Penryn and Falmouth (UK Parliament constituency)

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Penryn and Falmouth
Former County constituency
for the House of Commons
County Cornwall
Major settlements Penryn and Falmouth
Number of members One
Replaced by Truro and Falmouth & Camborne
Created from Penryn and Falmouth, St Austell and Truro
Number of members 1832-1885: Two;
1885-1918: One
Type of constituency Borough constituency
Replaced by Penryn and Falmouth
Created from Cornwall and Penryn

Penryn and Falmouth was the name of a constituency in Cornwall represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1832 until 1950. From 1832 to 1885 it was a parliamentary borough returning two Members of Parliament (MPs), elected by the bloc vote system. Under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885, its representation was reduced to one member, elected by the first past the post system. In 1918 the borough was abolished and the name was transferred to a county constituency electing one MP.


The constituency was created by the Reform Act 1832 (the "Great Reform Act") as a replacement for the Penryn constituency, which had become a notoriously rotten borough. The new borough consisted of Penryn, Falmouth and parts of Budock and St Gluvias parishes, giving it a mostly urban population of nearly 12,000, of whom 875 were registered to vote at its first election in 1832.

Initially Penryn and Falmouth elected two MPs, but this was reduced to one in 1885, and it was one of the smallest constituencies in England for the next thirty years. At this period it was politically unpredictable - though generally one of the more Conservative Cornish constituencies, it was susceptible to influence by personal factors and often swung against the national tide of opinion. Falmouth, which had a stronger non-conformist presence, was the more Liberal part of the constituency in the late 19th century, but was thought to become more Conservative as it developed its trade as a seaside resort.

In 1918 the borough was abolished, but the Penryn and Falmouth name was applied to the county constituency in which the two towns were now placed. This was a much more extensive constituency covering the whole of south central Cornwall, including also the towns of Truro and St Austell as well a long stretch of coastline. This gave it a more industrial character (a sixth of the population were engaged in tin-mining); the area suffered badly from unemployment in the 1930s, and the Labour Party came within 3,031 votes of winning what would have been their first seat in Cornwall in 1935.

The constituency was abolished for the 1950 general election, most of its area being moved into the Truro constituency, but Penryn and Falmouth themselves joining the new Falmouth and Camborne division.

Members of Parliament[edit]

Penryn & Falmouth borough 1832-1885[edit]

Election 1st Member 1st Party 2nd Member 2nd Party
1832 Sir Robert Rolfe Liberal Lord Tullamore Conservative
1835 James William Freshfield Conservative
1840 Edward John Hutchins[1] Liberal
1841 John Cranch Walker Vivian Liberal James Hanway Plumridge Liberal
1847 Howel Gwyn Francis Mowatt
1852 James William Freshfield Conservative
1857 Thomas Baring Liberal Samuel Gurney[2]
1865 Jervoise Smith
1868 Robert Fowler Conservative Edward Backhouse Eastwick Conservative
1874 David James Jenkins Liberal Henry Thomas Cole
1880 Reginald Brett Liberal
1885 Representation reduced to one member

Penryn & Falmouth borough 1885-1918[edit]

Election Member Party
1885 David James Jenkins Liberal
1886 William George Cavendish-Bentinck Conservative
1895 Frederick John Horniman Liberal
1906 Sir John Barker Liberal
1910 Charles Sydney Goldman Unionist
1918 Borough abolished; name transferred to county division

Penryn & Falmouth division of Cornwall 1918–1950[edit]

Election Member Party
1918 Sir Edward Nicholl Coalition Conservative
1922 Capt Denis Ewart Bernard Kingston Shipwright Conservative
1923 Sir Courtenay Cecil Mansel Liberal
1924 George Pilcher[3] Conservative
1929 Sir Tudor Walters Liberal
1931 Maurice Petherick Conservative
1945 Evelyn Mansfield King Labour
1950 constituency abolished

Election results[edit]

Elections in the 1910s[edit]

General Election 1918: 35,074
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Commander Sir Edward Nicholl 10,050 50.6
Liberal Sir Arthur Carkeek 9,815 49.4
Majority 235 1.2
Turnout 56.6
Conservative hold Swing

Elections in the 1920s[edit]

General Election 1922: 37,297
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Denis Ewart Bernard Kingston Shipwright 11,566 42.7 -7.9
Liberal Sir Courtenay Cecil Mansel 8,879 32.8 -16.6
Labour Joseph Harris 4,482 16.6 n/a
National Liberal George Hay Morgan 2,129 7.9 n/a
Majority 2,687 9.9 +8.7
Turnout 72.5 +15.9
Conservative hold Swing +4.3
General Election 1923: 37,586
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Sir Courtenay Cecil Mansel 17,015 62.0 +23.2
Conservative Denis Ewart Bernard Kingston Shipwright 10,429 38.0 -4.7
Majority 6,586 24.0 +33.9
Turnout 73.0 +0.5
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +17.0
General Election 1924: 38,640
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative George Pilcher 12,485 43.3 +5.3
Liberal Sir Courtenay Cecil Mansel 9,913 34.3 -27.7
Labour Rev. Frederick Jesse Hopkins 6,462 22.4 n/a
Majority 2,572 9.0 +33.0
Turnout 74.7 +1.7
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing +16.5
General Election 1929:

Electorate 49,186

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Rt Hon. Sir John Tudor Walters 14,274 37.0 +2.7
Conservative Maurice Petherick 13,136 34.1 -9.2
Labour Rev. Frederick Jesse Hopkins 11,166 28.9 +6.5
Majority 1,138 2.9 11.9
Turnout 78.4 +3.7
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +6.0

Elections in the 1930s[edit]

General Election 1931: 50,767
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Maurice Petherick 16,388 40.5 +6.4
Liberal Ernest Emil Darwin Simon 14,006 34.6 -2.4
Labour Alfred Leslie Rowse 10,098 24.9 -4.0
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing
General Election 1935: Electorate 52,559
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Maurice Petherick 16,136 39.6 -0.9
Labour Alfred Leslie Rowse 13,105 32.1 +7.2
Liberal Sir Ronald Wilberforce Allen 11,537 28.3 -6.3
Conservative hold Swing

Elections in the 1940s[edit]

A General election was due to take place before the end of 1940, but was postponed due to the Second World War. By 1939, the following candidates had been selected to contest this constituency;

General Election 1939/40:
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Maurice Petherick
Labour Alfred Leslie Rowse
General Election 1945: 56,214
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Evelyn Mansfield King 17,962
Conservative Maurice Petherick 15,169
Liberal Percy Harris 7,917
Labour gain from Conservative Swing


  1. ^ E J Hutchins was subsequently elected for Lymington 1850-1857. There is a biography of him at Masonic Province of South Wales, Eastern Division.
  2. ^ See ODNB article by Richard Davenport-Hines, ‘Gurney, Samuel (1816–1882)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 23 Jan 2008
  3. ^ Hansard website gives dates of George Pilcher, MP as 1882 – 8 December 1962, in Parliament 29 October 1924 – 30 May 1929. The National Portrait Gallery, London has two photographic portraits of him, taken in 1927. He is described as journalist, barrister and politician. Rayment says he was born 26 February 1882. He was Secretary of the Royal Empire Society. The Times, 16 March 1935; pg. 9; Issue 47014; col D Notes his resignation as Secretary of the RES, after six years' service and his previous work as a journalist. The Times, 13 December 1962; pg. 12; Issue 55573; col E includes an Obituary, giving further information.