Southern Rhodesian Legislative Council election, 1920

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The Southern Rhodesia Legislative Council election of 30 April 1920 was the seventh election to the Legislative Council of Southern Rhodesia. At this election the Legislative Council comprised thirteen elected members, together with six members nominated by the British South Africa Company, and the Administrator of Southern Rhodesia. The Resident Commissioner of Southern Rhodesia, Crawford Douglas Douglas-Jones, also sat on the Legislative Council ex officio but without the right to vote.


An important change in the franchise had been made in 1919 through the Women's Enfranchisement Ordinance, which gave the vote to women on the same basis as men. Married women (except those married under a system of polygamy) qualified under the financial and educational status of their husbands, if they did not possess them in their own right. This brought 3,467 new voters on to the lists.


New districts were needed for this election under a provision of the 1914 proclamation that had created the 12 separate districts. The proclamation allowed for an automatic increase of one new district for each increase of 792 voters. The required number had been reached in 1917. The boundary changes that followed left the Eastern district untouched, as well as the four districts in the south-west (Bulawayo District, Bulawayo North, Bulawayo South, and Western).


Previous elections to the Legislative Council were contested by individuals standing on their own records. By 1914, although no political parties had been created, the candidates for the Legislative Council had been broadly grouped in two camps, one favouring renewal of the Charter from the British South Africa Company, and the other moves towards full self-government within the Empire.

By 1920 political parties had been formed, largely around these ideas. The Responsible Government Association, headed by Sir Charles Coghlan, sought a form of administrative autonomy within the Empire. They were in alliance with the Rhodesia Labour Party throughout most of the colony. Ranged against them were the Unionists, who advocated Southern Rhodesia joining the Union of South Africa, and a large number of Independent candidates who were generally in support of continuation of the charter from the British South Africa Company.


Party Votes % Seats
Responsible Government Association 3,245 47.97 9
Independents 1,577 23.31 1
Unionists 677 10.01 0
Rhodesia Labour Party-Responsible Government Association alliance 578 8.54 2
Independent Labour 417 6.16 1
Rhodesia Labour Party 271 4.01 0
Total 6,765 100 13

By constituency[edit]

Electorate and turnout
Candidate Party Votes
Bulawayo District
788 (59.5%)
Lionel Cripps* Responsible Government Association 276
Sir Philip Bourchier Sherard Wrey Unionist 193
Bulawayo North
1,065 (71.1%)
Sir Charles Patrick John Coghlan* Responsible Government Association 529
Charles Spearman Jobling Independent 228
Bulawayo South
903 (61.4%)
Francis Leslie Hadfield Independent Labour 417
Herbert Thomas Longden Responsible Government Association 137
1,054 (73.6%)
Ethel Tawse Jollie Responsible Government Association 451
William Matthias Longden Unionist 294
Gerald Fitzmassey Dawson Independent 31
785 (66.5%)
William James Boggie Responsible Government Association 332
St. Charles Boromeo Gwynn Unionist 190
726 (57.3%)
James Baillie Macdonald Responsible Government Association 316
Burton Ireland Collings* Independent 100
756 (51.6%)
John McChlery* Responsible Government Association 284
Thomas Benjamin Hulley Independent 106
907 (49.7%)
Walter Douglas Douglas-Jones Rhodesia Labour Party-Responsible Government Association 274
Herbert Walsh Rhodesia Labour Party 177
1,037 (54.5%)
Robert Dunipace Gilchrist Responsible Government Association 358
Sir Francis James Newton Independent 207
Salisbury District
944 (65.4%)
William Muter Leggate Responsible Government Association 372
Sir Raleigh Grey* Independent 245
Salisbury Town
1,163 (66.4%)
John Stewart Rhodesia Labour Party-Responsible Government Association 304
Milton Evan Cleveland* Independent 258
William Streak Honey Independent 210
Howard Unwin Moffat* Responsible Government Association Unopposed
970 (49.1%)
Robert Alexander Fletcher Independent 192
Henry Cuthbert Ind Responsible Government Association 190
James Grant Riach Rhodesia Labour Party 94

* Incumbent

Nominated members[edit]

The members nominated by the British South Africa Company were:

Robert MacIlwaine, Solicitor-General, was appointed a member to replace Ernest Charles Baxter during Baxter's temporary absence on 6 May 1920. George Henry Eyre stood down and was replaced by Robert MacIlwaine on 25 March 1921.

During a Special Session of the Legislative Council between 3 and 11 October 1923, held to set up the new administration following the award of responsible government, the appointed members were:


  • Source Book of Parliamentary Elections and Referenda in Southern Rhodesia 1898–1962 ed. by F.M.G. Willson (Department of Government, University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Salisbury 1963)
  • Holders of Administrative and Ministerial Office 1894–1964 by F.M.G. Willson and G.C. Passmore, assisted by Margaret T. Mitchell (Source Book No. 3, Department of Government, University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Salisbury 1966)
  • Official Year Book of the Colony of Southern Rhodesia, No. 1 – 1924, Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia