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Boston
Borough constituency
House House of Commons
Elects Two (1547-1885); one (1885-1918) MPs
Created 1547 (1547)
Abolished 1918 (1918)

Boston was a parliamentary borough in Lincolnshire, which elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons from 1547 until 1885, and then one member from 1885 until 1918, when the constituency was abolished.

Contents

History

Boston first elected Members of Parliament in 1352-1353, but after that the right lapsed and was not revived again until the reign of Edward VI. The borough consisted of most of the town of Boston, a port and market town on the River Witham which had overgrown its original boundaries as the river had been cleared of silt and its trade developed. In 1831, the population of the borough was 11,240, contained 2,631 houses.

The right to vote belonged to the Mayor, aldermen, members of the common council and all resident freemen of the borough who paid scot and lot. This gave Boston a relatively substantial electorate for the period, 927 votes being cast in 1826 and 565 in 1831. The freedom was generally obtained either by birth (being the son of an existing freemen) or servitude (completing an apprenticeship in the town), but could also be conferred as an honorary status, and Boston charged a consistently escalating sum to its Parliamentary candidates who wanted to be admitted as freemen - set at £20 in 1700, it was raised to £50 in 1719, to £100 in 1790 and to £135 in 1800.

Major local landowners had some influence over election outcomes through deference of the voters - the Duke of Ancaster, for example, was generally allowed to choose one of the members up to the end of the 18th century - but in the last few years before the Reform Act at least one of the two members seems consistently to have been the free choice of the people of the town. However, bribery was rife in some of the early 19th-century elections, and the election of Thomas Fydell in 1803 was overturned when it was discovered that not only had he been paying electors five guineas for a vote, but that many of these were not qualified to vote anyway. (They were freemen not resident in the borough, whose names had been fraudulently entered as paying the poor rate at houses where they did not live, so as to appear eligible.)

Boston retained both its MPs under the Reform Act, but its boundaries were extended slightly, taking in more of the town and part of the neighbouring parish of Skirbeck. This increased the population of the borough to 12,818, although only 869 of these were eligible to vote in the first election after Reform; this had grown to just over 1,000 by the time of the Second Reform Act, when the widening of the franchise more than doubled it, over 2,500 electors being registered for the 1868 general election which followed. But by the 1870s, electoral corruption had again become a problem in Boston. The result of the 1874 election was overturned for bribery, and a Royal Commission set up to investigate; when the next general election, in 1880, had to be declared void for the same reasons, Boston's representation was suspended for the remainder of the Parliament.

Boston had its right to vote restored for the 1885 election, but the boundary changes which came into effect at the same time slightly reduced the size of the borough and allowed it only one MP. The constituency at this period was mainly middle-class but non-conformists had a strong presence, enabling the Liberals to be competitive where they might otherwise have struggled. The deciding factor which may have tilted the constituency towards the Conservatives in its final years may have been the benefit that the local fisherman saw in Tariff Reform.

The borough was abolished with effect from the general election of 1918, Boston being included in the new Holland with Boston county division.

