Brecon (UK Parliament constituency)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Brecon
Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
1542–1885
Number of membersone
Replaced byBreconshire

Brecon was a parliamentary constituency in Wales which returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and its predecessors, from 1542 until it was abolished for the 1885 general election.

Boundaries[edit]

From its first election in 1542 until some time before 1715, the constituency consisted of a number of boroughs within the historic county of Brecknockshire or Breconshire in Wales. From then until 1885 the seat represented the parliamentary borough of Brecon alone. The constituency should not be confused with the county constituency of Breconshire, which existed from the sixteenth century until 1918.

On the basis of information from several volumes of the History of Parliament, it is apparent that the history of the borough representation from Wales and Monmouthshire is more complicated than that of the English boroughs.

The Laws in Wales Act 1535 (26 Hen. VIII, c. 26) provided for a single borough seat for each of 11 of the 12 Welsh counties and Monmouthshire. The legislation was ambiguous as to which communities were enfranchised. The county towns were awarded a seat, but this in some fashion represented all the ancient boroughs of the county as the others were required to contribute to the members wages. It was not clear if the burgesses of the contributing boroughs could take part in the election. The only election under the original scheme was for the 1542 Parliament. It seems that only burgesses from the county towns actually took part. An Act of 1544 (35 Hen. VIII, c. 11) confirmed that the contributing boroughs could send representatives to take part in the election at the county town. As far as can be told from surviving indentures of returns, the degree to which the out boroughs participated varied, but by the end of the sixteenth century all the seats had some participation from them at some elections at least.

The original scheme was modified by later legislation and decisions of the House of Commons (which were sometimes made with no regard to precedent or evidence: for example in 1728 it was decided that only the freemen of the borough of Montgomery could participate in the election for that seat, thus disenfranchising the freemen of Llanidloes, Welshpool and Llanfyllin).

In the case of Breconshire, the county town was Brecon. The township of Llywel, eleven miles due west of Brecon, formed part of the constituency. There is no evidence to suggest any other boroughs actually took part in elections before 1597. The out boroughs then participating were Bulith now known as Builth Wells, Crickhowel or Crickhowell, Hay now Hay-on-Wye and Telgarth or Talgarth.

At some point between 1603 and 1715 the out boroughs ceased to participate in elections for the constituency. Until 1727 all the freemen of Brecon formed the electorate, but in 1727 the House of Commons ruled that only the resident freemen could vote. There had been about 180 electors in 1723 and 1727, but only 69 in 1744 after the basis of the franchise had been changed. There were about 100 voters between 1754 and 1790.

Later history[edit]

When registration of electors and an additional householder franchise were introduced in 1832 Brecon, still based on the town of Brecon, had the smallest electorate in Wales with just 242 registered voters.

Brecon was little affected by the upsurge of radical politics in the 1860s apart from the one occasion in 1866 when Thomas Price, the prominent nonconformist minister, intervened in a by-election contest to compel the Liberal candidate, the Earl of Brecknock, to issue an address more strongly in favour of reform.[1]

Even after the extension of the franchise in 1868, the number of voters only increased to 814. This did, however, result in one of the most tumultuous elections in the history of the borough, which included torchlight procession and lively meetings at which speakers struggled to make themselves heard.[2] On the day of the election it was generally accepted that supporters of the Conservative candidate, Howel Gwyn, had been caught engaged in bribery.[3]

The unseating of Howel Gwyn by petition in April 1869 indicated how Brecon largely remained a closed borough, dominated by the politics of influence.

After 1885 Breconshire was represented in Parliament by the single member county constituency, which included all the boroughs at one time in the Brecon constituency.

Members of Parliament[edit]

Members of Parliament 1542–1640[edit]

As there were sometimes significant gaps between Parliaments held in this period, the dates of first assembly and dissolution are given. Where the name of the member has not yet been ascertained or (before 1558) is not recorded in a surviving document, the entry unknown is entered in the table.

The Roman numerals after some names are those used in The House of Commons 1509–1558 to distinguish a member from another politician of the same name.

