Derbyshire (UK Parliament constituency)

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Former County constituency
for the House of Commons
Number of members two
Replaced by North Derbyshire and South Derbyshire

Derbyshire is a former United Kingdom Parliamentary constituency. It was a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of England then of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1832. It was represented by two Knights of the Shire.


Boundaries and franchise

The constituency, which first returned members to Parliament in 1290, consisted of the historic county of Derbyshire. (This included the borough of Derby; even though Derby elected two MPs in its own right, it was not excluded from the county constituency, and owning property within the borough could confer a vote at the county election.)

In medieval times, the MPs would have been elected at the county court, by the suitors to the court, which meant the tiny handful of the local nobility who were tenants in chief of the Crown. However, from 1430, the Forty Shilling Freeholder Act extended the right to vote to every man who possessed freehold property within the county valued at £2 or more per year for the purposes of land tax; it was not necessary for the freeholder to occupy his land, nor even in later years to be resident in the county at all.

Except briefly during the period of the Commonwealth, Derbyshire had two MPs elected by the bloc vote method, under which each voter had two votes. (In the First and Second Parliaments of Oliver Cromwell's Protectorate, there was a general redistribution of seats and Derbyshire elected four members; the traditional arrangements were restored from 1659.)


From Elizabethan times, elections in Derbyshire were dominated by the Cavendish family at Chatsworth, later Dukes of Devonshire. This influence was originally established by the formidable Bess of Hardwick, whose second husband was a Cavendish and who in 1572 manoeuvred to secure her son from that marriage a seat as MP for the county - a considerable honour for a young man from what was then a family of only minor importance. She had meanwhile married the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, and her stepson, the future 7th Earl, was elected to the second seat for the county at the same time, despite being two-and-a-half years too young to take his seat. From this point onwards until the Reform Act, one of the two MPs was almost invariably a Cavendish or a Cavendish nominee, although the other seat was generally left to the other leading families of the county; the continuance of this dominance was all the more remarkable because Derbyshire did not have a rash of boroughs where the local gentry could find a seat when unable to secure election for Derbyshire - indeed, in the one borough that there was, Derby, the Dukes of Devonshire kept as tight hold on one of the two seats as they did in the county.

As in most counties of any size, contested elections were avoided whenever possible because of the expense. Elections were held at a single polling place, Derby, and voters from the rest of the county had to travel to the county town to exercise their franchise; candidates were expected to meet the expenses of their supporters in travelling to the poll and to entertain them lavishly with food and drink when they got there. There were only four general elections between 1700 and 1832 when Derbyshire's seats were contested: on every other occasion the various competing interests in the county managed to reach agreement on who should represent the county without taking the matter to a poll.

In the pre-industrial era, Derbyshire was a flourishing agricultural county, but it was one of the English counties most dramatically affected by industrialisation in the 18th and early 19th centuries, becoming noted in particular for the manufacture of heavy machinery and (during the Napoleonic Wars) of armaments. Its population grew swiftly (having reached 237,170 by 1831); but the electorate has been estimated at only 3,000 or 4,000 in the second half of the 18th century, and was probably not much higher by the time of the Reform Act. The Dukes of Devonshire were able to maintain much of their traditional influence, Cavendish members occupying one of the two seats as a Whig MP; but the county itself was predominantly Tory, and usually ensured that the other MP was returned in that interest.

Few of the industrial workers, of course, had the vote since they were not property owners, and in the early 19th century political unrest was common - most notably the "Pentrich Revolution" or "Derbyshire Rising" of 1817. Derbyshire soon became one of the most vocal centres of agitation for Parliamentary reform, and by 1830 this sentiment had spread to the voters as well. At the 1831 election their sitting Tory MP was summarily swept out of his seat for supporting a destructive amendment to the Reform Bill.

But the Duke of Devonshire, a supporter of Reform even though it entailed the loss of his own pocket boroughs around the country, was able to retain the voters' support, telling a county meeting in 1832:

The members of the aristocracy have sometimes been considered in an unfavourable light by the people. For much of this they are indebted to the manner in which the present constitution of Parliament has enabled them to interfere and dictate in the representation... Let them stand on their own merits; and I have no fear that the people of England will be unjust to the aristocracy of England, united by mutual kind feelings and good offices, and not by close boroughs and mock representation.

