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1867 Reform Act Essay Scoring

Presentation on theme: "Why was the Reform Act of 1867 passed?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Why was the Reform Act of 1867 passed?
What were the factors favouring reform in the 1850s?What was the impact of high and low politics?What were the terms of 1859 Bill and the factors for reform in 1860s?Was democracy inevitable?What were the terms of the 1866 Bill and why did the Bill fail?Why was the 1867 Bill passed; was it because of high or low politics?What were the terms of the Bill?1867 Power PointReform Unions pages 40-41Chapter 4 (pages 201+) Extension of the FranchiseChapter 2:2Chapter 4 section 3 Government and Reform: BritainChapter called “Continuity with the past” pages 206-7Cartoon from Punch showing D & G in a raceChapter called “A Leap in the Dark” and Cartoon called “A Leap in the Dark”Pages on Reform UnionsPages from Britain bookChapter called “Parliamentary Reform after 1832”Chapter 4”The significance of parliamentary reform …”End of topicWhy was 1867 Reform Act passed?

2 What were the factors favouring reform in the 1850s?
Learning Objectives:To understand why the attitude of politicians to reform changed.To learn about the attempts to bring in a Reform Bill

3 Cartoons Cartoons are used a lot at AS and A2.
Look at the cartoon and work out what it is about.Notice who the main characters are; what model of change do you think it portrays?What do you think this tells us about why a Reform Act was passed in 1867?

4 Dizzy wins Cartoon was published on 25th May 1867.
The Liberals won the General Election of 1868.The Conservatives won the General Election of 1874.The Liberals won in 1880

5 The 1850`s Use Chapter 4 pages 49 -51 to work together on this task.
Take a section each to investigate.When your section is complete share it with the rest of the group.

6 Why was Parliament reform acceptable in the 1850s?
The Chartists had failed, Britain had not experienced a revolution in 1848 so to widen the franchise would be safe. Population was growing – the skilled working classes were becoming more prosperous, so the electorate had naturally increased from 700,000 to nearly 174 million in 1866 (based on £10 householder franchise in boroughs). If the working class were prevented from voting they might be driven towards the radicals. The party that introduced reform might gain an electoral advantage.The Conservatives might be attracted by the need to win a General Election and stay in power.Some working classes seen as respectable because they were not revolutionary, they had benefitted from an economic boom from They increasingly wanted to accept the norms of society and not rebel against them. Many were becoming literate. They joined Trade Unions but these were also now respectable and started to have influence. They were patriotic, religious and loyal to the monarchy. They were sober, sensible and thrifty.The Residuum were the unskilled, lower working classes, they did not share in this prosperity and were not seen as fit for the privilege of voting.

7 Key TermsWhat do these mean?FranchiseLiterateThriftyResiduum

8 Key Terms What do these mean?
Franchise – the right to vote officially granted to a person by the Gov.Literate – able to read and write. The economic boom had given more working classes advantages in education.Thrifty - Using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully.Residuum – unskilled working classes that would not be included in the extension of the franchise

9 Find out about the Bill introduced in 1859:-
Why was it introduced ?What were the terms of the Bill ?Why did it fail ?Thenuse pages to find out what factors influenced reform in the 1860`s. Make a list !

10 Why did reform come back on the agenda in 1860’s and why was the reform bill rejected?
Learning Objectives:To consolidate understanding of the reform bill of 1859To understood why Gladstone introduced a bill in 1866 and why it failed

11 Homework Feedback 1859 Bill
Why was it introduced ?What were the terms of the Bill ?Why did it fail ?What factors influenced reform in the 1860`s:

