An accurate return of election results in this period is fraught with difficulty. It must be noted at the outset that no general election in this period was in fact general, the number of contests ranging from high points such as 1710 and 1722 to the much lower numbers for elections such as 1747 and 1761 (see pp. 118–19). Even at the most heavily contested elections, a very large number of seats remained uncontested. Moreover, in spite of strong party feeling at some points in this period, notably in the reign of Queen Anne, the classification of MPs by party labels is a matter of some contention. Hence, unlike a modern election where almost all seats are contested by candidates standing under a clear party label, this period has both a fluctuating number of contests and uncertain party allegiances. None the less, scholars have attempted to estimate in general terms both the results of the contests that took place at elections and the resulting impact upon representation in the House of Commons. It should be noted that the result of an election was only one factor in determining the composition of the House of Commons: challenges on election petitions subsequent to an election, the allegiance of MPs returned from uncontested seats, and shifts in allegiance at, or shortly following, the sitting of a new Parliament must also be taken into consideration.
KeywordsGeneral Election Election Result Government Majority Ministerial Supporter Fluctuate Number
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