Parliamentary Elections held in Leeds
Much of the information we have gathered here is available at various sites on the web. However, our intention is to bring together on one site all the relevant information regarding Parliamentary elections that have occurred in Leeds. It should be borne in mind that the first person from the Leeds area to attend Parliament was not elected. In 1265, in the hope of establishing order, Simon de Montfort summoned his historic Model Parliament. Barons, bishops, abbots, and four chosen knights from each shire were invited. Abbot Simon of Kirkstall Abbey was one of the five abbots chosen.
After Cromwell’s short lived attempt to give Leeds an MP in 1654 and 1656, the town had to wait nearly another two hundred years to have a representative at Westminster. It almost succeeded in 1820 when the rotten borough of Grampound was dis-enfranchised for ‘the greatest corruption’. The original intention was to grant Leeds the two available seats but in the end it was decided to give them to Yorkshire and increase its representation to four. It was not until the Great Reform Bill of 1832 that Leeds was finally given representation in Parliament.
On our site, Results gives details of every general election ever held in Leeds. Specific elections can be accessed either by using the Year portal or through the Dates portal. Here the statistics and a brief description of that particular election is given. Parties simply lists the names of every party which has contested an election in the city. MPs gives a brief biography of every member elected and the adjacent dates will take you to any specific election where the candidate was elected. Constituencies gives a brief description of each constituency and its changing ward boundaries. Here is also given the size of the electorate for each election, the number of votes cast and the percentage turnout. These, however, are given from 1929 following the Representation of the People’s Act of 1928 when all men over 21 and women over 30 were included on the electoral roll. The results of each election held in that constituency are given and certain records for that constituency. Records gives all the important election records relevant to Leeds.
Care has been taken to ensure accuracy but unfortunately sources do occasionally vary. The principal sources used are: –
Leeds Weekly Citizen
Yorkshire Evening Post
Yorkshire Weekly Observer
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online edition (Oxford, 2014).
Who Was Who on line edition (Oxford, 2007)
C. Cook and B. Keith, British Historical Facts 1830-1900 (New York, 1975)
F. W. S. Craig, British Electoral Facts: 1832–1987 (1989)
J. Gardiner and N. Wenborn, The History Today Companion to British History (1995)
C. Rallings and M. Thrasher, British Electoral Facts 1832–2012 (2012)
D. Thornton, Leeds: a Historical Dictionary of People, Places and Events (Huddersfield, 2013)
May 2016 David Thornton