12 1859 Bill Why was it introduced ? What were the terms of the Bill ?
The idea of looking at reform from the idea of party advantage had now begun. Disraeli however felt that the Whigs had constructed a bill which suited them in 1832 and that the Conservatives were now entitled to do the same.What were the terms of the Bill ?£10 borough franchise extended to counties, extension of borough boundaries to include more rural voters, £20 lodger vote, a second vote to those earning £10+ a year from investments or had £60 savings (fancy franchise).Why did it fail ?Russell proposed a resolution (expression of opinion in HofC which does not have full weight of law) calling for an extension to the borough votes and it passed – this would benefit the Liberals and Derby resigned in protest meaning the Liberals formed a minority gov.What factors influenced reform in the 1860`s:advances of the skilled, urban working classGladstone’s personal support for reformImpact from abroad – American Civil War and visit from GaribaldiRole of trade unions and economic problems

13 Key Terms Labour Aristocracy Residuum Franchise Boroughs
Fancy FranchiseRedistributionVenalityAdullamitesProletariat

14 Key Terms Labour Aristocracy
Position of authority within the working classesResiduumThe unskilled and untrustworthy working classesFranchiseThe right to vote granted by the governmentBoroughsA town or district that has an administrative unitFancy Franchiseoriginating from measures of 1854, a £10 lodger qualification for the boroughs, and a £60 savings qualification in the counties.RedistributionReducing inequalities in wealth or advantagesVenalityBeing open to bribery. Using a position for personal gainAdullamitesanti-reform faction within the UK Liberal Party in 1866.ProletariatCollective workers or working class

15 Can you explain these reasons for reform in more detail?
Disraeli wanted to score points off GladstoneThe Conservatives needed to pass reform if they were ever going to stay in powerDisraeli wanted to pacify the Radicals

16 The 1866 Bill Using the chapter: “A Leap in the dark”
What did Gladstone aim to do?How did he aim to do it?Why did he not succeed?

17 The 1866 Bill What did Gladstone aim to do? How did he aim to do it?
Why did he not succeed?To siphon off the respectable working classesTo leave the residuum behindTo settle on a franchise that would be high enough to keep out the residuum (£7 annual rent)Reduce County franchise from £50 to £14 (but these would be middle class – so safe !)30 Whigs rebelled, encouraged by Disraeli; their leading spokesman, Robert Lowe feared democracy and thought Gladstone had gone too far ! (Adullamites)Others thought Gladstone was too arrogant and too radical.

18 Opportunities for Derby and Disraeli
Who was the Prime Minister?Why was Disraeli in charge?What 3 things persuaded D & D to go for reform ?

19 “A Leap in the dark” Can you understand it?

20 Why did Disraeli pass the 1867 Act?
Learning Objectives:To understand the Reform Bill of 1867To understand why Disraeli introduced the 1867 Act – focussing on high/low politics

21 Look carefully at the images
Can you identify them all?Can you give any details about the characters?

22 The ProposalsUse the 2 chapters (pages in Chapter 4) A Leap in the Dark (pages 343 – 344)Find out:-What the original proposals from Disraeli were? Page 57/343-4What the final terms of the Act were? Page 58/343-4Why did it change? Page 58/345-6What difference did it make? Impact? Page 59-65/346+

23 The number of new voters would be 400,000
Original ProposalsTo give the vote to all male householders in the boroughs. (This would enfranchise the skilled working classes in the towns)They had to pay rates personally (so not pay it as part of their rent)They had to have 2 year residence qualification (so miss out workmen who travelled a lot)Fancy Franchises, giving votes to those who had £50 in the bank.The number of new voters would be 400,000

24 Number of new voters – about 1,100,000
Final TermsOnly 1 year residence qualification neededAs well as a householder franchise, a £10 lodger franchise.Vote given to Compound Householders (those who paid rates & rent to a landlord)No Fancy FranchisesNumber of new voters – about 1,100,000

25 Number of new voters – about 1,100,000
Why Change?Disraeli accepted amendments from Radicals & Liberals (but not from Gladstone !) – gain party advantageTo stop reform agitationThey had a minority government so needed support from the Liberals in order to get the Bill through ParliamentNumber of new voters – about 1,100,000

26 What difference did it make? Impact?
The old corrupt system took a severe blow (there were further reforms)Party Organisation improvedThe two party system – Liberals and Conservatives were now two clearly established groups and this ended the confusion of politics in 1850s and 60s.

