Armagh (UK Parliament constituency)

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Coordinates: 54°20′53″N 6°39′22″W / 54.348°N 6.656°W / 54.348; -6.656

Armagh
Former County constituency
for the House of Commons
19221983
Replaced by Newry and Armagh and Upper Bann
Created from Mid Armagh, North Armagh and South Armagh
18011885
Replaced by Mid Armagh, North Armagh and South Armagh

Armagh or County Armagh was a parliamentary constituency in the House of Commons. It was replaced in boundary changes in 1983.

The Act of Union 1800 provided for the Parliament of Ireland to be merged with the Parliament of Great Britain, to form the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The 300 seats in the Irish House of Commons were reduced to 100 Irish members in the United Kingdom House of Commons. The thirty-two Irish counties retained two seats in Parliament.

Members of Parliament[edit]

Election 1st Member 1st Party 2nd Member 2nd Party
1801 Archibald Acheson Non-partisan/Tory Robert Camden Cope Non-partisan
1802 Henry Caulfeild Whig[1]
1807 William Brownlow Tory William Richardson Tory[1]
1815 Henry Caulfeild Whig[1]
1818 Charles Brownlow Whig[1]
1820 Henry Caulfeild Whig[1]
1830 Archibald Acheson Whig[1]
1832 William Verner Tory[1]
1834 Conservative[1]
1847 James Caulfeild Whig[2][3]
1857 Maxwell Close Conservative
1864 James Stronge Conservative
1868 William Verner Conservative
1873 Edward Wingfield Verner Conservative
1874 Maxwell Close Conservative
1880 James Richardson Liberal
1885 Constituency abolished. See Mid Armagh, North Armagh and South Armagh
Election Member Party
1922 constituency recreated
1922 Sir William Allen Ulster Unionist
1948 by-election Richard Harden Ulster Unionist
1954 by-election C. W. Armstrong Ulster Unionist
1959 John Maginnis Ulster Unionist
Feb 1974 Harold McCusker Ulster Unionist
1983 constituency abolished

Politics and history of the constituency[edit]

The union took effect on 1 January 1801. There was no new election for the members of the 1st Parliament of the United Kingdom, as the House of Commons was composed of members elected to the previous Parliaments of Ireland and Great Britain. The constituencies consisted of the whole of County Armagh, excluding the part in the Parliamentary borough constituency of Armagh City.

Catholics were excluded from taking Irish seats in Parliament from 1691 until 1829. See Catholic emancipation for further details.

Catholics, who were otherwise qualified to vote, had to take various oaths before doing so; under Acts of 1691 and 1703. An Act of 1727 prohibited "papists" from voting at all. They were not again permitted to qualify to vote until 1793.

Before 1885 there was a restrictive property based franchise. In 1829 the traditional county 40 shilling freehold landowning qualification was changed to a £10 qualification (which was an increase to five times the previous level). It was not until the householder franchise was introduced for county elections, in the electoral reforms which took effect in 1885, that most (but not all) adult males became voters.

In these circumstances most members of parliament came from a limited number of Protestant aristocratic and gentry families. There were few contested elections.

In the first half century or so after the union this constituency was fairly evenly balanced between Whig/Liberal and Tory/Conservative parties. Thereafter the area became more Conservative.

The constituency was represented by two MPs from 1801 until 1885, and by one MP from 1922 until 1983. In 1885, it was split into Mid Armagh, North Armagh and South Armagh.

A new seat was created in 1922 when as part of the establishment of the devolved Stormont Parliament for Northern Ireland, the number of MPs in the Westminster Parliament was drastically cut. The seat consisted of the entirety of County Armagh. In 1983 most of it became part of the Newry and Armagh constituency, with part going to Upper Bann.

From its inception Armagh had a unionist majority, though by the 1970s the nationalist vote was in the mid 30s%.

In 1951, it was one of the last four seats to be uncontested in a UK general election, and in 1954 it saw the last uncontested by-election in the UK.

In 1974 the Ulster Unionist Party repudiated the Sunningdale Agreement and so did not reselect the pro Sunningdale MP, John Maginnis. Instead they ran Harold McCusker, who held the seat until 1983. He was then elected for Upper Bann, which contained part of Armagh.

For the history of the area post 1983, please see Newry and Armagh and Upper Bann.

Elections[edit]

In two-member elections the bloc voting system was used. Voters could cast a vote for one or two candidates, as they chose. The two candidates with the largest number of votes were elected.

In by-elections, to fill a single seat, the first past the post system applied.

There was no election in 1801. The representatives of the county in the former Parliament of Ireland became members of the 1st Parliament of the United Kingdom.

