rotten boroughs

Cornish rotten boroughs

There were 21 boroughs in Cornwall prior to 1821, most of which were rotten boroughs. Due to their size and population "rotten boroughs" were "controlled" and used by a patron to exercise undue and unrepresentative influence within parliament. The origins of the Cornish rotten boroughs can be traced back to the Cornish Stannary Parliament, which was the Cornish parliament of 'tinners at large'. With the advent of the Duchy of Cornwall in 1337, the tinners at large were ousted in favour of Duchy 'yes' men with the result that the Government of Cornwall controlled the Cornish Parliament. In the days of the Duchy 'rotten boroughs', a similar situation prevailed in the Westminster parliament to such an extent that the Duchy rotten boroughs (there was only one less than the total number in Scotland) were affectionately known as the 'Prince's Party' such was the extent of Duchy influence in Westminster.

The Reform Act 1832 disenfranchised many of the Cornish rotten boroughs resulting in a loss of many of the 44 Cornish MPs. Before the voting reforms of 1821, Grampound was a classic rotten borough, returning two MPs and only having two voters ! It was disenfranchised for corruption in 1821 and its two seats transferred and added to Yorkshire from 1826. Tregony also elected two members to the Unreformed House of Commons, until 1832, when its rotten borough status was abolished.

Cornish rotten boroughs abolished in 1821

List of Cornish rotten boroughs abolished in 1832

List of Cornish boroughs that retained the right to elect MPs in 1832

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