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Wisbech (UK Parliament constituency)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Former County constituency
for the House of Commons
Number of membersone
Replaced byIsle of Ely
Created fromCambridgeshire

Wisbech is a former United Kingdom Parliamentary constituency. It was created upon the abolition of an undivided Cambridgeshire county constituency in 1885 and was itself abolished in 1918.


Wisbech in Cambridgeshire 1885-1918
Wisbech in Cambridgeshire 1885-1918

The Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 split the former three-member Cambridgeshire parliamentary county into three single-member divisions. One of these was the Northern or Wisbech Division. During the committee stage of the 1885 bill, the MP for Cambridge University, Henry Raikes made an unsuccessful attempt to rename the constituency as the Northern or Isle of Ely Division.[1]

The constituency consisted of the towns of Chatteris, March, Whittlesey and Wisbech with the surrounding parishes of Benwick, Doddington, Downham, Elm, Leverington, Littleport, Manea, Newton, Parson Drove, Thorney, Tydd St Giles, Welches Dam and Wimblington.[2]

The area was bounded by the constituencies of Spalding to the north, North West Norfolk and South West Norfolk to the east, the other Cambridgeshire divisions of Newmarket and Chesterton to the south and Ramsey, Peterborough and North Northamptonshire to the west.

The constituency was dominated by the Fens, a district of Liberal-inclined smallholders. The towns in the division, predominantly Conservative Wisbech and the more Liberal-inclined March, were outvoted by the rural areas.

Upon its abolition under the Representation of the People Act 1918, the constituency formed the bulk of the new parliamentary county of Isle of Ely.

Members of Parliament

Year Member Party
1885 Sir John Rigby Liberal
1886 Charles William Selwyn Conservative
1891 Arthur Brand Liberal
1895 Charles Tyrrell Giles Conservative
1900 Arthur Brand Liberal
1906 Cecil Beck Liberal
1910 Neil Primrose Liberal
1917 Colin Coote Liberal
1918 constituency abolished

Election results

Elections in the 1880s

General election 1885: Wisbech[3]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal John Rigby 3,919 52.1
Conservative Charles William Selwyn 3,596 47.9
Majority 323 4.2
Turnout 7,515 78.8
Registered electors 9,532
Liberal win (new seat)
General election 1886: Wisbech[3]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Charles William Selwyn 4,169 57.5 +9.6
Liberal John Rigby 3,082 42.5 −9.6
Majority 1,087 15.0 N/A
Turnout 7,251 76.1 −2.7
Registered electors 9,532
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing +9.6

Elections in the 1890s

Selwyn's resignation caused a by-election.

By-election, 23 Jul 1891: Wisbech [3][4][5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Arthur Brand 3,979 51.7 +9.2
Conservative Surr William Duncan[6] 3,719 48.3 −9.2
Majority 260 3.4 N/A
Turnout 7,698 65.7 −10.4
Registered electors 11,725
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +9.2
General election 1892: Wisbech[3]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Arthur Brand 4,311 50.7 +8.2
Conservative Surr William Duncan[6] 4,189 49.3 −8.2
Majority 122 1.4 N/A
Turnout 8,500 72.2 −3.9
Registered electors 11,775
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +8.2

Brand was appointed Treasurer of the Household, requiring a by-election.

By-election, 3 Apr 1894: Wisbech[3][7][5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Arthur Brand 4,363 50.8 +0.1
Conservative Sackville Stopford-Sackville 4,227 49.2 −0.1
Majority 136 1.6 +0.2
Turnout 8,590 81.7 +9.5
Registered electors 10,514
Liberal hold Swing +0.1
General election 1895: Wisbech[3]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Charles Tyrrell Giles 4,368 51.3 +2.0
Liberal Arthur Brand 4,145 48.7 −2.0
Majority 223 2.6 N/A
Turnout 8,513 81.1 +8.9
Registered electors 10,495
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing +2.0

Elections in the 1900s

General election 1900: Wisbech[3]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Arthur Brand 4,007 51.0 +2.3
Conservative Charles Tyrrell Giles 3,846 49.0 −2.3
Majority 161 2.0 N/A
Turnout 7,853 76.7 −4.4
Registered electors 10,232
Liberal gain from Conservative Swing +2.3
Cecil Beck
Cecil Beck
General election 1906: Wisbech[3]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Cecil Beck 5,125 55.7 +4.7
Conservative T C Garfit 4,080 44.3 −4.7
Majority 1,045 11.4 +9.4
Turnout 9,205 83.4 +6.7
Registered electors 11,033
Liberal hold Swing +4.7

Elections in the 1910s

Neil Primrose
Neil Primrose
General election 1910 (January): Wisbech[3]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Neil Primrose 5,279 51.0 −4.7
Conservative T C Garfit 5,079 49.0 +4.7
Majority 200 2.0 −9.4
Turnout 10,358 88.4 +5.0
Liberal hold Swing −4.7
General election 1910 (December): Wisbech[3]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Neil Primrose 5,401 52.7 +1.7
Conservative Robert Cecil 4,857 47.3 −1.7
Majority 544 5.4 +3.4
Turnout 10,258 87.6 −0.8
Liberal hold Swing +1.7
Colin Coote
Colin Coote
1917 Wisbech by-election[3][8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Colin Coote Unopposed
Liberal hold


The constituency ceased to exist when the Representation of the People Act 1918 redefined constituencies throughout Great Britain and Ireland. The new constituencies followed the boundaries of the administrative counties and county districts created by the Local Government Acts of 1888 and 1894. The historic county of Cambridgeshire had been divided by the legislation into two administrative counties: Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely. Each of these, along with the Parliamentary Borough of Cambridge, became single-member constituencies.[2] The whole of the former Wisbech constituency was included in the new Isle of Ely seat, to which were added the City of Ely and surrounding district.[2]

See also


  1. ^ "England". Hansard 1803 - 2005. Parliament of the United Kingdom. 13 April 1885. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  2. ^ a b c Youngs, Frederic A, Jr. (1979). Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Vol.I: Southern England. London: Royal Historical Society. p. 716. ISBN 0-901050-67-9.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k F. W. S. Craig (1989), British Parliamentary Election Results, 1885-1918. Aldershot: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 228
  4. ^ By-election triggered by the resignation of Charles William Selwyn.
  5. ^ a b The Constitutional Year Book, 1904, published by Conservative Central Office, page 140 (164 in web page), Cambridgeshire
  6. ^ a b "The Wisbech Election: Of a Unionist candidate". Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer. 10 Jul 1891. p. 3. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  7. ^ By-election triggered by the appointment of Arthur Brand as Treasurer of the Household.
  8. ^ By-election triggered by the death of Neil Primrose.
This page was last edited on 8 January 2021, at 21:00
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