1918-1950: The administrative county of the Soke of Peterborough, the Urban District of Oundle, the Rural Districts of Easton-on-the-Hill and Gretton, and parts of the Rural Districts of Oundle and Thrapston.
1950-1974: The Municipal Borough of Peterborough, the Urban District of Oundle, the Rural Districts of Barnack and Peterborough, and part of the Rural District of Oundle and Thrapston.
1974-1983: The Municipal Borough of Peterborough, and the Rural Districts of Barnack, Peterborough, and Thorney.
1983-1997: The City of Peterborough wards of Bretton, Central, Dogsthorpe, East, Fletton, North, Orton Longueville, Orton Waterville, Park, Paston, Ravensthorpe, Stanground, Walton, and West.
1997-2010: The City of Peterborough wards of Bretton, Central, Dogsthorpe, East, North, Park, Paston, Ravensthorpe, Walton, Werrington, and West.
2010-present: The City of Peterborough wards of Bretton North, Bretton South, Central, Dogsthorpe, East, Eye and Thorney, Newborough, North, Park, Paston, Ravensthorpe, Walton, Werrington North, Werrington South, and West.
The Guildhall, Cathedral Square (1669–1671), site of the former Market Place.
In the unreformed House of Commons to be either a candidate or an elector for a county seat, a man had to own (not rent) freehold property valued for the land tax at two pounds a year (women could neither vote nor stand for election). This was known as the 40/- freehold. The franchise for borough seats varied enormously. Originally in Peterborough the dean and chapter had claimed the franchise and held that only residents of Minster Precincts were burgesses. By the interregnum, the city was one of 37 boroughs in which suffrage was restricted to those paying scot and lot, a form of municipal taxation. In 1800 there were 2,000 registered voters in Northamptonshire and 400 in Peterborough. By 1835 this was 576, or about one per cent of the population. Bribery was general until the introduction of the secret ballot under the Ballot Act 1872. Votes were cast by spoken declaration, in public, at the hustings, erected on the Market Place (now Cathedral Square).
In 1832 the Great Reform Act enfranchised those who owned or leased land worth £10 or more and the Second Reform Act extended this to all householders paying £10 or more in rent per annum, effectively enfranchising the skilled working class, so by 1868 the percentage of voters in Peterborough had risen to about 20% of the population. The Third Reform Act extended the provisions of the previous act to the counties and the Fourth Reform Act widened suffrage further by abolishing practically all property qualifications for men and by enfranchising women over 30 who met minimum property qualifications. This system, known as universal manhood suffrage, was first used in the 1918 general election. However, full electoral equality wouldn't occur until the Fifth Reform Act ten years later.
According to the 2001 census, the population count of Peterborough constituency is 95,103 persons, comprising 46,131 males and 48,972 females. 67.56% of those aged 16–74 are economically active, including 5.92% umemployed; a further 12.26% are retired and 3.08% students. Of a total 39,760 households, 63.80% are owner occupied, fewer than the regional (72.71%) and national (68.72%) averages. Turnout at the 2005 general election was 41,194 or 61.0% of those eligible to vote, below the regional (63.6%) and national (61.3%) figures.
The Town Hall, Upper Bridge Street (1930–1933), formerly Narrow Street.
Peterborough sent two members to parliament for the first time in 1547. Before the civil war, many were relatives of the clergy; then for two hundred years after the restoration there was always a Fitzwilliam, or a Fitzwilliam nominee, sitting as member for Peterborough, making it a Whig stronghold. Representation was reduced to one member under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885. From the formal merger of the breakaway Liberal Unionists with the Conservatives in 1912 and the absorption of rural North Northamptonshire in 1918, Peterborough has been predominantly Conservative. The growth in the New Town from 1967 may in part account for Labour's victory here in 1974. Since its formation in 1997, North West Cambridgeshire has been one of the safest Conservative seats in the country. At the election which followed, Peterborough was ranked 93rd in the Conservatives's one hundred most vulnerable seats (the ones which the other parties must take if there is to be a change of government) and 73rd on Labour's target list.
