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Frome (UK Parliament constituency)

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Title: Frome (UK Parliament constituency)  
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Subject: Frederick Gould, Henry Samuelson, Frome by-election, 1876, Frome, List of MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1852
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Frome (UK Parliament constituency)

Former County constituency
for the House of Commons
County Somerset
Major settlements Frome
Number of members One
Replaced by Somerset North and Wells
Number of members One
Type of constituency Borough constituency

Frome was a constituency centred on the town of Frome in Somerset. It returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1832, until it was abolished for the 1950 general election. Between 1832 and 1885, it was a parliamentary borough; after 1885 it was a county constituency, a division of Somerset.


Frome was one of the boroughs created by the Great Reform Act of 1832,[1] as the town was at that point one of the bigger towns in England which was not already represented, and its then-flourishing woollen manufacturing industry made it seem likely to grow further. The new borough consisted only of the town of Frome, and had a population (according to the 1831 census) of approximately 11,240. The registered electorate at the 1832 election was 322. Frome was near to Longleat, and the Marquess of Bath was influential in election outcomes throughout its life as a borough.

However, the town did not increase dramatically in size in the next few years, and the electorate was still only just over 400 by 1865, although the extension of the franchise at the 1868 election trebled this. By the time of the Third Reform Act, Frome was too small to continue as a constituency in itself and the borough was abolished with effect from the 1885 election.

The new county division into which the town was placed consisted of the whole north-eastern corner of Somerset, except for Bath, and was named after the town, as The Frome Division of Somerset. Nevertheless, Frome contributed only a minority of the voters in the constituency, which also included Weston, Radstock, Bathampton and Batheaston, to say nothing of the freeholders of Bath, who voted in this division under the arrangements that gave property owners in boroughs a vote in the adjoining county constituency; by the time of the First World War, the population was around 60,000. This constituency was a mixed one, with suburban voters at Weston and in the Bath suburbs, agricultural villages between Bath and Frome, growing mining interests round Radstock and some industry at Twerton. This made the constituency marginal between the Conservatives and Liberals, and the victor's majority was rarely more than a few hundred votes.

There were further boundary changes in 1918, when the number of constituencies in Somerset was reduced from nine to seven. Frome's boundaries were extended westwards to the fringes of Bristol, bringing in Midsomer Norton and the areas round Clutton, Chew Magna and Keynsham (previously in the Northern division): the revised constituency consisted of the urban districts of Frome, Midsomer Norton and Radstock, the Bath, Clutton and Keynsham rural districts and all but six parishes of Frome Rural District. This, too, was a marginal constituency, and except in 1923 was always won at general elections by the party which was successful nationally.

The Frome constituency was abolished in the boundary changes which came into effect at the 1950 election, Frome itself being transferred to the Wells division but most of the remainder of the constituency forming the bulk of the new Somerset North.

Members of Parliament

Frome parliamentary borough

Election Member Party Notes
1832 Thomas Sheppard[2] Whig
1835 Conservative
1847 Hon. Robert Boyle[2] Whig 4th son of Edmund Boyle, 8th Earl of Cork
1854 by-election Richard Boyle, Viscount Dungarvan[2] Whig later 9th Earl of Cork
1856 by-election Hon. William Boyle[2] Whig younger brother of Richard Boyle, Viscount Dungarvan
1857 Donald Nicoll[2] Whig
1859 Lord Edward Thynne[2] Conservative previously MP for Weobley 1826–32
1865 Sir Henry Creswicke Rawlinson, Bt.[2] Liberal noted orientalist, previously MP for Reigate
1868 Thomas Hughes[2] Liberal author of Tom Brown's Schooldays
1874 Henry Charles Lopes[2] Conservative previously MP for Launceston, later a Lord Justice of Appeal
1876 by-election Henry Bernhard Samuelson[2] Liberal previously MP for Cheltenham
1885 parliamentary borough constituency abolished, name transferred to a new county division

Frome division of Somerset

Election Member Party
1885 Lawrence James Baker[2] Liberal
1886 Viscount Weymouth Conservative
1892 John Barlow[2] Liberal
1895 Viscount Weymouth[2] Conservative
1896 by-election Sir John Barlow, 1st Baronet[2] Liberal
1918 Percy Angier Hurd[2] Coalition Conservative
1922 Conservative
1923 Frederick Gould[2] Labour
1924 Geoffrey Kelsall Peto[2] Conservative
1929 Frederick Gould[2] Labour
1931 Henry Thynne, Viscount Weymouth[2] Conservative
1935 Mavis Tate[2] Conservative
1945 Walter Farthing[2] Labour
1950 constituency abolished

Elections in the 1900s

John Barlow
General Election 1900
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal John Emmott Barlow 5,066
Conservative Ellis William Hume-Williams 4,708
Majority 358
Liberal hold Swing
General Election 1906
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal John Emmott Barlow 6,297
Conservative Charles Talbot Foxcroft 4,552
Majority 1,745
Liberal hold Swing

Elections in the 1910s

General Election January 1910
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Sir John Emmott Barlow 6,248 53.3
Conservative Charles Talbot Foxcroft 5,489 46.7
Majority 779 6.6
Turnout 89.0 +3.0
Liberal hold Swing
General Election December 1910
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Sir John Emmott Barlow 5,944 52.6
Conservative Charles Talbot Foxcroft 5,366 47.4
Majority 578 5.2
Turnout 85.9
Liberal hold Swing
General Election December 1918
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Unionist 11,118 46.6
Labour Capt. Edward Gill 10,454 43.9
Liberal Sir John Emmott Barlow 2,004 8.4
National Party Lt-Col. Thomas Malcolm Harvey Kincaid-Smith 258 1.1
Majority 664 2.7
Turnout 67.7
Unionist gain from Liberal Swing
  • recipient of the Coalition Government Coupon

Elections in the 1920s

General Election 1929: Frome [3]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Frederick Gould 18,524 45.5
Unionist Geoffrey Kelsall Peto 16,378 40.3
Liberal Colin Stratton-Hallett 5,774 14.2
Majority 2,146 5.2
Labour gain from Unionist Swing

Elections in the 1930s

General Election 1939/40: Another General Election was required to take place before the end of 1940. The political parties had been making preparations for an election to take place and by the Autumn of 1939, the following candidates had been selected;


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u
  3. ^ British Parliamentary Election Results 1918-1949, FWS Craig
  • The Constitutional Year Book for 1913 (London: National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations, 1913)
  • F. W. S. Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1832-1885 (2nd edition, Aldershot: Parliamentary Research Services, 1989)
  • F. W. S. Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1918-1949 (Glasgow: Political Reference Publications, 1969)
  • 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)
  • Frederic A Youngs, jr, Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Vol I (London: Royal Historical Society, 1979)
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