Breconshire (UK Parliament constituency)

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Former County constituency
for the House of Commons
Number of members one
Replaced by Brecon and Radnor

Breconshire or Brecknockshire was a constituency in Wales which returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the English Parliament, and later to the Parliament of Great Britain and of the United Kingdom, between 1542 and 1918. (Historically, the "-shire" suffix was often omitted, leading to potential confusion with the Brecon borough constituency, which existed until 1885.)


Like the rest of Wales, Breconshire was given the right to representation by the Act of Union 1536, and first returned an MP to the Parliament of 1542. The constituency consisted of the historic county of Brecknockshire. (Although the county town, Brecon, was a borough which elected an MP in its own right, it was not excluded from the county constituency, and owning property within the borough could confer a vote at the county election.) The county elected one MP, who was chosen by the first past the post electoral system - when there was a contest at all, which was rare.

As in other county constituencies, the franchise until 1832 was defined by the Forty Shilling Freeholder Act, which gave the right to vote to every man who possessed freehold property within the county valued at £2 or more per year for the purposes of land tax; it was not necessary for the freeholder to occupy his land, nor even in later years to be resident in the county at all. At the time of the Great Reform Act in 1832, Breconshire had a population of approximately 47,800, but the rarity of contested elections makes it difficult to make a reliable estimate of the number qualified to vote; the greatest number ever recorded as voting before the Reform Act was 1,641 at the general election of 1818.

For centuries before 1832, Breconshire politics was dominated by the Morgan family of Tredegar, who were usually able to nominate the county's MP without opposition (as was also the case in Brecon borough). The changes introduced by the Reform Act did little to shake this hold, and a Morgan was still sitting unopposed in the 1860s. The Reform Act extended the county franchise slightly, allowing tenants-at-will, copyholders and leaseholders to vote, but Breconshire's electorate was still only 1,668 at the first post-Reform election, though it grew in the subsequent half-century.

Breconshire was always an almost entirely rural constituency, mountainous and offering poor resources for its agricultural population. The industrial revolution, however, brought coal-mining to the south of the county, and by the late 19th century this was much the most important economic activity and was probably the most important factor in its developing a political mind of its own. By the 1890s it had abandoned its loyalty to the (Conservative) Morgans, and like other industrial constituencies in Wales was a safe Liberal seat.

By the time of the 1911 census, the population of Breconshire was 63,036, and there were around 13,000 voters on the register around the outbreak of the First World War, a respectable size, but neighbouring Radnorshire with barely 6,000 voters was too small to survive. With effect from the 1918 general election, the two constituencies were merged, to form a new Brecon and Radnor constituency.

Members of Parliament[edit]


Parliament Member
1545 John Games (or ap Morgan) [1]
1547 Sir John Price [1]
1553 (Mar) Sir Roger Vaughan[1]
1553 (Oct) Sir Roger Vaughan[1]
1554 (Apr) Sir Roger Vaughan[1]
1554 (Nov) Rhys Vaughan[1]
1558 Watkin (or Walter) Herbert[1]
1559 (Jan) Sir Roger Vaughan[2]
1562 (Dec) Rowland Vaughan, died
and replaced 1566 by
Matthew Arundell[2]
1571 Sir Roger Vaughan [2]
1572 Thomas Games [2]
1584 (Nov) Thomas Games [2]
1586 Thomas Games [2]
1588–1589 Sir Robert Knollys [2]
1593 Sir Robert Knollys [2]
1597 (Sep) Sir Robert Knollys [2]
1601 (Oct) Sir Robert Knollys [2]
1614 Sir Charles Vaughan
1621 Sir Henry Williams
1625 Sir Charles Vaughan
1626 John Price
1628 Henry Williams
1629–1640 No Parliaments summoned