Members of Parliament

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1547-1640

1640-1880

Year First member First party Second member Second party
April 1640 William Ellis Parliamentarian  ?
November 1640 Sir Anthony Irby Parliamentarian
December 1648 Irby excluded in Pride's Purge - seat vacant
1653 Boston was unrepresented in the Barebones Parliament
1654 William Ellis Boston had only one seat in the First and
Second Parliaments of the Protectorate
1656 Sir Anthony Irby
January 1659 Francis Mussenden
May 1659 William Ellis One seat vacant in restored Rump
February 1660 Sir Anthony Irby
April 1660 Thomas Hatcher
1661 Lord Willoughby de Eresby
1666 Sir Philip Harcourt
February 1679 Sir William Ellis
May 1679 Sir William Yorke
1685 Lord Willoughby de Eresby Peregrine Bertie
1689 Sir William Yorke
1690 Peregrine Bertie
1698 Richard Wynn Edmund Boulter
January 1701 Sir William Yorke
December 1701 Peregrine Bertie
1702 Sir Edward Irby
1705 Richard Wynn
1708 Peregrine Bertie
1711 William Cotesworth
1713 Henry Heron
1719 Richard Ellys
1722 Henry Pacey
1730 The Lord Coleraine
1734 Albemarle Bertie Richard Fydell
1741 Lord Vere Bertie John Michell
1754 Lord Robert Bertie Charles Amcotts
1761 John Michell
1766 Charles Amcotts
1777 Humphrey Sibthorp
1782 Sir Peter Burrell
1784 Dalhousie Watherston
1790 Thomas Fydell
1796 Viscount Milsington
1802 William Alexander Madocks
1803 Thomas Fydell
1806 Thomas Fydell, junior
1812 Peter Drummond-Burrell
1820 Gilbert John Heathcote Whig Henry Ellis
1821 William Augustus Johnson
1826 Neil Malcolm
1830 John Wilks Whig
1831 Gilbert John Heathcote Whig
1832 Benjamin Handley Whig
1835 John Studholme Brownrigg Conservative
1837 Sir James Duke Whig
1847 Benjamin Bond Cabbell Conservative
1849 Hon. Dudley Worsley Anderson-Pelham Whig
1851 James William Freshfield Conservative
1852 Gilbert Henry Heathcote Whig
1856 Herbert Ingram Whig
1857 William Henry Adams Conservative
1859 Meaburn Staniland Liberal
1860 John Wingfield Malcolm Conservative
1865 Thomas Parry [1] Liberal
1866 Meaburn Staniland Liberal
1867 Thomas Parry Liberal
1868 Thomas Collins Conservative
1874 William James Ingram Liberal Thomas Parry Liberal
1874 John Wingfield Malcolm [2] Conservative
1878 Thomas Garfit Conservative
1880 Representation suspended

1885-1918

Election Member Party
1885 Representation restored and reduced to one Member
1885 William James Ingram Liberal
1886 Henry John Farmer-Atkinson Conservative
1892 Sir William Ingram Liberal
1895 William Garfit Conservative
1906 George Henry Faber Liberal
Jan. 1910 Charles Harvey Dixon Conservative
1918 constituency abolished

Notes

  1. ^ On petition, Parry's election was declared void and Staniland duly elected after scrutiny of the votes
  2. ^ At the 1874 election, both Liberal candidates, Ingram and Thomas Parry, were initially declared elected but on petition Parry's election was declared void. After scrutiny 353 of Parry's 1,347 votes were struck off for bribery, and Malcolm, who had originally finished third, was declared elected. Following this election a Royal Commission was appointed to investigate the conduct of elections in Boston

Election results

References

  • D Brunton & D H Pennington, Members of the Long Parliament (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1954)
  • Cobbett's Parliamentary history of England, from the Norman Conquest in 1066 to the year 1803 (London: Thomas Hansard, 1808) [1]
  • F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1832-1885 (2nd edition, Aldershot: Parliamentary Research Services, 1989)
  • Lewis Namier, The Structure of Politics at the Accession of George III (2nd edition - London: St Martin's Press, 1961)
  • J E Neale, The Elizabethan House of Commons (London: Jonathan Cape, 1949)
  • T H B Oldfield, The Representative History of Great Britain and Ireland (London: Baldwin, Cradock & Joy, 1816)
  • Henry Pelling, Social Geography of British Elections, 1885-1910 (London: Macmillan, 1967)
  • J Holladay Philbin, Parliamentary Representation 1832 - England and Wales (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965)
  • Edward Porritt and Annie G Porritt, The Unreformed House of Commons (Cambridge University Press, 1903)
  • Frederic A Youngs, jr, "Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Vol II" (London: Royal Historical Society, 1991)

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