A) What additional changes had been made
by 1874, to the electoral system since the
1832 Reform Act?
The Great Reform Act 1832
1. County Seats
2 MPs for each Riding of Yorkshire.
26 other countries to have 2 MPs .
Isle of Wight to have 1 MP.
7 English Counties to gain a third MP.
3 Welsh counties to gain a second MP
2. Borough Seats
56 boroughs to lose both MPs.
31 boroughs to lose one MP.
22 new boroughs with one MP to be created.
3. Voters in Counties
£40 freeholders
£10 copyholders
£50 lease holders with lease of at least 20 years
£50 tenants, if occupiers
4. Voters in Boroughs
• Owners or occupiers of property worth £10 or more a
year in rent
5. Method of voting
• To be open, not secret
6. Registration of Voters
• Voters had to register by putting their names on the
electoral roll, and pay a fee of about half a days wage for
a factory worker.
7. Maximum length of a Parliament
• 7 years
Additional changes made by 1874:Second Reform Act 1867 and The Ballot Act 1872
Second Reform Act 1867
Vote was given to all householders who paid rates, provided they had
lived in their house for at least 1 year.
2. Counties
Vote given to all ratepayers (paying £12 a year), to copyholders and
leaseholders holding land valued at £5 a year.
3. Redistribution of Seats
Boroughs with >10,000 lost 1 MP which meant 45 seats were released.
25 were given to counties, 15 to boroughs without an MP, 1 was given to
the University of London, a 3rd member was given to Liverpool,
Manchester and Leeds.
In Scotland the franchise was brought into line with the English pattern, 7
seats were transferred from England.
In Irish boroughs the vote was given to £4 rate payers.
Effects of the Act
1. The electorate increased to 2.46 million.
2. New voters, mainly from the working class towns.
1. Agricultural workers and miners without the vote.
2. Voting still held in public, no privacy .
3. Small towns with over 100,000 had the same
amount of voters as those with a population of 2
4. Party organization became more important.
5. Education Act of 1870.
The Ballot Act 1872
Faced opposition, e.g. Russel said that secret ballot
voting could increase corruption through others
personating people.
Voters would secretly mark a printed ballot with a cross
and put it in a sealed box. Votes were then counted
in front of other agents.
The act reduced the pressures of voting.
But landowners could still tell who their tenants were
voting for.
B) What was the ‘Chandos Clause’ of the 1832
Reform Act, and what do you consider to be
its significance?
The Chandos Clause
• The Chandos Clause is the enfranchisement of the £50 tenant–at–will in the
• It received support from country gentry and agricultural interests but also from
the radicals.
• Most of the pocket boroughs were abolished by the Reform Act and most of
them belonged to the Tory Party.
• These were offset by extending the right to vote to tenants–at–will.
• It was adopted in the House of Commons despite opposition from the
•The tenants had to abide by the wishes of their landlords, who normally supported
the Tory Party.
•The Radicals thought that their failure was largely in terms of the Reform Act –
they complained that any radical proposal that reached the Lords was turned down
by the Tories.
•The Clause does not on the other hand explain the Radical’s loss of support in the
C) To what extent did attitudes to
the political franchise change
between 1832 and 1884?
“Reform that ye may preserve “
Pressure from
Gladstone and the
Earl Greys push for
the reform bill
through unwilling
Existence of radicals –
both moderate and
Working class to
dumb to get the
Tory Democracy?
John Bright
Radical pressure
principle or
Arlington house
To what extent did the attitudes change?
• Quite a large extent.
• In 1885 was Britain near to being a democracy?
• Principles or pragmatism?
• Principles or pressure?
• Radicals large role in changing peoples attitudes
• Once reform was begun ‘you could not find any
point to stop short of the absolute sovereignty of
the people’. – Disraeli
D) ‘All electoral reform in the 19th Century was
based on pressure from outside Parliament.’
How accurate is this assessment of the motives
behind political and electoral reform during this
Many electoral reforms took place in the 19th Century
However, these may not have all been a result of pressure
from outside
Many factors usually contribute to reform such as:
- Agitation amongst the public
- Changes in society
- Politicians genuinely wanted reform to improve the
We will now look at each of the Reform Acts and see in
turn the reasons
that led to them taking place.
1832 Reform Act
• Catholic Emancipation Act
• Swing Riots
• Increase of radical influence
• Decline of British economy and bad harvests
Other factors:
• Whigs wanting some reform
1867 Reform Act
• Radical demands
• Riots in Hyde Park – 1866
• Trade depression and cholera epidemic
• Disraeli feared revolution
Other factors:
• Principle:
- Tory Democracy
- One Nation Toryism
- Disraeli wanted to become the party of reform
- Win more support from the working class
- Dish the Whigs
Reform Acts of 1883, 1884 and 1885
• Radicals gaining more political support
• Avoid radical discontent
Other factors:
• Liberal politicians wanted these acts passed to avoid public anger
There is no definite factor which determines why electoral reform is passed.
Throughout the 19th Century on many occasions, the pressure from outside
parliament was a major factor in passing reform. However, it was not always
the main reason, and sometimes other factors contributed to the passing of the

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