North Dorset by-election, 1937

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The North Dorset by-election, 1937 was a parliamentary by-election for the British House of Commons constituency of North Dorset on 13 July 1937.


The by-election was caused by the death of the sitting Conservative MP, Sir Cecil Hanbury, on 10 June 1937. He had been MP here since gaining the seat in 1924.

Electoral history[edit]

The constituency had been won by the Conservatives at every election since they gained it from the Liberals in 1924. The result had always been close between the two parties since the Liberals won comfortably in 1906. The Labour party had only twice before fought the seat, in 1929 and at the last election in 1935. At that election, an Independent 'Agriculture' candidate from a longstanding local Conservative family pushed Labour into fourth place.

General Election 1935: North Dorset [1] Electorate 32,714
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Cecil Hanbury 13,055 50.1 -9.1
Liberal William Borthwick 9,871 37.9 -2.9
Agriculture George Pitt-Rivers 1,771 6.8 n/a
Labour M M Whitehead 1,360 5.2 n/a
Majority 3,184 12.2 -6.2
Turnout 79.7 -2.4
Conservative hold Swing -3.1


The Conservative candidate was 54-year-old Captain Angus Hambro. He was Member of Parliament for South Dorset from 1910 to 1922. He became High Sheriff of Dorset in 1934.[2]

The Liberal candidate was 58-year-old the Hon. William Borthwick, who was standing here for the fourth time having contested the General Elections of 1929, 1931 and 1935. He had been an army captain before practising as a barrister. Borthwick was described by a party colleague as "an excellent and able man, but a weak candidate." [3]


Polling Day was set for 13 July 1937, 33 days after the death of the previous member.

On 30 June, the Liberal campaign received early encouragement when it was announced that the party had narrowly won the St Ives by-election, 1937.

Nominations closed on 5 July.[4] This time there was no Labour or Independent candidates.


Once again, the Conservatives narrowly won the seat.

North Dorset by-election, 1937 [5] Electorate
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative Angus Hambro 12,247 51.1 +1.0
Liberal William Borthwick 11,704 48.9 +11.0
Majority 543 2.2 -10.0
Turnout 23,951 73.4 -6.3
Conservative hold Swing -5.0


Hambro did not contest the seat again, choosing to retire at the 1945 General Election when his successor was defeated by a new Liberal candidate. Borthwick also did not contest another election.

General Election 1945: Dorset North Electorate
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal Frank Byers 14,444 53.7 +4.8
Conservative Richard Glyn 12,479 46.3 -4.8
Majority 1,965 7.3 9.6
Turnout 26,923 75.0 +1.6
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +4.8

See also[edit]


  1. ^ British parliamentary election results 1818-1949, Craig, F. W. S.
  2. ^ The New Sheriffs.The Times (London, England), Friday, Mar 23, 1934; pg. 6; Issue 46710
  3. ^ Trial by Ballot, by Ivor RM Davies
  4. ^ North Dorset Election The Times (London, England), Tuesday, Jul 06, 1937; pg. 9; Issue 47729
  5. ^ British parliamentary election results 1818-1949, Craig, F. W. S.