St Ives by-election, 1928
The by-election was caused by the resignation of the sitting Conservative Party Member of Parliament (MP) John Anthony Hawke on his appointment to be a High Court judge. Hawke had first won the seat at the 1922 general election. He lost it to the Liberal candidate Sir Clifford Cory at the 1923 general election when there was also a Labour candidate in the field but won it back from Cory in a straight fight in 1924.
The by-election was also three-cornered contest. The Conservatives picked Sir Andrew Caird (1870-1956) one of Lord Northcliffe ’s newspaper editors and directors  to fight the seat. The Reverend F J Hopkins, entered the fray for Labour and the Liberal hopeful was Mrs Hilda Runciman.
The result was a victory for Mrs Runciman, making her only the third woman candidate ever to be elected for the Liberal Party, after Margaret Wintringham and Lady Vera Terrington. Mrs Runciman overturned Hawke’s majority of 1,247 to win by a majority of 763 votes.
The warming pan 
The circumstances in which Mrs Runciman came to be selected as Liberal candidate were an issue in the by-election. Her husband, Sir Walter Runciman who was Liberal MP for Swansea West had decided to transfer from Swansea to St Ives at the next general election. When the by-election was caused by Hawke’s resignation, Mrs Runciman was adopted as Liberal candidate to keep the seat warm for her husband. This attracted Tory derision but Mrs Runciman was duly elected. She also duly stood down in her husband’s favour at the 1929 general election. Apparently Liberal party leader David Lloyd George did not approve of Mrs Runciman’s candidacy and he sent no message of support for her during the by-election. However Sir Herbert Samuel did travel to the constituency to speak on her behalf. On election Mrs Runciman joined her husband in the House of Commons, the first married couple to sit in the House together.
Labour’s ‘warming pan’, Bishop Auckland, 1929 
Interestingly, St Ives was not the only ‘warming pan’ by-election of the 1924-1929 Parliament. Ruth Dalton, the wife of future Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, Hugh Dalton successfully contested the seat of Bishop Auckland at a by-election on 7 February 1929. Her husband had been planning to move to the seat at the next general election, as it was safer than his more marginal seat in Peckham but the sitting MP Ben Spoor died at the young age of 50 years and Mrs Dalton stepped in. She also handed her seat to her husband at the 1929 general election.
|By-election 1928: St Ives|
|Conservative||Sir Andrew Caird||9,478||39.4|
|Labour||Rev. F J Hopkins||4,343||18.0|
|Liberal gain from Conservative||Swing|
- The Times, 17 December 1956
- Roy Douglas, Liberals: The History of the Liberal and Liberal Democrat Parties; Hambledon and London, 2005 p215
- Pamela Brookes, Women at Westminster; Peter Davies Publishing, 1967 p65
- Brookes, op cit p65
- Brookes, op cit p65-66
- Craig, F. W. S. (1969) . British parliamentary election results 1918-1949 (1st edition ed.). Glasgow: Parliamentary Research Services. ISBN 0-900178-01-9.
- Leigh Rayment's Peerage Pages [self-published source][better source needed]
See also