Bodmin (UK Parliament constituency)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
Number of members 1295–1868: two
1868–1885: one
Replaced by Bodmin
Bodmin division of Cornwall
Former County constituency
for the House of Commons
Number of members One
Replaced by North Cornwall and South East Cornwall
Created from Bodmin, East Cornwall and Liskeard

Bodmin was the name of a parliamentary constituency in Cornwall from 1295 until 1983. Initially, it was a parliamentary borough, which returned two Members of Parliament to the House of Commons of England and later the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom until the 1868 general election, when its representation was reduced to one member.

The old borough was abolished with effect from the 1885 general election, but the name was transferred to a county constituency, which elected a single member until the constituency was abolished with effect from the 1983 general election, when the area it then covered was divided between the existing North Cornwall and the new Cornwall South East.


Borough constituency (1295–1885)[edit]

The borough which was represented from the time of the Model Parliament consisted of the town of Bodmin though not the whole of the parish. Unlike many of the boroughs in Cornwall which were represented in the Unreformed House of Commons, Bodmin was a town of reasonable size and retained some importance; for most purposes, indeed, it was considered the county town of Cornwall. In 1831, the population of the borough was 3,375, and contained 596 houses.

The right to vote, however, was held not by the residents at large but by the town's corporation, consisting of a Mayor, 11 aldermen and 24 common councilmen. Contested elections were quite unknown before the Reform Act, the choice of the two MPs being left entirely to the "patron". However, this power did not arise, as in many rotten boroughs, from the patron being able to coerce the voters; in Bodmin, the patron was expected to meet the public and private expenses of the corporation and its members in return for their acquiescence at election time.

Early in the 18th century, the Robartes family (Earls of Radnor) were the accepted patrons. Their interest was inherited by George Hunt, whose mother was the Robartes heiress, but he ran into difficulties and could not afford to retain complete control. By the 1760s another local magnate, Sir William Irby, secured enough of the town's goodwill to have a say in the choice of one member, while Hunt continued to select the other. In 1816, the patron was Lord de Dunstanville, nominating both MPs, but he found himself so overburdened with debts that he was forced to give it up, and The Marquess of Hertford was induced to take over the patronage, and the corporation's debts.

While the MP was not expected to assume the same financial obligations as the patron, nor to attend to the needs of his constituents in the manner of a modern MP, they were expected to attend the election ball, a high point in the social calendar for the wives and daughters of the otherwise undistinguished corporation members. John Wilson Croker, elected in 1820, described the Bodmin ball as "tumultuous and merry " but "at once tiresome and foolish".

Bodmin retained both its MPs under the Reform Act, but its boundaries were extended to bring in more of Bodmin parish and the whole of the neighbouring parishes of Lanivet, Lanhydrock and Helland. This increased the population to 5,258, although only 252 were qualified to vote.

By the time of the second Reform Act in 1867, Bodmin's electorate was still below 400, and consequently its representation was halved with effect from the 1868 general election. The extension of the franchise more than doubled the electorate, but Bodmin was still far too small to survive as a borough, and was abolished in 1885.

County constituency (1885–1983)[edit]

The Bodmin constituency shown within Cornwall and Devon, 1918-1945.

The Bodmin constituency from 1885 until 1918, strictly called The South-Eastern or Bodmin Division of Cornwall, covered the whole of the south-east corner of the county, including as well as Bodmin itself the towns of Liskeard, Fowey, Lostwithiel and Saltash. Although predominantly rural, the string of small ports along its coast gave it a maritime as well as agricultural character. Through most of this period the constituency was marginal, the Unionists being helped by the popularity of their candidate Leonard Courtney, who had been Liberal MP for Liskeard when it was still a separate borough before joining the Liberal Unionists when the party split in 1886. Looe and the other fishing ports were predominantly Liberal and Fowey a Unionist stronghold, while the areas within the ambit of Plymouth's dockyards tended to vote against whichever was the sitting government. Another factor was the strength of non-conformist religion, as elsewhere in Cornwall, and this was thought to be the explanation for the Liberal gain in 1906, when agricultural seats elsewhere mostly remained with the Tories.

The boundary changes at the 1918 general election, which established what was now called Cornwall, Bodmin Division and later Bodmin County Constituency, extended the constituency somewhat towards the centre of the county, taking in Callington and the surrounding district. These boundaries remained essentially unchanged for the remainder of the constituency's existence, except that Fowey was moved into the Truro constituency in 1974. As elsewhere in Cornwall, Labour never established a foothold in Bodmin, and the Liberals remained the main challengers to the Conservatives. The Conservatives held it continuously from 1945 to 1964, and at one point might have considered it a safe seat, but by the mid-1960s the Liberal revival had established it as a Liberal-Conservative marginal, which it remained until its abolition.

