South Dorset by-election, 1962

The South Dorset by-election, 1962 occurred following the death of George Montagu, 9th Earl of Sandwich on 15 June 1962. His son Viscount Hinchingbrooke, the incumbent MP for the constituency of South Dorset, was subsequently elevated to the peerage becoming the 10th Earl of Sandwich. Following the 1963 Peerage Act the 10th Earl disclaimed his peerages in 1964, becoming Victor Montagu, but never sat in the House of Commons again.


The campaign coincided with a period when the United Kingdom was negotiating to join the Common Market. The application was later vetoed by Charles de Gaulle in 1963. Viscount Hinchingbrooke was staunchly against joining the Common Market while the Conservative candidate, Angus Maude, had to back the official party pro-Common Market policy. The issue resulted in a local Conservative, Sir Piers Debenham, standing as an anti-Common Market candidate with the support of Viscount Hinchingbrooke.

Burn, Fudge and O'Connor were all serving in the British Armed Forces. The law stated that, on standing in a Parliamentary election, they would be released from the Forces; this was, therefore, a way to receive an early honourable discharge, for the cost of a lost deposit. The practice was banned the following year.[1]

With a total of seven candidates, the by-election matched the then record which had been set at the Stockport by-election, 1920 and was not beaten until the Walsall North by-election, 1976.


The election took place on 22 November 1962 and resulted in a gain for the Labour Party from the Conservatives. Guy Barnett was elected with a majority of 704, overturning a 6,693 Conservative majority at the 1959 General Election, and with one of the lowest winning shares of a by-election vote at 33.5%. The 5,000 votes for Piers Debenham proved decisive, although the increase in the Liberal Party vote was also important. Debenham lost his deposit gaining 12.3% of the votes against the 12.5% required.

Angus Maude was subsequently elected to parliament in the Stratford by-election in 1963 after the resignation of John Profumo following the Profumo Affair. At the 1964 General Election Guy Barnett was defeated by the Conservative candidate Evelyn King by 935 votes. He later returned to parliament in 1971 following another by-election. Piers Debenham died in 1964 just before the 1964 General Election.


South Dorset by-election, 22 November 1962[2]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Guy Barnett 13,783 33.51 -1.16
Conservative Angus Maude 13,079 31.79 -17.99
Liberal Lawrence Norbury-Williams 8,910 21.66 +6.11
Anti Common Market Sir Piers Debenham 5,057 12.29 N/A
Independent P. Burn 181 0.44 N/A
Independent M. Fudge 82 0.20 N/A
Independent J. C. O'Connor 45 0.11 N/A
Majority 704 1.71
Turnout 41,137
Labour gain from Conservative Swing


  1. F. W. S. Craig, Minor Parties at British Parliamentary Elections, p.129
  2. "1962 By Election Results". Archived from the original on 2012-02-05. Retrieved 2015-08-17.

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