After 1832, when registration of voters was introduced, a turnout figure is given for contested elections. In two-member elections, when the exact number of participating voters is unknown, this is calculated by dividing the number of votes by two. To the extent that voters did not use both their votes this will be an underestimate of turnout. If the electorate figure is unknown the last known electorate figure is used to provide an estimate of turnout.

Where a party had more than one candidate in one or both of a pair of successive elections change is calculated for each individual candidate, otherwise change is based on the party vote.

Elections in the 1970s[edit]

General election 1979: Armagh
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP Harold McCusker 31,668 48.5
SDLP Seamus Mallon 23,545 36.1
DUP Davy Calvert 5,634 8.6
Republican Clubs Thomas Moore 2,310 3.5
Alliance William Ramsay 2,074 3.2
Majority 8,123 12.5
Turnout 65,231 70.1
UUP hold Swing
General election October 1974: Armagh
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP Harold McCusker 37,518 60.0
SDLP Seamus Mallon 19,855 31.8
Republican Clubs Malachy McGurran 5,138 8.2
Majority 17,663 28.3
Turnout 62,511 68.6
UUP hold Swing
General election February 1974: Armagh
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP Harold McCusker 33,194 53.7
SDLP Paddy O'Hanlon 18,090 29.3
Alliance Robin Glendinning 4,983 8.1
Republican Clubs Thomas Moore 4,129 6.7
Unity Hugh Lewis 1,364 2.2
Majority 15,104 24.5
Turnout 61,760 68.4
UUP hold Swing
General election 1970: Armagh
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP John Maginnis 37,667 55.3
Unity Hugh Lewis 21,696 31.9
NI Labour Erskine Holmes 8,781 12.9
Majority 15,971 23.4
Turnout 68,144 78.4
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1960s[edit]

General election 1966: Armagh
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP John Maginnis 34,687 72.0
Independent Republican Charles McGleenan 13,467 28.0
Majority 21,220 44.1
Turnout 48,154 63.3
UUP hold Swing
General election 1964: Armagh
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP John Maginnis 35,223 65.0
Independent Republican John Lynch 12,432 23.0
NI Labour Samuel Ewart 6,523 12.0
Majority 22,791 42.1
Turnout 54,178 73.0
UUP hold Swing

Elections in the 1950s[edit]

General election 1959: Armagh
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP John Maginnis 40,325 85.5
Sinn Féin John Lynch 6,823 14.5
Majority 33,502 71.1
Turnout 47,148 64.2
UUP hold Swing
General election 1955: Armagh
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP C. W. Armstrong 38,617 64.4
Sinn Féin Tomás Mac Curtain 21,363 35.6
Majority 17,254 28.8
Turnout 59,980 82.7
UUP hold Swing
At the Armagh by-election, 1954, C. W. Armstrong was elected unopposed. This was the last unopposed Parliamentary election anywhere in the UK.
At the 1950 and 1951 general elections, James Harden was elected unopposed.

Elections in the 1940s[edit]

Armagh by-election, 1948
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP James Harden 36,200 59.7
Anti-Partition James O'Reilly 24,422 40.3
Majority 12,314 20.3
Turnout 60,622
UUP hold Swing
At the 1945 general election, William Allen was elected unopposed.

Elections in the 1930s[edit]

General election 1935: Armagh
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP William Allen 34,002 67.6
Independent Republican Charles McGleenan 16,284 32.4
Majority 17,718 35.2
Turnout 50,286 73.3
UUP hold Swing
At the 1931 general election, William Allen was elected unopposed.

Elections in the 1920s[edit]

General election 1929: Armagh
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP William Allen 29,966 67.4 -3.8
Ulster Liberal William Todd 13,052 32.6 n/a
Majority 13,914 34.8 -7.5
Turnout 40,018 60.2 -14.8
UUP hold Swing n/a
General election 1924: Armagh
Party Candidate Votes % ±
UUP William Allen 29,021 71.2
Sinn Féin James McKee 11,756 28.8
Majority 17,265 42.3
Turnout 40,777 75.0
UUP hold Swing
At the 1922 and 1923 general elections, William Allen was elected unopposed.

Elections in the 1880s[edit]

General election 9 April 1880: Armagh (2 seats)[4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal James Richardson 2,738 29.0 +9.7
Conservative Maxwell Close 2,654 28.1 −11.9
Conservative St John Thomas Blacker[5] 2,275 24.1 N/A
Conservative William Edward Hercules Verner 1,781 18.9 −21.8
Turnout 4,724 (est) 68.1 (est) −5.3
Registered electors 6,937
Majority 84 0.9 N/A
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +10.8
Conservative hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1870s[edit]

General election 7 February 1874: Armagh (2 seats)[4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Edward Wingfield Verner 3,527 40.7 N/A
Conservative Maxwell Close 3,469 40.0 N/A
Liberal Frederick William McBlaine 1,673 19.3 N/A
Turnout 5,171 (est) 73.4 (est) N/A
Registered electors 7,044
Conservative hold
Conservative hold
By-election, 15 February 1873: Armagh[4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Edward Wingfield Verner Unopposed
Registered electors
Conservative hold
  • Caused by Verner's death.

Elections in the 1860s[edit]

General election, 21 November 1868: Armagh[4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative James Stronge Unopposed
Conservative William Verner Unopposed
Registered electors 7,443
Conservative hold
Conservative hold
General election, 19 July 1865: Armagh[4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative James Stronge Unopposed
Conservative William Verner Unopposed
Registered electors 5,721
Conservative hold
Conservative hold
By-election, 23 March 1863: Armagh[4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative James Stronge Unopposed
Conservative hold
  • Caused by Close's resignation.

Elections in the 1850s[edit]

General election 7 May 1859: Armagh (2 seats)[4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Maxwell Close Unopposed
Conservative William Verner Unopposed
Registered electors 5,805
Conservative hold
Conservative hold
General election 16 April 1857: Armagh (2 seats)[4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Maxwell Close 940 50.2 N/A
Conservative William Verner 928 49.5 N/A
Whig James Caulfeild 6 0.3 N/A
Majority 922 49.2 N/A
Turnout 937 (est) 16.7 (est) N/A
Registered electors 5,596
Conservative hold Swing N/A
Conservative gain from Whig Swing N/A
General election 16 July 1852: Armagh (2 seats)[4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative William Verner Unopposed
Whig James Caulfeild Unopposed
Registered electors 4,341
Conservative hold
Whig hold

Elections in the 1840s[edit]

At the 1847 general election, Verner and Caulfeild were elected unopposed.
At the 1841 general election, Verner and Archibald Acheson were elected unopposed.

Elections in the 1830s[edit]

At the 1832, 1835 and 1837 general elections, Verner and Acheson were elected unopposed.
At the 1830 and 1831 general elections, Acheson and Charles Brownlow were elected unopposed.

Elections in the 1820s[edit]

General election 29 June 1826: Armagh (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Whig Henry Caulfeild 2,897 35,84 N/A
Whig Charles Brownlow 2,563 31.70 N/A
Tory William Verner 1,894 23.43 N/A
Tory John Ynyr Burgess 730 9.03 N/A
At the 1820 general election, Charles Brownlow and Henry Caulfeild were elected unopposed.

Elections in the 1810s[edit]

General election 10 July 1818: Armagh (2 seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Tory Charles Brownlow 1,839 38.53 N/A
Tory William Richardson 1,673 35.05 N/A
Whig Henry Caulfeild 1,261 26.42 N/A
At the Armagh by-election, 1815, Henry Caulfeild was elected unopposed.
At the 1812 general election, Richardson and William Brownlow were elected unopposed.

Elections in the 19th century[edit]

At the 1807 general election, Richardson and Brownlow were elected unopposed.
At the Armagh by-election, 1807, Brownlow was elected unopposed.
At the 1802 and 1806 general elections, Archibald Acheson and Henry Caulfeild were elected unopposed.
Archibald Acheson and Robert Camden Cope were co-opted as non-partisans in 1801.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Smith, Henry Stooks (1842). The Register of Parliamentary Contested Elections (Second ed.). Simpkin, Marshall & Company. pp. 214–215. Retrieved 15 September 2018 – via Google Books. 
  2. ^ "Newry Telegraph". 24 August 1847. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 15 September 2018 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  3. ^ "Armagh (County)". Evening Mail. 12 July 1852. p. 2. Retrieved 15 September 2018 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Walker, B.M., ed. (1978). Parliamentary Election Results in Ireland, 1801–1922. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy. ISBN 0901714127. 
  5. ^ "The Representation of Co. Armagh". Dublin Daily Express. 5 April 1880. p. 5. Retrieved 18 December 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  • The Parliaments of England by Henry Stooks Smith (1st edition published in three volumes 1844–50), second edition edited (in one volume) by F.W.S. Craig (Political Reference Publications 1973)
  • Parliamentary Election Results in Ireland, 1801–1922, edited by B.M. Walker (Royal Irish Academy 1978)
  • Who's Who of British members of parliament: Volume I 1832–1885, edited by M. Stenton (The Harvester Press 1976)
  • Northern Ireland Parliamentary Election Results 1921–1972, compiled and edited by Sydney Elliott (Political Reference Publications 1973)
  • Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "A" (part 2)

External links[edit]