Elected Assembled Dissolved Member Note
1542 16 January 1542 28 March 1544 Edward Games
1545 23 November 1545 31 January 1547 Edward Games
1547 4 November 1547 15 April 1552 Edward Games
1553 1 March 1553 31 March 1553 Edward Games
1553 5 October 1553 5 December 1553 Edward Games
1554 2 April 1554 3 May 1554 Edward Games
1554 12 November 1554 16 January 1555 Meredith Games
1555 21 October 1555 9 December 1555 unknown
1558 20 January 1558 17 November 1558 William Aubrey[4]
1559 23 January 1559 8 May 1559 Roland Vaughan
1562/63 11 January 1563 2 January 1567 Sir Roger Vaughan
1571 2 April 1571 29 May 1571 Richard Price
1572 8 May 1572 19 April 1583 Walter Games
1584 23 November 1584 14 September 1585 David Williams
1586 13 October 1586 23 March 1587 David Williams
1588 4 February 1589 29 March 1589 David Williams
1593 18 February 1593 10 April 1593 Sir Matthew Morgan
1597 24 October 1597 9 February 1598 David Williams
1601 27 October 1601 19 December 1601 Henry Williams
1604 19 March 1604 9 February 1611 Sir Henry Williams
1614 5 April 1614 7 June 1614 Sir John Crompton
1620 16 January 1621 8 February 1622 Sir Walter Pye
12 January 1624 12 February 1624 27 March 1625 Sir Walter Pye
4 March 1625 17 May 1625 12 August 1625 Sir Walter Pye
12 January 1626 6 February 1626 15 June 1626 Sir Walter Pye Elected to sit for Herefordshire
February 1626 Sir Humphrey Lynde
31 March 1628 17 March 1628 10 March 1629 Walter Pye (Royalist)
1640 13 April 1640 5 May 1640 Herbert Price

Members of Parliament 1640–1660[edit]

This sub-section includes the Long Parliament and the Rump Parliament, together with the Parliaments of the Commonwealth and the Protectorate (before the Convention Parliament of 1660).

Elected Assembled Dissolved Member Note
1640 3 November 1640 Herbert Price Long Parliament
... 1647 20 April 1653 Ludovic Lewis Rump Parliament
... 4 July 1653 12 December 1653 unrepresented Barebones Parliament
1654 3 September 1654 22 January 1655 unrepresented First Protectorate Parliament
1656 17 September 1656 4 February 1658 unrepresented Second Protectorate Parliament
1658/59 27 January 1659 22 April 1659 Samuel Wightwick Third Protectorate Parliament
... 7 May 1659 20 February 1660 unknown Rump Parliament restored
... 21 February 1660 16 March 1660 unknown Long Parliament restored

Members of Parliament 1660–1885[edit]

First Election Member Party Note
1660, c. April Sir Henry Williams, Bt
1661, April 26 Sir Herbert Price
1678, February 14 Thomas Mansel
1679, February 28 John Jeffreys
1689, January 10 Thomas Morgan (of Dderw) Whig (1664–1700)
1690, March 6 Jeffrey Jeffreys
1698, July 25 Thomas Morgan (of Dderw) Whig (1664–1700) Also returned for Monmouthshire
1701, January 17 Sir Jeffrey Jeffreys
1709, November 28 Edward Jeffreys
1713, September 11 Roger Jones
1722, March 29 William Morgan (1701–1731) Elected to sit for Monmouthshire
1723, May 24 Thomas Morgan (1702–1769)
1734, May 1 Hon. John Talbot
1754, April 15 Thomas Morgan (of Rhiwpera) (1727–1771) Resigned to contest Monmouthshire
1763, December 5 Charles Morgan (1736–1787) Resigned to contest Breconshire
1769, May 15 John Morgan (1742–1792) Resigned to contest Monmouthshire
1772, January 31 Charles Van Died 3 April 1778
1778, April 23 Sir Charles Gould (1726–1806) Resigned to contest Breconshire
1787, December 6 Sir Charles Morgan (1760–1846) Elected to sit for Monmouthshire
1796, November 2 Sir Robert Salusbury, Bt Tory[5]
1812, October 9 Charles Morgan Whig[5] (1792–1875)
1818, June 20 George Gould Morgan Tory[5] (1794–1845)
1830, August 3 Charles Morgan Whig[5] (1792–1875)
1832, December 12 John Lloyd Vaughan Watkins Whig[5][6][7]
1835, January 6 Charles Morgan Conservative[5] (1792–1875)
1847, August 3 John Lloyd Vaughan Watkins Whig[5][6][7]
1852, July 9 Charles Rodney Morgan Conservative (1828–1854) Died 14 January 1854
1854, February 6 John Lloyd Vaughan Watkins Whig[5][6][7] Died 28 September 1865
1859, April Liberal
1866, February 27 John Pratt Liberal Became the 3rd Marquess Camden
1866, October 3 Howel Gwyn Conservative Election declared void on petition
1869, April 24 Edward Villiers Liberal Became the 5th Earl of Clarendon
1870, July 19 James Gwynne-Holford Conservative
1880, April 7 Cyril Flower Liberal
1885 Constituency abolished

Election results[edit]

Elections in the 1850s[edit]

General Election 1852: Brecon[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Charles Rodney Morgan 159 56.6 N/A
Whig John Lloyd Vaughan Watkins 122 43.4 N/A
Majority 37 13.2 N/A
Turnout 281 83.6 N/A
Registered electors 336
Conservative gain from Whig Swing N/A

Morgan's death caused a by-election.

