Staffordshire (UK Parliament constituency)

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Former County constituency
for the House of Commons
Number of membersTwo
Replaced byNorth Staffordshire and South Staffordshire

Staffordshire was a county 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 Members of Parliament until 1832.


Boundaries and franchise[edit]

The constituency, which first returned members to Parliament in 1290, consisted of the historic county of Staffordshire, excluding the city of Lichfield which had the status of a county in itself after 1556. (Although Staffordshire also contained the boroughs of Stafford and Newcastle-under-Lyme, and part of the borough of Tamworth, each of which elected two MPs in its own right for part of the period when Staffordshire was a constituency, these were not excluded from the county constituency, and owning property within the borough could confer a vote at the county election. This was not the case, though, for Lichfield.)

As in other county constituencies the franchise between 1430 and 1832 was defined by the Forty Shilling Freeholder Act, which gave 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, Staffordshire had two MPs, traditionally known as Knights of the Shire, 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 Staffordshire elected three members; the traditional arrangements were restored from 1659.)


In the Middle Ages Staffordshire was mainly an agricultural county, but was transformed by the Industrial Revolution and had become significantly urbanised. By the time of the Great Reform Act in 1832, Staffordshire had a population of approximately 410,000, of which around 65,000 were in Wolverhampton, 60,000 in the urban area round Stoke-on-Trent, and 15,000 in Walsall, its principal industries were hardware and pottery manufacture, and it also drew prosperity from the importance of the River Trent as a means of transport and from the extensive canal network constructed in the county in the 18th century.

Nevertheless, the urban and industrial interests had no opportunity to develop political leverage in Staffordshire. Although the qualified electorate numbered some 5,000 in the 18th century, control of the representation was entirely in the hands of a small number of aristocratic families, most notably the Leveson-Gowers (Marquesses of Stafford) and the Bagots; 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, Stafford, 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; the MPs were generally chosen by and from among the principal families of the county, and it would have been futile as well as ruinously expensive for an outsider to fight an election. In fact there were only three contested elections in Staffordshire between 1700 and 1747, and none at all afterwards: in 1753, the Leveson Gowers and the Bagots, despite their political differences (the former being Whigs and the latter Tories) reached a satisfactory compromise, and thereafter the Leveson Gowers nominated one MP and the remaining county gentry the other (who was frequently a Bagot).


The constituency was abolished in 1832 by the Great Reform Act, which divided the county into two new two-member divisions, Northern Staffordshire and Southern Staffordshire, and also created new boroughs from three of the larger towns previously in the county constituency (Stoke-upon-Trent, Walsall and Wolverhampton).

Members of Parliament[edit]

MPs 1290–1640[edit]

