcester [7] Tory
1790 Charles Bragge
1796 Vice Admiral (Sir) Charles Thompson [8]
1799 Lord Edward Somerset
1802 Lord Charles Somerset
1813 Marquess of Worcester Tory
May 1831 Benjamin Hall [9] Whig
July 1831 Marquess of Worcester Tory
1832 Benjamin Hall Whig
1837 Reginald James Blewitt Whig
1852 Crawshay Bailey Conservative
1868 Sir John Ramsden Liberal
1874 Thomas Cordes Conservative
1880 Edward Hamer Carbutt Liberal
1886 Sir George Elliot Conservative
1892 Albert Spicer Liberal
1900 Dr Frederick Rutherfoord Harris [10] Conservative
1901 Joseph Lawrence Conservative
1906 Lewis Haslam Liberal
1918 constituency abolished

Election results

Elections in the 1880s

General Election 1885: Monmouth Boroughs [11][12][13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Edward Hamer Carbutt 2,932 50.1
Conservative Thomas Cordes 2,921 49.9
Majority 11 0.2
Turnout 90.3
Liberal hold Swing
General Election 1886: Monmouth Boroughs [11][12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Sir George Elliot 3,033 54.2 +4.3
Liberal Edward Hamer Carbutt 2,568 45.8 -4.3
Majority 465 8.4 8.6
Turnout 86.4 -3.9
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing +4.3

Elections in the 1890s

General Election 1892: Monmouth Boroughs [12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Albert Spicer 3,430
Conservative Sir George Elliot 3,137
Majority 293
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing
General Election 1895: Monmouth Boroughs [12][14]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Albert Spicer 3,743
Conservative Emanuel Maguire Underdown 3,589
Majority 154
Liberal hold Swing

Elections in the 1900s

General Election 1900: Monmouth Boroughs [12][15]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Frederick Rutherfoord Harris 4,415
Liberal Albert Spicer 3,727
Majority 688
Conservative hold Swing
Albert Spicer
Monmouth Boroughs by-election, 1901
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Joseph Lawrence 4,604 51.9
Liberal Albert Spicer 4,261 48.1
Majority 343 1.8
Turnout 8,865
Conservative hold Swing
Lewis Haslam
General Election 1906: Monmouth Boroughs [11][12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Lewis Haslam 4,531 44.7 -3.4
Conservative E E Micholls 3,939 38.8 -13.1
Labour James Whinstone 1,678 16.5 n/a
Majority 592 5.9 7.7
Turnout 90.6
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +4.8

Elections in the 1910s

General Election January 1910: Monmouth Boroughs [11][16]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Lewis Haslam 6,496 54.8 +10.1
Conservative Sir Charles William Cayzer 5,391 45.2 +6.4
Majority 9.6 3.7
Liberal hold Swing +1.9
Lewis Haslam
General Election December 1910: Monmouth Boroughs [11][17]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Lewis Haslam 6,154 54.9 +0.1
Conservative Gerald de La Pryme Hargreaves 5,056 45.1 -0.1
Majority 1,098 9.8 +0.2
Turnout 86.7
Liberal hold Swing -0.0

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 8 9 "History of Parliament". History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2013-06-02.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "History of Parliament". History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  3. Jones was also elected for Beaumaris, but had not chosen his seat before parliament was dissolved
  4. The election of November 1640 was disputed between William Watkins and Thomas Trevor. Watkins took his seat at the very beginning of the Parliament, but was then instructed to cease attending until the dispute had been resolved; in fact this had not happened by the time of the outbreak of the Civil War, and proceedings were then put in abeyance and neither ever gained the seat. Watkins was disabled from sitting for his adherence to the Royalist cause while Trevor was elected for another constituency, and a writ to fill the vacant seat was eventually issued in 1646.
  5. On petition, Herbert was declared not to have been duly elected, having been returned only by the freemen of Monmouth, and his opponent Arnold (who had the majority once the votes of Newport and Usk were included) was declared elected in his place
  6. Succeeded to a baronetcy, October 1772
  7. Worcester was re-elected in 1790, but had also been elected for Bristol, which he chose to represent, and did not sit again for Monmouth
  8. Created a baronet, 1797
  9. On petition, Hall's election was overturned and the Marquess of Worcester declared re-elected in his place
  10. On petition, the election of Harris was declared void and a by-election held
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 British Parliamentary Election Results 1885-1918, FWS Craig
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 The Liberal Year Book, 1907
  13. Debrett's House of Commons & Judicial Bench, 1886
  14. Debrett's House of Commons & Judicial Bench, 1901
  15. Debrett's House of Commons & Judicial Bench, 1901
  16. Debrett's House of Commons & Judicial Bench, 1916
  17. Debrett's House of Commons & Judicial Bench, 1916


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