World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Finsbury East (UK Parliament constituency)

Article Id: WHEBN0008856395
Reproduction Date:

Title: Finsbury East (UK Parliament constituency)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: H. E. A. Cotton, List of politicians, lawyers, and civil servants educated at Jesus College, Oxford, Politics of Islington, Whitechapel (UK Parliament constituency), Alfred Welby
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Finsbury East (UK Parliament constituency)

Finsbury East
Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
Number of members one
Replaced by Finsbury
Created from Finsbury

Finsbury East was a parliamentary constituency centred on the Finsbury district of North London. It returned one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, elected by the first past the post system.


  • History 1
  • Boundaries 2
  • Members of Parliament 3
  • Election results 4
    • Elections in the 1910s 4.1
    • Elections in the 1900s 4.2
    • Elections in the 1890s 4.3
    • Elections in the 1880s 4.4
  • London County Council 5
  • References 6


The constituency was created when the two-member Finsbury constituency was divided by the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 for the 1885 general election. It was abolished for the 1918 general election, when it was replaced by a new single-member Finsbury constituency.

The area was a predominantly working class district. Business and industry gradually expanded into Finsbury from the City to the south, during the period when this constituency existed. Pelling points out that there were 384 non-resident voters, out of an electorate of 6,140 in 1888.

During the early part of the period the working man and secularist, James Rowlands, was the Liberal standard bearer in the seat. He contested the seat as a Liberal-Labour candidate (i.e. an official Liberal candidate with a Trade Union background). Rowlands lost to Conservative businessman James Bigwood in 1885 by 20 votes (when the Liberals secured a national majority of seats). However Rowlands won in 1886 with a majority of 61 (when most nominees of the split Liberal Party fared disastrously at the polls). This was the only seat the Gladstonian Liberals gained in the London metropolitan area in 1886. Pelling suggests that a section of the local Liberals may have abstained in the first election, because of the candidates views and background but were motivated to vote in 1886 due to the importance of the Home Rule issue. Rowlands was re-elected in 1892 by a majority of 290, but was defeated in 1895 when there was a Conservative majority of 270.

The new Conservative MP was a barrister. Henry Richards Q.C. is described in the Who's Who of British Members of Parliament as "A Democratic Tory" in favour of social reforms, the union of Church and State, denominational schools, old age pensions, redistribution of seats and better housing of the working classes. He was re-elected with a majority of 347 in 1900 and sat in Parliament until his death on 1 June 1905.

From the 1905 by-election until it was abolished in the redistribution of 1918, the East division was a pretty safe Liberal seat. J. Allen Baker, a Quaker by religion and an engineer by profession, was the Liberal candidate who lost in 1900 but secured a majority of 768 in the 1905 by-election. Baker was a representative of East Finsbury on the London County Council from 1895 to 1907. Baker's Who's Who of British Members of Parliament article suggests he was largely interested in Temperance and Religious Work, although he is also described as an "advanced Liberal". Baker retained the parliamentary seat until his death on 3 July 1918.

The 1918 by-election returned another Liberal to sit as an MP for a few months. Evan Cotton, was a lawyer and journalist with strong ties to the British community in India. Cotton had been born in Midnapore in Bengal. His father was Sir Henry Cotton K.C.S.I.. Evan Cotton married his wife Nora in 1896 and she was the daughter of William Grimley of the Bengal Civil Service. Cotton began his political career as a member of the Calcutta Corporation from 1900 to 1906. On moving to England he had become one of East Finsbury's member of London County Council, on which he served from 1910 to 1919 as a Councillor before becoming a County Alderman from 1919 to 1922. Cotton returned to India to become President of the Bengal Legislature 1922-1925.


Finsbury East in the Metropolitan area, showing boundaries used from 1885 to 1918.

The constituency was created, in 1885, as a division of the parliamentary borough of Finsbury, in the historic county of Middlesex to the north of the City of London. The seat was located in the eastern part of the parliamentary borough. The Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 provided that it was to consist of the Parishes of St Luke Middlesex, St Sepulchre, Middlesex, Charter House, and Glasshouse Yard.[1]

The constituency was surrounded by the seats of Holborn to the south west; Finsbury Central to the north west; Islington South to the north; Hoxton to the west and the City of London to the south.

In 1889 Finsbury was severed from Middlesex, for administrative purposes, to become part of the County of London. In 1900 the lower tier of local government in London was rationalised. The old local boards and parish vestries were replaced, in the Finsbury area, by the Metropolitan Borough of Finsbury.

The local government changes did not affect the parliamentary boundaries until the redistribution of 1918, when the East division ceased to be a separate constituency.

