District of burghs

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The Act of Union 1707 and pre-Union Scottish legislation provided for 14 Members of Parliament (MPs) from Scotland to be elected from districts of burghs. All the parliamentary burghs (burghs represented in the pre-Union Parliament of Scotland) were assigned to a district, except for Edinburgh which had an MP to itself. The burghs in a district were not necessarily adjacent or even close together.

Until 1832 the Council of each burgh in a district elected a commissioner, who had one vote for the MP. The commissioner from the Returning Burgh (which function rotated amongst the burghs in successive elections) had an additional casting vote if the numbers were equal.

In 1832 the composition of the districts were amended, and the boundaries of a burgh for parliamentary purposes ceased to be necessarily those of the burgh for other purposes. The franchise was extended, and votes from all the burghs were added together.

There were further changes to the number and the composition of the districts in 1868, 1885 and 1918.

The district of burghs system was eventually discontinued in 1950, but the term Burghs continued in use in the names of some constituencies until 1974.[1]

The idea of parliamentary burghs continues to this day, in the form of burgh constituencies, which are distinct from county constituencies. This distinction is significant in terms of the expenses allowed to election candidates.

List of districts and burghs[edit]

Period District Burgh County
1708–1832 Aberdeen Burghs Aberdeen Aberdeenshire
1708–1832 Arbroath Forfarshire
1708–1832 Inverbervie Kincardineshire
1708–1832 Brechin Forfarshire
1708–1832 Montrose Forfarshire
1708–1832 Anstruther Easter Burghs Anstruther Easter Fife
1708–1832 Anstruther Wester Fife
1708–1832 Crail Fife
1708–1832 Kilrenny Fife
1708–1832 Pittenweem Fife
1708–1950 Ayr Burghs Ayr Ayrshire
1708–1918 Campbeltown Argyllshire
1708–1918 Inverary Argyllshire
1708–1950 Irvine Ayrshire
1708–1832 Rothesay Buteshire
1832–1918 Oban Argyllshire
1918–1950 Ardrossan Ayrshire
1918–1950 Prestwick Ayrshire
1918–1950 Saltcoats Ayrshire
1918–1950 Troon Ayrshire
1918–1950 Dumbarton Burghs Dumbarton Dunbartonshire
1918–1950 Clydebank Dunbartonshire
1708–1918 Dumfries Burghs Dumfries Dumfriesshire
1708–1918 Annan Dumfriesshire
1708–1918 Kirkcudbright Kirkcudbrightshire
1708–1918 Lochmaben Dumfriesshire
1708–1918 Sanquhar Dumfriesshire
1918–1950 Dunfermline Burghs Dunfermline Fife
1918–1950 Cowdenbeath Fife
1918–1950 Inverkeithing Fife
1918–1950 Lochgelly Fife
1708–1832 Dysart Burghs Dysart Fife
1708–1832 Burntisland Fife
1708–1832 Kinghorn Fife
1708–1832 Kirkcaldy Fife
1708–1918 Elgin Burghs Elgin Elginshire
1708–1918 Banff Banffshire
1708–1918 Cullen Banffshire
1708–1918 Inverurie Aberdeenshire
1708–1918 Kintore Aberdeenshire
1832–1918 Peterhead Aberdeenshire
1832–1918 Falkirk Burghs Falkirk Stirlingshire
1832–1918 Airdrie Lanarkshire
1832–1918 Hamilton Lanarkshire
1832–1918 Lanark Lanarkshire
1832–1918 Linlithgow Linlithgowshire
1708–1832 Glasgow Burghs Glasgow Lanarkshire
1708–1832 Dumbarton Dunbartonshire
1708–1832 Renfrew Renfrewshire
1708–1832 Rutherglen Lanarkshire
1708–1885 Haddington Burghs Haddington Haddingtonshire
1708–1885 Dunbar Haddingtonshire
1708–1885 Jedburgh Roxburghshire
1708–1885 Lauder Berwickshire
1708–1885 North Berwick Haddingtonshire
1868–1918 Hawick Burghs Hawick Roxburghshire
1868–1918 Galashiels Selkirkshire
1868–1918 Selkirk Selkirkshire
1708–1918 Inverness Burghs Inverness Inverness-shire
1708–1918 Forres Elginshire
1708–1918 Fortrose Ross-shire
1708–1918 Nairn Nairnshire
1832–1918 Kilmarnock Burghs Kilmarnock Ayrshire
1832–1918 Dumbarton Dunbartonshire
1832–1918 Port Glasgow Renfrewshire
1832–1918 Renfrew Renfrewshire
1832–1918 Rutherglen Lanarkshire
1832–1950 Kirkcaldy Burghs Kirkcaldy Fife
1832–1950 Burntisland Fife
1832–1950 Dysart Fife
1832–1950 Kinghorn Fife
1918–1950 Buckhaven Fife
1918–1950 Methil and Innerleven Fife
1832–1918 Leith Burghs Leith Edinburghshire
1832–1918 Musselburgh Edinburghshire
1832–1918 Portobello Edinburghshire
1708–1832 Linlithgow Burghs Linlithgow Linlithgowshire
1708–1832 Lanark Lanarkshire
1708–1832 Peebles Peeblesshire
1708–1832 Selkirk Selkirkshire
1832–1950 Montrose Burghs Montrose Forfarshire
1832–1950 Arbroath Forfarshire
1832–1950 Brechin Forfarshire
1832–1950 Forfar Forfarshire
1832–1950 Inverbervie Aberdeenshire
1708–1832 Perth Burghs Perth Perthshire
1708–1832 Cupar Fife
1708–1832 Dundee Forfarshire
1708–1832 Forfar Forfarshire
1708–1832 St Andrews Fife
1832–1918 St Andrews Burghs St Andrews Fife
1832–1918 Anstruther Easter Fife
1832–1918 Anstruther Wester Fife
1832–1918 Crail Fife
1832–1918 Cupar Fife
1832–1918 Kilrenny Fife
1832–1918 Pittenweem Fife
1918–1950 Stirling and Falkirk Burghs Stirling Stirlingshire
1918–1950 Falkirk Stirlingshire
1918–1950 Grangemouth Stirlingshire
1708–1918 Stirling Burghs Stirling Stirlingshire
1708–1918 Culross Perthshire
1708–1918 Dunfermline Fife
1708–1918 Inverkeithing Fife
1708–1832 Queensferry Linlithgowshire
1832–1918 South Queensferry Linlithgowshire
1708–1832 Tain Burghs Tain Ross-shire
1708–1832 Dingwall Ross-shire
1708–1832 Dornoch Sutherland
1708–1832 Kirkwall Orkney
1708–1832 Wick Caithness
1832–1918 Wick Burghs Wick Caithness
1832–1918 Cromarty Cromartyshire
1832–1918 Dingwall Ross-shire
1832–1918 Dornoch Sutherland
1832–1918 Kirkwall Orkney
1832–1918 Tain Ross-shire
1708–1885 Wigtown Burghs Wigtown Wigtownshire
1708–1885 Stranraer Wigtownshire
1708–1885 New Galloway Kirkcudbrightshire
1708–1885 Whithorn Wigtownshire

