Abingdon (UK Parliament constituency)

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Abingdon (UK parliament constituency).GIF
Abingdon
Former County constituency
for the House of Commons
County Berkshire
18851983
Number of members One
Replaced by Wantage and Oxford West & Abingdon
Created from Berkshire and Abingdon
1558–1885
Number of members One
Type of constituency Borough constituency

Abingdon was a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (and its predecessor institutions for England and Great Britain), electing one Member of Parliament (MP) from 1558 until 1983. (It was one of the few English constituencies in the unreformed House of Commons to elect only one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election.)

History[edit]

Abingdon was one of three English parliamentary boroughs enfranchised by Queen Mary I as anomalous single-member constituencies, and held its first Parliamentary election in 1558. The borough consisted of part of two parishes in the market town of Abingdon, then the county town of Berkshire. The right to vote was exercised by all inhabitant householders paying scot and lot and not receiving alms; the highest recorded number of votes to be cast before 1832 was 253, at the general election of 1806.

Abingdon's voters seem always to have maintained their independence, and the constituency never came under the influence of a "patron" who assumed the right to choose the MP. Nevertheless, this did not always guarantee a pure election, and Porritt records that Abingdon offers the earliest case he was able to trace of a candidate trying to bribe voters with the promise of official office, later one of the most widespread abuses in English elections. In 1698, the defeated candidate, William Hucks, petitioned against the election of Sir Simon Harcourt, but during the hearing of the case it emerged that Hucks had promised that should he be elected an MP he would be made a Commissioner of the Excise, in which case he would use that power to appoint several of the voters to well-paid excise posts. The petition was dismissed and Hucks was committed to the custody of the sergeant-at-arms. (But ten years later, defeated again by Harcourt at the election of 1708, Hucks petitioned once more, on grounds of intimidation and other illegal practices, and this time Harcourt was ejected from his seat and Hucks declared to have been duly elected. Harcourt complained that the decision was a partisan one - which would have been by no means unusual at the period - "insisting to the last that he was the legal member, by a clear majority, by the most fair estimation".)

In 1831, the population of the borough was approximately 5,300, and contained 1,192 houses. This was sufficient for Abingdon to retain its MP under the Great Reform Act. (Indeed, it would have been big enough to retain two MPs had it had them, but there was no question of its representation being increased.) Its boundaries were unaltered, and under the reformed franchise 300 of the residents were qualified to vote.

In 1885 the borough constituency was abolished and the town was moved into a new county, The Northern or Abingdon Division of Berkshire. This constituency consisted of the northern part of the historic county, and as well as Abingdon included the towns of Wantage and Wallingford; it was predominantly agricultural at first, although its character changed during the 20th century with the growth of light industry round Abingdon, and it was generally a safe Conservative seat. This constituency survived essentially intact, with only minor boundary changes, until the 1983 general election, by which time it was simply called Abingdon County Constituency.

Changes in administrative boundaries during the 1970s moved most of the northern part of the historic county of Berkshire, including Abingdon, into the county of Oxfordshire. These changes were reflected in the constituency boundary changes introduced in 1983, and the Abingdon constituency was divided; most of its electors were placed in the new Wantage constituency and a significant minority including electors in the town of Abingdon were placed in the Oxford West and Abingdon constituency.

Boundaries[edit]

Northern or Abingdon Division of Berkshire, 1885 - 1918[edit]

The constituency was defined as consisting of: The Abingdon, Faringdon, Wallingford, and Wantage petty sessional divisions of Berkshire, the municipal borough of Wallingford and the parts of the boroughs of Abingdon and Oxford in Berkshire.[1]

Abingdon Division of Berkshire, 1918 - 1950[edit]

The constituency's boundaries were adjusted in 1918, and it was redefined in terms of the administrative county of Berkshire and the county districts created by the Local Government Acts of 1888 and 1894 as follows:[2]

Abingdon County Constituency, 1950 - 1983[edit]

The Representation of the People Act 1948 reorganised parliamentary constituencies, and Abingdon County Constituency was altered slightly. The official definition of the constituency was:[3]

  • The boroughs of Abingdon and Wallingford;
  • the urban district of Wantage;
  • the rural districts of Abingdon, Faringdon, Wallingford and Wantage

The constituency was not altered by the Parliamentary Constituencies (England) Order 1970, and continued unchanged until 1983.

