Leyton West by-election, 1919

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Leyton West in Essex, showing boundaries used in 1919

The Leyton West by-election, 1919 was a parliamentary by-election held on 1 March 1919 for the British House of Commons constituency of Leyton West, in the Urban District of Leyton, Essex. The constituency formed part of the Greater London conurbation.


The seat had become vacant on the death of the constituency's Coalition Unionist Member of Parliament (MP), Harry Wrightson on 11 February 1919. Wrightson had first been elected at the 1918 general election. Within days of the declaration of poll however, Wrightson contracted influenza, which deteriorated to pneumonia, and he died early in 1919, aged 44, six days before the new Parliament met and so was never able to take his seat.

Electoral history[edit]

1918 General Election: Leyton West
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Coalition Unionist Harry Wrightson 10,956 67.4 N/A
Liberal Alfred Newbould 5,288 32.6 N/A
Majority 5,668 34.8 N/A
Turnout 16,244 49.9
Unionist hold Swing N/A


The Unionist Party selected as its candidate James Francis Mason, who was a director of the Great Western Railway and had been MP for Windsor between 1906 and the preceding General Election.

Alfred Ernest Newbould stood for the Asquithian Liberals. He had stood against Wrightson at the recent General Election, coming in second with less than half of Wrightson's votes.


Mason's campaign sought to repeat the theme of the previous General Election, where Unionists had run solely on the glory of having won the war.[1] Newbould’s main campaign points were the abolition of conscription and a crackdown on profiteering [2] the first policy was said to appeal to men and the second to women.[3] Unfortunately for part of the contest he was confined to bed with a bad cold and his wife was engaged as principal canvasser on his behalf [4]


On a turnout of 42.5%, (down from the general election turnout of 49.9%) Newbould won what was seen as an important victory for the Asquithian Liberals improving his share of the vote from 32.6% at the general election to 57.3% in the by-election.

Leyton West by-election, 1919
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Alfred Newbould 7,934 57.3 24.7
C Unionist James Francis Mason 5,915 42.7 -24.7
Majority 2,019 14.6 N/A
Turnout 13,849 42.5 -7.4
Liberal gain from Unionist Swing 24.7
C indicates candidate endorsed by the coalition government.

According to psephologist John Ramsden, this amounted to a swing of 24.8% and was statistically one of the worst by-election reverses of the 1918-1922 government.[5]


At the 1922 General Election, Newbould lost the seat back to the Unionists, and never managed to get back into the House.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Trial By Ballot by Ivor RM Davies (1950).
  2. ^ The Times, 17 February 1919
  3. ^ The Times, 1 March 1919
  4. ^ The Times, 26 February 1919
  5. ^ Chris Cook and John Ramsden, By-elections in British Politics; UCL Press 1997, p16