Voters, Patrons and Parties: The Unreformed Electorate of Hanoverian England, 1734-1832

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This is a wide-ranging study of electoral politics in England between 1734 and 1832. It analyses the control of the electoral system by the upper classes, the world of the voters, and the function of an election in the unreformed period. The history of the electoral system has been distorted by later emphasis on the extent of corruption in the constituencies. Dr O'Gorman takes us deep into the political underworld normally left undisturbed by historians; that of the committee men, agents, and canvassers who made the unreformed system work for as long as it did. Above all, this book is about the voters - their motivations, prejudices, beliefs and ideals, as well as their numbers and political behaviour. Frank O'Gorman has combined computer analysis with traditional historical methods to reconstruct the social and ideological world of the voters, and argues that an understanding of the electoral dimension is vital to a broader understanding of the Hanoverian regime and its popular acceptance. The interaction of the parliamentary parties at Westminster with the older political culture of the constituencies is traced in the final part of this book. The nature of Hanoverian politics and society have been the subject of much recent debate, and this far-reaching analysis of the electorate takes us to the very heart of that social and political structure.