West Riding of Yorkshire (UK Parliament constituency)

West Riding of Yorkshire was a parliamentary constituency in England from 1832 to 1865. It returned two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

West Riding of Yorkshire
Former County constituency
for the House of Commons
Form 1832-1868. Extract from 1837 result: the western, 'doubly' orange area.
CountyWest Riding of Yorkshire
18321865
Number of membersTwo
Replaced byNorthern West Riding of Yorkshire, and Southern West Riding of Yorkshire
Created fromYorkshire

Boundaries and History

This constituency comprised part of Yorkshire, the largest of the ancient counties of England. Between 1826 and 1832 the undivided county constituency had returned four Members of Parliament to the House of Commons, instead of the traditional two knights of the shire which the county had sent before then and all other English counties elected up until 1832.

The Reform Act 1832 divided Yorkshire into three county constituencies, which each returned two members. The divisions were based on the three ridings, which were traditional sub-divisions of Yorkshire. The West Riding occupied the south western part of the county. The parliamentary constituency covered the whole West Riding, as the non-resident owners of forty shilling freeholds in the Parliamentary boroughs enclaved within the area thereby acquired a county franchise.

The polling place for the West Riding, at which the hustings were held and the result was declared, was at Wakefield. Unusually for British elections detailed results by polling district are available for a by-election in 1835 and the general elections of 1837 and 1841. These details are given in the Elections section below and provide a list of major towns in the area. Electors had to declare their votes (verbally and in public), as this was before the introduction of the secret ballot. (Source: Stooks Smith).

Charles Seymour, in Electoral Reform in England and Wales, commented about the debate in 1832 about the non resident freeholder vote. This was a particularly important issue for the West Riding because the major towns of Bradford, Leeds and Sheffield and the important ones of Halifax, Huddersfield and Wakefield were all to become new Parliamentary boroughs in 1832.

Though the general principle of the freeholder franchise was accepted without debate, one aspect of the question gave rise to much discussion at the time ... . The bill provided that the freeholders in boroughs who did not occupy their property should vote in the counties in which the borough was situated. This clause drew forth a torrent of complaint, especially from the Conservatives. Peel pointed out that it would be far simpler for the freeholders in the represented boroughs to vote in the borough where their property was situate instead of being forced to travel to the county polling place; moreover if the borough freeholders were allowed to vote in the counties he felt that the boroughs would have an unfair influence in county elections and the rural element would be submerged by the urban.

... Althorp ... pointed out that until 1832 freeholders in the unrepresented towns always had voted in the counties, so the Tories could hardly complain that the ministers were introducing new principles to favour urban interests ... .

Stooks Smith confirms the number of electors in the polling districts of the West Riding of Yorkshire constituency named after Parliamentary boroughs, at a by-election in 1835 (see below), which suggests up to two-thirds out of a total electorate of 18,063 might have qualified because of freeholds located in boroughs. However it is not known if all these urban area voters were qualified as non-resident freeholders in the boroughs.

The Parliamentary boroughs in the area, during the period of the existence of this constituency, were Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield, Knaresborough, Leeds, Pontefract, Ripon, Sheffield and Wakefield.

For the 1865 general election the West Riding was split into two new two member county divisions by the Birkenhead Enfranchisement Act 1861. Unusually this local redistribution had taken place between the general redistributions of seats, in 1832 and 1868. This was because some seats, taken from Sudbury and St Albans boroughs disenfranchised for corruption, were re-allocated to what (by the developing idea that representation should be related to population) were the still under-represented northern English counties. The new divisions were Northern West Riding of Yorkshire and Southern West Riding of Yorkshire.

Members of Parliament

MPs 1654–1658 (Protectorate Parliament)

ElectionMembers
1654 First Protectorate ParliamentLord FairfaxJohn LambertHenry TempestJohn BrightEdward GillMartin Lister
1656 Second Protectorate ParliamentFrancis ThorpeHenry ArthingtonJohn Stanhope

MPs 1832–1865

ElectionFirst memberFirst partySecond memberSecond party
1832 Viscount MorpethWhig[1][2][3] Sir George Strickland, BtWhig[1]
1841 Hon. John Stuart-WortleyConservative[1] Edmund BeckettConservative[1]
1846 by-election Viscount MorpethWhig[1][2][3]
1847 Richard CobdenRadical
1848 by-election Edmund BeckettConservative
1857 Viscount GoderichWhig[4][5][6][7]
March 1859 by-election Sir John Ramsden, BtWhig[8]
May 1859 Sir Francis Crossley, BtLiberal Liberal
1865 Constituency abolished

Elections

Registered electors are indicated by the abbreviation reg. Where the exact number of electors casting a vote or votes is unknown, turnout estimated by dividing votes cast by 2. This will underestimate turnout to the extent that electors only used one of their two possible votes.