27 Disraeli`s motives Use the sheet called Activity2.1
Find evidence for tactics that he used to get the bill passed?What evidence is there for the High Politics model?Is there any evidence for the Low Politics model?Is there any evidence that Disraeli did not plan his strategy but was just an opportunist?

28 High or Low Politics ? Read pages 345-346 in A Leap in the Dark.
What side does this chapter come down on – High or Low Politics ?

29 Why did Parliamentary reform become an issue?
Using the A3 complete single bubble showing the causes of reform in 1867Why did Parliamentary reform become an issue?

30 Homework Feedback Pressure Groups for Reform
Look at the 2 organisations – The Reform League and the Reform UnionWhat are the differences between them?Reform LeagueReform Union

31 Homework Feedback Pressure Groups
Reform LeagueReform UnionStarted 1865Radical, working classSupported by left-wing organisationsWanted votes for every resident man, but not the poor, tramps or womenMore membersStarted 1864Liberal, middle-classBased in industrial townsWanted co-operation between middle & working classesHoped Liberal Party would benefit from an extension to the franchiseWanted secret ballot as well as even distribution of seatsMore money

32 Read pages and find evidence of High and Low Politics models for this Act. Read pages and find evidence of High / Low politics

33 Why did Disraeli pass the 1867 Act?
Learning Objectives:To consolidate understanding of why 1867 was passed, focussing on high or low politicsTo practice interpretations of cartoonsArtisanDemagogueLabour AristocracyBoroughCountyDisenfranchiseConstituencyTory DemocracyElectorate

34 Redistribution What does this mean?
Write your own answer explaining what this was.Look at page 348 in A Leap in the Dark; read it carefully. Why did Derby and Disraeli think it was a “safety net”?High or Low politics?RedistributionSafety NetIt allowed them to extend the franchise whilst ensuring the mass of voters were in the counties and Conservative voters. Of the 52 seats reallocated 25 went to counties.High or Low?High – party advantage

35 High Politics?

36 Cartoons Read extract A
What are the 3 main interpretations of events around 1867 ?Look at Extract B; label all the people and explain the cartoonDo the same for extract C

37 High /Low PoliticsUse the printed sheet to identify which points are High or Low politics; if they are neither, label them as “other”Decide which model you are going with for the passing of 1867

38 1867 Can you explain the motives for the Bill and the content of it?
Do you think it was passed because of High or Low politics?

39 To summarise our learning on 1867
Complete the fishbone diagram to show causes of 1867.Remember to start with any causes you can think of.Use the extra 2 chapters to help if you want extra informationThen categorise those causes into 4 groups.Display those on the fishbone

40 Key skill: classification of causes
Cause category ACause category B1867 Reform ActCause category CCause category DCause 1Cause 1Cause 2Cause 2Cause 2Cause 2Cause 1Cause 1Key skill: classification of causes

41 Working classes deserved it
Low PoliticsHigh Politics1867 Reform ActSocial /economic factorsInevitabilityPolitical advantageReform UnioncompetitionReform LeagueDemocracy was comingCholera epidemicWorking classes deserved itKey skill: classification of causes

42 How did the 1867 Act affect the development of political parties?
Learning Objectives:To learn how the 1867 Act affected the Liberal and Conservative partiesTo make a judgement as to which party gained most


44 Party Politics 1868 – Liberals win (large majority)
1874 – Conservatives win1880 – Liberals win (large majority)Can you remember what we said about the pattern of elections?What is significant?The electorate have the final say.1868 – Disraeli resigned – showed electorate had the final say!1880 – 84% of seats contested – much higher than previously1880 – First national election campaign (Gladstone very significant)1880 – electorate given a clear choice – parties now put forward clear manifesto’s

