Merthyr Tydfil (UK Parliament constituency)

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Merthyr Tydfil
Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
1832 (1832)1918 (1918)
Replaced by Merthyr
Created from Glamorgan
1950 (1950)1983 (1983)
Replaced by Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney
Created from Merthyr

Merthyr Tydfil was a parliamentary constituency centred on the town of Merthyr Tydfil in Glamorgan. From 1832 to 1868 it returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and in 1868 this was increased to two members. The constituency was abolished for the 1918 general election.

It was re-established in 1950 as a single-member constituency, and abolished again for the 1983 general election, when it was largely replaced by the new Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney constituency.


The Great Reform Act of 1832 was the first significant review of the arrangements for the election of MPs to the House of Commons, Patterns of representation had remained essentially unchanged for centuries and no recognition was given to the growth of urban settlements in the wake of the industrial revolution. The discontent of the late 1820s, culminating in serious disturbances in 1831, including the Merthyr Rising persuaded the government to take action in favour of reform. Within the Act of 1832 the one significant change in Wales was the carving out of a new parliamentary constituency, centred at Merthyr Tydfil, from the county of Glamorgan.


The Parliamentary Boundaries Act 1832 defined the new Parliamentary Borough of Merthyr Tydvil in great detail:[1]

From the Point on the North of Merthyr Tydvil at which the Northern Boundary of the Hamlet of Gellydeg meets the River called the Great Taff, Northward, along the Great Taff, to the Point at which the same is cut by the Southern Fence of Cilsanos Common; thence, Eastward, along the Fence of Cilsanos Common to the Point at which the same cuts the Brecon Road; thence, Southward, along the Brecon Road to the Point at which the same meets the Vainor Road; thence, Eastward, along the Vainor Road to the Point at which the same meets a Bye Road leading to Cefn-coed-y-Cwymner; thence in a straight Line to the Point at which the Little Taff would be cut by a straight Line to be drawn from the Point last described to the Southern Mouth of a Culvert on the Eastern Side of the Little Taff; thence, up the Little Taff, along the Boundary of the Parish of Merthyr Tydvil to the Point at which the Cwm Bargoed Stream is joined by a little Brook from the Coli Ravine; thence in a straight Line to the North eastern Corner of the Stone Fence of Pen-dwy-cae Vawr Farm; thence along the Road which passes Pen-dwy-cae Vawr Farmhouse to the Point at which the same meets the Mountain Track from Dowlais to Quakers Yard; thence, Southward, along the said Track, between the Farms of Pen-dwy-cae Vach and Pen-dwy-cae Vawr, to the Point at which such Track meets a Road running nearly due West, by a Stone Quarry, to Pen-y-rhw Gymra Cottage; thence along the last-mentioned Road to the Point at which the same reaches the Southern Side of Pen-y-rhw Gymra Cottage; thence in a straight Line to the Point at which the Southern Boundary of Troed-y-rhw Farm meets the Cardiff Road; thence along the Southern Boundary of Troed-y-rhw Farm to the Point at which the same meets the Great Taff; thence in a straight Line to the Bridge over the Cardiff Canal called Pont-y-nant Maen; thence, Northward, along the Cardiff Canal to the Point at which the same is intersected by the Cwmdu Brook; thence along the Cwmdu Brook to its Source; thence in a straight Line drawn due West to the Boundary of the Parish of Aberdare; thence, Southward, along the Boundary of the Parish of Aberdare to the Point at which the same meets the Boundary of the Hamlet of Gellydeg; thence, Eastward, along the Boundary of the Hamlet of Gellydeg to the Point first described.


The Representation of the People Act 1867, which increased the number of members returned to two, also widened the constituency boundaries. To the existing parliamentary borough were added some additional parts of the parish of Aberdare, part of the parishes of Merthyr and "Faenor" (Vaynor), and part of the district of Mountain Ash.[2][3]

The same boundaries were retained in 1885, and can be seen on the boundary commissioners' map.[4]


The two-member Merthyr Boroughs constituency was replaced at the 1918 General Election by two separate constituencies, Aberdare and Merthyr Tydfil.


Merthyr Tydfil Borough Constituency, created by the Representation of the People Act 1948, had an identical area to the County Borough of Merthyr Tydfil.[5] The seat was first contested at the 1950 general election. The boundaries were unchanged until 1983.

Electoral Contests[edit]

1868 General Election[edit]

Merthyr Tydfil saw one of the most remarkable contests of the 1868 General Election. Resulting directly from a tenfold increase in the electorate. Henry Richard was returned at the expense of the sitting member, Henry Austen Bruce.

Bruce had served as member since 1832 and his position was secure until the reforms of 1867. Even thereafter, the immediate interest appeared to be in who would occupy the second seat rather than whether or nor Bruce would be re-elected. The Merthyr element of the constituency had dominated the representation from the outset but there was a strong view in the neighbouring Aberdare valley, where the population was rapidly increasing as a result of the development of the steam coal trade, that they should determine the identity of the second member. The commercial interests on the valley, together with the key figure of Thomas Price, minister of Calfaria, Aberdare rallied around Richard Fothergill, owner of the Aberdare Ironworks and also a figure of some influence in Merthyr due to his ownership of the Plymouth Ironworks. It was confidently expected that Fothergill would be returned alongside Bruce until Henry Richard entered the fray.

Richard's candidature was also opposed by members of the Irish community, on account of alleged comments by Richard about the Pope during a speech at Brecon.[6]

Members of Parliament[edit]

MPs 1832–1868[edit]

Election Member Party
1832 Sir John Josiah Guest
1852 Henry Austin Bruce Liberal
1868 representation increased to two members

MPs 1868–1918[edit]

Election 1st Member 1st Party 2nd Member 2nd Party
1868 Henry Richard Liberal Richard Fothergill Liberal
1880 Charles Herbert James Liberal
1888 by-election (Mar) David Alfred Thomas Liberal
1888 by-election (Oct) William Pritchard Morgan Liberal
1900 James Keir Hardie Labour
1910 (Jan) Sir Edgar Rees Jones Liberal
1915 by-election Charles Butt Stanton Independent Labour
1918 constituency abolished: see Merthyr and Aberdare

MPs 1950–1983[edit]

Election Member Party
1950 constituency re-established
1950 S. O. Davies Labour
1970 Independent Labour
1972 by-election Ted Rowlands Labour
1983 constituency abolished: see Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney

Election results[edit]


  1. ^ Schedule O, Parliamentary Boundaries Act 1832, c.64
  2. ^ Mair, Robert Henry (1870). Debrett's Illustrated House of Commons and the Judicial Bench. London: Dean & Son. p. 341. Retrieved 12 May 2009. 
  3. ^ "Electoral registers for Merthyr Tydfil: Summary of the Merthyr Tydfil Electoral District". Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council. Retrieved 4 June 2010. 
  4. ^ "Glamorganshire. New Divisions of County". Report of the Boundary Commissioners for England and Wales. 1885. 
  5. ^ First Schedule: Parliamentary Constituencies, Part II: Wales, Representation of the People Act, 1948 (11&12 Geo. 6.) C. 65
  6. ^ "Helyntion yr Etholiad". Gwladgarwr. 26 September 1868. Retrieved 26 January 2014.