- Speech recorded in the Duke of Devonshire's diary, quoted in Brock

This seems to have sufficiently satisfied the Derbyshire voters that they allowed the Dukes to continue to "interfere and dictate in the representation" to the extent that they continued electing Cavendishes (in the Northern division after the county was divided by the Reform Act) well into the 20th century.


The constituency was abolished in 1832 by the Great Reform Act, which divided the county into two new two-member divisions, Northern Derbyshire and Southern Derbyshire.

Members of Parliament


  • Constituency created (1290)
Parliament First member Second member
1295 Henry de Kniveton Giles de Meynell
1297 Robert Dethick Thomas Foljambe
1298 Henry de Brailsford Henry FitzHerbert
1300 Geffry de Gresley Robert de Frechville
1300 Ralf de Frechville Geffry de Gresley
1301 Ralf de Frechville Geffry de Gresley
1302 Thomas Foljambe Robert de Touks
1305 Henry Foljambe William Faunel
1306 Robert Dethick Giles de Meynell
1308 Ralph Frechville William Faunel
1309 Thomas Foljambe
1311 William Faunel Thomas Foljambe
1312 William Ressol William Faunel
1313 Ralph Frechville
1315 Ralph Frechville Thomas Foljambe
1315 Robert Staunton John Twyford
1316 John Beaufay Robert Staunton
1317 Robert Staunton John Deynecourt
1319 John de Twyford Ralf de Cromwell
1319 John Deynecourt John de Twyford
1324 Hugh de Meynell Nicholas de Longford
1325 Ralf de Reseby William Rosell
1326 William Rosell John de Beaufay
1327 Thomas de Stanton William Michell
1327 William de Samperton Simon de Cestre
1327 William Michell Robert Ingram de Etewell
1328 John de Beaufay William Michell
1328 Robert de Meynell John de Beaufay
1330 Edm. de Appleby John de Verdon
1330 Hugh de Meynell Robert de Meynell
1331 Hugh FitzHugh de Meynell Roger de Okeover
1332 Robert de Meynell William Michell
1332 Hugh de Meynell Robert de Meynell
1332 Robert de Meynell Peter de Wakebrigg
1333 William de Saperton Simon de Chester
1333 Robert de Meynell Peter de Wakebrigg
1334 Robert de Ingram John de Hambury
1334 William de Saperton Simon de Chester
1335 Henry de Kniveton John Cockeyn
1336 Peter de Wakebrigg Hugh de Muskham
1337 William Michell Thomas? Adam
1337 Giles de Meynell Robert Franceys
1337 Giles de Meynell John Cockeyn
1338 Giles de Meynell Robert Franceys
1338 John Cockeyn Godfrey Foljambe
1338 John Deyncourts John de Twyford
1339 John Cokeyn Thomas Adam
1339 John Cockeyn Robert de Chester
1340 Sir Godfrey Foljambe John Cockayn
1340 Robert Ingram Robert Gresley
1340 Robert Ingram
1340 Robert Touks John Beausey
1341 John Cockeyn Robert of Ireland
1343 Thomas Adam Robert Asheburn
1344 John Cockeyn John Foucher
1346 Giles de Meynell Roger de Emerton
1346 William de Ashewell John de Chellaston
1347 Roger de Enyton Robert de Ashbourn
1348 John de Rochford John de Chellaston
1348 Roger de Enynton Robert de Ashbourn
1350 John Cockeyn John Foucher
1351 John Cockeyn John Foucher
1352 Roger de Padley William de Chester
1352 Robert de Twyford
1353 Robert Franceys
1354 Henry de Braylesford Robert Franceys
1355 Thomas Adam John Beck
1357 Robert Franceys Thomas Adam
1357 William de Wakebrigg Mi. de Breideston
1357 Robert Franceys Thomas Adam
1358 William de Wakebrigg Roger Michell
1360 Robert Franceys John Foucher
1360 Henry de Braylesford John Cockayn
1361 Henry de Braylesford John Cockayn
1362 John Cockayn Robert Franceys
1363 Edmund de Appleby
1364 Sir Godfrey Foljambe Henry de Braylesford
1365 Robert de Twyford Ralph de Stathom
1368 Robert de Twyford John Foucher
1369 Sir Godfrey Foljambe Robert de Twyford
1371 Sir Godfrey Foljambe John Foucher
1371 Sir Godfrey Foljambe John Foucher
1372 Alured de Sulney John Franceys
1373 William Bokepnys Ralph de Stathom
1377 Edmund de Appleby Ralph de Stathom
1377 John de la Pole de Hertingdon E. Foucher
1378 Alured Sulwey Sir Robert Twyford
1379 Oliver de Barton Ralph de Stathom
1379 Alured Sulwey John Curson de Ketilston
1380 Sir Thomas Marchington Henry de Braylesford
1381 Oliver de Barton William de Sallowe
1382 T. (Robert?) de Twyford Sir Thomas Marchington
1382 Sir Thomas Marchington Sir Philip Okeover
1383 Thomas de Wernesley John Curson
1383 Sir Thomas Marchington Ralph de Braylesford
1384 John Curson Ralph de Braylesford
1384 Robert Franceys William de Adderly
1386 Sir Thomas Wensley of Wensley Sir William Dethick of Dethick
1388 (Feb) Robert Franceys William de Adderly
1388 (Sep) Sir Nicholas Montgomery of Marston Montgomery Robert Franceys
1390 (Jan) Sir Thomas Wensley of Wensley Sir Nicholas Montgomery of Marston Montgomery
1390 (Nov) William Adderly Thomas Foljambe
1391 Sir Philip Okeover Thomas Foljambe
1393 John Dabrichecourt Nicholas Gousill,jnr
1394 Sir Thomas Wensley of Wensley John de la Pole
1395 John Cockayne Peter de Melbourne
1397 (Jan) Sir William Dethick of Dethick Roger de Bradburn
1397 (Sep) John Dabrichecourt William Meynell
1399 Walter Blount John Curson


