Cockermouth (UK Parliament constituency)

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Cockermouth division of Cumberland
Former County constituency
for the House of Commons
Replaced by Workington and Penrith and Cockermouth
Created from West Cumberland and Cockermouth
Replaced by Cockermouth
Created from Cumberland
Replaced by Cumberland
Created from Cumberland

Cockermouth was the name of a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of England in 1295, and again from 1641, then of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1918. It was a parliamentary borough represented by two Members of Parliament until 1868, and by one member from 1868 to 1885. The name was then transferred to a county constituency electing one MP from 1885 until 1918.

Notable MPs have included the regicide, Francis Allen.

The borough constituency (until 1885)[edit]

Until the Great Reform Act of 1832, the constituency consisted solely of the market town of Cockermouth in Cumberland. It first returned members to the Model Parliament of 1295, but its franchise then seems to have lapsed until 1641, when the Long Parliament passed a resolution (15 February 1641) to restore its ancient privileges.

The right of election in Cockermouth was vested in the burgage tenants of the borough, of whom there were about 300 in 1832. Cockermouth was considered a pocket borough, with the vast majority of the voters being under the influence of the Lowther family.

At the time of the 1831 census, the borough included just over 1,000 houses and had a population of 4,536. The Reform Act expanded the boundaries to bring in the neighbouring parishes of Eaglesfield, Brigham, Papcastle and Bridekirk, and part of Dovenby, increasing the population to 6,022 and encompassing 1,325 houses. This made the borough big enough to retain both its members. However, in the next wave of reform, introduced at the 1868 general election, one of Cockermouth's two seats was withdrawn, and in 1885 the borough was abolished altogether, although the name was transferred to the surrounding county constituency.

The county constituency (1885-1918)[edit]

The Cockermouth constituency created in 1885, strictly speaking The Cockermouth Division of Cumberland, was a compact division stretching westwards from Cockermouth to the sea, and including the much larger town of Workington. There was a significant Irish vote, and the Conservative victory in 1885 and subsequent Liberal gain of the seat in 1886 have been attributed to Parnell's shift of support from the one party to the other.

The constituency was divided between the new Workington and Penrith and Cockermouth divisions of Cumberland from 1918.

Members of Parliament[edit]

Cockermouth re-enfranchised by Parliament in Nov 1640

MPs 1641–1868[edit]

Year First member First party Second member Second party
1641 Sir John Fenwick, Bt [1] Parliamentarian Sir John Hippisley Parliamentarian
1642 Seat vacant through double return [2]
1645 Francis Allen
1653 Cockermouth was unrepresented in the Barebones Parliament and the First and Second Parliaments of the Protectorate
January 1659 John Stapleton Wilfrid Lawson
May 1659 Not represented in the restored Rump
1660 Richard Tolson Sir Wilfrid Lawson
1661 Hugh Potter
1662 Robert Scawen
1670 John Clarke
1675 Sir Richard Grahme
1679 Sir Orlando Gee
1685 Sir Daniel Fleming
1689 Sir Henry Capell Henry Fletcher
1690 Sir Orlando Gee Sir Wilfrid Lawson
1695 Sir Charles Gerard Goodwin Wharton Whig
1698 George Fletcher Whig William Seymour
1701 Goodwin Wharton Whig
February 1702 Thomas Lamplugh
July 1702 James Stanhope Whig
1708 Albemarle Bertie
1710 Nicholas Lechmere
1713 Joseph Musgrave
1715 James Stanhope Whig
April 1717 Sir Thomas Pengelly
July 1717 Lord Percy Seymour [3]
1721 Anthony Lowther
1722 Sir Wilfrid Lawson
1727 William Finch
1738 Eldred Curwen
1741 Sir John Mordaunt
July 1747 Sir Charles Wyndham [4]
December 1747 William Finch
1754 Percy Wyndham-O'Brien [5]
1761 Charles Jenkinson
1767 Captain John Elliot, RN
March 1768 Charles Jenkinson Sir George Macartney
May 1768 Captain George Johnstone, RN [6] Independent
1769 Sir James Lowther
1774 Fletcher Norton[7]
1775 Ralph Gowland James Adair
1780 John Baynes Garforth Tory John Lowther Tory
1784 James Clarke Satterthwaite Tory
1786 Humphrey Senhouse Tory
1790 John Baynes Garforth Tory Sir John Anstruther, 1st and 4th Baronet Tory
1796 Edward Burrow Tory
1800 Walter Spencer Stanhope Tory
1802 James Graham Tory Robert Plumer Ward Tory
1805 Viscount Garlies Tory
1806 John Lowther Tory James Graham Tory
January 1807 Lord Binning Tory
May 1807 John Lowther Tory
July 1807 John Osborn Tory
1808 Viscount Lowther Tory
October 1812 John Lowther Tory
December 1812 Augustus John Foster Tory
1813 Thomas Wallace Tory
1816 John Henry Lowther Tory
1818 Sir John Beckett Tory
1821 William Wilson Carus Wilson Tory
1826 Viscount Garlies Tory
1827 Lawrence Peel Tory
1830 Philip Pleydell-Bouverie Tory
1831 John Henry Lowther Tory Sir James Scarlett Tory
1832 Henry Aglionby Aglionby Whig Fretchville Lawson Ballantine Dykes Whig
1836 Edward Horsman Whig
1852 Henry Wyndham Conservative
1854 John Steel Liberal
1857 Lord Naas Conservative
April 1868 Green Thompson Conservative
1868 Representation reduced to one member


