This page was constructed in 2007, to commemorate the 175th Anniversary of the Great Reform Act of 1832, which gave Chadderton its first representative in the Parliament at Westminster.

Chadderton Historical Society

MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT FOR CHADDERTON

Chadderton Historical Home Page index.htm

 

Under the Great Reform Act of 1832, the townships of Chadderton, Crompton, Oldham, and Royton, were included within the new Parliamentary Borough of Oldham. Although this only had a total electorate of 1,131, it was a two-member constituency.

 

Election Date

Member
Occasion
 1832 - December .........William Cobbett (Lib) & John Fielden (Lib) [1]................General Election

 1835 - January..............William Cobbett (Lib)+ & John Fielden (Lib) ..................General Election

 1835 - July.................... John Frederick Lees (Lib).................................................By-election

 1837 - January...............Gen. W. A. Johnson (Lib) & John Fielden (Lib)..............General Election

1841 - June ...................Gen. W. A. Johnson & John Fielden ................................General Election

 1847 - August.................William Johnson Fox (Lib) & John Duncuft (Lib) ...........General Election

 1852 - July.....................John Morgan Cobbett (Con) & John Duncuft (Lib)+ ......General Election

 1852 - December...........William Johnson Fox (Lib).................................................By-election

 1857 - March/April [2]..John Morgan Cobbett (Con) & James Platt (Lib)+ [3]....General Election

 1857 - October..........,,,,William Johnson Fox (Lib) .................................................By-election

 1859 - April ..................William Johnson Fox (Lib)R & John M. Cobbett (Con)...General election

 1862 - July....................John Tomlinson Hibbert (Lib).............................................By-election

 1865 - July ...................John Tomlinson Hibbert (Lib) & John Platt (Lib)..............General Election

 1868 - November..........John Tomlinson Hibbert (Lib) & John Platt (Lib)+...........General Election

 1872 - June...................John Morgan Cobbett (Con)...............................................By-election

 1874 - February............Fred Lowton Spinks (Con) & John M. Cobbett (Con)+ ...General Election

 1877 - March................John Tomlinson Hibbert (Lib) ............................................By-election

 1880 - March ...............John T. Hibbert (Lib) & Hon. E. L. Stanley (Lib)..............General Election

 1885 - Nov...John Tomlinson Hibbert (Lib)&James Mackenzie Maclean (Con)..General Election

1886 - July...................James Mackenzie Maclean (Con) & Elliot Lees (Con).....General Election

1892 - July.....Joshua Milne Cheetham (Lib)&John Tomlinson Hibbert (Lib).......General Election

 1895 - July...................Robert Ascroft (Con)+ & James F. Oswald (Con)R ..........General Election

 1899 - July ..................Alfred Emmott (Lib) & Walter Runciman (Lib)..................By-election

1900 - October.............Alfred Emmott (Lib) & Winston Churchill (Con) ...............General Election

 1906 - January ...........Alfred Emmott (Lib) & John Albert Bright (Lib).................General Election

 1910 - January............Alfred Emmott (Lib) & William Barton (Lib).......................General Election

 1911 - November........Edmund Robert Bartley Denniss (Con)................................By-election

 In consequence of the passing of the Representation of the People Act, 1918, and the re-arrangement of parliamentary boundaries, the Urban District of Chadderton was transferred to the Middleton and Prestwich Parliamentary Division. This was a single-member constituency.

 1918 - December.......William Ryland Dent Atkins (National Lib) [4] ....................General Election

 1922 - November.......William Ryland Dent Atkins (National Lib) .........................General Election

 1923 - December ......Alexander Nairne Stewart-Sandeman (Con) [4] ...................General Election

 1924 - October.......... Alexander Nairne Stewart-Sandeman (Con).........................General Election

 1929 - May ...............Alexander Nairne Stewart-Sandeman (Con)..........................General Election

 1931 - October .........Alexander Nairne Stewart-Sandeman (Con) .........................General Election

 1935 - November .....Alexander Nairne Stewart-Sandeman (Con) .........................General Election

 1940 - May................Ernest Everard Gates (Con)...................................................By-election [5]

 1945 - July.................Ernest Everard Gates (Con)...................................................General Election

 In consequence of the passing of the Representation of the People Act, 1948, and the re-arrangement of parliamentary boundaries, the Urban District of Chadderton was transferred from the Middleton and Prestwich Parliamentary Division to the Oldham West Parliamentary Division. This was a single-member constituency.