Parliament First member Second member
1400 Thomas Gresley Peter de la Pole
1402 John Cockayne Roger Leche
1403 Nicholas de Longford John Curson
1404 John Cockayme Roger Bradburn
1405 Roger Leche Roger Bradshaw
1406 Robert de Strelley Thomas Okeover
1411 Sir Nicholas Montgomery of Marston Montgomery Robert Franceys
1413 Robert Leche Thomas Chaworth
1414 (Apr) Philip Leche Nicolas Montgomery
1414 (Nov) Roger Leche Thomas Gresley
1416 (Mar) Nicolas Montgomery John de la Pole
1417 Thomas de Gresley John de la Pole
1419 Sir John Cockayne Hugh Erdeswyck
1420 Thomas Blount Henry Booth
1420 John de Strelley John de Okeover
1421 (Dec) Nicholas Gosell Thomas Okeover
1422 Sir Richard Vernon John Cockayne
1423 Henry Booth John Curson
1424 Henry Booth Thomas Makworth
1425 Sir Richard Vernon John de la Pole
1427 John Cockayne Henry Booth
1429 John Curson Gerard Meynell
1430 John Cockayne Thomas Makworth
1432 Sir Richard Vernon
1433 Sir Richard Vernon
1434 John Curson Gerard Meynell
1436 Fulk Vernon Robert Franceys
1441 John Curson William Vernon
1446 Walter Blount Nicholas FitzHerbert
1448 John Sacherevel Walter Blount
1449 William Vernon John Sacherevel
1450 William Vernon Walter Blount
1452 Walter Blount Nicholas FitzHerbert
1454 Walter Blount Robert Bailey
1460 Sir John Greisley Walter Blount
1468 William Blount William Vernon
1473 Nicholas Longford James Blount
1478 John Gresley Henry Vernon
1479–1499 Records lost


