Parliamentary representation and general elections in Cheltenham Spa between 1832 and 1848: A Study of a Pocket Borough.

Courtenay, Adrian Hugh (1991). Parliamentary representation and general elections in Cheltenham Spa between 1832 and 1848: A Study of a Pocket Borough. MPhil thesis The Open University.

Abstract

Cheltenham gained its first Parliamentary representation under the terms of the Great Reform Act of 1832 by which it was. deemed to be a schedule D borough with the right to send one M. P. to Parliament. Foremost in the campaign to have Cheltenham represented was Lord Segrave of Berkeley Castle, already social patron of the town and now hoping to be its political master. Lord Segrave was successful in his attempt and for a number of years Cheltenham was represented by a member of the Berkeley family, whilst contemporaries bemoaned its status as a nominated or pocket borough.
That status, however, was soon to be challenged. First, and somewhat unexpectedly, by discontented liberal. Radical and Chartist elements within the town supported by the outspoken Cheltenham Free Press: second by the recovery and emergence of a well-organised and powerful Tory group backed by the spiritual teachings of the town's evangelical rector, the Reverend Francis Close.
This thesis traces the means by which Cheltenham sought representation under the terms of the 1832 Reform Act and how borough politics operated there for the next twenty years. This period also saw a major transition in Cheltenham's parliamentary credibility from that of pocket borough to one which was thought worthy of being contested by Tories and Liberal alike. As such, although primarily a local study, this thesis relates more generally to the twin themes of the decline of aristocratic influence in nineteenth century politics and the rise of more 'professional' party organisation.
The study of Cheltenham's general elections over the period 1832-48 traces the decline of personal influence through patronage and bribery and sees it replaced by the influence of party management, through the work of the party agents in the registration and organisation of voters and a powerful supporting role of various press lobbies.

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