The Bodmin constituency ceased to exist as a result of the boundary changes implemented in 1983. Although the bulk of the constituency survived, Bodmin itself had been moved, enforcing a change of name: Bodmin joined North Cornwall, while the rest of the constituency was reunited with Fowey to become South East Cornwall. Bodmin's last Member, Robert Hicks, stood and was elected for the latter constituency.

Members of Parliament[edit]

MPs 1295–1640[edit]

Parliament First member Second member
Parliament of 1386 John Breton II Henry Baudyn
First Parliament of 1388 (Feb) Stephen Bant John Syreston
Second Parliament of 1388 (Sep) John Breton I Henry Baudyn
First Parliament of 1390 (Jan) John Breton I Henry Baudyn
Second Parliament of 1390 (Nov) ? ?
Parliament of 1391 John Breton I Thomas Bere
Parliament of 1393 John Breton I John Drewe
Parliament of 1394 ? ?
Parliament of 1395 John Tregoose Thomas Bere
First Parliament of 1397 (Jan) Stephen Trenewith Thomas Bere
Second Parliament of 1397 (Sep) John Trelawny I John Breton I
Parliament of 1399 John Burgh I James Halappe
Parliament of 1401 ? ?
Parliament of 1402 John Nicoll William Slingsby
First Parliament of 1404 (Jan)
Second Parliament of 1404 (Oct)
Parliament of 1406 Richard Allet Benedict Burgess
Parliament of 1407 Michael Froden Michael Hoge
Parliament of 1410 Otto Tregonan William Moyle
Parliament of 1411 Otto Tregonan John Wyse
First Parliament of 1413 (Feb)
Second Parliament of 1413 (May) John But Robert Treage
First Parliament of 1414 (Apr) John But Otto Tregonan
Second Parliament of 1414 (Nov) John Clink John Baker
Parliament of 1415 or 1416 (Mar) Nicholas Jop Otto Tregonan
Parliament of 1416 (Oct)
Parliament of 1417 Otto Tregonan John Trewoofe
Parliament of 1419 Nicholas Bouy John Trewoofe
Parliament of 1420 John Lawhire Robert Treage
First Parliament of 1421 (May) Otto Tregonan David Urban
Second Parliament of 1421 (Dec) William Chentleyn Philip Motty
Parliament of 1515 John Flamank Thomas Trott
Parliament of 1529 Thomas Treffry I Gilbert Flamank
Parliament of 1545 Thomas Treffry II Henry Chiverton
Parliament of 1547 Henry Chiverton John Caplyn
First Parliament of 1553 (Mar) John Caplyn Ralph Cholmley
Second Parliament of 1553 Henry Chiverton Thomas Mildmay
First Parliament of 1554 (Apr) John Sulyard
Second Parliament of 1554 (Nov) John Courtney Ralph Mitchell
Parliament of 1555 Thomas Williams Humphrey Cavill
Parliament of 1558 Walter Hungerford John Norreys
Parliament of 1558/9 Nicholas Carminowe Digory Chamond
Parliament of 1562 John Mallett Francis Browne
Parliament of 1563-1567
Parliament of 1571 Humphrey Smith John Kestall
Parliament of 1572-1581 Thomas Cromwell Edmund Pooley
Parliament of 1584-1585 John Awdeley Gilbert Mitchell
Parliament of 1586-1587 Emmanuel Chamond Brutus Browne
Parliament of 1588-1589 Hugh Beeston
Parliament of 1593 Anthony Bennet Richard Cannock
Parliament of 1597-1598 Sir Bernard Grenville John Herbert
Parliament of 1601 Willam Lower John Pigot
Parliament of 1604-1611 John Stone Richard Spray
Addled Parliament (1614) Christopher Spray Richard Edgecumbe
Parliament of 1621-1622 Sir John Trevor James Bagge, junior
Happy Parliament (1624-1625) Sir Thomas Stafford Charles Berkeley
Useless Parliament (1625) Henry Jermyn Robert Caesar
Parliament of 1625-1626 Sir Richard Weston
Parliament of 1628-1629 Sir Robert Killigrew Humphrey Nicholls
No Parliament summoned 1629-1640

MPs 1640–1868[edit]