 1950 - February........... ..........Charles Leslie Hale (Lab).........................................General Election

1951 - October .......................Charles Leslie Hale (Lab).........................................General Election

 1955 - May............................. Charles Leslie Hale (Lab).........................................General Election

 1959 - October ........ ...............Charles Leslie Hale (Lab)........................................General Election

 1964 - October......... ............. Charles Leslie Hale (Lab)....................................... .General Election

 1966 - March .........................Charles Leslie Hale (Lab)R......................................General Election

 1968 - June .............. .............Keith Bruce Campbell (Con) .................................... By-election

 1970 - June ..........................Michael Hugh Meacher (Lab).....................................General Election

1974 - February....................Michael Hugh Meacher (Lab).....................................General Election

1974 - October ....................Michael Hugh Meacher (Lab)......................................General Election

 1979 - May .........................Michael Hugh Meacher (Lab).......................................General Election

 1983 - June.............. ...........Michael Hugh Meacher (Lab).......................................General Election

 1987 - June .........................Michael Hugh Meacher (Lab) ......................................General Election

 1992 - April .........................Michael Hugh Meacher (Lab) .....................................General Election

  Under the periodic re-arrangement of parliamentary boundaries by the Boundary Commission for England, the Oldham Central and Royton Parliamentary Division was dissolved in 1997, and part of it transferred to the Oldham West Division which was then renamed Oldham West and Royton.

 1997 - May............ ............Michael Hugh Meacher (Lab).........................................General Election

 2001 - June ........................Michael Hugh Meacher (Lab) .........................................General Election

 2005 - May........................ Michael Hugh Meacher (Lab)..........................................General Election

 
 In 2006, under the periodic re-arrangement of parliamentary boundaries by the Boundary Commission for England, Oldham West and Royton Parliamentary Division was reorganised with the exchange of certain wards within Oldham Township.

Organised by the Chadderton Historical Society, an attempt was made to have the constituency title amended to Oldham West, Chadderton and Royton, since Chadderton formed the core town of the constituency, as it had since 1950. Parts of Chadderton were now contained within no less than eight of the nine wards of the reorganised constituency, and it was felt that a revised name ought to reflect this significant fact.

In their Report, the Boundary Commission for England refused this request, but made the comment: "… the Society certainly made a powerful case for the inclusion of the name Chadderton …". The Department for Constitutional Affairs also shared these sentiments: " … the case you make [is] a strong one."Had the constituency been totally reconstructed at this period, it would undoubtedly have been renamed, but it remains a point of concern as to why the long-serving, elected member for Chadderton, did not himself request the addition of the town's name to the vague 'Oldham West' during the long period from 1970, especially at the renaming of 1997.

 

Notes & Key

[1] Styled 'Radical' at this period

[2] At this period elections were held over several weeks in different parts of the country

[3] Killed in a shooting accident at Ashway Gap, Saddleworth

[4] Later received a Knighthood

[5] Under the wartime agreement between the major parties, all of whom participated in the National Government, this contest was fought only because the small and extremist British Union of Fascists put forward a candidate in this Conservative-held seat. The result was an historic one with the Conservative candidate receiving 98.7% of the votes cast, an all-time record in a UK by-election. The BUF were routed and, on the following day, were banned by the Government as subversives, its remaining leaders being interned.

 + Indicates the member whose death occasioned the by-election next following

R Indicates the member whose retirement occasioned the by-election next following

EP Indicates the member whose elevation to the peerage occasioned the by-election next following

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Representation of the People Acts

Background History to the Great Reform Act of 1832

The unreformed House of Commons was composed of 658 members, of whom 513 represented England and Wales. Two types of constituencies existed, county and borough, with the county members supposed to represent landholders, and the borough members representing the mercantile and trading interests of the nation.

Members chosen by the counties were known as Knights of the Shire, with each English county electing two members, irrespective of the size of the electorate. The smallest English county, Rutland, had fewer than a thousand voters, whilst the largest, Yorkshire, had more than twenty thousand! Most men, of course, had no vote, with the size of the county electorate being estimated at no more than 200,000.

