Ceredigion, formerly Cardiganshire, is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament. Created in 1536, the franchise expanded in the late 19th century and on the enfranchisement of women and its boundaries remained virtually unchanged until 1983. From 1536 until 1885 the area had two seats (electing MPs): a county constituency (Cardiganshire) comprising the rural areas, the other the borough constituency known as the Cardigan District of Boroughs comprising a few separate towns; in 1885 the latter was abolished, its towns and electors incorporated into the former, reduced to one MP. The towns which comprised the Boroughs varied slightly over this long period, but primarily consisted of Cardigan, Aberystwyth, Lampeter and Adpar, the latter now a suburb of Newcastle Emlyn across the Teifi, in Carmarthenshire.
The county constituency (for the purposes of type of returning officer and electoral expenses) was enlarged in 1983 with the addition of part of Pembrokeshire, being renamed Ceredigion and Pembroke North. In 1997 it reverted to its former boundaries, being renamed Ceredigion.
The Ceredigion Welsh Assembly constituency was created with the same boundaries in 1999.
The seat has been relative to others a marginal seat since 2010 as its winner's majority has not exceeded 8.2% of the vote since the 21.8% majority won in that year. The seat has changed hands once since that year. Since 2017 its MP has been Ben Lake of Plaid Cymru.
The boundaries of this constituency mirror almost exactly those of the county of Ceredigion.
Proposed constituency changes
Under proposed constituency boundary changes announced in September 2016, ahead of the next general election, the seat's boundaries will be extended. The seat, which has the proposed name of Ceredigion and North Pembrokeshire, includes all of the current Ceredigion constituency, the northern part of the current Preseli Pembrokeshire constituency, a small part of Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire around the village of Dre-fach Felindre, as well the south-western part of Montgomeryshire around Llanidloes.
Ceredigion, formerly known by the anglicised version of its name as Cardiganshire, was first enfranchised in 1536 when King Henry VIII incorporated Wales within England. The county was given one member, who was to be elected by each person who owned property of a sufficient value. In addition the inhabitants of Cardigan, Aberystwyth, Adpar and Lampeter were given the right to elect one MP between them, with the vote restricted to the Freemen. The general election of 1715 saw the return of Lewis Pryse, who was expelled from the House of Commons in the following year for refusing to attend the House to take oaths of loyalty to King George I after the Jacobite rising, with which he sympathised.
From 1832 the Reform Act changed the electoral system so that householders of homes worth over £10 were enfranchised in the boroughs. The Borough constituency was still dominated by the Loveden-Pryse family based in Gogerddan who were supporters of the Liberals; Pryse Pryse held the seat from 1818 until his death in 1849, except for the 1841 election (see below). The county saw more influence of the Powell family of Nanteos who were Conservatives; William Edward Powell held the seat from 1816 until he resigned in 1854. By agreement between the two, neither challenged the others' domination and so elections were almost always unopposed.
In the 1841 election there was a great deal of confusion in the borough constituency, which was being opposed. The poll books for Aberystwyth were either lost or stolen and never reached the returning officer, who decided that he should return both candidates due to the uncertainty (the Conservative was slightly ahead in the polls from the other three parts). Neither of the two candidates could actually speak in the House of Commons until a committee determined the election, and it accepted the evidence that the Liberal candidate (Pryse) had outpolled the Conservative (Harford) by 305 to 285, enough to make his election secure, so he was given the seat. Other than an 1855 byelection victory by 12 votes, the Conservatives never won the borough.
The county saw its first contest in the 1859 general election when two Conservatives fought for the seat. In 1865 the sitting MP stood down and there was a contest between two Liberals, won by Sir Thomas Lloyd, Bt. who defeated a Gladstonian opponent, David Davies, Llandinam. Lloyd transferred to the borough in the 1868 election when the seat was captured by Swansea industrialist, E.M. Richards. This election is often regarded as a landmark when tenant farmers apparently refused to follow patterns of age-old deference and vote in line with the wishes of their landlords. Following this election there were allegations of intimidation by Conservative landlords and a national fund was set up to support those allegedly evicted from their farms. In reality, however, Richards' victory owed much to the support of the powerful Pryse family of Gogerddan.
