Bewdley (UK Parliament constituency)

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Worcestershire, Bewdley
Former County constituency
for the House of Commons
18851950
Number of members One
Replaced by Kidderminster and South Worcestershire
Bewdley
Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
1605–1885
Number of members One

Bewdley was the name of a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1605 until 1950. Until 1885 it was a parliamentary borough in Worcestershire, represented by one Member of Parliament; the name was then transferred to a county constituency from 1885 until 1950. Its MPs included the former Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, who represented the seat from 1908 to 1937, and afterwards took the name of the constituency as part of his title when he was raised to the peerage.

Boundaries[edit]

1885-1918: The Municipal Boroughs of Bewdley and Worcester, the Sessional Divisions of Hundred House, Tenbury, and Worcester, and part of the Sessional Divisions of Malvern and Stourport.

1918-1950: The Municipal Borough of Bewdley, the Urban Districts of Malvern and Stourport, the Rural Districts of Hartley, Rock, Tenbury, and Upton-on-Severn, the Rural District which consisted of the civil parishes of Redmarley D'Abitot and Staunton, and in the Rural District of Tewkesbury the civil parishes of Chaceley and Pendock.

History[edit]

The unreformed borough (1605–1832)[edit]

Bewdley was enfranchised in 1605, being one of only a handful of English boroughs electing one rather than two MPs. The borough consisted of part of Ribbesford parish in Worcestershire, of which the market town of Bewdley was the main settlement. In 1831, the population of the borough was 3,908, and contained 891 houses.

The right to vote was exercised by the bailiff and burgesses (members of the town corporation, who need not necessarily be resident in the borough); this normally amounted to only 13 voters, though the report to Parliament before the Reform Act recorded the electorate as 42. (The discrepancy is perhaps academic, since it was many years since there had been a contested election.)

In the second half of the 17th century, the inhabitants at large made several attempts to secure the right to vote by petitioning against the election results, but in each case the Commons upheld the restrictive provisions of the original grant. The corporation were entitled to nominate their own successors, meaning in theory that their power was self-sustaining. However, in the early 18th century this was circumvented by issuing a new Royal charter for the borough that extinguished the existing corporation and appointed a new one. In 1708 the Whig government had a new charter issued to eject the existing Tory-dominated corporation, and at that year's election both the old and new corporations attempted to exercise their right to vote; the Whig majority in the Commons upheld the new charter and seated the Whig candidate. After the 1710 election, however, the Whig government had lost its Commons majority and the new House declared the charter of 1708 void and the Tory candidate victorious. However, the repeal of the charter could only be secured through recourse to the courts, and although an action was begun it appears that the various parties made up their political differences before it reached a conclusion, and all sides eventually acquiesced in the new corporation's legitimacy.

For most of Bewdley's existence as a borough until the Reform Act, the corporation (and therefore the choice of its MP) was under the influence of one or other prominent local families. In the mid-17th century this control was exercised by the Foley family, but after they acquired a hold on nearby Droitwich (which elected two MPs) their interest in Bewdley seems to have waned – possibly because in Droitwich they were able to secure legal ownership of the voting rights, whereas in Bewdley they had to proceed by bribery. (In 1677, the Commons upheld a petition against Thomas Foley's election on grounds of bribery, and declared his opponent duly elected in his place.) At later periods the "patronage" was held alternately by the Lytteltons and the Winningtons; but from 1806 the influence passed to a local attorney, Wilson Roberts.

The reformed borough (1832–1885)[edit]

Under the Reform Act 1832, which liberalised the franchise, Bewdley's boundaries were also extended to take in the whole of Ribbesford parish; this brought six hamlets into the borough, and almost doubled the population to 7,500. This new constituency had 337 electors qualified to vote in 1832, and the second extension of the franchise with a further expansion of the borough boundaries in 1867 increased this to just over 1,000. At this period, elections were sometimes uncontested when the candidate was the head of the locally influential Winnington family, but otherwise were generally close-run affairs with the winning majority frequently under 20.