Boroughs were towns or cities granted representation in Parliament by royal charter. In theory, this honour belonged to the wealthiest and most flourishing towns, and boroughs that ceased to be successful could be disenfranchised by the Crown. However, in practice, many small hamlets had been given borough status, whilst many former flourishing boroughs had declined to insignificance, but still sent representatives to Parliament. These were styled 'rotten borough', with Old Sarum in Wiltshire, having only eleven voters in 1800, all of whom were landowners living elsewhere. Westminster on the other hand had an electorate of 12,000. In addition, there were now many large, thriving, manufacturing towns, which had sprung up as a result of the Industrial Revolution, but which were denied any voice in Parliament.

Corruption was also very rife with many constituencies, especially in the countryside, under the control of powerful landlords. These constituencies became known as pocket boroughs, because their representatives were said to be in the pockets of their patrons. Some noblemen even controlled multiple constituencies, the Duke of Norfolk possessing eleven!

Where voters were independent enough to resist domination by powerful landlords, they could still be open to corruption. Electors were regularly bribed, either individually or collectively, and boroughs were even 'sold' to the highest bidder by their electorate.

It was to address these anomalies, and the many abuses present in the British electoral system, that the Great Reform Act was passed.

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Act of 1832 (commonly known as the Great Reform Act, and sometimes as the First Reform Act), introduced wide-ranging changes to the electoral system of the United Kingdom.

 

  1) Reduced the number of nomination boroughs, with their aristocratic control.

 2) Abolished fifty-six boroughs, each with a population of less than two thousand.

 3) Thirty two-member boroughs, each with a population of less than four thousand, lost half of their representation.

 4) Reduced Weymouth and Melcombe Regis' entitlement from four members to two.

5) Extended the franchise to major industrial towns and centres such as Manchester, Birmingham, and Bradford. Chadderton, Crompton, Oldham, and Royton, formed the new Parliamentary Borough of Oldham, which returned two members.

(6) Standardised the borough franchise by sweeping away almost all of the special customs and rules that prevailed in many constituencies. In total, the Act's disfranchising clauses affected 143 English borough constituencies.

7) Enlarged the county electorate, the franchise still linked to the value of land owned

 8) Introduced a system of voter registration, to be administered by the overseers of the poor

in every parish and township.

9) Instituted a system of special courts to review disputes relating to voter qualifications.

10) Authorised the use of multiple polling places within the same constituency.

11) Limited the duration of polling to two days. Formerly, polls could remain open for up to forty days.

12) Strengthened the House of Commons, but did little to reduce the powers of the House of Lords.
 

Even with the reforms listed above, the Great Reform Act did not greatly increase the number of men who had the right to vote. Only one in seven men had the vote - an increase from about 435,000 to 813,000. Women, regardless of wealth, still did not have the right to vote. In addition, it was still necessary to pay to stand for election, with the result that almost all candidates were still aristocrats, landowners, or businessmen.

Whilst a step in the right direction, the Great Reform Act lacked one major reform that would have made elections fairer.

That was the secret ballot. While voting remained open, electors were still under pressure from landlords and others, and these often dictated the outcome.

 
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Act of 1867 (also known as the Second Reform Act) greatly increased the number of men who could vote in elections. It enfranchised all male householders thus giving working-class men the vote for the first time. However, there was little redistribution of seats.

 Act of 1884 (also known as the Third Reform Act), together with the Redistribution Act of the following year, was a response to the inequality in the electoral system left by the Reform Act of 1867. These measures extended the same voting qualifications and concessions, as existed in the towns, to the countryside, and essentially established the modern one-member constituency as the normal pattern. The electorate now totalled over five and a half million, but there were still 40% of adult males without the vote.

 Act of 1918 (also known as the Fourth Reform Act) extended suffrage by abolishing practically all property qualifications for men, and enfranchising women over 30 who met minimum property qualifications.

Without this Act there would have been millions of returning soldiers - 'war heroes', who had fought for democracy - who would not have been able to vote. The electorate trebled from 7.7 million to 21.4 million, with women accounting for 43% of the electorate.

In addition, the Act instituted the present system of holding general elections on the same day throughout the country. Previously they had been staggered over a period of weeks. It also brought in the annual electoral register.

 Act of 1928 (also known as Fifth Reform Act) extended the suffrage to women from the age of 21, giving equality with men. Previously only women over 30 could vote.

Acts of 1948 & 1949 ended any remaining practice of plural voting, strictly enforcing the principal of one 'person one vote'.

Act of 1969 (also known as the Sixth Reform Act) extended suffrage to 18-20 year olds. Previously only those 21 and over could vote.

  

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