Finsbury (UK Parliament constituency)

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Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
Number of members two
Replaced by Finsbury Central, Finsbury East, Holborn, Islington East, Islington North, Islington South and Islington West
Created from Middlesex
Replaced by Shoreditch and Finsbury
Created from Finsbury Central and Finsbury East

The parliamentary borough of Finsbury was a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1832 to 1885, and from 1918 to 1950. The constituency created in 1832 included part of the county of Middlesex north of the City of London and was named after the Finsbury division of the Ossulstone hundred. The 1918 constituency corresponded to the Metropolitan Borough of Finsbury within the County of London.


History 1832-1885[edit]

The original constituency was created by the Parliamentary Boundaries Act 1832, which carried into effect the redistribution of parliamentary seats under the Reform Act 1832.

Finsbury in the Metropolitan area, showing boundaries used from 1868 to 1885.
Finsbury in the Parliamentary County of London, showing boundaries used from 1918 to 1950.

It was originally proposed that the constituency would comprise the entire Finsbury Division and a number of adjoining parishes in the Holborn Division of Ossulstone, one of the hundreds of Middlesex. The commissioners appointed under the Boundaries Act decided to exclude the northern part of the Finsbury Division, which extended as far as Friern Barnet, some nine miles from London and a largely rural area. They could find no natural boundary to separate "the Rural from the Town District" and suggested that the dividing line should run through the northern section of Islington, following the boundaries formed for Church of England ecclesiastical districts. The seat as eventually created included the whole of Islington, however.[1]

The parliamentary borough was defined in Schedule O of the Boundaries Act as:

The several Parishes of Saint Luke, Saint George the Martyr, St Giles in the Fields, Saint George Bloomsbury, Saint Mary Stoke Newington, and St. Mary, Islington; the several Liberties or Places of Saffron Hill, Hatton Garden, Ely Rents, Ely Place, the Rolls, Glass House Yard, and the Charter House; Lincolns Inn and Grays Inn; the Parish of St. James and St. John Clerkenwell, except that Part thereof which is situate to the North of the Parish of Islington; those Parts of the respective Parishes of Saint Sepulchre and Saint Andrew Holborn and of Furnivals Inn and Staple Inn respectively, which are situated without the Liberty of the City of London.

The Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 divided the constituency, by then highly populated, into seven new single member constituencies. Four were divisions of a new Parliamentary Borough of Islington; while the Finsbury Parliamentary Borough was divided into three, named Central Division, East Division and Holborn Division.

History 1918-1950[edit]

The Representation of the People Act 1918 created a new single-member Finsbury Parliamentary borough in the County of London, identical to the Metropolitan Borough of Finsbury. In 1950, it was merged with the neighbouring borough of Shoreditch to became Shoreditch and Finsbury.

Members of Parliament[edit]

MPs 1832-1885[edit]

The parliamentary borough returned two members of parliament

Election 1st Member 1st Party 2nd Member 2nd Party
1832 Robert Grant Liberal Robert Spankie Liberal
1834 by-election Thomas Slingsby Duncombe Liberal
1835 Thomas Wakley Liberal
1852 Thomas Challis Liberal
1857 William Cox Liberal
1859 Samuel Morton Peto Liberal
1861 by-election William Cox Liberal
1865 William Torrens McCullagh Torrens Liberal Sir Andrew Lusk Liberal
1885 constituency abolished: see Finsbury Central, Finsbury East and Holborn

MPs 1918-1950[edit]

The borough was a single-member constituency.

Election Member Party
1918 Lieutenant-Colonel Martin Archer-Shee, DSO Coalition Conservative
1922 Conservative
1923 George Masterman Gillett Labour
1931 National Labour
1935 Rev George Saville Woods Labour Co-operative
1945 John Platts-Mills Labour
1948 Labour Independent Group
1950 constituency abolished

Election results[edit]

Election Political result Candidate Party Votes % ±%
General Election 1945: Finsbury
Electorate: 21,615
Turnout: 13,815 (63.9%) +7.7
Labour hold
Majority: 5,757 (41.6%) +30.0
John Faithful Fortescue Platts-Mills Labour 9,786 70.8 +15.0
Frederick Frank Arthur Burden Conservative 4,029 29.2 N/A
General Election 1935: Finsbury
Electorate: 42,736
Turnout: 24,008 (56.2%) −1.9
Labour Co-op gain from National Labour
Majority: 2,808 (11.6%) +37.8
Rev. George Savile Woods Labour Co-op 13,408 55.8 +18.9
Sir George Masterman Gillett National Labour 10,600 44.2 −18.9
General Election 1931: Finsbury
Electorate: 47,222
Turnout: 27,425 (58.1%) −7.9
National Labour gain from Labour
Majority: 7,159 (26.2%) N/A
Sir George Masterman Gillett National Labour 17,292 63.1 N/A
Thomas Edward Williams Labour 10,133 36.9 −19.6
General Election 1929: Finsbury
Electorate: 48,225
Turnout: 31,851 (66.0%) −0.3
Labour hold
Majority: 8,944 (28.2%) +25.4
George Masterman Gillett Labour 17,970 56.5 +9.5
William Ray Conservative 9,026 28.3 −15.9
William John Pinard Liberal 4,855 15.2 +6.4
General Election 1924: Finsbury
Electorate: 39,701
Turnout: 26,330 (66.3%) +12.5
Labour hold
Majority: 720 (2.8%) −6.0
George Masterman Gillett Labour 12,363 47.0 +4.6
Rear-Admiral Ernest Augustus Taylor Conservative 11,643 44.2 +10.6
Robert Shaw Liberal 2,324 8.8 −15.2
General Election 1923: Finsbury
Electorate: 39,109
Turnout: 21,024 (53.8%) −0.5
Labour gain from Conservative
Majority: 1,844 (8.8%) +30.1
George Masterman Gillett Labour 8,907 42.4 +19.1
Sir Martin Archer-Shee Conservative 7,063 33.6 −11.0
Alfred Henry Scott Liberal 5,054 24.0 −6.4
General Election 1922: Finsbury
Electorate: 38,705
Turnout: 21,018 (54.3%) +14.8
Conservative hold
Majority: 2,998 (14.2%) −13.4
Martin Archer-Shee Conservative 9,382 44.6 −19.2
Edmund Henry Gilpin Liberal 6,384 30.4 −5.8
George Masterman Gillett Labour 4,903 23.3 N/A
Christopher Roland Morden Independent Labour 349 1.7 N/A
General Election 1918: Finsbury
Electorate: 34,873
Turnout: 13,763 (39.5%)
Coalition Conservative win
Majority: 3,801 (27.6%)
Martin Archer-Shee Coalition Conservative 8,782 63.8
Harry Evan Auguste Cotton Liberal 4,981 36.2


  1. ^ Commissioners on Proposed Division of Counties and Boundaries of Boroughs (1832). Parliamentary representation: further return to an address to His Majesty, dated 12 December, 1831. p. 114.