Parliament First member Second member
1295 Richard de Caverswall[1]
1324 Sir John de Arderne
1332 Philip de Lutley[2]
1336 Sir Robert de Mauveysin[3]
1341 Adam de Peshale or Peshall[4]
1378 Robert Stafford Sir Robert de Swynnerton[5]
1380 Robert Stafford
1380 Sir Robert Peshall
1382 Robert Stafford
1382 John Basset
1383 Robert Stafford
1383 Sir Robert Peshall
1386 Sir William Shareshull Aymer Lichfield [6]
1388 (Feb) Sir John Ipstones Roger Longridge [6]
1388 (Sep) Sir Thomas Aston John Delves[6]
1389 William Chetwynd?
1390 (Jan) Sir Nicholas Stafford John Delves [6]
1390 (Nov) Sir Nicholas Stafford John Delves [6]
1391 Sir John Bagot William Walsall [6]
1393 Sir Thomas Aston William Walsall I [6]
1394 Sir John Ipstones(murdered on arrival in London February 1394)[7] William Walsall [6]
1395 Sir William Shareshull Aymer Lichfield [6]
1397 (Jan) Sir John Bagot Sir Robert Francis [6]
1397 (Sep) Sir John Bagot Rustin Villeneuve [6]
1399 Sir Thomas Aston Sir Robert Francis [6]
1401 Sir John Bagot Sir Robert Francis [6]
1402 John Swynnerton William Walsall [6]
1404 (Jan) Ralph Stafford William Walsall [6]
1404 (Oct) Sir John Bagot Sir Robert Francis [6]
1406 Sir Thomas Aston Sir Humphrey Stafford [6]
1407 Sir John Bagot Sir William Newport [6]
1411 Sir John Bagot Sir William Newport [6]
1413 (Feb)
1413 (May) Sir Thomas Gresley Hugh Erdeswyk [6]
1414 (Apr) John Meverel William Walsall [6]
1414 (Nov) John Meverel Sir William Newport [6]
1416 (Mar) Humphrey Haughton Roger Bradshaw [6]
1416 (Oct)
1419 Sir Thomas Gresley Sir Richard Vernon [6]
1420 William Lee II John Mynors [6]
1421 (May) Sir John Bagot Richard Lane [6]
1421 (Dec) Hugh Erdeswyk Richard Lane [6]
1422 Sir Thomas Stanley Sir John Gresley
1431 John Mynors John Harpour
1437 John Hampton John Mynors
1439 John Hampton
1442 John Hampton
1445 Robert Whitgreve
1449 (Feb) John Hampton
1449 (Nov) Robert Whitgreve John Hampton
1455 Sir William Vernon
1467 Sir John Delves[8]
1491 William Chetwynd[9]
1504 Sir Edmond Dudley
1510–1523 No Names Known[10]
1529 Sir John Giffard Edward Littleton [10]
1539 Edward Littleton Thomas Giffard [10]
1542 Sir John Dudley Sir Philip Draycott [10]
1545 Sir George Griffith Thomas Fitzherbert [10]
1547 Sir William Paget, ennobled
and replaced Jan 1552 by
Sir Ralph Bagnall
Sir John Harcourt [10]
1553 (Mar) William Devereux Walter Aston [10]
1553 (Oct) Sir Thomas Giffard Edward Littleton [10]
1554 (Apr) Sir Philip Draycott Thomas Grey [10]
1554 (Nov) Sir Philip Draycott (Sir) Edward Littleton [10]
1555 Sir Thomas Giffard (Sir) Edward Littleton [10]
1558 Brian Fowler Francis Meverell [10]
1559 (Jan) Sir Ralph Bagnall Simon Harcourt [11]
1562–1563 Simon Harcourt John Grey [11]
1571 John Grey Thomas Trentham [11]
1572 (Apr) John Fleetwood Thomas Whorwood [11]
1584 (Nov) Hon. Edward Dudley (alias Sutton) Edward Legh [11]
1586 John Grey William Bassett[11]
1588-1589 (Sir) Walter Harcourt Thomas Gerard
1593 Sir Christopher Blount
1597-1598 Hon. John Dudley
1601 Sir Thomas Gerard Sir John Egerton
1604-1611 Sir Edward Littleton
Littleton dying 1610 - replaced by
Francis Trentham
Robert Stanford
Stanford died 1697 - replaced by
Sir John Egerton
Addled Parliament (1614) Sir Walter Chetwynd Thomas Crompton
1621-1622 Sir William Bowyer Thomas Crompton
Happy Parliament (1624-1625) Sir William Bowyer Sir Edward Littleton
Useless Parliament (1625) Richard Erdeswick Sir Simon Weston
1625-1626 Sir William Bowyer Sir Simon Weston
1628-1629 Sir Hervey Bagot Thomas Crompton
1629-1640 No Parliaments summoned

MPs 1640–1832[edit]

