Newton (UK Parliament constituency)

Newton (UK Parliament constituency)
Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
Outline map
Location of Lancashire within England.
County Lancashire
1559 (1559)1832 (1832)
Number of members Two
1885 (1885)1983 (1983)
Number of members One
Type of constituency County constituency
Replaced by Makerfield, Warrington North, St Helens North

Newton was a parliamentary borough in the county of Lancashire, in England. It was represented by two Members of Parliament in the House of Commons of the Parliament of England from 1559 to 1706 then of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 until its abolition in 1832.

In 1885 a county constituency with the same name was created and represented by one Member of Parliament. This seat was abolished in 1983.


Parliamentary borough

The borough consisted of the parish of Newton-le-Willows in the Makerfield district of South Lancashire. It was first enfranchised in 1558 (though the Parliament so summoned did not meet until the following year), and was a rotten borough from its inception: Newton was barely more than a village even at this stage, and so entirely dominated by the local landowner that its first return of members described it bluntly as "the borough of Sir Thomas Langton, knight, baron of Newton within his Fee of Markerfylde". By 1831, just before its abolition, the population of the borough had reached only 2,139, and contained 285 houses.

The right to vote was exercised by all freeholders of property in the borough valued at forty shillings or more, or by one representative of joint tenants of any such freeholds; Newton was the only borough where the forty-shilling freehold franchise (which applied in the counties) was the sole qualification to vote. In 1797, the borough's last contested election, 76 electors cast their votes; by 1831 it was estimated that the electorate had fallen to about 52. (As elsewhere, each elector had as many votes as there were seats to be filled and votes had to be cast by a spoken declaration, in public, at the hustings.)

In practice, however, the townsmen of Newton had no say in choosing their representatives: as the owners of the majority of the qualifying freeholds, the lords of the manor exercised total control. During most of the Elizabethan period, Langton seems to have allowed the Duchy of Lancaster to nominate many of the members, which may have been a quid pro quo for Newton's being enfranchised in the first place, but later patrons could regard its parliamentary seats as their personal property. Langton's heir sold the manor to the Fleetwood family in 1594, the sale explicitly including the right of "the nomination, election and appointment" of the two burgesses representing the borough in Parliament, one of the earliest recorded instances of the right to elect MPs being bought and sold. By the first half of the next century it had passed to the Leghs, who owned it for the rest of its existence.

By the time of the Great Reform Act of 1832, Newton was one of the most notorious of all England's pocket boroughs, mainly because the Legh control was more complete than that of the patrons in most other constituencies. It was one of the 56 boroughs to be totally disenfranchised by the Reform Act.

County constituency

The Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 created a new Newton constituency, as one of twenty-three divisions of the parliamentary county of Lancashire.

Boundaries 1885 - 1918

The constituency, officially designated as South-West Lancashire, Newton Division consisted of a number of townships and parishes around Newton le Willows namely:

The electorate also included the freeholders of the municipal boroughs of St Helens and Warrington who were entitled to vote in the county.[1]

Boundaries 1918 - 1950

The Representation of the People Act 1918 reorganised constituencies throughout the United Kingdom. Boundaries were adjusted and seats were defined in terms of the districts created by the Local Government Act 1894. According to the schedules of the Act, the Lancashire, Newton Division comprised:[2]

Boundaries 1950 - 1983

The Representation of the People Act 1948 redistributed parliamentary seats, with the constituencies first being used in the general election of 1950. The term "county constituency" was introduced in place of "division". Newton County Constituency was redefined as consisting of the following districts:[3]

  • Golborne Urban District
  • Haydock Urban District
  • Irlam Urban District
  • Newton-le-Willows Urban District
  • Warrington Rural District

The changes reflected the fact that Leigh Rural District had been abolished in 1933, Newton in Makerfield Urban district had been renamed Newton le Willows in 1939. Irlam was transferred from the neighbouring Stretford constituency.[4]

The boundaries were unchanged at the next redistribution of seats in 1970.[5] Although local government was reorganised in 1972, boundaries were unchanged until 1983.


