The constituency consisted of the market town of Northallerton, the county town of the North Riding. In 1831 it encompassed only 622 houses and a population of 3,004. The right to vote was vested in the holders of the burgage tenements, of which there were roughly 200 – most of which were ruined or consisted only of stables or cowhouses, and had no value except for the vote which was attached to them. As in most other burgage boroughs, the ownership of the burgages had early become concentrated in the hands of a single family, who in effect had a free hand to nominate both MPs. At the time of the Great Reform Act in 1832, the patrons were the Earl of Harewood and Henry Peirse, who was the Earl's brother-in-law.
Under the Reform Act, the boundaries were extended to include neighbouring Romanby and Brompton, increasing the population to 4,839, and its representation was reduced to a single member. The Act also, of course, extended the franchise.
At the 1885 election, the constituency was abolished, being absorbed into the new Richmond division of the North Riding.