In 1874, the Conservative candidate Thomas Edward Lloyd of Coedmore captured the seat for the Conservatives, defeating Richards by 215 votes. The result was greeted with disbelief in Liberal ranks, particularly since the introduction of the secret ballot was expected to have favoured the Liberals. However, the Conservatives had chosen a candidate who was popular in his locality and not been involved in conflicts with his tenants. The Liberals were also caught unprepared for the contest, with Lloyd's candidature kept secret until nomination day. Much capital was also made of the fact that Lloyd was a Cardiganshire man, in contrast to Richards, a Swansea industrialist. The result was reversed in 1880 although there were close contests for the county thereafter, on a slightly widened franchise.
In a redistribution of seats for the 1885 general election, the borough constituency was abolished and absorbed into the county. This brought into the county seat the more radical politics of urban voters in the boroughs of Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Lampeter and Adpar. More significantly, the further widening of the franchise in 1884 added between five and six thousand new voters to the register by extending the pattern of household suffrage to the counties. The majority of these voters would have been tenant farmers, the more prosperous agricultural labourers, and householders in small towns or large villages such as Tregaron, Aberaeron, New Quay, Aberporth, Tal-y-bont and Borth, which had not been part of the old Cardigan Boroughs constituency. The impact of the widening of the franchise and boundary changes was to increase the electorate from 5,026 in 1883 to 12,308 by 1886. It was assumed that these changes would make the county a reasonably safe bet for the Liberal Party and that supporters of Gladstone would be comfortably returned at every election. These structural changes to the political arrangements of the county were also taking place against wider social and economic developments which affected all aspects of Cardiganshire life. Traditional industries were in decline, agriculture was increasingly in crisis and it was becoming increasingly difficult for a still-increasing population to earn a living within their native parishes and communities. As a result, there were two major consequences. Firstly there was a significant population shift as a result of emigration, in the majority of cases to the south Wales valleys. Secondly, the great landed estates of the county, which and for so long dominated the politics of the county, were in many cases heavily in debt. This second factor contributed to the loss of landowner influence in the politics of the county, a trend that became very apparent at the first elections to the Cardiganshire County Council.
Initially, the predictions that Gladstonian Liberals would dominate county politics were realised, in 1885, David Davies was elected to represent the constituency with a majority of 2,323 (24.2%) on a turnout of 78%, heavily defeating the Conservative, Matthew Vaughan Davies. Although David Davies was no public speaker, he drew substantial support in Cardiganshire as a generous benefactor of the new university college at Aberystwyth and also through his links with Calvinistic Methodism, which had over 13,000 members in the county. Allied to this was a particularly effective Liberal association which paid close attention to the registration of voters.
In 1886, however, Davies broke with Gladstone over home rule for Ireland in 1886 and a number of his associates such as Robert J. Davies, Cwrtmawr followed him into the Liberal Unionist camp. He sought re-election as a Liberal Unionist but lost by 9 votes to William Bowen Rowlands, who was the Gladstonian candidate. This election split the Liberal Party in Cardiganshire and the election was hotly contested with almost all the landowenrs, including those previously regarded as having Liberal sympathies, supporting Davies. He also received the support of several prominent Liberals, especially from his own Methodist denomination. The result of the election was largely attributed to the influence of nonconformist ministers over their congregations, although the more effective canvassing of supporters by the Liberal Association was also identified as an important factor.
Even though Bowen Rowlands's victory was by the closest of margins it was a decisive moment in the political history of Cardiganshire. It proved that a Gladstonian Liberal candidate, even an Anglican with strong Irish Nationalist sympathies, could triump in Cardiganshire even against the resources and religious connections of a candidate such as David Davies. Although Liberal Unionism continued to be championed by a relatively small group, led by the journalist Henry Tobit Evans, who published a newspaper, Y Brython, at Lampeter. most of the leading Liberals who had defected to Davies eventually rrteunred to the fold, in some cases to contest the 1889 County Council elections. The demise of Liberal Unionism was confirmed at the 1892 General Election when, William Jones, a self-made Birmingham draper who had a small estate in Cardiganshire and was a member of the Cardiganshire County Council ran with the support of Joseph Chamberlain. Chamberlain had sponsored a number of Nonconformist unionist candidates in Wales in the hope of capitaliising upon perceived antipathy towards Irish Nationalism. Despite spending heavily and producing a farnmer evicted at the 1868 Election on his platform, Jones was heavily defeated by Bowen Rowlands. Rowlands served until 1895.
