The constituency consists of in the west the entire Richmondshire district and in the east the northern part of Hambleton District. A mostly rural seat, the population is almost wholly self-supportive[n 3] and in national terms affluent.
From 1983, the seat was represented by the cabinet minister Leon Brittan, after boundary changes saw his Cleveland and Whitby seat abolished; however he resigned from the Commons in December 1988 in order to take up the position of Vice-President of the European Commission.
The ensuing by-election, held in February 1989, was won by William Hague: this was the last by-election won by a Conservative candidate during the Conservative Government of 1979-1997. Hague's win has been attributed in part to the decision by the remnants of the Social Democratic Party (those members that objected to the merger with the Liberal Party the previous year) to contest the election as well as the newly merged Social and Liberal Democrats (who subsequently renamed themselves the Liberal Democrats). The SDP candidate, local farmer Mike Potter, came second, and Hague's majority of 2,634 was considerably smaller than the number of votes (11,589) for the SLD candidate Barbara Pearce. Hague retained the seat at every general election from then on, building the Conservative majority to 23,336, until his decision to step down at the 2015 election.
In 1992 the Labour candidate until a few weeks before the election, David Abrahams was deselected after a series of rows within the local party over his personal life and business interests. It emerged in 2007 that he used the name "David Martin" when dealing with tenants in his various rental properties in the Newcastle area; and that he had claimed that he lived with his wife and son, though he had never been married. Divorcee Anthea Bailey later told a local newspaper she and her 11-year-old son had posed as Mr Abrahams' family as part of a business arrangement so that Abrahams could create "the right impression". The Daily Mail posited this was because the constituency in North Yorkshire would be averse to "a confirmed bachelor who enjoys musical theatre".
At the 2001 general election, Richmond became the Conservatives' safest seat in the UK, both in terms of the actual numerical majority and by percentage, the seat being held by then Conservative leader Hague. Although the numerical majority was surpassed by Buckingham at the 2005 election, Richmond has a smaller electorate and had a greater proportion of Conservative voters so retained the second largest percentage majority. Again from 2010, Richmond is the safest Conservative seat in the country, in terms of numerical and percentage majority.
1918–1950: The Municipal Borough of Richmond, the Urban Districts of Kirklington-cum-Upsland, Masham, and Northallerton, and the Rural Districts of Aysgarth, Bedale, Croft, Leyburn, Northallerton, Reeth, Richmond, Startforth, and Stokesley.
1950–1955: The Municipal Borough of Richmond, the Urban District of Northallerton, and the Rural Districts of Aysgarth, Croft, Leyburn, Masham, Northallerton, Reeth, Richmond, Startforth, and Stokesley.
1955–1974: As prior but with redrawn boundaries.
1974–1983: As prior but with redrawn boundaries.
1983–1997: The District of Richmondshire, and the District of Hambleton wards of Appleton Wiske, Bedale, Brompton, Broughton and Greenhow, Carlton Miniott, Crakehall, Great Ayton, Hillside, Leeming, Leeming Bar, Morton-on-Swale, Northallerton North East, Northallerton South East, Northallerton West, Osmotherley, Romanby, Romanby Broomfield, Rudby, Sowerby, Stokesley, Swainby, Tanfield, The Cowtons, The Thorntons, Thirsk, Topcliffe, and Whitestonecliffe.
1997–2010: The District of Richmondshire, and the District of Hambleton wards of Appleton Wiske, Brompton, Broughton and Greenhow, Great Ayton, Leeming Bar, Morton-on-Swale, Northallerton North East, Northallerton South East, Northallerton West, Osmotherley, Romanby, Romanby Broomfield, Rudby, Stokesley, Swainby, and The Cowtons.
2010–present: The District of Richmondshire, and the District of Hambleton wards of Bedale, Brompton, Broughton and Greenhow, Cowtons, Crakehall, Great Ayton, Leeming, Leeming Bar, Morton-on-Swale, Northallerton Broomfield, Northallerton Central, Northallerton North, Osmotherley, Romanby, Rudby, Stokesley, Swainby, and Tanfield.
Another General Election was required to take place before the end of 1915. The political parties had been making preparations for an election to take place and by the July 1914, the following candidates had been selected;