The county division (1885–1950)[edit]

The borough was too small to retain separate representation after the Third Reform Act, and was abolished with effect from the general election of 1885; however, the Bewdley name was transferred to the new county division in which the town was placed, formally called The Western or Bewdley Division of Worcestershire. This new constituency comprised the whole of the western half of the county, largely rural but including the town of Great Malvern, which contributed about a third of the population; the Worcester freeholders (who were entitled to a county vote even though their property was within the borough boundaries) also voted here. It was a very safe Conservative seat. Alfred Baldwin was elected as MP in 1892, holding the seat until his death in 1908. He was succeeded by his son, Stanley, who later became Prime Minister while still Bewdley's MP.

The constituency (now simply the Worcestershire, Bewdley Division) was redrawn in 1918, its southern end being transferred to the Evesham seat and acquiring instead part of the north-western corner of the county including Stourport, previously in the abolished Droitwich division. These changes had little effect on the political complexion of Bewdley, and Baldwin generally secured twice as many votes as his nearest opponent, when the constituency was contested at all – indeed, in three of the five elections he fought as Prime Minister Bewdley returned him unopposed.

The Bewdley division was abolished with effect from the general election of 1950, being divided between the Kidderminster constituency (in which Bewdley itself was placed) and Worcestershire South (which included Malvern).

Members of Parliament[edit]

Bewdley borough 1605–1885[edit]

Year Member Party
1605 Richard Young
1614 James Button
1621 Sir Thomas Edmonds[1]
1624 Ralph Clare[1]
1640 (Apr) Sir Henry Herbert Royalist
1640 (Nov) Sir Henry Herbert Royalist
August 1642 Herbert disabled from sitting – seat vacant
1647 William Hopkins[2]
1648 Nicholas Lechmere[3]
1653 Bewdley was unrepresented in the Barebones Parliament
and the First and Second Parliaments of the Protectorate
January 1659 Edward Pytts
May 1659 Nicholas Lechmere
April 1660 Thomas Foley
1661 Sir Henry Herbert
1673 Thomas Foley[4]
1677 Henry Herbert
1679 Philip Foley
1685 Sir Charles Lyttelton, Bt
1689 Henry Herbert Whig
1694 Salwey Winnington Tory
1708 Hon. Henry Herbert Whig
1709 Charles Cornwall Tory
October 1710 Anthony Lechmere[5] Whig
December 1710 Salwey Winnington Tory
1715 Grey James Grove Whig
1722 Crewe Offley Whig
1734 William Bowles Whig
1735 Phineas Bowles Whig
1741 William Bowles Whig
1748 William Lyttelton Tory
1755 William Finch
1761 Sir Edward Winnington, 1st Bt Whig
1768 Hon. Thomas Lyttelton[6] Tory
1769 Sir Edward Winnington, 1st Bt Whig
1774 William Lyttelton Tory
1790 Hon. George Lyttelton Tory
1796 Miles Peter Andrews Tory
1814 Charles Wilsonn Tory
1818 Wilson Roberts Tory
1832 Sir Thomas Winnington, 3rd Bt Whig
1837 Thomas Winnington[7] Whig
1847 Thomas James Ireland[8] Conservative
1848 William Montagu Conservative
1852 Sir Thomas Winnington, 4th Bt Liberal
1868 Sir Richard Atwood Glass[9] Conservative
1869 John Cunliffe Pickersgill Cunliffe[10] Conservative
1869 Augustus Anson Liberal
1874 Charles Harrison[11] Liberal
1880 Enoch Baldwin Liberal
1885 Borough abolished – name transferred to county division

Bewdley county division 1885–1950[edit]

Election Member Party
1885 Edmund Lechmere Conservative
1892 Alfred Baldwin Conservative
1908 by-election Stanley Baldwin Conservative
1937 by-election Roger Conant Conservative
1950 constituency abolished: see Kidderminster & South Worcestershire

Elections[edit]

Elections in the 1880s[edit]

General Election 1880: Bewdley [12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Charles Harrison 598 53.0
Conservative Richard Webster 530 47.0
Majority 68 6.0
Turnout 1,128 91.9
Registered electors 1,228
Conservative hold Swing

The result was declared void on petition, causing a by-election.

