Carmarthenshire (UK Parliament constituency)

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Former County constituency
for the House of Commons
Number of members one until 1832, then two
Replaced by East Carmarthenshire and West Carmarthenshire

Carmarthenshire was a parliamentary constituency in Wales which returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom until its representation was increased to two members for the 1832–33 general election.

At the 1885 general election, it was divided into two new single-member seats: Carmarthenshire East and Carmarthenshire West.


For most of its history, the Carmarthenshire constituency was dominated by a small number of powerful families. Chief among these were the Rice family of Dynevor, who could claim descent from the medieval Lord Rhys of Deheubarth. They drew upon traditional loyaltiy and the connotations linked to the Dynevor name to maintain their status as the leading political family of the county and leaders of the Red or Tory faction.[1]

In 1790 the influence of the Dynevor family was re-asserted when George Talbot Rice was elected unopposed. Four years later, he was elevated to the House of Lords and the family would not be in a position to represent the county again until 1820 when his yet unborn son would have came of age.[2]

A celebrated contest took place in 1802 between James Hamlyn Williams and William Paxton. The contest was said to have cost Paxton a total of £15,000. This included 11,070 breakfasts, 36,901 dinners, 25,275 gallons of ale, 11,068 bottles of spirits, 8,879 bottles of porter, 460 of sherry, 509 of cider and gallons of milk punch. The contest became known as ‘Lecsiwn Fawr’ (the Great Election). Paxton was defeated and spent two years settling his debts.[2]

In 1820, George Rice Trevor was elected MP for Carmarthenshire and held the seat until 1831. Following the Great Reform Act, the county was awarded a second seat. In 1832, Rice Trevor resumed his seat and served until 1852 when he was elevated to the House of Lords upon inheriting the title of Lord Dynevor.

Representation continued to be dominated by Conservative landowners such as David Jones of Pantglas, who served from 1852 until 1868. However, David Pugh, member from 1857 was regarded as a Liberal-Conservative, who in later life migrated to the Liberal Party.

At the 1868 General Election, following a lengthy and lively campaign characterized by accusations of coercion, Edward Sartoris captured a seat for the Liberals.[3] He was defeated in 1874 but in 1880 the Liberals again captured a seat. Following the Third Reform Act the constituency was divided into two single-member seats.

Members of Parliament[edit]

MPs 1542–1640[edit]

Parliament member
1542–1545 Unknown (returns lost)[4]
1545 Hon. Richard Devereux. Died on day of re-election in October 1547[4]
1548 Sir John Perrott[4]
1553 Henry Jones[4]
1555 Richard Jones[4]
1558 Sir Thomas Jones (of Haroldston)[4]
1559 Richard Jones[4]
1563 Sir Henry Jones[4]
1572 John Vaughan
died and replaced 1576 by Walter Vaughan[4]
1584 Walter Rice[4]
1586 Sir Thomas Jones [4]
1588 Herbert Croft[4]
1593 Walter Vaughan[4]
1597 Sir Thomas Jones[4]
1601 John Vaughan [4]
1604 Sir Robert Mansell[4]|- [5]
1620 Sir John Vaughan [4]
1624 Richard Vaughan [4]
1629–1640 No Parliament summoned

MPs 1640–1832[edit]

Year Member Party
April 1640 Henry Vaughan Royalist
February 1644 Vaughan disabled from sitting – seat vacant
1646 John Lloyd
December 1648 Lloyd excluded in Pride's Purge – seat vacant
1653 Carmarthenshire was not represented in the Barebones Parliament
Year First Member Second Member
Representation increased to two members in First Protectorate Parliament
1654 John Claypole Rowland Dawkins
1656 John Claypole,sat for Northants.
1656 Robert Atkyns[6]
Representation reverted to one member from January 1659
Year Member Party
January 1659 Thomas Hughes
May 1659 Carmarthenshire was not represented in the restored Rump
April 1660 John Lloyd
1661 Francis Vaughan (died 1668)
1668 Sir Henry Vaughan (died 1676)
1677 Altham Vaughan
1679 John Vaughan
1685 John Vaughan
1689 Sir Rice Rudd
1701 Griffith Rice Whig
1710 Sir Thomas Powell Tory
1715 Charles Powlett Whig
1717 Sir Thomas Stepney
1722 Edward Rice [7]
1724 Sir Nicholas Williams
1745 John Vaughan I
1754 George Rice
1779 John Vaughan II
1784 Sir William Mansel
1790 Hon. George Rice Tory
1793 Sir James Hamlyn
1802 James Hamlyn-Williams
1806 Sir William Paxton
1807 Lord Robert Seymour Tory
1820 Hon. George Rice-Trevor Tory
1831 Sir James Hamlyn-Williams Whig
1832 Representation increased to two members by the Great Reform Act

