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52 Ancestors: Week 44 – Voting

I am taking part in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge for 2021. The challenge is organised by Amy Johnson Crow who provides a weekly writing prompt. I should have completed all 52 prompts by now, but I will do so as soon as possible.

A few days ago I shared an image from a poll book[1] showing how my 3rd great grandfather, John Middleton Downes voted in the general election on 24 November 1868. 4 years later the Ballot Act 1872 introduced secret ballots to the United Kingdom[2] but prior to that, where poll books survive, we can see how our ancestors voted.

The candidates John was choosing between were:

  • The Right Honourable Lord Viscount Milton
  • Henry F. Beaumont Esq
  • Walter Spencer Stanhope Esq
  • Lewis Randle Starkey Esq

The votes are shown in the above order by a “1” in the column.

The Right Honourable Lord Viscount Milton had served the previous term. He was a Liberal and believed that the reforms to date had been insufficient. He was one of the youngest members of parliament, and believed education should be extended so that “a proper system of instruction may be available to every child in the country”.[3]

Henry F. Beaumont Esq stood just to thwart Mr Walter Stanhope. He was also a Liberal. He wanted to see reform in parliament to increase the franchise.

Walter Spencer Stanhope Esq and Lewis Randle Starkey Esq were both Conservative candidates. They were concerned about the destruction of British institutions and the threat to “the Protestant character of our country.”

Reading the addresses of the candidates the situation in Ireland was clearly on everyone’s minds.

The simple numbers in the columns above therefore tell me quite a lot about my 3rd great grandfather and what he believe was important.

Other posts about this family


References
  1. The Poll for the Southern Division of the West Riding of County of York. DOWNES, John Middleton. 24 November 1868. p. 189. Collection: Poll books. Society of Genealogists, London. https://sogdata.org.uk/ : accessed 28 December 2021.
  2. Wikipedia contributors. (2021) ‘Ballot Act 1872’. In: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ballot_Act_1872&oldid=1049429027 : accessed 03 January 2022.
  3. The Poll for the Southern Division of the West Riding of County of York. Addressses of the Candidates. August 1868. image. 02-03 Collection: Poll books. Society of Genealogists, London. https://sogdata.org.uk/ : accessed 03 January 2022.

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