By-election, 13 Jul 1880: Bewdley [12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Enoch Baldwin 611 55.4 +2.4
Conservative William Nichols Marcy[13] 491 44.6 −2.4
Majority 120 10.9 +4.9
Turnout 1,102 89.7 −2.2
Registered electors 1,228
Conservative hold Swing +2.4
General Election 1885: Bewdley [14]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Edmund Lechmere 4,525 60.0 +15.4
Liberal John Fell[15] 3,015 40.0 −15.4
Majority 1,510 20.0 N/A
Turnout 7,540 76.7 −13.0
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing +15.4
General Election 1886: Bewdley [16]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Edmund Lechmere Unopposed
Conservative hold

Elections in the 1890s[edit]

Alfred Baldwin
General Election 1892: Bewdley [17]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Alfred Baldwin Unopposed
Conservative hold
General Election 1895: Bewdley [18]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Alfred Baldwin Unopposed
Conservative hold

Elections in the 1900s[edit]

General Election 1900: Bewdley [19]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Alfred Baldwin Unopposed
Conservative hold
General Election 1906: Bewdley [20]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Alfred Baldwin 5,912 68.5 N/A
Liberal Godfrey Benson 2,718 31.5 N/A
Majority 3,194 37.0 N/A
Turnout 8,630 84.4 N/A
Registered electors 10,231
Conservative hold Swing N/A
Bewdley by-election, 1908 [21]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Stanley Baldwin Unopposed
Conservative hold

Elections in the 1910s[edit]

General Election January 1910: Bewdley [22]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Stanley Baldwin 6,618 73.6 +5.1
Liberal J.L. Brooks 2,370 26.4 −5.1
Majority 4,248 47.2 +10.2
Turnout 8,988 84.5 +0.1
Registered electors 10,638
Conservative hold Swing +5.1
General Election December 1910: Bewdley [23]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Stanley Baldwin Unopposed
Conservative hold

General Election 1914/15:

Another General Election was required to take place before the end of 1915. The political parties had been making preparations for an election to take place and by the July 1914, the following candidates had been selected;

Stanley Baldwin
General Election 1918: Bewdley
Party Candidate Votes % ±
C Unionist Stanley Baldwin Unopposed
Unionist hold
C indicates candidate endorsed by the coalition government.

Elections in the 1920s[edit]

By-election, 1921: Bewdley
Party Candidate Votes % ±
C Unionist Stanley Baldwin 14,537 89.6 N/A
Independent Labour H. Mills 1,680 10.4 N/A
Majority 12,857 79.2 N/A
Turnout 16,217 63.7 N/A
Registered electors 25,440
Unionist hold Swing N/A
C indicates candidate endorsed by the coalition government.
General Election 1922: Bewdley
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Unionist Stanley Baldwin 11,192 66.1 n/a
Liberal Sardius Hancock 5,748 33.9 n/a
Majority 5,444 32.2 n/a
Turnout 16,940 64.7 n/a
Unionist hold Swing n/a
General Election 1923: Bewdley
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Unionist Stanley Baldwin 12,395 67.3 +1.2
Liberal Sardius Hancock 6,026 32.7 -1.2
Majority 6,369 34.6 +2.4
Turnout 18,421 68.8 +4.1
Unionist hold Swing +1.2
General Election 1924: Bewdley
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Unionist Stanley Baldwin unopposed n/a n/a
Unionist hold Swing n/a
General Election 1929: Bewdley
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Unionist Stanley Baldwin 16,593 62.9 n/a
Liberal Sidney Benjamin Carter 7,186 27.3 n/a
Labour Sardius Hancock 2,575 9.8 n/a
Majority 9,407 35.6 n/a
Turnout 26,354 71.3 n/a
Unionist hold Swing n/a

Elections in the 1930s[edit]

General Election 1931: Bewdley
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Stanley Baldwin unopposed n/a n/a
Conservative hold Swing n/a
General Election 1935: Bewdley
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Stanley Baldwin unopposed n/a n/a
Conservative hold Swing n/a
Bewdley by-election, 1937
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Roger Conant 15,054 63.9 n/a
Liberal Donald Johnson 8,511 36.1 n/a
Majority 6,543 27.8 n/a
Turnout 23,565 60.6 n/a
Conservative hold Swing n/a