Elections in the 1830s

  • Constituency created (1832)
General election 1832: West Riding of Yorkshire (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal George Howard Unopposed N/A N/A
Liberal George Strickland Unopposed N/A N/A
Turnout 18,506 reg. N/A N/A
  • Note 1832: Stooks Smith classified Morpeth and Strickland as Whigs. In accordance with the modern convention, for Whig and Radical candidates from 1832, Craig classified them as Liberals.
General election 1835: West Riding of Yorkshire (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal George Howard Unopposed N/A N/A
Liberal George Strickland Unopposed N/A N/A
Turnout 18,061 reg. N/A N/A
By-Election 6 May 1835: West Riding of Yorkshire
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal George Howard 9,066 59.16 N/A
Conservative John Stuart-Wortley 6,259 40.84 N/A
Majority 2,807 18.32 N/A
Turnout 18,061 reg. 84.85 N/A
Liberal hold Swing N/A

Breakdown of vote by polling district

Polling Districtreg.MorpethWortley
Barnsley889491281
Bradford2,5041,553616
Dent1616875
Doncaster1,136506447
Halifax1,6911,108331
Huddersfield1,8221,072513
Keighley499268170
Knaresborough927285493
Leeds2,250872979
Pateley Bridge609278263
Settle802277413
Sheffield1,391716455
Skipton736417191
Snaith630193352
Wakefield2,016962680
Total18,0639,0666,259
  • Note (1835 be): Discrepancy of 2 in reg. between Craig (result) and Stooks Smith (breakdown).
General election 1837: West Riding of Yorkshire (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal George Howard 12,576 34.98 N/A
Liberal George Strickland 11,892 33.07 N/A
Conservative John Stuart-Wortley 11,489 31.95 N/A
Turnout 29,346 reg. 80.79 -4.06
  • Note (1837): 23,708 voted. (Source: Stooks Smith).

Elections in the 1840s

General election 1841: West Riding of Yorkshire (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative John Stuart-Wortley 13,165 26.3
Conservative Edmund Beckett 12,780 25.5
Whig William Wentworth-FitzWilliam 12,080 24.1
Whig George Howard 12,031 24.0
Majority 700 1.4 N/A
Turnout 25,273 81.0
Registered electors 31,215
Conservative gain from Whig Swing
Conservative gain from Whig Swing
  • Note (1837): 25,273 voted. George Julian Harney and Lawrence Pitkethley were nominated on the Chartist interest, but did not obtain any votes. (Source: Stooks Smith).
  • Succession of Stuart-Wortley as 2nd Baron Wharncliffe, 19 December 1845
By-election, 4 February 1846: West Riding of Yorkshire
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Whig George Howard Unopposed
Whig gain from Conservative
By-election, 18 July 1846: West Riding of Yorkshire
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Whig George Howard Unopposed
Whig hold
General election 1847: West Riding of Yorkshire (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Radical Richard Cobden Unopposed
Whig George Howard Unopposed
Registered electors 36,165
Radical gain from Conservative
Whig gain from Conservative
By-election, 11 December 1848: West Riding of Yorkshire
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Edmund Beckett 14,743 55.6 N/A
Whig Culling Eardley[9] 11,795 44.4 N/A
Majority 2,948 11.1 N/A
Turnout 26,538 75.2 N/A
Registered electors 35,280
Conservative gain from Whig Swing N/A

Elections in the 1850s

General election 1852: West Riding of Yorkshire (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Radical Richard Cobden Unopposed
Conservative Edmund Beckett Unopposed
Registered electors 37,319
Radical hold
Conservative gain from Whig
General election 1857: West Riding of Yorkshire (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Edmund Beckett Unopposed
Whig George Robinson Unopposed
Registered electors 37,513
Conservative hold
Whig gain from Radical

Robinson succeeded to the peerage, becoming 2nd Earl of Ripon and causing a by-election.

By-election, 21 February 1859: West Riding of Yorkshire
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Whig John Ramsden Unopposed
Whig hold
General election 1859: West Riding of Yorkshire (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal John Ramsden 15,978 35.5 N/A
Liberal Francis Crossley 15,401 34.2 N/A
Conservative James Stuart-Wortley 13,636 30.3 N/A
Majority 1,765 3.9 N/A
Turnout 29,326 (est) 80.0 (est) N/A
Registered electors 36,645
Liberal hold Swing N/A
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing N/A
  • Constituency abolished 1865

References

  1. Stooks Smith, Henry (1845). The Parliaments of England, from 1st George I., to the Present Time. Vol II: Oxfordshire to Wales Inclusive. London: Simpkin, Marshall, & Co. p. 139. Retrieved 19 August 2018 via Google Books.
  2. "Bell's New Weekly Messenger". 8 February 1846. p. 4. Retrieved 19 August 2018 via British Newspaper Archive.
  3. "Staffordshire Gazette and County Standard". 1 July 1841. p. 2. Retrieved 19 August 2018 via British Newspaper Archive.
  4. "The Late Lord Ripon". The Spectator. 3 December 1921. p. 18. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  5. "Huddersfield Election". Dublin Evening Post. 23 April 1853. p. 3. Retrieved 14 May 2018 via British Newspaper Archive.
  6. "Local & General Intelligence". Newcastle Journal. 23 April 1853. p. 5. Retrieved 14 May 2018 via British Newspaper Archive.
  7. Rajan, Vithal (2011). Holmes of the Raj. Random House India. p. 119. ISBN 978-8-184-00250-8. Retrieved 14 May 2018 via Google Books.
  8. "The West Riding Election". Yorkshire Gazette. 5 February 1859. p. 8. Retrieved 19 August 2018 via British Newspaper Archive.
  9. "Essex Standard". 15 December 1848. p. 3. Retrieved 11 August 2019 via British Newspaper Archive.
  • British Parliamentary Election Results 1832-1885, compiled and edited by F.W.S. Craig (Macmillan Press 1977)
  • Electoral Reform in England and Wales, by Charles Seymour (David & Charles Reprints 1970) originally published in 1915, so out of copyright
  • The Parliaments of England by Henry Stooks Smith (1st edition published in three volumes 1844-50), second edition edited (in one volume) by F.W.S. Craig (Political Reference Publications 1973) originally published in 1844-50, so out of copyright
  • Who's Who of British Members of Parliament: Volume I 1832-1885, edited by M. Stenton (The Harvester Press 1976)
  • Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "Y"
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