Once Rowlands's intention not to stand again was known, Matthew Vaughan Davies of Tan-y-Bwlch, who had been the Conservative candidate in the seat in 1885, but who had subsequently joined the Liberal Party, emerged as a contender for the nomination and was eventually chosen by a delegate conference, defeating Wynford Phillips by 160 votes to 111. The choice of Vaughan Davies was controversial and was strongly opposed by the Aberystwyth-based Cambrian News on the basis of his former association with the Conservative Party. Indeed, the paper went as far as to equate the division with that of 1886. There is no doubt that the choice of Vaughan Davies created deep divisions in the Liberal ranks. However, despite these divisions he saw off a strong Conservative candidate by a comfortable if reduced majority.
Matthew Vaughan-Davies was the longest serving MP for the constituency, holding it from 1895 to 1921. His closest electoral call came in the 'Khaki election' of 1900 when he had a majority of 781 (9.4%) over J.C. Harford of Falcondale. Thereafter, Vaughan Davies was comfortably returned at each election but the vitality of the Liberal Association was in serious decline. During this time the Cambrian News had tempered its opposition to him and grudgingly admitted that Vaughan-Davies had won friends and supporteres by his adherence to Liberal policies.
By 1914 the Liberal Association was heavily dependent on Vaughan Davies's role as treasurer to keep it going. In the meantime, Vaughan Davies remained on poor terms with prominent Liberals, including John Gibson, editor of the Cambrian News until his death in 1915.
Like most Welsh Liberals, he supported David Lloyd George in the split in the Liberal Party, and not H. H. Asquith, and was therefore returned unopposed as a Coalition Liberal in 1918.
Liberal infighting (1921–1950)
In many ways the Liberals had become the new elite in Cardiganshire by the time of the First World War. This was demonstrated in 1919 when John Humphreys Davies, the nonconformist squire of Cwrtmawr, was appointed Principal of the University College, Aberystwyth, at the expense of Thomas Jones, who was championed by Lord Davies of Llandinam, grandson of David Davies.
With Vaughan Davies known to be a supporter of Lloyd George, it was natural that Lloyd George looked to him to boost his support in the House of Lords and awarded him a peerage in the New Years' Honours list in 1921. Although he would have preferred to be called 'Lord Ceredigion', the Garter King of Arms refused this as an inappropriate title for a Baron, and so Vaughan Davies took his title from the River Ystwyth which ran past his home. The peerage created a vacancy in a historically Liberal seat and the Asquithites decided to take the Lloyd Georgeites on in their 'backyard' in what became a memorable by-election.
Ernest Evans, who asserted on his election posters that he was 'THE Liberal candidate', was a Barrister from Aberystwyth and had been Private Secretary to Lloyd George himself, and therefore had the blessing of the Coalition and official support from the Conservatives. A number of possible Asquithian Liberal candidates were approached to contest the seat against Evans and eventually the choice fell upon W. Llewelyn Williams who was sponsored by the Asquithite 'Welsh Liberal Federation'. No other candidate stood and in the straight fight, Evans won with a majority of 3,590 (14.6%).
Evans held on as a 'National Liberal' (as Lloyd George's supporters called themselves) in the 1922 general election but with a slim majority of 515 votes (2.0%) over Rhys Hopkin Morris.
The sudden shotgun merger of the two factions in the Liberal Party led to Evans getting the official approval of the unified party for the 1923 election. However, the Conservatives decided to fight and this deprived him of their votes. Hopkin Morris decided to fight again as an unofficial Liberal and won with a 5,078 vote majority. Hopkin Morris was lucky to survive the 1924 election, a disaster for the Liberals, by being returned unopposed.
The first Labour Party candidate stood against Rhys Hopkin Morris at the 1931 general election and polled 24% of the vote in a straight fight against Morris, who had a 13,752 (52.0%) majority.
