1865 United Kingdom general election

The 1865 United Kingdom general election saw the Liberals, led by Lord Palmerston, increase their large majority over the Earl of Derby's Conservatives to more than 80. The Whig Party changed its name to the Liberal Party between the previous election and this one.

Palmerston died in October the same year and was succeeded by Lord John Russell as Prime Minister.[1] Despite the Liberal majority, the party was divided by the issue of further parliamentary reform, and Russell resigned after being defeated in a vote in the House of Commons in 1866, leading to minority Conservative governments under Derby and then Benjamin Disraeli.

This was the last United Kingdom general election where a party increased its majority after having been returned to office at the previous election with a reduced majority.

1865 United Kingdom general election

11–24 July 1865

All 658 seats in the House of Commons
330 seats needed for a majority
  Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston 14th Earl of Derby (cropped)
Leader Viscount Palmerston Earl of Derby
Party Liberal Conservative
Leader since 12 June 1859 July 1846
Leader's seat Tiverton House of Lords
Last election 356 seats, 65.7% 298 seats, 34.3%
Seats won 369 289
Seat change Increase13 Decrease9
Popular vote 508,821 346,035
Percentage 59.5% 40.5%
Swing Decrease6.2% Increase6.2%

Prime Minister before election

Viscount Palmerston

Appointed Prime Minister

Viscount Palmerston


The 1865 general election was regarded by contemporaries as being a generally dull contest nationally, which exaggerated the degree of corruption within individual constituencies. In his PhD thesis, Cornelius O'Leary described The Times as having reported "the testimony is unanimous that in the General Election of 1865 there was more profuse and corrupt expenditure than was ever known before".[2] As a result of allegations of corruption, 50 election petitions were lodged, of which 35 were pressed to a trial; 13 ended with the elected MP being unseated. In four cases a Royal Commission had to be appointed because of widespread corrupt practices in the constituency.[3]

As a result, when he became Prime Minister in 1867, Benjamin Disraeli announced that he would introduce a new method for election petition trials, which were then determined by a committee of the House of Commons, resulting in the Parliamentary Elections Act 1868, whereby two Judges of the Court of Common Pleas, Exchequer of Pleas or Queen's Bench would be designated to try election petitions with full judicial salaries.[3]


369 289
Liberal Conservative
UK General Election 1865
Party Candidates Votes
Stood Elected Gained Unseated Net % of total % Net %
  Liberal 516 369 +13 56.08 59.52 508,821 −6.2
  Conservative 406 289 −9 43.92 40.48 346,035 +6.2
Total 658 +4 100 100 854,856

Regional results

Great Britain

Party Candidates Unopposed Seats Seats change Votes % % change
Liberal 433 133 311 457,289 60.0
Conservative 347 115 244 304,538 40.0
Total 780 248 555 Same position 761,827 100
Party Candidates Unopposed Seats Seats change Votes % % change
Liberal 359 88 251 406,978 59.0
Conservative 308 94 213 291,238 41.0
Total 667 182 464 698,216 100
Party Candidates Unopposed Seats Seats change Votes % % change
Liberal 51 30 42 43,480 85.4
Conservative 17 7 11 4,305 14.6
Total 68 37 53 Same position 47,785 100
Party Candidates Unopposed Seats Seats change Votes % % change
Liberal 21 15 18 4,565 74.0
Conservative 16 12 14 1,600 26.0
Total 37 27 32 Same position 6,165 100


Party Candidates Unopposed Seats Seats change Votes % % change
Liberal 83 28 58 51,532 55.6
Irish Conservative 59 27 45 41,497 44.4
Total 142 55 103 Same position 93,029 100


Party Candidates Unopposed Seats Seats change Votes % % change
Conservative 6 2 6 7,395 76.5
Liberal 2 0 0 2,266 23.5
Total 8 2 6 9,661 100

Source: Rallings & Thrasher, pp. 8–9


  1. ^ Everett 2006.
  2. ^ Kelly & Hamlyn 2013, p. 93.
  3. ^ a b O'Leary 1962, pp. 27–28, 39.


  • Craig, F. W. S. (1989), British Electoral Facts: 1832–1987, Dartmouth: Gower, ISBN 0900178302
  • Crewe, Ivor (2006), "New Labour's Hegemony: Extension or Erosion?", in Bartle, John; King, Anthony, Britain at the Polls 2005, Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, p. 204
  • Everett, Jason M., ed. (2006), "1865", The People's Chronology, Thomson Gale, retrieved 12 May 2007
  • Kelly, Richard; Hamlyn, Matthew (2013), "The Law and Conduct of MPs", in Horne, Alexander; Drewry, Gavin; Oliver, Dawn, Parliament and the Law, Bloomsbury Publishing, ISBN 978-1-7822-5258-0
  • O'Leary, Cornelius (1962), The Elimination of Corrupt Practices in British Elections 1868–1911, Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Rallings, Colin; Thrasher, Michael, eds. (2000), British Electoral Facts 1832–1999, Ashgate Publishing Ltd
    • Rallings, Colin; Thrasher, Michael, British Electoral Facts 1832–2012

External links

1865 United Kingdom general election in Ireland

The 1865 United Kingdom general election in Ireland took place in July 1865. It was the first election contested by the new Liberal Party. In Ireland, the Liberals led by Palmerston increased by 8 seats.

Not included in the results is the University of Dublin constituency, which returned two Conservatives to parliament.

1868 United Kingdom general election in Ireland

The 1868 United Kingdom general election in Ireland resulted in the Liberals under Gladstone strengthening their control over Ireland, particularly the south. It was the first election following the Representation of the People (Ireland) Act 1868.

A key focus of the Liberal campaign was on their proposal to disestablish the Church of Ireland. The Church of Ireland's official role, as the Protestant national church of a Catholic majority country, had long proved controversial. The Tithe War of the 1830s had largely resulted in the abolition of tithes, which had been levied on Ireland's population (both Protestants and Catholics) to fund the Church of Ireland. Disestablishment was popular both in Ireland, and also amongst non-conformists and the Irish diaspora in Britain, particularly in the Celtic Fringe. This policy would be enacted following the election by the Irish Church Act 1869.The election marked the high-water point of the Liberals in Ireland, and within 17 years they would have no seats at all in Ireland.

List of elections in 1865

The following elections occurred in the year 1865.

Liberian general election, 1865

General elections
Local elections
European elections

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