Tain Burghs (UK Parliament constituency)

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Tain Burghs
Former District of Burghs constituency
for the House of Commons
Major settlements Dingwall, Dornoch, Kirkwall, Tain, Wick
17081832
Number of members One
Replaced by Wick Burghs
Created from Dingwall, Dornoch, Kirkwall, Tain, Wick

Tain Burghs, was a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1708 to 1801 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1832, sometimes known as Northern Burghs. It was represented by one Member of Parliament (MP).

The first election in Tain Burghs was in 1708. In 1707-08, members of the 1702-1707 Parliament of Scotland were co-opted to serve in the first Parliament of Great Britain. See Scottish representatives to the 1st Parliament of Great Britain, for further details.

Boundaries[edit]

The constituency was a district of burghs created to represent the Royal burghs of Dingwall, Dornoch, Kirkwall, Tain and Wick, which had all been separately represented with one commissioner each in the former Parliament of Scotland.[1]

In 1832 Cromarty was added to the district and it was renamed Wick Burghs.[2]

History[edit]

The constituency was enfranchised, as part of the arrangements for representing Scotland in the united Parliament, under the terms of the Act of Union 1707.

The first Member of Parliament (MP), for the five Burghs, was elected at Tain in 1708. Lord Strathnaver was the eldest son of a Scottish peer. He would not have been eligible to be elected to the Parliament of Scotland. It was disputed that Strathnaver was eligible to be elected to the Parliament of Great Britain, as the representative of a Scottish seat.

On 3 December 1708, the House of Commons decided the issue, as at that time the House judged the eligibility of its members itself rather than leaving the issue to be decided by a Judge.

After the House called in counsel, the election petitions and representations in writing were read out and the lawyers put forward arguments for their clients. After counsel had withdrawn a question was formulated and put to a vote.

The proposition the House voted on was "that the eldest sons of the Peers of Scotland were capable by the Laws of Scotland at the time of the Union, to elect or be elected as Commissioners for the Shire or Boroughs [sic, see Burghs] to the Parliament of Scotland; and therefore by the Treaty of Union are capable to elect, or be elected to represent any Shire or Borough [sic] in Scotland, to sit in the House of Commons of Great Britain".

The House rejected the motion and so declared that Lord Strathnaver was ineligible to be elected an MP for Tain Burghs.[3]

The most prominent English political figure, to represent a Scottish constituency in the 18th century, was Charles James Fox. In the 1784 general election, Fox sought re-election for the Westminster constituency. Political opponents challenged Fox's election. As Westminster had the largest electorate of any English borough, the scrutiny of votes (to check that each voter had been legally qualified to participate in the election) was thought likely to take a long time. To avoid Fox being out of Parliament, until the Westminster election petition was decided, a Scottish friend arranged for him to become member for Tain Burghs.

It took until 1786 for Fox to be confirmed as a duly elected MP for Westminster. Fox then chose to represent his English constituency and the Scottish one became vacant.[4]

Members of Parliament[edit]

Elected Member Party
1708 Lord Strathnaver
1709 by-election Robert Douglas
1710 Sir Robert Munro, Bt Whig
1741 Charles Erskine
1742 by-election Robert Craigie
1747 Sir Harry Munro, Bt Whig
1761 John Scott
1768 Hon. Alexander Mackay
1773 by-election James Grant
1780 Charles Ross Whig (Foxite)
1784 Charles James Fox Whig (Foxite)
1786 by-election George Ross Whig (Foxite)
1786 by-election Sir Charles Lockhart-Ross, Bt Tory (Pittite)
1796 William Dundas Tory
1802 John Villiers
1805 by-election James MacDonald
1806 John Randoll Mackenzie
1808 by-election William Henry Fremantle
1812 Sir Hugh Innes, Bt Tory
1830 James Loch Whig
1832 constituency abolished

Elections[edit]

The electoral system for this constituency gave each of the five burghs one vote, with an additional casting vote (to break ties) for the burgh where the election was held. The place of election rotated amongst the burghs in successive Parliaments. The vote of a burgh was exercised by a burgh commissioner, who was elected by the burgh councillors.

The primary source for the results was Stooks Smith with additional information from the History of Parliament series. For details of the books used, see the Reference section below.