Year 1st Member 1st Party 2nd Member 2nd Party
April 1640 Richard Prideaux Sir Richard Wynn [1]
November 1640 John Arundell Royalist Anthony Nicholl[2] Parliamentarian
January 1644 Arundel disabled from sitting - seat vacant
1648 Thomas Waller
December 1648 Waller excluded in Pride's Purge - seat vacant Nichols not known to have sat after Pride's Purge
1653 Bodmin was unrepresented in the Barebones Parliament and the First and Second Parliaments of the Protectorate
January 1659 John Silly William Turner
May 1659 Not represented in the restored Rump
April 1660 Hender Robartes John Silly
1661 Sir John Carew
1679 Nicholas Glynn
1689 Sir John Cutler Bt
1693 Russell Robartes
1695 John Hoblyn Tory
July 1702 John Grobham Howe Tory
December 1702 Francis Robartes
1706 Thomas Herne
1708 John Trevanion[3] Russell Robartes
1710 Francis Robartes
1713 Thomas Sclater
1715 John Legh
1718 Charles Beauclerk
1722 Isaac le Heup Richard West
January 1727 John LaRoche
August 1727 Robert Booth
1733 Sir John Heathcote
1741 Thomas Bludworth
1747 Sir William Irby
1753 George Hunt
1761 John Parker
1762 Sir Christopher Treise
1768 James La Roche
1780 William Masterman
1784 Sir John Morshead Thomas Hunt
1789 George Wilbraham
1790 Roger Wilbraham
1796 John Nesbitt
July 1802 Charles Shaw-Lefevre, sat for Reading Whig
December 1802 Josias du Pre Porcher John Sargent
August 1806 James Topping
November 1806 William Wingfield Davies Giddy, later Gilbert
1807 Sir William Oglander
1812 Charles Bragge Bathurst
1818 Thomas Bradyll
1820 John Wilson Croker Tory
1826 Horace Beauchamp Seymour
1832 William Peter Whig Samuel Thomas Spry Whig
1835 Charles Crespigny Vivian Whig
1841 John Dunn Gardner Conservative
1843 Sir Samuel Thomas Spry Conservative
1847 James Wyld Whig Henry Charles Lacy Whig
1852 William Michell Whig Charles Brune Graves-Sawle Whig
1857 Hon. John Vivian Liberal James Wyld Liberal
April 1859 Hon. Frederick Leveson-Gower Liberal William Michell Conservative
August 1859 James Wyld Liberal
1868 Representation reduced to one member

MPs 1868–1983[edit]

Election Member Party
1868 Representation reduced to one member
1868 Hon. Frederick Leveson-Gower Liberal
1885 Leonard Henry Courtney Liberal Unionist
1900 Sir Lewis Molesworth Liberal Unionist
1906 Thomas Charles Reginald Agar-Robartes Liberal
1906 Freeman Freeman-Thomas Liberal
1910 Cecil Alfred Grenfell Liberal
1910 Sir Reginald Pole-Carew Liberal Unionist
1916 by-election Charles Augustin Hanson Coalition Conservative
1922 by-election Isaac Foot Liberal
1924 Gerald Joseph Cuthbert Harrison Conservative
1929 Isaac Foot Liberal
1935 John Rankin Rathbone Conservative
1941 by-election Beatrice Frederika Rathbone (later Wright) Conservative
1945 Sir Douglas Marshall Conservative
1964 Peter Bessell Liberal
1970 Robert Hicks Conservative
Feb 1974 Paul Tyler Liberal
Oct 1974 Robert Hicks Conservative
1983 constituency abolished


Elections in the 1970s[edit]

General Election 1979: Bodmin
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Robert Hicks 27,922 54.87
Liberal Paul Tyler 17,893 35.16
Labour N Knowles 3,508 6.89
Mebyon Kernow R Holmes 865 1.70
Ecology C Retallack 465 0.91
National Front M Carter 235 0.46
Majority 10,029 19.71
Turnout 82.54
Conservative hold Swing
General Election October 1974: Bodmin
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Robert Hicks 20,756 45.46
Liberal Paul Tyler 20,091 44.00
Labour PC Knight 4,814 10.54
Majority 665 1.46
Turnout 82.29
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing
General Election February 1974: Bodmin
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Paul Tyler 20,283 44.20
Conservative Robert Hicks 20,274 44.18
Labour G Lonsdale 5,328 11.61
Majority 9 0.02
Turnout 83.30
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing
General Election 1970: Bodmin
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Robert Hicks 20,187 48.29
Liberal Paul Tyler 16,267 38.91
Labour AF Long 5,350 12.80
Majority 3,920 9.38
Turnout 80.60
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing

Elections in the 1960s[edit]