45 Party Organisation Central Office set up by Conservatives in 1870
Demands on MP’s increasedParty discipline became tighterLonger Parliamentary sessions – more pressure to attend debates1867 – National Union of Conservative Constituency Association – recognition that success in boroughs would mean efficiency at constituency level.Needed propaganda and persuasionNeeded to make sure known supporters were registered as voters – difficult as franchise qualification was more open to challengeParty agents were very importantNeeded to project their policies – used speakers like Bright and Gladstone to do thisDisraeli issued a manifesto and Gladstone made promises on taxesBeginning of the 2 party system with clear personalities, end to confusion over Whig/LiberalElectorate were asked to consider party policies when casting votesLiberal registration Association set up 1860 drew up lists of candidates.

46 Party Organisation How does registration affect organisation?
Party agents had to ensure that their voters were placed on the registerSo how did parties know who their voters were?

47 Party OrganisationVoters had to be persuaded to vote for a particular party by :-Reforms that appealed to the working classes, such as better housing, public health, trade unions.Use of propaganda / speeches around the countryUsing Party Agents to help a candidate win an electionIssuing a manifesto which made promises

48 TermsLiberal CaucusChamberlain`s strategy to counter the use of 2 votes for 3 members.Liberal voters were told which 2 candidates to vote for – so Conservatives were squeezed outSome boroughs had 3 MPs; so voters there had 2 votes. They could vote for 1 candidate using 2 votes, or 2 candidates using 1 vote each.Class-consciousnessAwareness of one`s own identity and class.How does this affect the way you might vote?TemperanceTo give up alcohol- especially working menWhy did they want to do this ?

49 Gaining support – who wins ?
LiberalsConservativesLocal constituency organisations & clubsPolitical education of membersNational Liberal Federation set up 1877; 50 Liberal Associations in different boroughs were affiliatedUse of CaucusLabour Representation League set up to gain more influence within Liberal Party by Trade UnionsNational Union of Conservative Associations set up in 1869 (John Gorst)Annual Conferences heldDisraeli used Conferences to make policy speeches1870 Central Office set up

50 Support for Conservatives
Can you explain each of these?DeferencePatriotismDislike of foreignersLiberal WeaknessesNational Party

51 Support for Conservatives
Can you explain each of these?Deference – respect for ‘social superiors’ this motivated men to vote for the party most clearly associated with aristocracyPatriotism – identification of Conservative party with defence of national interests (Gladstone’s moralistic approach meant Conservatives claimed to protect the Empire) Conservatives were seen as guardians of national interestsDislike of foreigners – in general, and in particular the Irish, meant prejudices could be played upon in election campaigns and hostility to immigrants, especially in working class areas, meant Gladstone’s proposals for Irish Home Rule, Jewish Immigrants all aroused suspicions.Liberal Weaknesses – Conservatives adopted a strategy of waiting for Liberals to run into difficulties over their own reforming efforts. They tried to appeal so widely that they were bound to let people down.National Party – Disraeli’s ministry introduced new social reforms, he now needed to attract urban working class – “One-Nation Toryism” was a slogan and rallying cry to avoid class warfare.

52 Middle Classes By 1874 starting to support Conservatives
They were worried that the Liberals were becoming too liberal.They wanted to stop the advance of the working classesThey became wealthy and so identified more with landed classes

53 The development of parties
Chapter 2.2 argues that there were 7 main functions of the 2 political parties.Read your own allocated function and summarise it. (3 & 4 are done together and 1 and 2 are done together, & 6 and 7 are done together)Display it on your bubble mapExplain it to the rest of the group.Decide which party had the biggest impact after 1867 and which function is most important

54 7 functions of political parties
Registering Voters – it was one thing to have the right to vote but quite another to exercise it as it was now a highly complex system. Elections could be won or lost depending on whether voters were registered.Spreading the message – needed to find new ways of communicating with their electorate. On a local level leaflets and canvassing was used, on a national level the press and tours. Needed to gain support for election campaignsSelecting candidates – function of LOCAL party to find candidates for Parliament, Poor Law Guardians and, after 1870, Education Boards. Local parties were often left to their own devices in later 19th Century.