Parliament First member Second member
1510–1523 No Names Known[1]
1529 Sir Roger Mynors William Coffin[1]
1539 Francis Leke John Port[1]
1542 ? Sir George Vernon[1]
1545 Richard Blackwell Vincent Mundy[1]
1547 Sir William Bassett Thomas Powtrell[1]
1553 (Mar) Sir Thomas Cockayne Sir Humphrey Bradburn[1]
1553 (Oct) Sir John Port Richard Blackwell[1]
1554 (Apr) Francis Curzon Thomas Powtrell[1]
1554 (Nov) Sir Peter Freschville Henry Vernon[1]
1555 Sir Humphrey Bradburn Vincent Mundy[1]
1558 John Zouche Godfrey Foljambe[1]
1558–1559 Nicholas Longford Thomas Kniveton[2]
1562–1563 Sir William St Loe, died
and replaced in 1566 by
George Hastings
Robert Wennersley[2]
1571 Francis Curson Robert Wennersley[2]
1572–1584 Gilbert Talbot Henry Cavendish
1585–1587 Henry Talbot Henry Cavendish[2]
1588-1592 John Zouch Henry Cavendish[2]
1593–1596 George Manners Henry Cavendish[2]
1597–1600 Thomas Gresley John Harpur[2]
1601 Francis Leeke Sir Peter Fretchville[2]
1605–1611 Sir John Harpur William Kniveton[2]
1614 Sir William Cavendish Henry Howard
1621 Sir William Cavendish Sir Peter Fretchville
1624 Sir William Cavendish John Stanhope
1625 Sir William Cavendish John Stanhope
1626 Sir William Cavendish John Manners
1628 Sir Edward Leeke John Frescheville
1629–1640 No Parliaments summoned


Year First member First party Second member Second party
April 1640 Sir John Curzon, 1st Baronet John Manners
November 1640 Sir John Curzon, 1st Baronet Parliamentarian Sir John Coke Parliamentarian
December 1648 Curzon excluded in Pride's Purge; Coke went abroad and died in 1650
1653 Gervase Bennet Nathaniel Barton


  • Representation increased to four members in the First and Second Parliaments of the Protectorate
Year First member Second member Third member Fourth member
1654 Nathaniel Barton Thomas Sanders Edward Gell John Gell
1656 Sir Samuel Sleigh German Pole


Year First member First party Second member Second party
January 1659 John Gell Thomas Sanders
May 1659 Not represented in the restored Rump
April 1660 Viscount Mansfield John Ferrers
1661 Lord Cavendish John Frescheville
1665 John Milward
1670 William Sacheverell
1685 Sir Robert Coke, 2nd Bt. Sir Gilbert Clarke
January 1689 Sir John Gell, 2nd Bt.
April 1689 Sir Philip Gell, 3rd Bt. Whig
1690 Henry Gilbert
1695 Marquess of Hartington Whig
1698 Thomas Coke
January 1701 Lord Roos
December 1701 Thomas Coke Sir John Curzon, 3rd Bt. Tory
1710 Godfrey Clarke
1727 Sir Nathaniel Curzon, 4th Bt. Tory
1734 Lord Charles Cavendish Whig
1741 Marquess of Hartington Whig
1751 Lord Frederick Cavendish Whig
1754 Lord George Cavendish Whig Sir Nathaniel Curzon, 5th Bt. Tory
1761 Sir Henry Harpur, 6th Bt. Tory
1768 Godfrey Bagnall Clarke Tory
1775 Hon. Nathaniel Curzon Tory
1780 Lord Richard Cavendish Whig
1781 Lord George Cavendish Whig
1784 Edward Miller Mundy Tory
1794 Lord John Cavendish Whig
1797 Lord George Cavendish Whig
1822 Francis Mundy Tory
1831 Hon. George Venables-Vernon Whig
1832 Constituency abolished: see Northern Derbyshire, Southern Derbyshire


General Election 1734: Derbyshire
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Whig Lord Charles Cavendish 697 74.1
Tory Sir Nathaniel Curzon, 4th Baronet 134 14.2
Henry Harpur 110 11.7

See also


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 "History of Parliament". Retrieved 2011-09-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 "History of Parliament". Retrieved 2011-09-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>