MPs 1832–1885[edit]

Election First member First Party Second member Second Party
1832 Hon. George Rice-Trevor Conservative Edward Hamlyn Adams Whig
1835 Sir James Hamlyn-Williams Whig
1837 John Jones of Ystrad Conservative
1842 by-election David Arthur Saunders Davies Conservative
1852 by-election David Jones (to 1868) Conservative
1857 by-election David Pugh Liberal
1868 Edward John Sartoris Liberal John Jones Conservative
1874 Viscount Emlyn Conservative
1880 W. R. H. Powell Liberal
1885 Constituency abolished: see East Carmarthenshire, West Carmarthenshire

Election results[edit]

Elections in the 1860s[edit]

General Election 1865 Carmarthenshire[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative David Jones Unopposed
Liberal-Conservative David Pugh Unopposed
Registered electors 4,833
Conservative hold
Liberal-Conservative hold Swing N/A
General Election 1868 Carmarthenshire[3][8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Edward John Sartoris 3,280 31.6 N/A
Conservative John Jones 2,942 28.3 N/A
Conservative Henry Lavallin Puxley 2,828 27.2 N/A
Liberal-Conservative David Pugh 1,340 12.9 N/A
Turnout 6,165 (est) 76.8 (est) N/A
Registered electors 8,026
Majority 338 3.3 N/A
Liberal hold Swing N/A
Majority 1,602 15.4 N/A
Conservative hold Swing N/A

Elections in the 1870s[edit]

General Election 1874 Carmarthenshire[9][8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Frederick Campbell 3,389 28.8 +1.6
Conservative John Jones 3,261 27.7 −0.6
Liberal W. R. H. Powell 2,799 23.8 +10.9
Liberal Edward John Sartoris 2,331 19.8 −11.8
Majority 462 3.9 −11.5
Turnout 5,890 (est) 72.2 (est) −4.6
Registered electors 8,161
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing +6.7
Conservative hold Swing −5.8

Elections in the 1880s[edit]

General Election 1880 Carmarthenshire (2 seats)[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal W. R. H. Powell 4,101 41.7 −1.9
Conservative Frederick Campbell 3,030 30.8 +2.0
Conservative John Jones 2,712 27.6 −0.1
Turnout 7,131 (est) 83.0 (est) +10.8
Registered electors 8,593
Majority 1,071 10.9 N/A
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing −1.5
Conservative hold Swing N/A


  1. ^ Escott, Margaret. "George Rice Rice". The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 25 November 2017. 
  2. ^ a b Thorne, R.G. "Carmarthenshire". The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 25 November 2017. 
  3. ^ a b "Carmarthenshire Election". Welshman. 27 November 1868. p. 5. Retrieved 10 September 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Williams, William Retlaw (1895). The parliamentary history of the principality of Wales, from the earliest times to the present day, 1541–1895, comprising lists of the representatives, chronologically arranged under counties, with biographical and genealogical notices of the members, together with particulars of the various contested elections, double returns and petitions. Brecknock: Privately published. pp. 43–44. 
  5. ^ The Dictionary of National Biography records Mansell as MP for Carmarthen borough in the 1604 Parliament and for the county only in 1614, but Cobbett's Parliamentary History names Mansell as MP for the county in 1604 and Sir Walter Rice as the borough MP
  6. ^ Claypole chose for Northampton
  7. ^ On petition, Rice was declared not to have been duly elected and his opponent, Sir Nicholas Williams, was seated in his place
  8. ^ a b c d Craig, F. W. S., ed. (1977). British Parliamentary Election Results 1832-1885 (e-book) (1st ed.). London: Macmillan Press. pp. 521–522. ISBN 978-1-349-02349-3. 
  9. ^ "The Election (editorial)". Welshman. 13 February 1874. 


  • Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "C" (part 3)
  • Robert Beatson, A Chronological Register of Both Houses of Parliament (London: Longman, Hurst, Res & Orme, 1807) [1]
  • 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) [2]
  • F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1832–1885 (2nd edition, Aldershot: Parliamentary Research Services, 1989)
  • Welsh Biography Online