By-election, 6 February 1854: Brecon[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Whig John Lloyd Vaughan Watkins Unopposed
Whig gain from Conservative
General Election 1857: Brecon[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Whig John Lloyd Vaughan Watkins Unopposed
Registered electors 323
Whig gain from Conservative
General Election 1859: Brecon[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal John Lloyd Vaughan Watkins Unopposed
Registered electors 302
Liberal hold

Elections in the 1860s[edit]

General Election 1865: Brecon[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal John Lloyd Vaughan Watkins Unopposed
Registered electors 281
Liberal hold

Watkins' death caused a by-election.

By-election, 27 Feb 1866: Brecon[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal John Pratt Unopposed
Liberal hold

Pratt succeeded to the peerage, becoming 3rd Marquess of Camden, causing a by-election.

By-election, 3 Oct 1866: Brecon[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Howel Gwyn 128 55.7 N/A
Liberal Alfred Spencer-Churchill[9] 102 44.3 N/A
Majority 26 11.3 N/A
Turnout 230 81.9 N/A
Registered electors 281
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing N/A
General Election 1868: Brecon[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Howel Gwyn 372 51.0 N/A
Liberal Hugh Powell Price[10] 357 49.0 N/A
Majority 15 2.1 N/A
Turnout 729 89.6 N/A
Registered electors 814
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing N/A

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

Brecon by-election, 1869[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Edward Villiers 391 54.4 +5.4
Conservative Claud Hamilton 328 45.6 -5.4
Majority 63 8.8 N/A
Turnout 719 88.3 -1.3
Registered electors 814
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +5.4

Elections in the 1870s[edit]

Villiers succeeded to the peerage, becoming Earl of Clarendon, causing a by-election.

Brecon by-election, 1870[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative James Gwynne-Holford 372 52.4 +1.4
Liberal Hugh Powell Price[10] 338 47.6 -1.4
Majority 34 4.8 +2.7
Turnout 710 87.2 -2.4
Registered electors 814
Conservative hold Swing +1.4
General Election 1874: Brecon[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative James Gwynne-Holford 374 51.4
Liberal William Vaughan Morgan[11] 353 48.6
Majority 21 2.9
Turnout 727 86.2
Registered electors 843
Conservative hold Swing

Elections in the 1880s[edit]

General Election 1880: Brecon[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Cyril Flower 438 53.6 +5.0
Conservative James Gwynne-Holford[12] 379 46.4 −5.0
Majority 59 7.2 N/A
Turnout 817 92.8 +6.6
Registered electors 880
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +5.0

References[edit]

  1. ^ Price, Thomas (5 January 1866). "To the Independent Electors of the Borough of Brecon". Seren Cymru. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  2. ^ "Brecon Borough Election. Meetings of the Liberal Party". Brecon County Times. 21 November 1868. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  3. ^ "The Polling Day". Brecon County Times. 21 November 1868. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  4. ^ Watkin, Thomas Glyn (January 2008). "Aubrey, William (c.1529–1595)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online edition, subscription required). Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2008-02-24.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Stooks Smith, Henry (1845). The Parliaments of England, from 1st George I., to the Present Time. Vol II: Oxfordshire to Wales Inclusive. London: Simpkin, Marshall, & Co. pp. 178–179. Retrieved 19 August 2018 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ a b c Cragoe, Matthew (2004). Culture, Politics, and National Identity in Wales 1832-1886. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 58. ISBN 0-19-820754-9. Retrieved 19 August 2018 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ a b c Ollivier, John (2007). "Alphabetical List of the House of Commons". Ollivier's parliamentary and political director, for the session 1848. p. 37. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Craig, F. W. S., ed. (1977). British Parliamentary Election Results 1832-1885 (e-book)|format= requires |url= (help) (1st ed.). London: Macmillan Press. pp. 498–499. ISBN 978-1-349-02349-3.
  9. ^ "A Conservative Victory at Brecon". Derby Mercury. 10 October 1866. p. 6. Retrieved 28 January 2018 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)).
  10. ^ a b "Brecon Boroughs". Western Daily Press. 9 July 1870. p. 3. Retrieved 28 December 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)).
  11. ^ "Brecon". South Wales Daily News. 29 January 1874. p. 3. Retrieved 28 December 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)).
  12. ^ "Sir Stafford Northcote at Brecon". Western Mail. 27 November 1880. p. 3. Retrieved 18 December 2017.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Boundaries of Parliamentary Constituencies 1885–1972, compiled and edited by F.W.S. Craig (Parliamentary Reference Publications 1972)
  • British Parliamentary Election Results 1832–1885, compiled and edited by F.W.S. Craig (Macmillan Press 1977)
  • The House of Commons 1509–1558, by S.T. Bindoff (Secker & Warburg 1982)
  • The House of Commons 1558–1603, by P.W. Hasler (HMSO 1981)
  • The House of Commons 1715–1754, by Romney Sedgwick (HMSO 1970)
  • The House of Commons 1754–1790, by Sir Lewis Namier and John Brooke (HMSO 1964)
  • 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)
  • Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "B" (part 5)