In 1932, Morris left Parliament temporarily (he was later to return as MP for Carmarthen) when he was appointed as a Metropolitan Police magistrate. The byelection on 22 September 1932 saw the first three-way fight between the parties, but was won by Owen Evans for the Liberals. Like many of the Liberal MPs he had been a barrister. Evans died shortly before the 1945 general election, but the seat was easily held by his successor Roderic Bowen. Unusually the Labour vote actually fell in percentage terms compared with the previous election despite the Labour landslide in the country at large.
Labour challenge (1950–1972)
Labour established itself as the main challenger to the Liberals at the 1950 general election in a three-way contest, and the Conservatives opted out of the contest thereafter until 1964. This was partly a move to keep the seat from going Labour. Plaid Cymru first fought the seat in 1959 and kept their deposit (just, with 12.8% of the vote).
With a four-way contest involving the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru at the 1964 general election, and a national swing to Labour, Roderic Bowen suffered a precipitate decline in his share of the vote to only 38.4%; he was re-elected with a majority of 2,219 (7.4%) over Labour. After the death of the Speaker in 1965, Bowen accepted the offer to become a Deputy Speaker, which prevented him from speaking on behalf of his constituency. For the 1966 election, Labour selected Elystan Morgan who had been a member of Plaid Cymru until 1964; with a further national swing and Morgan making a credible bid for the Welsh-speaking vote, Labour won the seat by 523 votes.
In boundary changes in 1983, the constituency gained a small part of Pembrokeshire and also took a Welsh version of its name, becoming known as Ceredigion and Pembroke North.
The constituency name was shortened to Ceredigion for the 1997 as it reverted to its former borders, having lost the part of North Pembrokeshire in boundary changes.
Mark Williams, first elected in 2005, was the first non-Welsh speaking Member of Parliament elected to represent the constituency since Bowen Rowlands (MP from 1886 until 1892, who declared at a meeting in Aberystwyth when adopted as candidate that he could not speak Welsh). At the 2010 general election, he received a massive increase in his vote, polling over 50% of the votes cast and raising his majority from 219 to 8,324 over the Plaid Cymru candidate, Penri James.
In 2015, Williams suffered a decline of over 14% in his vote share, in common with other Liberal Democrat incumbents across the UK. However, after a campaign which made national headlines due to prior controversial comments by both the Plaid Cymru and Labour candidates, Plaid Cymru were unable to capitalise as their vote share went down slightly. The Conservative vote also declined, while UKIP, Labour and the Greens all improved on their 2010 performance. Williams retained the seat to become the only Liberal Democrat MP in Wales, and one of only eight across the UK.
In 2017, Williams lost his seat to Ben Lake by 104 votes (0.2%). Labour moved from fifth to third in the seat and were roughly 3,000 votes behind Williams and Lake, their best result in Ceredigion since 1997, and the Tories fell to fourth but increased their vote by more than 3,000. The 29.2% won by Plaid Cymru in 2017 was the lowest winning vote share of the election and the only seat won with less than 30% of the vote.
Members of Parliament
MPs after 1640
Cardiganshire was unrepresented in the Barebones Parliament
First Protectorate Parliament
Second Protectorate Parliament
Third Protectorate Parliament
Elections in the 21st Century
Elections in the 2010s
Elections in the 2000s
Elections in the 20th Century
Elections in the 1990s
Elections in the 1980s
Elections in the 1970s
Elections in the 1960s
Elections in the 1950s
Elections in the 1940s
Elections in the 1930s
Elections in the 1920s
* Denotes that the candidate was pledged to take the Liberal Party Whip.
Elections in the 1910s
Elections in the 1900s
Elections in the 19th Century
Elections in the 1890s
Rowlands is appointed Recorder of Swansea, requiring a by-election.
Elections in the 1880s
Elections in the 1870s
Elections in the 1860s
Notes and references
- ^ "Ceredigion: Usual Resident Population, 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
- ^ "Electoral roll: Electors and attainers, by National Assembly for Wales constituency". 2014 Electoral Register. StatsWales. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
- ^ "Ceredigion could return to south constituency boundary". Cambrian News. 19 September 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
- ^ "Ceredigion a Gogledd Sir Benfro (Ceredigion and North Pembrokeshire)". 2018 Review of Parliamentary Constituencies — Initial Proposals Report (Report). Boundary Commission for Wales. September 2016. p. 80.
