Electoral Behavior in Unreformed England

Electoral Behavior in Unreformed England: Plumpers, Splitters, and Straights

John A. Phillips
Copyright Date: 1982
Pages: 378
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  • Book Info
    Electoral Behavior in Unreformed England
    Book Description:

    This work examines the development of popular politics in four representative English towns between 1761 and 1802. The book addresses hitherto unanswered yet fundamental questions about the electorate and the electoral system of later eighteenth-century England.

    Originally published in 1982.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5642-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
    (pp. xix-4)
  6. CHAPTER ONE The Unreformed Political System
    (pp. 5-44)

    On July 5, 1802, Thomas Ward arrived in Norwich’s market square where the hustings had been erected for the election of two members to represent the city in parliament. On mounting the steps to the platform, Ward met the town clerk and responded to a series of questions that his name was Thomas Ward, that he lived in the parish of St. Lawrence, that he was a cordwainer by trade and a freeman of Norwich.¹ He then took the oath of loyalty to the Crown, swore another oath that he was indeed a freeman and had held his freedom for...

  7. CHAPTER TWO The Structure of Electoral Politics in Unreformed England
    (pp. 45-81)

    Discussions of the unreformed English electoral system usually revolve around its three major flaws: the control of borough seats in the Commons by individual patrons, the general lack of opportunities for popular participation, and electoral corruption. The standard examples of Old Sarum (for patronage), the election of 1761 (for the lack of participation), and the Oxfordshire election of 1754 (for corruption), have been cited so often that disparaging bits of information, such as the £20,000 Tory expenditure in Oxfordshire in 1754, are permanently imbedded in the secondary literature and have resulted in the dismissal of eighteenth-century popular politics as unworthy...

  8. CHAPTER THREE The Structure of Borough Politics: Participation and Politicization
    (pp. 82-113)

    Moving from an examination of the structure of politics in the freeman and inhabitant boroughs generally to an examination of political activity in four specific boroughs again raises the related questions of patronage, corruption, and participation. The specific charges of patronage levelled against the “freemen” voters in Norwich and Maidstone and the “potwalloper” voters in Northampton are no more convincing after 1768 than were the general allegations of patronage in the “open” boroughs across the country. Prior to the general election of 1768, however, patronage played a substantial role in the selection of M.P.’s from Northampton, and it may have...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR The Substance of Borough Politics: Variations on Three Themes
    (pp. 114-172)

    Students of modern electoral behavior often take for granted or choose to ignore “political events and issue predispositions” of particular political systems, albeit at some risk. Frequently, the resulting examinations of electoral behavior take on a strangely apolitical quality.¹ A study of later eighteenth-century English voters must be quite different; virtually nothing can be assumed or ignored.² The behavior of voters in unreformed England can be divorced from neither the political climate in the country nor specific political events in each constituency. Indeed, a detailed consideration of the specific characteristics of each constituency is a prerequisite to accurate interpretations of...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE The Borough Voter
    (pp. 173-211)

    The persistent focus on parliament and parliamentary politics among students of the unreformed political system has generated much information concerning the members of the House of Commons and the constituencies for which they sat, but the careful documentation of the structure of the Commons has largely ignored the structure of the electorate. J. H. Plumb noted this omission in studies of Augustan politics and posed a series of unanswered questions that are as basic to an understanding of the later eighteenth century as they are to the reigns of William and Anne. “Who constituted this electorate,” and “How deeply into...

  11. CHAPTER SIX The Voter Decides: The Development of Partisan Behavior
    (pp. 212-252)

    Modern electoral studies have focused much attention on, and given much credit to “partisan identification” in the electorate.¹ Political scientists have demonstrated the importance of partisan identification as a determinant of voter choice in recent American elections, and have shown that a voter’s “identification” with a party remains more stable than his or her actual voting habits.² This modern emphasis has led some historians to search for partisan identification among past electorates in both the United States and England.³ However, since opinion data are required to isolate partisan identification, the constraints of the exclusively behavioral data available for most historical...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN The Voter’s Decision: The Social Foundations of the Vote
    (pp. 253-305)

    Many of the questions which began this study of electoral behavior have been addressed, in spite of the complex and frequently idiosyncratic nature of the unreformed political system. The development of partisan behavior after 1780 within the framework created both by the parliamentary parties and local partisan organizations has been identified in two of the four boroughs examined. Partisan behavior on an impressive scale shaped elections in Norwich and Maidstone as competing political parties closely identified with national issues and the parliamentary parties began to dominate local as well as national elections. Even voters in Northampton and Lewes, while never...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT Interpretations and Speculations
    (pp. 306-311)

    It would be inappropriate to end this discussion of popular politics with a set of conclusions since, if nothing else, these four boroughs graphically illustrate the extraordinary variety of unreformed politics and unreformed political behavior. Even so, this analysis of the actions of more than 14,000 voters at elections scattered across four boroughs and four decades does provide a substantive basis for interpretive statements concerning the behavior of the unreformed electorate. Moreover, since the issues examined in the preceding chapters have not been limited to the four principal boroughs exclusively, the results of these analyses are broadly suggestive.

    The eighteenth...

  14. APPENDIX I. Nominal Record Linkage
    (pp. 312-320)
    (pp. 321-322)
    (pp. 323-326)
    (pp. 327-344)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 345-354)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 355-355)