The reference to some candidates as Non Partisan does not, necessarily, mean that they did not have a party allegiance. It means that the sources consulted did not specify a party allegiance.

1710s1720s1730s1740s1750s1760s1770s1780s1790s1800s1810s1820s1830s

Elections of the 1700s[edit]

General Election 26 May 1708: Tain Burghs (election at Tain)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan Lord Strathnaver Unopposed N/A N/A
Non Partisan gain from new seat Swing N/A
  • 1708 (3 December): Strathnaver declared ineligible as the eldest son of a Peer of Scotland
By-Election 5 May 1709: Tain Burghs (election at Tain)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan Robert Douglas Unopposed N/A N/A
Non Partisan hold Swing N/A

Elections of the 1710s[edit]

General Election 27 October 1710: Tain Burghs (election at Dingwall)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig Robert Munro Unopposed N/A N/A
Whig gain from Non Partisan Swing N/A
General Election 1713: Tain Burghs (election at Dornoch)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig Robert Munro Unopposed N/A N/A
Whig hold Swing N/A
General Election 1715: Tain Burghs (election at Wick)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig Robert Munro Unopposed N/A N/A
Whig hold Swing N/A

Elections of the 1720s[edit]

General Election 1722: Tain Burghs (election at Kirkwall)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig Robert Munro Elected N/A N/A
Non Partisan Robert Gordon Defeated N/A N/A
Whig hold Swing N/A
General Election 1727: Tain Burghs (election at Tain)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig Robert Munro Unopposed N/A N/A
Whig hold Swing N/A

Elections of the 1730s[edit]

General Election 1734: Tain Burghs (election at Dingwall)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig Sir Robert Munro, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Whig hold Swing N/A

Elections of the 1740s[edit]

General Election 28 May 1741: Tain Burghs (election at Dornoch)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan Charles Erskine Elected N/A N/A
Whig Sir Robert Munro, Bt Defeated N/A N/A
Non Partisan gain from Whig Swing N/A
  • Election declared void
By-Election 2 April 1742: Tain Burghs (election at Dornoch)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan Robert Craigie Unopposed N/A N/A
Non Partisan hold Swing N/A
General Election 22 July 1747: Tain Burghs (election at Wick)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig Sir Harry Munro, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Whig gain from Non Partisan Swing N/A

Elections of the 1750s[edit]

General Election 9 May 1754: Tain Burghs (election at Kirkwall)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig Sir Harry Munro, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Whig hold Swing N/A

Elections of the 1760s[edit]

General Election 20 April 1761: Tain Burghs (election at Tain)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan John Scott Unopposed N/A N/A
Non Partisan gain from Whig Swing N/A
General Election 11 April 1768: Tain Burghs (election at Dingwall)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan Alexander Mackay Unopposed N/A N/A
Non Partisan hold Swing N/A

Elections of the 1770s[edit]

  • 1773 (February): Resignation of Mackay
By-Election 26 April 1773: Tain Burghs (election at Dingwall)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan James Grant Unopposed N/A N/A
Non Partisan hold Swing N/A
General Election 31 October 1774: Tain Burghs (election at Dornoch)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan James Grant 3
Dingwall, Dornoch, Kirkwall
60.0 N/A
Non Partisan Sir Adam Fergusson, Bt 2
Tain, Wick
40.0 N/A
Majority 1 20.0 N/A
Turnout 5 100.0 N/A
Non Partisan hold Swing N/A

Elections of the 1780s[edit]

General Election 2 October 1780: Tain Burghs (election at Wick)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig Charles Ross of Morangie Unopposed N/A N/A
Whig gain from Non Partisan Swing N/A
General Election 26 April 1784: Tain Burghs (election at Kirkwall)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig Charles James Fox 3
Dingwall, Kirkwall, Tain
60.0 N/A
Tory Sir John Sinclair, Bt 2
Dornoch, Wick
40.0 N/A
Majority 1 20.0 N/A
Turnout 5 100.0 N/A
Whig hold Swing N/A
  • 1786 (March): Fox chose to represent Westminster, where he had been declared duly elected in the 1784 general election, after an election petition and a prolonged scrutiny of votes
By-Election 15 March 1786: Tain Burghs (election at Kirkwall)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig George Ross 3
Dingwall, Kirkwall, Tain
60.0 N/A
Tory Sir James Riddell, Bt 2
Dornoch, Wick
40.0 N/A
Majority 1 20.0 N/A
Turnout 5 100.0 N/A
Whig hold Swing N/A
  • 1786 (7 April): Ross died
By-Election 30 June 1786: Tain Burghs (election at Kirkwall)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory Charles Lockhart Ross of Balnagown 3
Dornoch, Tain, Wick
60.0 +20.0
Whig Charles Ross of Morangie 2
Dingwall, Kirkwall
40.0 -20.0
Majority 1 20.0 N/A
Turnout 5 100.0 N/A
Tory gain from Whig Swing +20.0 (W to T)