Year Member Party
April 1640 William Morgan Parliamentarian
November 1640 William Morgan Parliamentarian
1650 Colonel Philip Jones
1653 Breconshire was not separately represented in the Barebones Parliament
Representation increased to two members, 1654
1654 Lord Herbert and Edmund Jones
1656 Colonel Philip Jones and Evan Lewis
Representation reverted to one member, 1659
January 1659 Edmund Jones
May 1659 Colonel Philip Jones
April 1660 Sir William Lewis
April 1661 Sir Henry Williams
November 1661 John Jeffreys
1662 Edward Proger
1679 Richard Williams
1685 Edward Jones
1690 Rowland Gwynne Whig
1695 Edward Jones Tory
1697 Sir Edward Williams Tory
1698 Sir Rowland Gwynne Whig
1702 John Jeffreys Tory
1705 Sir Edward Williams Tory
1721 William Gwyn Vaughan
1734 John Jeffreys
1747 Thomas Morgan
1769 Charles Morgan
1787 Sir Charles Gould (later Sir Charles Gould Morgan) [3]
1806 Thomas Wood Tory
1832 Conservative
1847 Sir Joseph Bailey Conservative
1858 Hon. Godfrey Morgan Conservative
1875 William Fuller-Maitland Liberal
1895 Charles Morley Liberal
1906 Sidney Robinson Liberal
1918 Constituency abolished

Election results[edit]

Elections in the 1870s[edit]

Breconshire by-election, 1875[4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal William Fuller-Maitland 1,710
Conservative Howel Gwyn 1,603
Majority 107
Turnout 84.7
Liberal hold Swing

Elections in the 1880s[edit]

General Election 1885: Breconshire [5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal William Fuller-Maitland 4,784 59.3
Conservative Hon. Arthur John Morgan 3,282 40.7
Majority 1,502 18.6
Turnout 84.7
Liberal hold Swing
General Election 1886: Breconshire [5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal William Fuller-Maitland Unopposed
Liberal hold

Elections in the 1890s[edit]

General Election 1892: Breconshire [5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal William Fuller-Maitland 4,676 57.8 n/a
Conservative Thomas Wood 3,418 42.2 n/a
Majority 1,258 15.6 n/a
Turnout 76.7 n/a
Liberal hold
General Election 1895: Breconshire [5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Charles Morley 4,594 55.9 -1.9
Conservative Thomas Wood 3,631 44.1 +1.9
Majority 963 11.8 -3.8
Turnout 75.8 -0.9
Liberal hold Swing -1.9

Elections in the 1900s[edit]

General Election 1900: Breconshire [5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Charles Morley Unopposed
Liberal hold
General Election 1906: Breconshire [5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Sidney Robinson 5,776 62.3 n/a
Conservative Hon. Robert Charles Devereux 3,499 37.7 n/a
Majority 2,277 24.6 n/a
Turnout 75.8 n/a
Liberal hold

Elections in the 1910s[edit]

General Election January 1910: Breconshire [5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Sidney Robinson 6,335 62.1 -0.2
Conservative Hon. Robert Charles Devereux 3,865 37.9 +0.2
Majority 2,470 24.2 -0.4
Turnout 75.9 +0.1
Liberal hold Swing -0.2
General Election December 1910: Breconshire [5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Sidney Robinson 5,511 60.3 -1.8
Conservative John Conway Lloyd 3,631 39.7 +1.8
Majority 1,880 20.6 -3.6
Turnout 68.1 -7.8
Liberal hold Swing -1.8


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "History of Parliament". Retrieved 2011-08-30. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "History of Parliament". Retrieved 2011-08-30. 
  3. ^ Adopted the surname Morgan in 1792
  4. ^ "Breconshire Election - Liberal Victory". Worcestershire Chronicle. 22 May 1875. Retrieved 5 October 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h British parliamentary election results, 1885-1918 (Craig)


  • 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]
  • The Constitutional Year Book for 1913 (London: National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations, 1913)
  • F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1832-1885 (2nd edition, Aldershot: Parliamentary Research Services, 1989)
  • 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)
  • Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "B" (part 5)