West Somerset (UK Parliament constituency)
|Former County constituency
for the House of Commons
|Number of members||Two|
|Replaced by||Bridgwater, South Somerset and Wellington|
West Somerset or Somerset Western (formally The Western division of Somerset) was the name of a parliamentary constituency in the county of Somerset between 1832 and 1885. It returned two Members of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, elected by the bloc vote system.
The constituency was created for the 1832 general election, when the former Somerset constituency was divided into new East and West divisions. It also absorbed the voters from the abolished boroughs of Ilchester and Minehead. The constituency might have been better described as South-Western Somerset, since it stretched to the southern as well as the western extremities of the county. It surrounded the county town of Taunton (although Taunton was a borough electing MPs in its own right, freeholders within the borough who met the property-owning qualifications for the county franchise could vote in West Somerset as well, as could those in Bridgwater); otherwise, the largest town was Yeovil, but the division also included Chard, Crewkerne, Minehead, Wellington, Ilminster, Street, Watchet and Wiveliscombe; nevertheless, the majority of voters were in the rural areas.
The Second Reform Act brought about significant boundary changes, which came into effect at the 1868 general election, as Somerset was given a third county constituency. The eastern end of West Somerset (including Yeovil, Street and Crewkerne) was moved into the new Mid Somerset division, but in their place the constituency absorbed the borough of Bridgwater, which had been abolished as a borough because of its history of corruption; the town of Bridgwater was much the largest in the revised constituency.
The constituency was abolished for the 1885 general election, when those parts of Somerset outside its boroughs were divided into seven single-member county constituencies. West Somerset's voters were divided between the new Bridgwater, South Somerset and Wellington divisions. (The Wellington division, which lasted until 1918, had the alternative name of Western Somerset.)
Members of Parliament
- Jenekins, Terry. "Somerset". History of Parliament. The History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
- Jenkins, Terry. "SANFORD, Edward Ayshford (1794-1871), of Nynehead Court, Wellington, Som. and 41 Grosvenor Street, Mdx". The History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
- Later adopted the surname Vaughan-Lee
- F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1832-1885 (2nd edition, Aldershot: Parliamentary Research Services, 1989)
- Frederic A Youngs, jr, Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Vol I (London: Royal Historical Society, 1979)