Election 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 1945: Bewdley
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Roger Conant 17,393 55.0
Liberal Gerald Samson 14,223 45.0
Majority 3,170 10.0
Turnout 31,616 67.5
Conservative hold Swing

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b J. E. Burton, A History of Bewdley (1883), appendix, xxxix.
  2. ^ Double return with Daniel Dobbyns, and election voided. Hopkins died before taking his seat, replaced by Nicholas Lechmere
  3. ^ Sources differ: Brunton & Pennington record Lechmere as elected for Bewdley, as does Lechmere's entry in the Dictionary of National Biography. However, Cobbett gives the new MP's name as Daniel Dobins, and lists Lechmere as elected for Droitwich.
  4. ^ Foley was re-elected in 1676, but on petition his election was overturned for bribery and Herbert declared elected in his place
  5. ^ At the election of 1710, Lechmere was initially returned as elected, but on petition (in a dispute over the franchise) his election was overturned and Winnington declared elected in his place
  6. ^ Lyttelton's election was overturned on petition and Winnington seated in his place
  7. ^ (Succeeded as 4th Baronet in 1839)
  8. ^ On petition, the 1847 election was declared void, and a by-election held
  9. ^ On petition, the 1868 election was declared void, and a by-election held
  10. ^ On petition, Cunliffe's election was declared void and Anson was declared duly elected after scrutiny of the votes
  11. ^ Harrison was re-elected at the general election of 1880, but on petition his election was declared void, and a by-election held
  12. ^ a b Craig, F. W. S., ed. (1977). British Parliamentary Election Results 1832-1885 (e-book) (1st ed.). London: Macmillan Press. ISBN 978-1-349-02349-3. 
  13. ^ "Bewdley". Gravesend Reporter, North Kent and South Essex Advertiser. 17 Jul 1880. p. 7. Retrieved 23 November 2017. 
  14. ^ British Parliamentary Election Results 1885-1918, FWS Craig
  15. ^ "Liberal Meeting at Bewdley". Worcestershire Chronicle. 3 Oct 1885. p. 5. Retrieved 23 November 2017. 
  16. ^ British Parliamentary Election Results 1885-1918, FWS Craig
  17. ^ British Parliamentary Election Results 1885-1918, FWS Craig
  18. ^ British Parliamentary Election Results 1885-1918, FWS Craig
  19. ^ British Parliamentary Election Results 1885-1918, FWS Craig
  20. ^ British Parliamentary Election Results 1885-1918, FWS Craig
  21. ^ British Parliamentary Election Results 1885-1918, FWS Craig
  22. ^ British Parliamentary Election Results 1885-1918, FWS Craig
  23. ^ British Parliamentary Election Results 1885-1918, FWS Craig

References[edit]

  • D. Brunton & D. H. Pennington, Members of the Long Parliament (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1954)
  • Cobbett's Parliamentary history of England, from the Norman Conquest in 1066 to the year 1803 (London: Thomas Hansard, 1808) [1]
  • F. W. S. Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1832–1885 (2nd edition, Aldershot: Parliamentary Research Services, 1989)
  • F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1918–1949 (Glasgow: Political Reference Publications, 1969)
  • T. H. B. Oldfield, The Representative History of Great Britain and Ireland (London: Baldwin, Cradock & Joy, 1816)
  • Henry Pelling, Social Geography of British Elections 1885–1910 (London: Macmillan, 1967)
  • J Holladay Philbin, Parliamentary Representation 1832 – England and Wales (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965)
  • Frederic A Youngs, jr, Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Vol II (London: Royal Historical Society, 1991)
  • Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "B" (part 3)
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Glasgow Hillhead
Constituency represented by the Chancellor of the Exchequer
1922–1923
Succeeded by
Birmingham Ladywood
Preceded by
Glasgow Central
Constituency represented by the Prime Minister
1923–1924
Succeeded by
Aberavon
Preceded by
Aberavon
Constituency represented by the Prime Minister
1924–1929
Succeeded by
Seaham
Preceded by
Seaham
Constituency represented by the Prime Minister
1935–1937
Succeeded by
Birmingham Edgbaston