The Representation of the People Act 1867, 30 & 31 Vict. c. 102 (known informally as the Reform Act of 1867 or the Second Reform Act) was a piece of British legislation that enfranchised part of the urban male working class in England and Wales for the first time.

Before the Act, only one million of the seven million adult males in England and Wales could vote; the Act immediately doubled that number. Moreover, by the end of 1868 all male heads of household were enfranchised as a result of the end of compounding of rents. However, the Act introduced only a negligible redistribution of seats. The overall intent was to help the Conservative Party, yet it resulted in their loss of the 1868 general election.


For the decades after the Great Reform Act of 1832, cabinets (in that era leading from both Houses) had resisted attempts to push through further reform, and in particular left unfulfilled the six demands of the Chartist movement. After 1848, this movement declined rapidly,[1] and elite opinion began to change[citation needed]. It was thus only 28 years after the initial, quite modest, Great Reform Act that leading politicians thought it prudent to introduce further electoral reform. Lord John Russell, who in 1861 became the first Earl Russell, attempted this in 1860; but the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, a fellow Liberal, was against any further electoral reform. When Palmerston died in 1865, however, the floodgates for reform were opened.

The Union victory in the American Civil War in 1865 emboldened the forces in Britain that demanded more democracy and public input into the political system, to the dismay of the upper class landed gentry who identified with the US Southern States planters and feared the loss of influence and a popular radical movement. Influential commentators included Walter Bagehot, Thomas Carlyle, Anthony Trollope, Karl Marx and John Stuart Mill.[2]

In 1866, the Prime Minister, Lord Russell, introduced a Reform Bill. It was a cautious bill, which proposed to enfranchise "respectable" working men, excluding unskilled workers and what was known as the "residuum", those seen by MPs as the "feckless and criminal" poor. This was ensured by a £7 householder qualification,[clarification needed] which had been calculated to require an income of 26 shillings a week [n 1]. This entailed two "fancy franchises," emulating measures of 1854, a £10 lodger qualification for the boroughs, and a £50 savings qualification in the counties. Liberals claimed that 'the middle classes, strengthened by the best of the artisans, would still have the preponderance of power'.[citation needed]

When it came to the vote, however, this bill split the Liberal Party: a split partly engineered by Benjamin Disraeli, who incited those threatened by the bill to rise up against it. On one side were the reactionary conservative Liberals, known as the Adullamites; on the other were pro-reform Liberals who supported the Government. The Adullamites were supported by Tories and the liberal Whigs were supported by radicals and reformists.

The bill was thus defeated and the Liberal government of Russell resigned.

Birth of the Act[edit]

The Conservatives formed a ministry on 26 June 1866, led by Lord Derby as Prime Minister and Disraeli as Chancellor of the Exchequer. They were faced with the challenge of reviving Conservatism: Palmerston, the powerful Liberal leader, was dead and the Liberal Party split and defeated. Thanks to manoeuvring by Disraeli, Derby's Conservatives saw an opportunity to be a strong, viable party of government; however, there was still a Liberal majority in the House of Commons.

The Adullamites, led by Robert Lowe, had already been working closely with the Conservative Party. The Adullamites were anti-reform, as were the Conservatives, but the Adullamites declined the invitation to enter into Government with the Conservatives as they thought that they could have more influence from an independent position. Despite the fact that he had blocked the Liberal Reform Bill, in February 1867, Disraeli introduced his own Reform Bill into the House of Commons.

By this time the attitude of many in the country had ceased to be apathetic regarding reform of the House of Commons. Huge meetings, especially the ‘Hyde Park riots', and the feeling that many of the skilled working class were respectable, had persuaded many that there should be a Reform Bill. However, wealthy Conservative MP Lord Cranborne[n 2] resigned his government ministry in disgust at the bill's introduction.