Elections of the 1790s[edit]

General Election 12 July 1790: Tain Burghs (election at Tain)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory Sir Charles Lockhart Ross, Bt of Balnagown Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing N/A
General Election 20 June 1796: Tain Burghs (election at Dingwall)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan William Dundas Unopposed N/A N/A
Non Partisan gain from Tory Swing N/A
  • November 1797: Dundas appointed a Commissioner for the Affairs of India
By-Election 1797: Tain Burghs (election at Dingwall)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan William Dundas Unopposed N/A N/A
Non Partisan hold Swing N/A

Elections of the 1800s[edit]

General Election 30 July 1802: Tain Burghs (election at Dornoch)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan Hon. John Charles Villiers Unopposed N/A N/A
Non Partisan hold Swing N/A
By-Election 1804: Tain Burghs (election at Dornoch)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan Hon. John Charles Villiers Unopposed N/A N/A
Non Partisan hold Swing N/A
  • July 1804: Villiers appointed Chief Prothonotary Common Pleas of the County Palatine of Lancaster
  • 1805: Villiers resigned
By-Election 26 June 1805: Tain Burghs (election at Dornoch)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan James MacDonald Unopposed N/A N/A
Non Partisan hold Swing N/A
General Election 24 November 1806: Tain Burghs (election at Wick)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan John Randoll Mackenzie 3 60.0 N/A
Non Partisan Sir John Sinclair, Bt [5] 2 40.0 N/A
Majority 1 20.0 N/A
Turnout 5 100.0 N/A
Non Partisan hold Swing N/A
General Election 1807: Tain Burghs (election at Kirkwall)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan John Randoll Mackenzie Unopposed N/A N/A
Non Partisan hold Swing N/A
By-Election 7 May 1808: Tain Burghs (election at Kirkwall)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Non Partisan William Henry Fremantle Unopposed N/A N/A
Non Partisan hold Swing N/A

Elections of the 1810s[edit]

General Election 30 October 1812: Tain Burghs (election at Tain)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory Hugh Innes 3 60.0 N/A
Non Partisan Sir Charles Lockhart Ross, Bt of Balnagown 2 40.0 N/A
Majority 1 20.0 N/A
Turnout 5 100.0 N/A
Tory gain from Non Partisan Swing N/A
General Election 1818: Tain Burghs (election at Dingwall)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory Hugh Innes Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing N/A

Elections of the 1820s[edit]

General Election 1820: Tain Burghs (election at Dornoch)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory Sir Hugh Innes, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing N/A
General Election 1826: Tain Burghs (election at Wick)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Tory Sir Hugh Innes, Bt Unopposed N/A N/A
Tory hold Swing N/A

Elections of the 1830s[edit]

General Election 23 August 1830: Tain Burghs (election at Kirkwall)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig James Loch Unopposed N/A N/A
Whig gain from Tory Swing N/A
General Election 1831: Tain Burghs (election at Tain)
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig James Loch Unopposed N/A N/A
Whig hold Swing N/A
  • Constituency expanded and re-named in the 1832 redistribution

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ House of Commons 1754-1790
  2. ^ British Parliamentary Election Results 1832-1885
  3. ^ The Parliaments of England has a footnote about the 1708 election dispute
  4. ^ House of Commons 1754-1790
  5. ^ It is presumed that the Sir John Sinclair, Bt, who unsuccessfully contested this constituency in 1806, was the politician who served in the House of Commons in the previous and subsequent Parliaments. There were, however, three other contemporary baronets of the same name.

References[edit]