1885 United Kingdom general election in Scotland

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1885 United Kingdom general election

← 1880 24 November – 18 December 1885 (1885-11-24 – 1885-12-18) 1886 →

All 72 Scottish seats to the House of Commons
  First party Second party Third party
  Gladstone.jpg 3rd Marquess of Salisbury.jpg Gavin Clark.jpg
Leader William Ewart Gladstone Marquess of Salisbury Gavin Brown Clark
Party Liberal Conservative Crofters Party
Leader since April 1880 April 1881
Leader's seat Midlothian House of Lords Caithness
Seats before 53 7 0
Seats won 51 10 4
Seat change Decrease1 Increase3 Increase4
Popular vote 238,627 151,137 16,551
Percentage 53.3% 34.3% 3.7%
Swing Decrease16.8% Increase4.4% Increase3.7%

United Kingdom general election 1885 in Scotland.svg
Results of the 1885 election in Scotland

These are the results of the 1885 United Kingdom general election in Scotland. The election was held between 24 November and 18 December 1885 and 70 constituency seats in Scotland were contested. One of the two university seats for Scotland was also contested. Scotland had gained 12 seats since the previous election as a result of the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885, and the electorate had increased from 293,581 to 560,580 as a result of the Representation of the People Act 1884 (out of 24,397,385 people registered in the 1881 census).

Of particular note was the splintering of the Liberal representation in Scotland. Some 7 MPs were returned as Independent Liberals, with Edinburgh in particular seeing 3 of its 4 constituencies return Independent Liberals.

In the western Highlands the Crofters Party emerged as the dominant force, taking four constituencies. The Independent Liberal MP elected for the Wick Burghs also aligned with the group. The emergence of the group was owed to the Representation of the People Act 1884, which had reduced the property qualifications for voters. As a result many Crofters were able to vote for the first time in 1885. The Crofting Party worked in close collaboration with the Highland Land League, and opposed the lack of secure and tenure and the severely reduced access to land for crofters.[1]


Below is a table summarising the results of the 1885 general election in Scotland.

Party Seats Seats change Votes % % Change
Liberal 51 Decrease 1 238,627 53.3 Decrease 16.8
Conservative 8 Increase 2 151,137 34.3 Increase 4.4
Independent Liberal & Crofters Party 4 Increase 4 16,551 3.7 Increase 3.7
Independent Liberal 7 Increase 7 38,214 8.6 Increase 8.6
Other 0 Steady
Scottish Land Restoration League 0 Steady 2,359 0.5 Increase 0.5
Total 70 Increase 12 446,888 100

University constituencies[edit]

General election 1885: Edinburgh & St Andrews Universities
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative John Macdonald CB QC LLD 2,840 53.7%
Liberal John Eric Erichsen 2,453 46.3%
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing
General election 1885: Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative James Alexander Campbell unopposed unopposed
Conservative hold Swing

Votes summary[edit]

Popular vote
Independents & Other
Crofters Party
Scottish Land Restoration League
Parliament seats
Independents Liberals
Crofters Party

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chris Cook; Brendan Keith (1975). British Historical Facts, 1830–1900. Springer Verlag. pp. 96–97. ISBN 9781349013487.