Members of Parliament[edit]

1558-1640[edit]

Parliament Member
Parliament of 1558 Oliver Hyde
Parliament of 1559 Robert Byng
Parliament of 1563-1567 Oliver Hyde (Died during the Parliament)
Anthony Forster (Elected 1566)
Parliament of 1571 Anthony Forster
Parliament of 1572-1583 Anthony Forster (Died during the Parliament)
Richard Beake (Elected 1572)
Parliament of 1584-1585 Hon. Edward Norreys
Parliament of 1586-1587 Griffith Lloyd, chose to sit for Cardiganshire, replaced by Miles Sandys
Parliament of 1588-1589 Hon. Sir Edward Norreys
Parliament of 1593 William Braunche
Parliament of 1597-1598 Francis Little
Parliament of 1601 Robert Ryche
Parliament of 1604-1611 Sir Richard Lovelace
Addled Parliament (1614) Sir Robert Knollys
Parliament of 1621-1622 Robert Hyde
Happy Parliament (1624-1625) Sir Robert Knollys
Useless Parliament (1625) Sir Robert Knollys
Parliament of 1625-1626
Parliament of 1628-1629 Sir John Stonhouse, 2nd Bt.
No Parliament summoned 1629-1640

1640–1885[edit]

Election Member Party
April 1640 Sir George Stonhouse, 3rd Baronet Royalist
January 1644 Stonhouse disabled to sit - seat vacant
1645 John Ball (Died 1648)
1649 Henry Neville
1653 Abingdon was unrepresented in the Barebones Parliament
1654 Thomas Holt
1656
January 1659 Sir John Lenthall
May 1659 Henry Neville
April 1660 Sir George Stonhouse, 3rd Baronet
1675 Sir John Stonhouse, 2nd Bt
January 1689 Thomas Medlycott [n 1]
May 1689 John Southby [n 2]
January 1690 Sir John Stonhouse, 2nd Bt
February 1690 Sir Simon Harcourt Tory
1705 Grey Neville Whig
1708 Sir Simon Harcourt [n 3] Tory
1709 William Hucks
October 1710 Sir Simon Harcourt Tory
December 1710 James Jennings
1713 Hon. Simon Harcourt
1715 James Jennings
1722 Robert Hucks
1741 John Wright
1747 John Morton [n 4] Tory
1770 Nathaniel Bayly Whig
1774 John Mayor [n 5] Tory
1782 Henry Howorth
1783 Edward Loveden Loveden Whig
1796 Thomas Metcalfe Tory
1807 George Knapp Whig
1809 Henry Bowyer
1811 Sir George Bowyer, 6th Bt Whig
1818 John Maberly Whig
1832 Thomas Duffield Conservative
1844 by-election Sir Frederick Thesiger Conservative
July 1852 by-election James Caulfeild Liberal
December 1852 Lord Norreys Liberal
1854 by-election Joseph Haythorne Reed Liberal
1857 John Thomas Norris Liberal
1865 Hon. Charles Hugh Lindsay Conservative
1874 John Creemer Clarke Liberal
1885 Parliamentary borough abolished

MPs 1885–1983[edit]

After the abolition of the parliamentary borough of Abingdon, a new county division of Berkshire was created.

Election Member Party
1885 Philip Wroughton Conservative
1895 Archie Kirkman Loyd Conservative
1906 Edward Anthony Strauss Liberal
1910 (Jan) Harold Greenwood Henderson Conservative
1916 by-election Archie Kirkman Loyd Conservative
1918 John Tyson Wigan Coalition Conservative
1921 by-election Arthur Thomas Loyd Coalition Conservative
1922 Conservative
1923 Edward Albert Lessing Liberal
1924 Sir Ralph Glyn, 1st Bt. Conservative
1953 by-election Airey Neave Conservative
1979 Thomas Benyon Conservative
1983 Constituency abolished

Elections[edit]

Sources 1754-1784: Narnier and Brooke; (parties) Stooks Smith. Positive swing is from Whig to Tory. Sources 1885-1900: House of Commons 1901.

