Frome (UK Parliament constituency)


Frome (UK Parliament constituency)

UK former constituency infobox
Name = Frome
Type = Borough
Year = 1832
Abolition = 1885
members = one

UK former constituency infobox
Name = Frome division of Somerset
Type = County
Year = 1885
Abolition = 1950
members = one

Frome was a constituency centred on the town of Frome in Somerset. It returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1832, until it was abolished for the 1950 general election. Between 1832 and 1885, it was a parliamentary borough; after 1885 it was a county constituency, a division of Somerset.

History

Frome was one of the boroughs created by the Great Reform Act of 1832, as the town was at that point one of the bigger towns in England which was not already represented, and its then-flourishing woollen manufacturing industry made it seem likely to grow further. The new borough consisted only of the town of Frome, and had a population (according to the 1831 census) of approximately 11,240. The registered electorate at the 1832 election was 322. Frome was near to Longleat, and the Marquess of Bath was influential in election outcomes throughout its life as a borough.

However, the town did not increase dramatically in size in the next few years, and the electorate was still only just over 400 by 1865, although the extension of the franchise at the 1868 election trebled this. By the time of the Third Reform Act, Frome was too small to continue as a constituency in itself and the borough was abolished with effect from the 1885 election.

The new county division into which the town was placed consisted of the whole north-eastern corner of Somerset, except for Bath, and was named after the town, as The Frome Division of Somerset. Nevertheless, Frome contributed only a minority of the voters in the constituency, which also included Weston, Radstock, Bathampton and Batheaston, to say nothing of the freeholders of Bath, who voted in this division under the arrangements that gave property owners in boroughs a vote in the adjoining county constituency; by the time of the First World War, the population was around 60,000. This constituency was a mixed one, with suburban voters at Weston and in the Bath suburbs, agricultural villages between Bath and Frome, growing mining interests round Radstock and some industry at Twerton. This made the constituency marginal between the Conservatives and Liberals, and the victor's majority was rarely more than a few hundred votes.

There were further boundary changes in 1918, when the number of constituencies in Somerset was reduced from nine to seven. Frome's boundaries were extended westwards to the fringes of Bristol, bringing in Midsomer Norton and the areas round Clutton, Chew Magna and Keynsham (previously in the Northern division): the revised constituency consisted of the urban districts of Frome, Midsomer Norton and Radstock, the Bath, Clutton and Keynsham rural districts and all but six parishes of Frome Rural District. This, too, was a marginal constituency, and except in 1923 was always won at general elections by the party which was successful nationally.

The Frome constituency was abolished in the boundary changes which came into effect at the 1950 election, Frome itself being transferred to the Wells division but most of the remainder of the constituency forming the bulk of the new Somerset North.

Members of Parliament

References

* "The Constitutional Year Book for 1913" (London: National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations, 1913)
*F W S Craig, "British Parliamentary Election Results 1832-1885" (2nd edition, Aldershot: Parliamentary Research Services, 1989)
* F W S Craig, "British Parliamentary Election Results 1918-1949" (Glasgow: Political Reference Publications, 1969)
* Henry Pelling, "Social Geography of British Elections 1885-1910" (London: Macmillan, 1967)
* J Holladay Philbin, "Parliamentary Representation 1832 - England and Wales" (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965)
* Frederic A Youngs, jr, "Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Vol I" (London: Royal Historical Society, 1979)
*Rayment


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