The constituency was abolished by the Parliamentary Constituencies (England) Order 1983, which reorganised seats on the lines of the 1974 counties and districts. The bulk of the seat formed part of the new Makerfield County Constituency. Irlam was included in the Worsley County Constituency, while part of Golborne became part of Warrington North Borough Constituency. The town of Newton itself was incorporated into the St Helens North Borough Constituency.[6]

Members of Parliament

MPs 1559–1660

Parliament First member Second member
1559 (Jan) Sir George Howard Richard Chetwode [7]
1562/3 Francis Alford Ralph Browne [7]
1571 Anthony Mildmay Richard Stoneley [7]
1572 John Gresham John Savile [7]
1584 Robert Langton Edward Savage [7]
1586 (Oct) Robert Langton Edward Savage [7]
1588 (Oct) Edmund Trafford Robert Langton [7]
1593 Edmund Trafford Robert Langton [7]
1597 William Cope Geoffrey Osbaldestone [7]
1601 (Oct) Thomas Langton Richard Ashton [7]
1603/4 (Mar) Richard Ashton [8]
1610/11 (Feb) Sir John Luke Richard Ashton [8]
1614 William Ashton Roger Charnock [8]
1620/1 (Jan) Sir George Wright Richard Kippax [8]
1624 Thomas Charnock Edmund Breres [8]
1625 Miles Fleetwood Sir Henry Edmonds [8]
1626 Miles Fleetwood Sir Henry Edmonds [8]
1627/8 Sir Henry Holcroft Sir Francis Onslow [8]
1629–1640 No parliaments summoned
1640 (Apr) Sir Richard Wynn, 2nd Baronet, sat for Andover William Sherman
1640 (Nov) William Ashurst Peter Legh, died after duel
and repl. by
Sir Roger Palmer, disabled 1644
and repl. by
Peter Brooke
1645 William Ashurst Peter Brooke
1653–1658 Newton not represented in Barebones and First and Second Protectorate Parliaments
1659 William Brereton Peter Legh

MPs 1660–1832

Year First member First party Second member Second party
1660 Richard Legh William Banks
April 1661 John Vaughan
June 1661 Sir Philip Mainwaring
October 1661 The Lord Gorges of Dundalk
1679 Sir John Chicheley Andrew Fountaine
1685 Peter Legh
1689 Francis Cholmondeley
1690 George Cholmondeley
1691 John Bennet
1695 Legh Banks Thomas Brotherton
1698 Thomas Legh
1701 Thomas Legh, junior
July 1702 John Grubham Howe
December 1702 Thomas Legh
1703 John Ward
1713 Abraham Blackmore
1715 Sir Francis Leicester William Shippen
1727 Legh Master
1743 Peter Legh
1747 Sir Thomas Egerton
1754 Randle Wilbraham
1768 Anthony James Keck
1774 Robert Vernon Atherton Gwillym
1780 Thomas Peter Legh Thomas Davenport, KC [9]
1786 Thomas Brooke
September 1797 Thomas Langford Brooke [10]
December 1797 Peter Patten
1806 Colonel Peter Heron
1807 John Ireland Blackburne
1814 Thomas Legh
1818 Thomas Claughton
1825 Sir Robert Townsend-Farquhar
1826 Thomas Alcock
1830 Thomas Houldsworth
1832 Constituency abolished

MPs 1885–1983

Election Member Party
1885 constituency re-established with one MP
1885 Richard Assheton Cross Conservative
1886 by-election Thomas Wodehouse Legh Conservative
1899 by-election Richard Pilkington Conservative
1906 James Andrew Seddon Labour
1910 Roundell Cecil Palmer Conservative
1918 Robert Young Labour
1931 Reginald Clare Essenhigh Conservative
1935 Robert Young Labour
1950 Fred Lee Labour
Feb 1974 John Evans Labour
1983 constituency abolished


  1. ^ Seventh Schedule: Counties at Large: Number of Members and Names and Contents of Divisions, Redistribution of Seats Act 1885, (1885 c.23)
  2. ^ Ninth Schedule - Part II, Parliamentary Counties: England, excluding Monmouthshire, Representation of the People Act 1918 (1918 c.64)
  3. ^ First Schedule: Parliamentary Constituencies, Representation of The People Act 1948, (1948 c.65)
  4. ^ F A Youngs Jr., Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Vol.II: Northern England, London, 1991
  5. ^ The Parliamentary Constituencies (England) Order 1970 (S.I. 1970 No. 1674)
  6. ^ Parliamentary Constituencies (England) Order 1983 (S.I. 1983 No. 417)
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "History of Parliament". Retrieved 2011-09-26. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h "The Parliamentary representation of Lancashire". Retrieved 2011-09-25. 
  9. ^ Knighted, June 1783
  10. ^ On petition, Brooke's election was declared void and Patten was declared to have been duly elected


See also


  • Craig, F. W. S. (1983) [1969]. British parliamentary election results 1918-1949 (3rd edition ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. ISBN 0-900178-06-X. 
  • J E Neale, The Elizabethan House of Commons (London: Jonathan Cape, 1949)
  • J Holladay Philbin, Parliamentary Representation 1832 - England and Wales (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965)
  • Edward Porritt and Annie G Porritt, The Unreformed House of Commons (Cambridge University Press, 1903)
  • Frederic A Youngs, Jr, Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Vol II (London: Royal Historical Society, 1991)
  • Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "N" (part 2)

External links

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