The Reform League, agitating for universal suffrage, became much more active, and organized demonstrations of hundreds of thousands of people in Manchester, Glasgow, and other towns. Though these movements did not normally use revolutionary language as some Chartists had in the 1840s, they were powerful movements. The high point came when a demonstration in May 1867 in Hyde Park was banned by the government. Thousands of troops and policemen were prepared, but the crowds were so huge that the government did not dare to attack. The Home Secretary, Spencer Walpole, was forced to resign.

Faced with the possibility of popular revolt going much further, the government rapidly included into the bill amendments which enfranchised far more people. Consequently, the bill was more far-reaching than any Members of Parliament had thought possible or really wanted; Disraeli appeared to accept most reform proposals, so long as they did not come from William Ewart Gladstone. An amendment tabled by the opposition (but not by Gladstone himself) trebled the new number entitled to vote under the bill; yet Disraeli simply accepted it. The bill enfranchised most men who lived in urban areas. The final proposals were as follows: a borough franchise for all who paid rates in person (that is, not compounders), and extra votes for graduates, professionals and those with over £50 savings. These last "fancy franchises" were seen by Conservatives as a weapon against a mass electorate.

However, Gladstone attacked the bill; a series of sparkling parliamentary debates with Disraeli resulted in the bill becoming much more radical. Ironically, having been given his chance by the belief that Gladstone's bill had gone too far in 1866, Disraeli had now gone further.

Disraeli was able to persuade his party to vote for the bill on the basis that the newly enfranchised electorate would be grateful, and would vote Conservative at the next election. Despite this prediction, in 1868 the Conservatives lost the first general election in which the newly enfranchised electors voted.

The bill ultimately aided the rise of the radical wing of the Liberal Party, and helped Gladstone to victory. The Act was tidied up with many further Acts to alter electoral boundaries.

Provisions of the Act[edit]

Reduced representation[edit]

Disenfranchised boroughs[edit]

Four electoral boroughs were completely disenfranchised by the Act, for corruption:

Seven English boroughs were disenfranchised by the Representation of the People (Scotland) Act 1868 the subsequent year:

Three of these (Honiton, Thetford, Wells) had two MPs, but had been due to have their representation halved under the terms of the 1867 Act. However, the 1868 Act disenfranchised them altogether before the reduction in representation took effect. The other four boroughs had had one MP since 1832.

Halved representation[edit]

The following boroughs were reduced from electing two MPs to one:

  • Andover, Hampshire
  • Bodmin, Cornwall
  • Bridgnorth, Shropshire
  • Bridport, Dorset
  • Buckingham, Buckinghamshire
  • Chichester, Sussex
  • Chippenham, Wiltshire
  • Cirencester, Gloucestershire
  • Cockermouth, Cumberland
  • Devizes, Wiltshire
  • Dorchester, Dorset
  • Evesham, Worcestershire
  • Guildford, Surrey
  • Harwich, Essex
  • Hertford, Hertfordshire
  • Huntingdon, Huntingdonshire
  • Knaresborough, West Riding of Yorkshire
  • Leominster, Herefordshire
  • Lewes, Sussex
  • Lichfield, Staffordshire
  • Ludlow, Shropshire
  • Lymington, Hampshire
  • Maldon, Essex
  • Marlow, Buckinghamshire
  • Malton, North Riding of Yorkshire
  • Marlborough, Wiltshire
  • Newport, Isle of Wight
  • Poole, Dorset
  • Richmond, North Riding of Yorkshire
  • Ripon, West Riding of Yorkshire
  • Stamford, Lincolnshire
  • Tavistock, Devon
  • Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire
  • Windsor, Berkshire
  • Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

Three further boroughs (Honiton, Thetford, Wells) were also due to have their representation halved under the 1867 Act, but before this reduction took effect they were disenfranchised altogether by the 1868 Scottish Reform Act as noted above.


