Cheshiremen! - A pro-reform election notice from the Enoch Wood scrapbook

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Date:6th of May 1831

Description:At election time, tiresome political 'spin' is nothing new. Even in 1831, election candidates accused each other of the same, urging attention to facts only:

Be on your guard - attend only to facts, Belgrave and Wilbraham voted for Reform! Their opponent, Lord Henry Cholmondeley, the Member for Castle-Rising, voted against it.

So despite the arguments, one clear issue divided these aspiring Cheshire MPs - Reform.

This was the biggest election issue in 1831, and promised to change the face of elections for ever.

Rotten Boroughs

At this time, Britain's politics were tainted by so-called 'rotten boroughs.' These were usually rural areas where very few voters lived, but which still returned their own MP to Westminster.

In contrast, fast-growing industrial areas like Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham and the Potteries had to share MPs with their surrounding counties, despite large populations.

Moves were underway to bring changes to the system, but many people were suspicious of the MPs that stood to lose their rotten boroughs.

In fact these men were usually rich landowners, who sometimes owned all of the land in their constituencies.

Lord Cholmondeley, MP for Castle Rising in Norfolk, was one. His own 'rotten borough' was a prime candidate to be abolished in 1832 - and that, in fact, is exactly what happened.

About this document

This document was collected by Burslem pottery manufacturer Enoch Wood and is now among the collections at Stoke-on-Trent Museums.


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