The most recent Labour MP for Peterborough, Helen Clark (née Brinton), won the seat in 1997. She was defeated at the 2005 general election, following which it was widely reported that Clark was planning to defect to the Conservative Party, an announcement which was not popular locally. However, by early June it emerged that while she had left the Labour Party, she had not in fact joined the Conservatives and did not intend to.
The Tories (or Abhorrers) and Whigs (or Petitioners) originated in the Court and Country parties that emerged in the aftermath of the civil war, although it is more accurate to describe them as loose tendencies, both of which might be regarded as conservative in modern terms. Modern party politics did not really begin to coalesce in Great Britain until at least 1784.
In 1832 the Tory Party evolved into the Conservative Party and in 1859 the Whig Party evolved, with Radicals and Peelites, into the Liberal Party. In opposition to Irish home rule, the Liberal Unionists ceded from the Liberals in 1886, aligning themselves with the Conservatives. The Labour Party was later founded, as the Labour Representation Committee, in 1900.
General Election 1939/40 Another general election was required to take place before the end of 1940. The political parties had been making preparations for an election to take place from 1939 and by the end of this year, the following candidates had been selected:
^Craig, Frederick Walter ScottBritish Parliamentary Election Results 1832–1970 (4 vols.) Macmillan, London, 1971–1977 and Stenton, Michael and Lees, Stephen (eds.) Who's Who of British members of parliament 1832–1979: a biographical dictionary of the House of Commons based on annual volumes of Dod's Parliamentary Companion and other sources (4 vols.) Harvester Press, Hassocks, 1976–1981
^The History of Parliament The House of Commons: 1509–1558 (3 vols.) Bindoff, S.T., 1558–1603 (3 vols.) Hasler, P.W., 1660–1690 (3 vols.) Henning, Basil Duke, 1715–1754 (2 vols.) Sedgwick, Romney, 1754–1790 (2 vols.) Namier, Sir Lewis Bernstein and Brooke, John, 1790–1820 (5 vols.) Thorne, R.G. Martin Secker and Warburg (reissued by Her Majesty's Stationery Office) for the History of Parliament Trust, London, 1964–1986
^"Humphrey Orme was elected ... and there was an immediate complaint against his sitting on the grounds that he was neither a good puritan nor a stable parliamentarian;" see Tebbs, op. cit. (p.94). "Although its election committee certainly received and examined evidence concerning a disputed and possibly double return at Peterborough, it is not clear what part, if any, the Council played in the final decision in favour of Alexander Blake;" see Gaunt, Peter Cromwell’s Purge? Exclusions and the First Protectorate Parliament (p.16) Parliamentary History, vol.6 no.1 (pp.1–22) May 1987. "The defeated candidate ... had allegedly been supported by disaffected and disqualified voters; Orme himself had married a recusant and was probably a Royalist sympathiser;" Ibid. at footnote 80 (p.21)
^Both terms were originally pejorative, deriving respectively from tóraidhe, one of the dispossessed Irish who became outlaws and whiggamor, a Scots Gaelic word for a cattle or horse drover
^"Charles Parker ... in 1728, was High Sheriff of Northamptonshire and at that time not pro-Fitzwilliam. His action at the election of that year led to a case before the Bar of the House of Commons to settle a controversy over the powers of the Bailiffs of the City [and of the Soke] as returning officer at the election. Parker, as Sheriff, sent the election writ to Robert Smith, the Bailiff of the Liberty who returned Earl Fitzwilliam [at that time in the Peerage of Ireland only] and an unknown nominee of [the Earl of Exeter] ... James Pix, the City's Bailiff, contested the return and won, so the sitting members ... were declared elected," even though Wortley Montagu had died six months earlier; see Tebbs, op. cit. (p.95) which incorrectly refers to Sidney's son Edward Wortley Montagu
^Pelling, loc. cit. confirms that Wentworth-Fitzwilliam contested the election against an official Liberal candidate and that the Conservative candidate withdrew in his favour. He became a Liberal Unionist the following year and died as a result of a riding accident in 1889