  1. ^ Fenwick was later elected for Northumberland, which he chose to represent, and ceased to sit for Cockermouth
  2. ^ The election to replace Fenwick was disputed, and the Returning Officer made a double return, i.e. reported both candidates - Sir Thomas Sandford, Bt and Francis Allen - as elected, leaving Parliament to decide. The dispute was still unresolved when Sandford was declared disabled from sitting because of his Royalist sympathies in January 1644; Allen was admitted to sit in 1645.
  3. ^ In a by-election in 1717, Seymour was defeated by Sir Wilfrid Lawson by 90 votes to 84, but Lawson was underage, and on petition Seymour was declared elected
  4. ^ Wyndham was also elected for Taunton, which he chose to represent, and never sat for Cockermouth
  5. ^ Created Earl of Thomond (in the peerage of Ireland), 1756
  6. ^ Johnstone was re-elected at the general election of 1774, but was also elected for Appleby, which he chose to represent, and did not sit for Cockermouth in this parliament
  7. ^ Norton was also elected for Carlisle, which he chose to represent, and never sat for Cockermouth

MPs 1868–1885[edit]

Election Member Party
1868 Isaac Fletcher Liberal
1879 by-election William Fletcher Liberal
1880 Edward Waugh Liberal
1885 Borough abolished; name transferred to county division

MPs 1885–1918[edit]

Cockermouth Division of Cumberland

Election Member Party
1885 Charles James Valentine Conservative
1886 Sir Wilfrid Lawson Liberal
1900 Sir John Scurrah Randles Conservative
January 1906 Sir Wilfrid Lawson Liberal
August 1906 by-election Sir John Scurrah Randles Conservative
December 1910 Sir Wilfrid Lawson Liberal
1916 by-election Joseph Bliss Liberal
1918 constituency abolished


Elections in the 1900s[edit]

Sir Wilfrid Lawson, political postcard.jpg
General Election 1906 Cockermouth[1]

Electorate 11,700

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Sir Wilfrid Lawson 5,349 52.8 +4.1
Conservative Sir John Scurrah Randles 4,786 47.2 -4.1
Majority 563 5.6 8.2
Turnout 86.6 +10.0
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +4.1
Cockermouth by-election, 1906[2]

Electorate 11,700

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Sir John Scurrah Randles 4,593 46.2 -1.0
Liberal Frederick Edward Guest 3,903 39.3 -13.5
Ind. Labour Party Robert Smillie 1,436 14.5 n/a
Majority 690 6.9 12.5
Turnout 9,932 84.9 -1.7
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing +6.2

Elections in the 1910s[edit]

General Election January 1910 Cockermouth[3]

Electorate 11,328

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Sir John Scurrah Randles 4,579 45.2 -1.0
Liberal Sir Wilfrid Lawson 3,638 35.9 -3.4
Labour J.P. Whitehead 1,909 18.9 +4.4
Majority 941 9.3 +2.4
Turnout 89.4 +4.5
Conservative hold Swing +1.2
General Election December 1910 Cockermouth[4]

Electorate 11,328

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Sir Wilfrid Lawson 5,003 52.7 +16.8
Conservative Sir John Scurrah Randles 4,492 47.3 +2.1
Majority 511 5.4 14.7
Turnout 83.8 -5.6
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +7.4


  1. ^ British parliamentary election results, 1885-1918 (Craig)
  2. ^ British parliamentary election results, 1885-1918 (Craig)
  3. ^ British parliamentary election results, 1885-1918 (Craig)
  4. ^ British parliamentary election results, 1885-1918 (Craig)
  • D Brunton & D H Pennington, "Members of the Long Parliament" (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1954)
  • Cobbett's Parliamentary history of England, from the Norman Conquest in 1066 to the year 1803 (London: Thomas Hansard, 1808) [1]
  • F W S Craig, "British Parliamentary Election Results 1832-1885" (2nd edition, Aldershot: Parliamentary Research Services, 1989)
  • Michael Kinnear, "The British Voter" (London: Batsford, 1968)
  • J Holladay Philbin, "Parliamentary Representation 1832 - England and Wales" (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965)
  • Henry Stooks Smith, "The Parliaments of England from 1715 to 1847" (2nd edition, edited by FWS Craig - Chichester: Parliamentary Reference Publications, 1973)
  • Frederic A Youngs, jr, "Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Vol II" (London: Royal Historical Society, 1991)
  • "The Constitutional Yearbook, 1913" (London: National Unionist Association, 1913)
  • Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "C" (part 5)[self-published source][better source needed]