General Election 1966: Bodmin
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Peter Joseph Bessell 18,144 46.60
Conservative JM Gorst 16,121 41.40
Labour R Blank 4,674 12.00
Majority 2,023 5.20
Turnout 84.44
Liberal hold Swing
General Election 1964: Bodmin
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Peter Joseph Bessell 18,046 48.60
Conservative Douglas Marshall 14,910 40.16
Labour TF Mitchell 4,172 11.24
Majority 3,136 8.45
Turnout 82.68
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing

Elections in the 1950s[edit]

General Election 1959: Bodmin
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Douglas Marshall 16,853
Liberal Peter Joseph Bessell 14,052
Labour T.F. Mitchell 5,769
Conservative hold Swing
General Election 1955: Bodmin
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Douglas Marshall 17,858
Liberal T. Stuart Roseveare 10,199
Labour E.F. Wilde 8,304
Conservative hold Swing
General Election 1951: Bodmin
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Douglas Marshall 20,086
Liberal T. Stuart Roseveare 10,088
Labour William Royle 9,244
Conservative hold Swing
General Election 1950: Bodmin
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Douglas Marshall 19,441
Liberal John Mackintosh Foot 11,649
Labour William Royle 8,434
Conservative hold Swing

Elections in the 1940s[edit]

General Election 1945

Electorate 46,188

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Comdr. Douglas Marshall 15,396
Liberal Maj. John Mackintosh Foot 13,349
Labour Jack Hubert Pitts 6,401
Conservative hold Swing
Bodmin by-election, 1941


Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Beatrice Frederika Rathbone (unopposed)
Conservative hold Swing

General Election 1939/40: Another General Election was required to take place before the end of 1940. The political parties had been making preparations for an election to take place from 1939 and by the end of this year, the following candidates had been selected; Conservative: John Rathbone, Liberal: John Foot, Labour: R H Baker [withdrew]

Elections in the 1930s[edit]

General Election 1935

Electorate 42,190

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative John Rankin Rathbone 17,485 50.4 n/a
Liberal Isaac Foot 14,732 42.4 n/a
Labour Harold E J Falconer 2,496 7.2 n/a
Majority 8.0 n/a
Turnout 82.3 n/a
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing n/a
General Election 1931


Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Isaac Foot (unopposed) n/a n/a
Liberal hold Swing n/a

Elections in the 1920s[edit]

General Election 1929: Cornwall, Bodmin [4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Isaac Foot 16,002 46.3 −2.6
Conservative Gerald Harrison 15,088 43.7 −7.4
Labour Paul Reed 3,437 10.0 +10.0
Majority 914 2.6
Turnout 84.9 +2.5
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +2.4
General Election, 1924: Cornwall, Bodmin [4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Gerald Harrison 14,163 51.1
Liberal Isaac Foot 13,548 48.9
Majority 615 2.2
Turnout 82.4
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing
General Election, 1923: Cornwall, Bodmin [4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Isaac Foot 14,536 53.6
Conservative Sir Frederick Cuthbert Poole 12,574 46.4
Majority 1,962 7.2
Turnout 82.0
Liberal hold Swing
General Election, 1922: Cornwall, Bodmin [4]


Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Isaac Foot 14,292 53.4
Conservative Sir Frederick Cuthbert Poole 12,467 46.6
Majority 1,825 6.8
Turnout 80.4
Liberal hold Swing
Bodmin by-election, 1922: Cornwall, Bodmin [4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Isaac Foot 13,751 56.4
Conservative Sir Frederick Cuthbert Poole 10,610 43.6
Majority 3.141 12.8
Turnout 74.8
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing

Elections in the 1910s[edit]

General Election 1918

Electorate 30,279

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
  1. Sir Charles Augustin Hanson
Liberal Isaac Foot 8,705
Unionist hold Swing

A # denotes candidate who was endorsed by the Coalition Government.

General Election December 1910[5]

Electorate 11,553

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Unionist Sir Reginald Pole-Carew 5,021 50.2
Liberal Isaac Foot 4,980 49.8
Turnout 86.6
Majority 41 0.4
Liberal Unionist gain from Liberal Swing


  1. ^ Wynn was also elected for Andover, which he apparently chose to represent.
  2. ^ Nicholl was disabled from sitting by an order in January 1648, but this was revoked in June 1648
  3. ^ This John Trevanion was NOT John Trevanion, the Civil War hero, who died in 1643.
  4. ^ a b c d e F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1918-1949; Political Reference Publications, Glasgow 1949, p310
  5. ^ British parliamentary election results 1885-1918