The Act created a number of new boroughs in Parliament. The following boroughs were enfranchised with one MP:

  • Burnley, Lancashire
  • Darlington, County Durham
  • Dewsbury, West Riding of Yorkshire
  • Gravesend, Kent
  • Hartlepool, County Durham
  • Middlesbrough, North Riding of Yorkshire
  • Stalybridge, Cheshire
  • Stockton, County Durham
  • Wednesbury, Staffordshire

The following boroughs were enfranchised with two MPs:

In addition, the Act adjusted the representation of several existing boroughs. Salford and Merthyr Tydfil were given two MPs instead of one. Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester now had three MPs instead of two.

Other changes[edit]

  • The West Riding of Yorkshire divided into three districts each returning two MPs.
  • Cheshire, Derbyshire, Devonshire, Essex, Kent, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Somerset, Staffordshire and Surrey divided into three districts instead of two, each returning two MPs.
  • Lancashire divided into four two-member districts instead of a three-member district and a two-member district.
  • University of London was given one seat.
  • Parliament was allowed to continue sitting through a Demise of the Crown.
  • MPs exempted from having to seek re-election upon changing offices.

Reforms in Scotland and Ireland[edit]

The reforms for Scotland and Ireland were carried out by two subsequent acts, the Representation of the People (Ireland) Act 1868 and the Representation of the People (Scotland) Act 1868.

In Scotland, five existing constituencies gained members, and three new constituencies were formed. Two existing county constituencies were merged into one, giving an overall increase of seven members; this was offset by seven English boroughs (listed above) being disenfranchised, leaving the House with the same number of members.

The representation of Ireland remained unchanged.


Direct effects of the Act[edit]

The unprecedented extension of the franchise to all householders effectively gave the vote to many working class men, quite a considerable change. Jonathan Parry described this as a 'borough franchise revolution';[3] the traditional position of the landed gentry in parliament would no longer be assured by money, bribery and favours; but by the whims and wishes of the public. However, to blindly consider the de jure franchise extensions would be fallacious. The franchise provisions were flawed; the act did not address the issues of compounding and of not being a ratepayer in a household. The compounding of rates and rents was made illegal, after it was abolished in a bill tabled by Liberal Grosvenor Hodgkinson (this meant that all tenants would have to pay rates directly and thus qualify for the vote). The preparation of the register was still left to easily manipulated party organisers who could remove opponents and add supporters at will. The sole qualification to vote was essentially being on the register itself.

Unintended effects[edit]

  • Increased amounts of party spending and political organisation at both a local and national level—politicians had to account themselves to the increased electorate, which without secret ballots meant an increased number of voters to treat or bribe.
  • The redistribution of seats actually served to make the House of Commons increasingly dominated by the upper classes. Only they could afford to pay the huge campaigning costs and the abolition of certain rotten boroughs removed some of the middle-class international merchants who had been able to obtain seats.[2]

The Reform Act in fiction[edit]

Trollope'sPhineas Finn is concerned almost exclusively with the parliamentary progress of the Second Reform Act, and Finn sits for one of the seven fictional boroughs that are due to be disenfranchised.

See also[edit]


  1. ^£113 per week or £491 per month in present terms based on CPI inflation
  2. ^Later Cranborne became Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury
  1. ^ed. Christopher John Murray, "Encyclopedia of the Romantic Era, 1760-1850: A-K", Fitzroy Dearborn Pub. (2004), p 115.
  2. ^ abBrent E. Kinser, The American Civil War in the Shaping of British Democracy (Ashgate, 2011)
  3. ^J. Parry, The Rise and Fall of Liberal Government in Victorian Britain, pg 221, (1993)


  • Foot, Paul "The Vote: how it was won and how it was undermined" Viking Press London 2005
  • Scott-Baumann, British History 1815-1914
  • Smith, The Making of the Second Reform Bill
  • McCord, British History 1815-1906
  • Blake, The Conservative Party from Peel to Major.
  • Cook, British Historical Facts 1830-1900

Electoral reform in the United Kingdom

Reform Acts
Representation of
the People Acts
Other related Acts
Related topics
A Punch cartoon from August 1867 portraying the bill as a leap in the dark