General Election 15 April 1754: Abingdon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory John Morton 133 57.08 N/A
Non Partisan Henry Thrale 100 42.92 N/A
Majority 33 14.16 N/A
Turnout 233 N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing N/A
General Election 25 March 1761: Abingdon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory John Morton Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing N/A
By-Election 15 December 1762: Abingdon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory John Morton Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing N/A
General Election 17 March 1768: Abingdon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory John Morton 126 50.40 N/A
Whig Nathaniel Bayly 124 49.60 N/A
Majority 2 0.80 N/A
Turnout 250 N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing N/A
  • On petition Nathaniel Bayly seated in place of John Morton, 8 February 1770
General Election 7 October 1774: Abingdon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory John Mayor 146 55.73 +5.33
Whig Thomas Wooldridge 116 44.27 -5.33
Majority 30 11.45 +10.65
Turnout 262 N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing +5.33
  • Tory hold from previous general election; Tory gain from Whig, from change on petition.
  • Election declared void, 6 March 1775
By-Election 11 March 1775: Abingdon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory John Mayor Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing N/A
General Election 6 September 1780: Abingdon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory John Mayor 137 71.35 +15.62
Whig Thomas Wooldridge 55 28.65 -15.62
Majority 82 42.71 +31.26
Turnout 192 N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing +15.62
  • Change is calculated from the previous general election.
  • Resignation of Mayor.
By-Election 21 December 1782: Abingdon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan Henry Howorth Unopposed N/A N/A
Non Partisan gain from Tory Swing N/A
  • Death of Howorth
By-Election 19 May 1783: Abingdon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig Edward Loveden Loveden Unopposed N/A N/A
Whig gain from Non Partisan Swing N/A
General Election 20 March 1784: Abingdon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig Edward Loveden Loveden Unopposed N/A N/A
Whig hold Swing N/A
General Election 1880: Abingdon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal John Creemer Clarke 428 52.6
Conservative Alban G. Gibbs 386 47.4
Majority 42 5.2
Liberal hold Swing
General Election 1885: Abingdon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Philip Wroughton 4245 58.71 N/A
Liberal Robert Purvis 2986 41.29 N/A
Majority 1259 17.41 N/A
Turnout 7231 N/A N/A
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing N/A
General Election 1886: Abingdon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Philip Wroughton 3899 67.07 +8.36
Liberal Edward Colston Keevil 1914 32.93 -8.36
Majority 1985 34.15 +16.74
Turnout 5813 N/A -1418
Conservative hold Swing +8.36
General Election 1892: Abingdon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Philip Wroughton 3565 52.40 -14.67
Liberal Charles Alfred Pryce 3239 47.60 +14.67
Majority 326 4.79 -29.36
Turnout 6804 N/A +991
Conservative hold Swing -14.67
General Election 1895: Abingdon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Archie Kirkman Loyd 4064 57.38 +4.98
Liberal Charles Alfred Pryce 3019 42.62 -4.98
Majority 1045 14.75 +9.96
Turnout 7083 N/A +279
Conservative hold Swing +4.98

Elections in the 1900s[edit]

General Election 1900: Abingdon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Archie Kirkman Loyd Unopposed N/A N/A
Turnout 8698 N/A +1615
Conservative hold Swing N/A
Edward Strauss
General Election 1906

Electorate 8,875

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Edward Anthony Strauss 3,943 51.1 n/a
Conservative Hon. Harold Greenwood Henderson 3,767 48.9 n/a
Majority 176 2.2 n/a
Turnout 86.9 n/a
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing n/a

Elections in the 1910s[edit]

General Election January 1910

Electorate 9,255

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Hon. Harold Greenwood Henderson 4,829 56.1 +7.2
Liberal Edward Anthony Strauss 3,776 43.9 -7.2
Majority 1,053 12.2 14.4
Turnout 93.0 +6.1
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing +7.2
General Election December 1910

Electorate 9,255

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Hon. Harold Greenwood Henderson 4,677 58.4 +2.3
Liberal Martin Harcourt Sands 3,328 41.6 -2.3
Majority 1,349 16.8 +4.6
Turnout
Conservative hold Swing +2.3
General Election 1918

Electorate 26,280

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative unopposed
Majority
Turnout
Conservative hold Swing
  • Was publically endorsed by all Party Leaders in the Coalition Government.