- ^ "Members expelled from the House of Commons since the Restoration". demon.co.uk.
- ^ "Liberal Defeat in Cardiganshire (editorial)". Cambrian News. 13 February 1874. p. 6. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
- ^ "The Cardiganshire Election (editorial)". South Wales Daily News. 5 February 1874. p. 2. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
- ^ "The Conservative Victory in Cardiganshire (editorial)". Aberystwyth Observer. 14 February 1874. p. 2. Retrieved 20 January 2018.
- ^ Morgan. "Cardiganshire Politics": 313.
- ^ Morgan. "Cardiganshire Politics": 314–18; 319–20.
- ^ Morgan. "Cardiganshire Politics": 322–3.
- ^ "Meeting in support of Mr D. Davies". Aberystwyth Observer. 26 June 1886. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
- ^ Morgan. "Cardiganshire Politics": 323–4.
- ^ "Cardiganshire Election and its lessons (editorial)". Aberystwyth Observer. 17 July 1886. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- ^ Morgan. "Cardiganshire Politics": 324–5.
- ^ "Representation of Cardiganshire. Selection of Liberal Candidate". Aberystwyth Observer. 4 July 1895. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- ^ "The Contest in Cardiganshire (editorial)". Cambrian News. 5 July 1895. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
- ^ "The Liberal Split (editorial)". Aberystwyth Observer. 4 July 1895. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- ^ "The Two Cardiganshire Candidates (editorial)". Cambrian News. 5 October 1900. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
- ^ Morgan. "Cardiganshire Politics": 328–9.
- ^ Morgan. "Cardiganshire Politics": 330.
- ^ Morgan. "Cardiganshire Politics": 332–5.
- ^ "The County Election". Aberystwyth Observer. 3 July 1886. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
- ^ "Election 2015: 'Baptism of fire' for Plaid candidate". 9 April 2015 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- ^ "Election 2015: Candidate suggested cars be damaged". 10 April 2015 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- ^ "Ceredigion 1997–". Hansard 1803–2005. UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
- ^ Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "C" (part 2)
- ^ Expelled the House 23 March 1716 for failing to attend to take an oath of loyalty.
- ^ "Results of the 2017 General Election". BBC News.
- ^ Ceredigion, Plaid- (26 April 2017). "Very pleased to announce that Ben Lake is the Plaid Cymru #Ceredigion candidate for the general election. #Plaid17 #ProtectWales #GE17pic.twitter.com/80jBsT3JIi".
- ^ "Ceredigion's MP reacts to surprise news of snap General Election".
- ^ Society, People's Printing Press. "Dinah Mulholland".
- ^ "Loony Party Candidates". Retrieved 7 May 2017.
- ^ "Election Data 2015". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
- ^ "Ceredigion result". UK Parliamentary General Election 2015. Ceredigion County Council. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
- ^ "Ceredigion parliamentary constituency - Election 2017" – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- ^ "Election Data 2010". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 26 July 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
- ^ Ceredigion Archived 9 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Cyngor Sir Ceredigion County Council – candidates Ceredigion
- ^ Ceredigion BBC Election – Ceredigion
- ^ "Election Data 2005". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
- ^ "Election Data 2001". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
- ^ "Election Data 1997". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
- ^ "Election Data 1992". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
- ^ "Election Data 1987". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
- ^ "Election Data 1983". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
- ^ a b c British parliamentary election results, 1918–1949, Craig
- ^ a b c d e f g h British parliamentary election results, 1885–1918 (Craig)
- ^ "How Mr W Jones Holds His Meetings". South Wales Daily News. 11 Jul 1892. p. 6. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
- ^ a b British Parliamentary Election Results 1885–1918, FWS Craig
- ^ The Liberal Year Book, 1907
- ^ Debrett's House of Commons & Judicial Bench, 1886
- ^ a b c d 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.
- ^ "Nomination Day at Cardigan". Carmarthen Weekly Reporter. 28 November 1868. p. 3. Retrieved 3 February 2018 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)).