Cashel's Parliamentary Representation 1801-1868

Post Advertiser, May 16, 1986, Vol 2 No 1


As a result of the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland, which was passed in August 1800 and became law in January of the following year, Ireland returned one hundred members of Parliament to the House of Commons at Westminster. There were two M.P.s for each county, two M.P. for each of the two boroughs, Dublin and Cork, one M. P. for each of 31 boroughs and one M.P. for Dublin University. Two of these single-seat boroughs were in County Tipperary, Cashel and Clonmel. Cashel's claim to a seat was based on the. towns historical importance and the ancient City of the Kings was to send an M.P. to Westminster until 1868. 

The reform legislation of 1832 increased the number of M.P.s from Ireland to 105. Four of the five new seats went to boroughs and the firth to Dublin University. The four boroughs that saw their representation double were Belfast, Galway, Limerick and Waterford. 

The Electorate

The number of voters was small. During the period 1801-1829 the possession of a forty shilling freehold was the principal qualification for voters in counties. This qualification was increased to £10 freehold as a result of Catholic Emancipation in 1829 so that the number of county voters was reduced from 216,000 to 37,000. The Reform Act of 1832 augmented the number of £10 freeholders by various classes ot leaseholders, bringing the number of county voters to 60,597 or 1-116 of the population This compared with 1.24 in England and Wales and 1.45 in Scotland.

In the boroughs during the period 1801-32 the fanchises varied considerably from constituencies where the vote was restricted to members of corporations in some to others where it belonged to a much larger number of corporation members, freemen and forty-shilling freeholders.

As a result of the reform of 1832 the fanchise was given to £10 property owners and produced 29,471 electors in the towns. That amounted to 1-26 in Ireland as compared with 1-17 in England and Wales. All voters were adult male. 

Duration of Elections

The idea of a single Polling Day was some time coming. Until 1820 elections for counties, boroughs and the university could last up to forty days. In that year the time limit for the duration of a poll was reduced to fifteen days. In 1832 the time limit for polling was reduced to five days. The borough elections were limited to a one-day poll in 1847 and the county elections were reduced to a two-day poll in 1850 and a one-day poll in 1862. The time limit for the voting in the university constituency remained five days. Not until 1918 were all contests, except the university seats, held on the same day. 

One important reason for the duration of elections was the small number of polling places. Until 1850 each county constituency had only one polling place and the long journeys this often entailed provided endless opportunities for fights. All voters in County Tipperary had to travel to Clonmel to vote for their two candidates. For those from the extreme north of the county this involved a journey of over 70 miles. The Franchise Act of that year increased the number of polling places in county constituencies to between three and six. The County Election Act of 1862 allowed the number to be increased still more on petition from local magistrates. The result was that the thirty-two polling places of 1850 was increased to one hundred and thirty-four by 1862, one hundred and fifty-four by 1868 and six hundred and forty by 1874. 

Dates of Elections 

As mentioned above all elections did not take place on the same date. After the Union became law in Jan. 1801 Richard Bagwell was nominated M.P. for Cashel. He had sat in the old Irish House of Commons and he resigned later in the year. On December 9 Lt. Col. John Bagwell was elected in his place. There was a general-election in 1802 on February 27 and William Wickham was elected. He was re-elected in the next general election on February 27, 1806 but was appointed Commissioner of the Treasury some time later. The result was a by-election on November 17 in which Viscount Archibald John Primrose was electad. He lost his seat in the general election on May 25, 1807 and Quinton Dick was elected. He resigned in 1809 and Robert Peel was elected on April 15. 

Peel represented the constituency until tne general election of 1812 when Sir Charles Saxton was elected on October 26. The next general election was on June 9, 1818 and Richard Pennefather was elected. He resigned the following year and was succeeded by Ebenezer John Collett on March 4. He was re-elected in the general elections of March 17,1820 and June 17,1826. He was succeeded on August 5, 1830 by Matthew Pennefather who was re-elected on May 6 of the following year. However, he resigned soon after and was succeeded by Philip Pusey on July 16. 

Number of Electors

Up to 1832 we have no information on the number of electors in the Cashel constituency. After that date not only have we the size of the electorate but also the number that voted, when there was a contest and the number of votes cast for each candidate. As well we get the political affiliation of .the candidates. 

Philip Pusey did not go forward for re-election on December 14, 1832 and Jarries Roe, a Repealer was elected unopposed. There were 277 electors. The next general election was on January 14,1835 and two candidates contested the seat. Louis Perrin was victorious with 166 votes out of an electorate of 325. He was a Liberal and his opponent, Matthew Pennefather, a Conservative got 56. Perrin was appointed Attorney General and as the practice was at that time, had to seek re-election. He did so without opposition on April 28, 1835. Later in the same year he had to resign as a result of being appointed a Justice of the Kings Bench. In the by-election Stephen Woulfe was elected unopposed on Sept. 4. By that stage the electorate had increased to 351. Woulfe was a Liberal and was re-elected unopposed on August 1, 1837. The electorate was then 353. Woulfe was appointed Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer in Ireland in 1838 and in the resulting by-election on'July 14 Joseph Stock, a Liberal, was elected unopposed. He was re-elected in the General Election of July 3, 1841 without opposition. The number of electors had dropped to 267. 

In the next General Election, August 3, 1847 Timothy O'Brien, a Repealer, was elected unopposed, The electorate had declined still further to 172. The next election was on July 15, 1852 and the number of electors was 111. Timothy O'Brien, having been knighted in the meantime, went forward as an Independent Liberal and was opposed by Charles McGarel, a Liberal. O'Brien won by 60, votes to 18 for his opponent. Five years later, on April 3, 1857 the number of electors had increased to 135. In the general election on that date O'Brien, now named as a Liberal, was opposed by Charles Hare Hemphill, a Conservative and John Lanigan, Independent Opposition. The result was 54 votes for O'Brien, 39 for Hemphill and 35 for Lanigan. Lanigan must have been a rising force because he succeeded in the 1859 general election. 

It was held on May 6 with an electorate of 147. Lanigan, a Liberal, was elected with 91 votes. His opponents, John Carden, a Conservative, got 10 votes and Charles Hare Hemphill, another Liberal got 8 votes. Lanigan was defeated in the next general election on July 17, 1865. His opponent was James Lyster 0 Beirne, another Liberal and he polled 86 votes to Lanigan's 49. The electorate was 146. 

The last general election in which the electors of Cashel sent an M.P. to Westminster was on Nov. 21, 1868. The electorate was 203 and O'Beirne polled 100 votes to his opponent, another Liberal, Henry Munster's 84 votes. The election was fiercely contested and after the result was announced Henry Munster accused O'Beirne of bribery, and malpractices in getting himself elected. As a result of a Parliamentary investigation both parties were found guilty of bribery and the election was declared void. Two years later, 1870, the constituency was disfranchised.The investigation published its findings in a hefty volume of over four hundred pages and will be dealt with at a later date.