Elections in the 1920s[edit]

Abingdon by-election, 1921[4]

Electorate

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Unionist Arthur Thomas Loyd unopposed n/a n/a
Unionist hold Swing n/a
General Election 1922[5]

Electorate 26,541

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Unionist Arthur Thomas Loyd 10,507 51.3 n/a
Liberal Edward Albert Lessing 9,967 48.7 n/a
Majority 540 2.6 n/a
Turnout 77.1 n/a
Unionist hold Swing n/a
General Election 1923[6]

Electorate 27,183

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Edward Albert Lessing 10,932 50.6 +1.9
Unionist Ralph George Campbell Glyn 10,678 49.4 -1.9
Majority 254 1.2 -1.4
Turnout 79.5 +2.4
Liberal gain from Unionist Swing
General Election 1924[7]

Electorate 28,082

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Unionist Ralph George Campbell Glyn 13,117 56.4
Liberal Edward Albert Lessing 8,805 37.8
Labour D F Brundril 1,355 5.8 n/a
Majority 4,312 18.6
Turnout 82.9
Unionist gain from Liberal Swing
General Election 1929[8]

Electorate 36,758

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Unionist Ralph George Campbell Glyn 14,094 47.4
Liberal Edward Albert Lessing 11,896 40.1
Labour A E Edgeworth Reade 3,712 12.5
Majority 2,198 7.3
Turnout 80.8
Unionist hold Swing

Elections in the 1930s[edit]

General Election 1931: Abingdon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Ralph George Campbell Glyn unopposed
Conservative hold Swing
General Election 1935: Abingdon

Electorate 40,843

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Sir Ralph George Campbell Glyn unopposed
Conservative hold Swing

Elections in the 1940s[edit]

A General election was due to take place before the end of 1940, but was postponed due to the Second World War. By 1939, the following candidates had been selected to contest this constituency;

  • Conservative: Sir Ralph Glyn
  • Liberal: Capt. A D Macdonald MC[9]
  • Labour: Frank W Bourne
General Election 1945: Abingdon

Electorate 59,343

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Sir Ralph George Campbell Glyn 16,968 44.6
Labour Dale Hope Parkinson 11,980 31.5
Liberal John Henry Charles Miller 7,031 18.5
Communist John Clement Dix Dunman 1,668 4.4
Independent CAM Freake 419 1.1
Majority 4,988 13.1
Turnout 64.1
Conservative hold Swing

Elections in the 1950s[edit]

General Election 1950: Abingdon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Sir Ralph George Campbell Glyn 20,595 46.45
Labour Robert Jarrett McCullagh 16,733 37.74
Liberal Eric Digby Tempest Vane 6,612 14.91
Communist John Clement Dix Dunman 396 0.89
Majority 3,862 8.71
Turnout 82.10
Conservative hold Swing
General Election 1951: Abingdon

55,856

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Sir Ralph George Campbell Glyn 24,774 55.47
Labour JEG Curthoys 19,891 44.53
Majority 4,883 10.93
Turnout 79.96
Conservative hold Swing
Abingdon by-election, 1953
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Airey Middleton Sheffield Neave 22,986 53.2
Labour E Castle 17,126 39.7
Liberal George R Allen 3,060 7.1
Majority 5,860
Turnout 75.9
Conservative hold Swing 1.3
General Election 1955: Abingdon

58,487

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Airey Middleton Sheffield Neave 25,613 50.00
Labour Mrs. Margaret Reid 16,979 33.15
Liberal George R Allen 8,634 16.85
Majority 8,634 16.85
Turnout 87.59
Conservative hold Swing
General Election 1959: Abingdon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Airey Middleton Sheffield Neave 27,943 54.19
Labour P Picard 16,971 32.91
Liberal Mrs. Verdun I Perl 6,651 12.90
Majority 10,972 21.28
Turnout 80.77
Conservative hold Swing

Elections in the 1960s[edit]

General Election 1964: Abingdon

69,102

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Airey Middleton Sheffield Neave 26,707 47.98
Labour FJ Riddell 20,334 36.53
Liberal Mrs Verdun I Perl 8,627 15.50
Majority 6,373 11.45
Turnout 80.56
Conservative hold Swing
General Election 1966: Abingdon

Electorate 72,575

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Airey Middleton Sheffield Neave 27,749 46.33
Labour Alan HS Matterson 24,447 40.81
Liberal Denis HV Case 7,703 12.86
Majority 3,302 5.51
Turnout 59,899 82.53
Conservative hold Swing +3.0

Elections in the 1970s[edit]

