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United Kingdom general election, 1807

United Kingdom general election, 1807

4 May—9 June 1807

All 658 seats to the House of Commons
330 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party
 
Leader Duke of Portland Lord Grenville
Party Tory Whig
Leader since 31 March 1807 11 February 1806
Leader's seat Duke of Portland Lord Grenville
Seats won 216 213
Seat change 126 95
Popular vote - -
Percentage - -

PM before election

Duke of Portland
Tory

Subsequent PM

Duke of Portland
Tory

The election to the 4th Parliament of the United Kingdom in 1807 was the third general election to be held after the Union of Great Britain and Ireland.

The third United Kingdom Parliament was dissolved on 29 April 1807. The new Parliament was summoned to meet on 22 June 1807, for a maximum seven-year term from that date. The maximum term could be and normally was curtailed, by the monarch dissolving the Parliament, before its term expired.

Political situation

Following the 1806 election the Ministry of all the Talents, a coalition of the Foxite and Grenvillite Whig and Addingtonite Tory factions, with William Wyndham Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville as Prime Minister continued in office. It had attempted to end the Napoleonic Wars by negotiation. As this hope failed the war continued.

The faction formerly led by William Pitt the Younger, before his death in January 1806, were the major group in opposition to the Talents Ministry. George Canning in the House of Commons and the Duke of Portland in the House of Lords were at the head of this opposition.

Grenville and his cabinet lost the support of King George III by trying to legislate to permit Roman Catholics to serve as Army and Navy officers. When ministers refused to give the King written confirmation that they would not raise the Catholic issue again, he decided to find new servants.

The elderly Duke of Portland was asked to form a new Ministry in March 1807. Portland had been the Whig Prime Minister before, in the 1780s, so now he described himself as the Whig Prime Minister of a Tory Ministry.

After Pitt's death the younger Pittites increasingly began calling themselves the Tory Party, whether they had previously belonged to the Whig or Tory tradition. This was an important stage in the development of a more organised two party system, which reduced the influence of factions and connections in British politics.

The new ministers found it difficult to manage a House of Commons recently elected to support their opponents. A month into the new government the King granted a dissolution.

The government policies of opposing Catholic relief and supporting the traditional powers of the King proved popular (at least with the restricted section of the population enfranchised in elections for the Unreformed House of Commons). After the election the government programme was approved by a vote of 350 to 155 in the House of Commons, demonstrating the substantial gains Ministers had made in the election.

Dates of election

At this period there was not one election day. After receiving a writ (a royal command) for the election to be held, the local returning officer fixed the election timetable for the particular constituency or constituencies he was concerned with. Polling in seats with contested elections could continue for many days.

The time between the first and last contested elections was 4 May to 9 June 1807.

Summary of the constituencies

Key to categories in the following tables: BC - Borough/Burgh constituencies, CC - County constituencies, UC - University constituencies, Total C - Total constituencies, BMP - Borough/Burgh Members of Parliament, CMP - County Members of Parliament, UMP - University Members of Parliament.

Monmouthshire (1 County constituency with 2 MPs and one single member Borough constituency) is included in Wales in these tables. Sources for this period may include the county in England.

Table 1: Constituencies and MPs, by type and country
Country BC CC UC Total C BMP CMP UMP Total MPs
England 202 39 2 243 404 78 4 486
Wales 13 13 0 26 13 14 0 27
Scotland 15 30 0 45 15 30 0 45
Ireland 33 32 1 66 35 64 1 100
Total 263 114 3 380 467 176 5 658
Table 2: Number of seats per constituency, by type and country
Country BCx1 BCx2 BCx4 CCx1 CCx2 UCx1 UCx2 Total C
England 4 196 2 0 39 0 2 243
Wales 13 0 0 12 1 0 0 26
Scotland 15 0 0 30 0 0 0 45
Ireland 31 2 0 0 32 1 0 66
Total 63 198 2 42 72 1 2 380

Sources:

See also

References

  • His Majesty's Opposition 1714-1830, by Archibald S. Foord (Oxford University Press 1964)
  • (Dates of Elections) Footnote to Table 5.02 British Electoral Facts 1832-1999, compiled and edited by Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher (Ashgate Publishing Ltd 2000).
  • (Types of constituencies - Great Britain) British Historical Facts 1760-1830, by Chris Cook and John Stevenson (The Macmillan Press 1980).
  • (Types of constituencies - Ireland) Parliamentary Election Results in Ireland 1801-1922, edited by B.M. Walker (Royal Irish Academy 1978).
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