Members of Parliament

Election Member Party
1885 James Bigwood Conservative
1886 James Rowlands Liberal-Labour
1895 Henry Charles Richards Conservative
1905 by-election J. Allen Baker Liberal
1918 Evan Cotton Liberal
1918 constituency abolished: see Finsbury

Election results

Elections in the 1910s

Evan Cotton
Finsbury East by-election, 1918: 16 July 1918
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Harry Evan Auguste Cotton 1,156 59.9 +8.3
Independent Capt. H.S. Spencer 576 29.8 n/a
Independent A.S. Belsher 199 10.3 n/a
Majority 580 30.1
Turnout 38.7
Liberal hold Swing N/A
General Election December 1910: Finsbury, East
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Joseph Allen Baker 2,023 51.6
Conservative William Mason 1,900 48.4
Majority 123 3.2
Liberal hold Swing +0.6
General Election January 1910: Finsbury, East
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Joseph Allen Baker 2,102 51.0
Conservative William Mason 2,016 49.0
Majority 86 2.0
Liberal hold Swing -7.1

Elections in the 1900s

Joseph Allen Baker
General Election 1906: Finsbury, East
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Joseph Allen Baker 2,461 58.1
Conservative Alfred Cholmeley Earle Welby 1,772 41.9
Majority 689 16.2
Turnout 5,326 79.5
Liberal hold Swing -1.8
Finsbury East by-election, 1905: 29 June 1905
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Joseph Allen Baker 2,320 59.9
Conservative N.L. Cohen 1,552 40.1
Majority 768 19.8
Turnout 5,302 73.0
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +14.2
General Election 1900: Finsbury, East
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Henry Charles Richards 2,174 54.3
Liberal Joseph Allen Baker 1,827 45.7
Majority 347 8.6
Turnout 5,678 70.5
Conservative hold Swing +1.1

Elections in the 1890s

General Election 1895: Finsbury, East
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Henry Charles Richards 2,260 53.2
Lib-Lab James Rowlands 1,990 46.8
Majority 270 6.4
Turnout 5,840 72.8
Conservative gain from Lib-Lab Swing +6.4
General Election 1892: Finsbury, East
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Lib-Lab James Rowlands 2,383 53.2
Conservative William Lucas-Shadwell 2,093 46.8
Majority 290 6.4
Turnout 6,079 73.6
Lib-Lab hold Swing +2.4

Elections in the 1880s

General Election 1886: Finsbury, East
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Lib-Lab James Rowlands 1,973 50.8
Conservative James Bigwood 1,912 49.2
Majority 61 1.6
Turnout 6,105 63.6
Lib-Lab gain from Conservative Swing +1.0
General Election 1885: Finsbury, East
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative James Bigwood 2,055 50.2
Lib-Lab James Rowlands 2,035 49.8
Majority 20 0.4
Turnout 6,105 67.0

London County Council

The parliamentary constituencies in London were also used to elect members to the County Council. The Progressive Party in London corresponded to the Liberal Party in national politics. The Moderates (from 1906 the Municipal Reform Party) were the local equivalent of the national Conservative Party.

It is notable that Lord Rosebery represented this seat on the LCC when he was Foreign Secretary 1892-1894 and Prime Minister 1894-1895.

East Finsbury County Councillors (2 seats)
Elected Until Member Party
1889 1898 John Williams Benn Progressive
1889 1892 John Sinclair Progressive
1892 1895 The Earl of Rosebery Progressive
1895 1907 J. Allen Baker Progressive
1898 1904 J. Benson Progressive
1904 1907 T.E. Harvey Progressive
1907 1910 E. Howes Municipal Reform
1907 1910 Sir Alfred Welby Municipal Reform
1910 1919 Evan Cotton Progressive
1910 1919 George Masterman Gillett Labour
1919 constituency abolished: see Finsbury


  1. ^ Redistribution of Seats Act 1885, Sixth Schedule
  • Achievement: A Short History of the LCC, by W. Eric Jackson (Longmans 1965)
  • Boundaries of Parliamentary Constituencies 1885-1972, compiled and edited by F. W. S. Craig (Parliamentary Reference Publications 1972)
  • British Parliamentary Election Results 1885-1918, compiled and edited by F.W.S. Craig (Macmillan Press 1974)
  • Social Geography of British Elections 1885-1910. by Henry Pelling (Macmillan 1967)
  • Who's Who of British Members of Parliament, Volume II 1886-1918, edited by M. Stenton and S. Lees (Harvester Press 1978)
  • Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "F"
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.