General Election 1970: Abingdon

85,728

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Airey Middleton Sheffield Neave 36,209 54.41
Labour Norman H Price 23,136 34.77
Liberal S R Caradoc Evans 7,198 10.82
Majority 13,073 19.65
Turnout 77.62
Conservative hold Swing
General Election February 1974: Abingdon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Airey Middleton Sheffield Neave 34,771 46.83
Labour DEH Moriarty 21,028 28.32
Liberal M Fogarty 18,458 24.86
Majority 13,743 18.51
Turnout 83.03
Conservative hold Swing
General Election October 1974: Abingdon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Airey Middleton Sheffield Neave 31,956 46.64
Labour DEH Moriarty 21,319 31.12
Liberal M Fogarty 15,239 22.24
Majority 10,637 15.53
Turnout 75.75
Conservative hold Swing
General Election 1979: Abingdon
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Thomas Benyon 41,211 53.75
Labour AJD Popper 18,920 24.68
Liberal I Blair 16,164 21.08
Independent R Pinder 381 0.50
Majority 22,291 29.07
Turnout 79.50
Conservative hold Swing

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Medlycott's election was declared void on petition, and a new election was held
  2. ^ Southby was returned as elected by the Mayor, but on petition the Commons decided that Stonhouse and not Southby had received the most votes, and eventually declared Stonhouse duly elected
  3. ^ Harcourt was initially declared elected, but on petition alleging "that Sir Simon, by menaces and by other illegal practices of himself and his agents, procured several votes for him, and several were admitted to vote for him who had no right", the result was overturned and Hucks declared to have been duly elected
  4. ^ At the election of 1768, Morton was declared re-elected, but on petition the result was overturned and his opponent Bayly declared elected instead
  5. ^ On petition, Mayor's election was declared void, since as High Sheriff of Berkshire he was not eligible to be elected MP for a borough within the county. A new election was ordered, by which time Mayor had completed his term as sheriff and was re-elected.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885 c.23, Schedule 7
  2. ^ Representation of the People Act 1918 c.64, schedule 9
  3. ^ Representation of the People Act 1948, c. 65, Schedule 1
  4. ^ British parliamentary election results 1918-1949, Craig, F.W.S.
  5. ^ British parliamentary election results 1918-1949, Craig, F.W.S.
  6. ^ British parliamentary election results 1918-1949, Craig, F.W.S.
  7. ^ British parliamentary election results 1918-1949, Craig, F.W.S.
  8. ^ British parliamentary election results 1918-1949, Craig, F.W.S.
  9. ^ The Liberal Magazine, 1939

Bibliography[edit]

  • Boundaries of Parliamentary Constituencies 1885-1972, compiled and edited by F. W. S. Craig (Political Reference Publications 1972)
  • British Parliamentary Election Results 1832-1885, compiled and edited by F.W.S. Craig (The Macmillan Press 1977)
  • British Parliamentary Election Results 1885-1918, compiled and edited by F.W.S. Craig (The Macmillan Press 1974)
  • British Parliamentary Election Results 1918-1949, compiled and edited by F.W.S. Craig (The Macmillan Press 1977)
  • D. Brunton & D. H. Pennington, Members of the Long Parliament (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1954)
  • Sir Lewis Namier and John Brooke, The House of Commons 1754-1790 (London: HMSO 1964)
  • J. E. Neale, The Elizabethan House of Commons (London: Jonathan Cape, 1949)
  • Robert H O'Byrne, The Representative History of Great Britain and Ireland, Part II - Berkshire (London: John Ollivier, 1848)
  • T. H. B. Oldfield, The Representative History of Great Britain and Ireland (London: Baldwin, Cradock & Joy, 1816)
  • Henry Pelling, Social Geography of British Elections 1885-1910 (London: Macmillan, 1967)
  • J Holladay Philbin, Parliamentary Representation 1832 - England and Wales (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965)
  • Edward Porritt and Annie G Porritt, The Unreformed House of Commons (Cambridge University Press, 1903)
  • Henry Stooks Smith, The Parliaments of England (1st edition published in three volumes 1844-50; 2nd edition edited in one volume by F.W.S. Craig, Political Reference Publications, 1973)
  • Frederic A Youngs, jr, "Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Vol I" (London: Royal Historical Society, 1979)
  • Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "A" (part 1)[self-published source][better source needed]