Monmouth Boroughs (UK Parliament constituency)
|Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
|Number of members||one|
|Replaced by||Monmouth and Newport|
- For constituencies which may be confused with Monmouth Boroughs, see Monmouth constituency
Monmouth Boroughs (also known as the Monmouth District of Boroughs) was a parliamentary constituency consisting of several towns in Monmouthshire. It returned one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons of the Parliaments of England, Great Britain, and finally the United Kingdom; until 1832 the constituency was known simply as Monmouth, though it included other "contributory boroughs".
Monmouth was first enfranchised (as the borough of Monmouth or Monmouth Town) during the reign of Henry VIII, at the same time as the counties and boroughs of Wales, and although it was legally regarded as being in England its electoral arrangements from the outset resembled those of the Welsh boroughs rather than those in the rest of England - it elected only a single member, and the borough consisted not only of the town after which it was named but also of a number of other "contributory boroughs" in the same county, which were required to contribute to the members' expenses and which had the right to send voters to take part in the election at the county town. In the case of Monmouth, there were initially six or perhaps seven contributory boroughs: Caerleon, Newport, Trellech, Usk, Chepstow, Abergavenny and possibly Grosmont; but by the late 17th century all of the electors were freemen of Monmouth, Usk and Newport.
The franchise was settled by a judgment in a disputed election in 1680, when Monmouth attempted to return a member to parliament without the involvement of the other boroughs, and the right to vote was declared to rest in the resident freemen of Monmouth, Newport and Usk. The number of electors seems once to have been substantial but to have fallen away sharply during the 18th century - from 2,000 in 1715 to about 800 in the 1754-1790 period; by the time of the Great Reform Act in 1832, there were only 280 qualified voters - 123 in Newport, 83 in Monmouth and 74 in Usk. In Tudor times the constituency was under the influence of the Duchy of Lancaster and around the start of the 18th century it was a pocket borough of the Morgan family of Tredegar, who were influential in the Newport area; but soon afterwards the Dukes of Beaufort gained control. After the Duke's candidate had won the election of 1715 decisively, this patronage was so clear that there were no further contests until 1820, the Beaufort candidates (many of them members of the family) all being returned unopposed for a hundred years.
At the time of the Great Reform Act the constituency had a population of just over 11,000 (of which Monmouth and Newport each contributed around 5,000 and Usk just over 1,000). This was a relatively large population for a borough constituency at the time - indeed, boroughs which had 2 MPs were generally allowed to keep them both under the Reform Act provided they had a population of 4,000. Nevertheless, all three of the component boroughs were enlarged slightly by including parts of the town outside the old borough, so bringing the combined population of the revised constituency to an estimated 13,101 and its electorate (under the reformed franchise) to 899. From this point onwards, the constituency was generally referred to as the Monmouth Boroughs.
From 1832 until the end of the 19th century the constituency was generally a marginal one, finely balanced between the Conservatives and Whigs or Liberals when it was contested (although Crawshay Bailey was returned unopposed four times after he was first elected). The constituency moved steadily towards the Liberals, however, as Newport grew in size; by the turn of the century 90% of the electorate was there, and it was a much more working class and industrial town than Monmouth or Usk. The Conservatives won in their landslide year of 1900 and held the seat in the by-election when the original election was declared void for various irregularities, but were probably helped by the association of the Liberal candidate with the campaign to extend the Welsh Sunday Closing Act to Monmouthshire. Otherwise, it was an increasingly safe Liberal seat, and at the time of the 1911 census had a population of 77,902.
The constituency was abolished by the Representation of the People Act 1918, with Newport becoming a parliamentary borough in its own right while Monmouth and Usk were included in the Monmouth county constituency.
The constituency consisted, at least from 1680 onwards, of the towns of Newport, Monmouth and Usk. There were minor boundary changes that redefined the extent of each of these contributory boroughs in 1832 and 1885.
Members of Parliament
|1545||Richard Morgan, also elected for Gloucester |
|1553 (Mar)||(not known)|
|1553 (Oct)||John Philip Morgan|
|1554 (Apr)||John Philip Morgan|
|1554 (Nov)||John Philip Morgan|
|1559||Moore Powell |
|1562||Moore Powell |
|1571||Charles Herbert |
|1572||Moore Powell, died
and replaced 1576 by Sir William Morgan 
|1584||Moore Gwillim |
|1586||Moore Gwillim |
|1588||Philip Jones |
|1593||Edward Hubberd |
|1597||Robert Johnson |
|1601||Robert Johnson |
|1604-1611||(Sir) Robert Johnson|
|1614||Sir Robert Johnson|
|1624||Walter Stewart or Steward|
|1625||Walter Stewart or Steward|
|1629–1640||No Parliaments summoned|
- "History of Parliament". History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2013-06-02.
- "History of Parliament". History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
- Jones was also elected for Beaumaris, but had not chosen his seat before parliament was dissolved
- The election of November 1640 was disputed between William Watkins and Thomas Trevor. Watkins took his seat at the very beginning of the Parliament, but was then instructed to cease attending until the dispute had been resolved; in fact this had not happened by the time of the outbreak of the Civil War, and proceedings were then put in abeyance and neither ever gained the seat. Watkins was disabled from sitting for his adherence to the Royalist cause while Trevor was elected for another constituency, and a writ to fill the vacant seat was eventually issued in 1646.
- On petition, Herbert was declared not to have been duly elected, having been returned only by the freemen of Monmouth, and his opponent Arnold (who had the majority once the votes of Newport and Usk were included) was declared elected in his place
- Succeeded to a baronetcy, October 1772
- Worcester was re-elected in 1790, but had also been elected for Bristol, which he chose to represent, and did not sit again for Monmouth
- Created a baronet, 1797
- On petition, Hall's election was overturned and the Marquess of Worcester declared re-elected in his place
- On petition, the election of Harris was declared void and a by-election held
Elections in the 1900s
|Monmouth Boroughs by-election, 1901|
|General Election 1906 Monmouth Boros|
|Conservative||E E Micholls||3,939||38.8||-13.1|
|Liberal gain from Conservative||Swing||+4.8|
Elections in the 1910s
|General Election January 1910 Monmouth Boros|
|Conservative||Sir Charles William Cayzer||5,391||45.2||+6.4|
|General Election December 1910 Monmouth Boros|
|Conservative||Gerald de La Pryme Hargreaves||5,056||45.1||-0.1|
- British parliamentary election results, 1885-1918 (Craig)
- Debrett's House of Commons 1916
- W R Williams The Parliamentary History of the Principality of Wales
- Cobbett's Parliamentary history of England, from the Norman Conquest in 1066 to the year 1803 (London: Thomas Hansard, 1808) 
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "M" (part 3)[self-published source][better source needed]
- S T Bindoff, The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1509-1558 (Secker & Warburg, 1982)
- D Brunton & D H Pennington, Members of the Long Parliament (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1954)
- 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)
- P W Hasler, The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1558-1603 (London: HMSO, 1981)
- Lewis Namier & John Brooke, The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1754-1790 (London: HMSO, 1964)
- J. E. Neale, The Elizabethan House of Commons (London: Jonathan Cape, 1949)
- T. H. B. Oldfield, The Representative History of Great Britain and Ireland (London: Baldwin, Cradock & Joy, 1816)
- 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)
- Romney Sedgwick, The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1715-1754, (London: HMSO, 1970)
- Robert Walcott, English Politics in the Early Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956)
- Parliamentary Boundaries Act, 1832 (2 & 3 Will. 4 c.64), Schedule O
- Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885 (48 & 49 Vict c.23), Ninth Schedule