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Electoral politics in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, 1832 - 1885

Wickham, Michael John (2002) Electoral politics in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, 1832 - 1885. Masters thesis, Durham University.



The aim of this study Is to paint a comprehensive picture of electoral politics during a period of significant historical change. By focusing on a small, open, two- member borough, it is hoped that an evaluation can be made of the various developments which took place in the English electoral system between the Reform Act of 1832 and the Redistribution Act of 1885. In order to achieve this, It was decided to examine five different aspects of Berwick's parliamentary representation during these years, namely, the candidates, the electors, election procedure, election Issues and electoral corruption. At the same time It was necessary to refer to other Investigations Into electoral politics, so that the Berwick experience could be placed in a national context. Chapter 1 takes account of recent work on electoral history and considers some of the methodological and conceptual problems Involved In the study of nineteenth-century electoral politics. Chapter 2 traces the development of the political press in the Victorian era and suggests that, despite the problem of political bias, newspapers can provide the historian with valuable Insights Into the conduct of nineteenth-century electoral politics. Chapter 3 discusses the selection procedure for parliamentary candidates and examines the personal qualities that were considered desirable In a candidate. It then attempts to analyse the extent to which these qualities contributed to the electoral success of a candidate. Chapter 4 examines the nature and voting behaviour of the Berwick electorate between 1832 and 1874. With the help of poll books, which recorded the way In which Individual electors voted, It is possible to discover useful Information on such features as the size and occupational composition of the electorate, electoral participation, the voting behaviour of occupational categories, cross-party voting, voting consistency and the voting preferences of freemen and ten-pound householders. Chapter 5 examines the ceremonial aspects of elections, beginning with the registration of voters and ending with the post-election entertainments. Elections were a major event In the life of the community, involving electors and non-electors alike. However, by the end of the period electoral procedure had become less ritualistic, and the part played by the disfranchised had been severely restricted. The chapter discusses these changes and the legislation which brought them about.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2002
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:01 Aug 2012 11:38

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