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September 29 1812: British Parliament Dissolved


On September 29, 1812, the fourth United Kingdom Parliament was dissolved.  In 1812, the practice of having one election day had not yet developed. In fact, there were many election days as set by the local returning officers. The elections ran from October 5 to November 6. The new Parliament will meet on November 24, 1812. Voting could also take place over a number of days. For example, the voting for the constituency of Berkshire took place over fifteen days. It is also important to recall that the franchise was severely restricted. The Berkshire constituency had only 1,992 electors others had fewer. The results of the 1812 elections are summarized by the excellent History of Parliament site as follows:
The general election of 1812 ran from 5 Oct. to 6 Nov. Ninety-six constituencies (25 per cent) were contested. The issue of Catholic relief ensured that there was more  excitement in Ireland than elsewhere. The most spectacular contest was at Liverpool, where, after an intensive campaign of speechifying on Catholic relief, parliamentary reform and the prospect of war with the USA, the Tories George Canning and Isaac Gascoyne defeated the Whig pair of Henry Brougham and Thomas Creevey. Other prominent Whigs, including Francis Horner, William Lamb, Sir Samuel Romilly, Richard Sheridan and George Tierney, either failed to find a seat or were defeated. Of the 658 men returned, 119 (18 per cent) had no previous parliamentary experience. A further 120 novices came in during the life of the Parliament.  The government gained some 30 seats, which produced, in crude terms, a House made up of 419 supporters of government and 239 in opposition.



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