Summary of districts and burghs by period[edit]

1708-1832 (14 Districts) (65 Burghs)

  1. Aberdeen Burghs (5)
  2. Anstruther Easter Burghs (5)
  3. Ayr Burghs (5)
  4. Dumfries Burghs (5)
  5. Dysart Burghs (4)
  6. Elgin Burghs (5)
  7. Glasgow Burghs (4)
  8. Haddington Burghs (5)
  9. Inverness Burghs (4)
  10. Linlithgow Burghs (4)
  11. Perth Burghs (5)
  12. Stirling Burghs (5)
  13. Tain Burghs (5)
  14. Wigtown Burghs (4)

1832-1868 (14 Districts) (69 Burghs)

  1. Ayr Burghs (5)
  2. Dumfries Burghs (5)
  3. Elgin Burghs (6)
  4. Falkirk Burghs (5)
  5. Haddington Burghs (5)
  6. Inverness Burghs (4)
  7. Kilmarnock Burghs (5)
  8. Kirkcaldy Burghs (4)
  9. Leith Burghs (3)
  10. Montrose Burghs (5)
  11. St Andrews Burghs (7)
  12. Stirling Burghs (5)
  13. Wick Burghs (6)
  14. Wigtown Burghs (4)

1868-1885 (15 Districts) (72 Burghs)

  1. Ayr Burghs (5)
  2. Dumfries Burghs (5)
  3. Elgin Burghs (6)
  4. Falkirk Burghs (5)
  5. Haddington Burghs (5)
  6. Inverness Burghs (4)
  7. Hawick Burghs (3)
  8. Kilmarnock Burghs (5)
  9. Kirkcaldy Burghs (4)
  10. Leith Burghs (3)
  11. Montrose Burghs (5)
  12. St Andrews Burghs (7)
  13. Stirling Burghs (5)
  14. Wick Burghs (6)
  15. Wigtown Burghs (4)

1885-1918 (13 Districts) (62 Burghs)

  1. Ayr Burghs (5)
  2. Dumfries Burghs (5)
  3. Elgin Burghs (6)
  4. Falkirk Burghs (5)
  5. Hawick Burghs (3)
  6. Inverness Burghs (4)
  7. Kilmarnock Burghs (5)
  8. Kirkcaldy Burghs (4)
  9. Leith Burghs (3)
  10. Montrose Burghs (5)
  11. St Andrews Burghs (7)
  12. Stirling Burghs (5)
  13. Wick Burghs (6)

1918-1950 (6 Districts) (26 Burghs)

  1. Ayr Burghs (6)
  2. Dumbarton Burghs (2)
  3. Dunfermline Burghs (4)
  4. Kirkcaldy Burghs (6)
  5. Montrose Burghs (5)
  6. Stirling & Falkirk Burghs (3)

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Boundaries of Parliamentary Constituencies 1885-1972 (ISBN 0-900178-09-4), F. W. S. Craig, 1972