Election First member First party Second member Second party
April 1640 Sir Edward Littleton Parliamentarian Sir William Bowyer
November 1640 Sir William Bowyer Parliamentarian
1641 Sir Hervey Bagot Royalist
November 1642 Bagot disabled from sitting - seat vacant
March 1644 Littleton disabled from sitting - seat vacant
1646 John Bowyer Sir Richard Skeffington
1647 Thomas Crompton
December 1648 Bowyer excluded in Pride's Purge - seat vacant
1653 George Bellot John Chetwood
Staffordshire's representation was increased to three Members in the First and Second Parliaments of the Protectorate
1654 Sir Charles Wolseley, Thomas Crompton, Thomas Whitgrave
Staffordshire's representation reverted to two Members in the Third Protectorate Parliament
January 1659 Thomas Crompton Sir Thomas Whitgrave
May 1659 Thomas Crompton
April 1660 Edward Bagot William Sneyd
1661 Sir Thomas Leigh Randolph Egerton
1663 Sir Edward Littleton
1679 Sir Walter Bagot Sir John Bowyer
1685 Edward Littleton
1689 John Grey
1690 Walter Chetwynd
1693 Sir Walter Bagot
1695 Henry Paget Tory
1698 (Sir) Edward Bagot [12]
1708 John Wrottesley
1710 William Ward
1712 Charles Bagot
1713 Ralph Sneyd Henry Vernon
1715 Lord Paget Tory William Ward
1720 by-election Hon. William Leveson-Gower
1727 Sir Walter Wagstaffe Bagot Tory
1754 (Sir) William Bagot [13] Tory
1757 by-election Hon. Henry Thynne
1761 Lord Grey Whig
May 1768 by-election Captain (Sir) John Wrottesley [14] Whig
1780 Viscount Lewisham Tory
1784 Sir Edward Littleton Whig
1787 by-election Earl Gower Whig
1799 by-election Lord Granville Leveson-Gower Whig
May 1812 by-election Edward Littleton Canningite Tory
1815 by-election Earl Gower Whig
1820 Sir John Fenton Boughey Whig
1823 by-election Major-General Sir John Wrottesley Whig
c. 1830 Whig
1832 Constituency abolished: replaced by North Staffordshire and South Staffordshire


See also[edit]


  • Robert Beatson, A Chronological Register of Both Houses of Parliament (London: Longman, Hurst, Res & Orme, 1807) [1]
  • D Brunton & D H Pennington, Members of the Long Parliament (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1954)
  • John Cannon, Parliamentary Reform 1640-1832 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972)
  • Cobbett's Parliamentary history of England, from the Norman Conquest in 1066 to the year 1803 (London: Thomas Hansard, 1808) [2]
  • Maija Jansson (ed.), Proceedings in Parliament, 1614 (House of Commons) (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1988) [3]
  • Lewis Namier & John Brooke, The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1754-1790 (London: HMSO, 1964)
  • J E Neale, The Elizabethan House of Commons (London: Jonathan Cape, 1949)
  • Henry Stooks Smith, The Parliaments of England from 1715 to 1847, Volume 2 (London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co, 1845) [4]
  • Heywood Townshend, Historical Collections:: or, An exact Account of the Proceedings of the Four last Parliaments of Q. Elizabeth (1680) [5]
  • Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "S" (part 4)
  • Diary of Thomas Burton, online at
  1. ^ Wedgwood, Josiah C. (1917). Staffordshire Parliamentary History, Volume I. William Salt Archaeological Society. p. 13.
  2. ^ Staffordshire Parliamentary History, Volume I. p. 60.
  3. ^ Staffordshire Parliamentary History, Volume I. p. 68.
  4. ^ Staffordshire Parliamentary History, Volume I. p. 85.
  5. ^ Staffordshire Parliamentary History, Volume I. p. 124.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa "History of Parliament". Retrieved 2011-09-03.
  7. ^ Staffordshire Parliamentary History, Volume I. p. 145.
  8. ^ Staffordshire Parliamentary History, Volume I. p. 250.
  9. ^ Staffordshire Parliamentary History, Volume I. pp. 278–279.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "History of Parliament". Retrieved 2011-09-03.
  11. ^ a b c d e f "History of Parliament". Retrieved 2011-09-03.
  12. ^ Succeeded to a baronetcy, February 1705
  13. ^ Succeeded to a baronetcy, January 1768
  14. ^ Succeeded to a baronetcy, July 1769; promoted to Lieutenant Colonel 1770, Colonel 1779, Major-General 1782