Reform Act of 1832

(1832, June 7. 2 William IV, c.45.)

WHEREAS it is expedient to take effectual measures for correcting divers abuses that have long prevailed in the choice of members to serve in the commons house of parliament, to deprive many inconsiderable places of the right of returning members, to grant such privilege to large, populous, and wealthy towns, to increase the number of knights of the shire, to extend the elective franchise to many of His Majesty’s subjects who have not heretofore enjoyed the same, and to diminish the expense of elections; Be it therefore enacted by the king’s most excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that each of the boroughs enumerated in the Schedule marked A (56 in all) shall from and after the end of this present parliament cease to return any member or members to serve in parliament.

II. [Boroughs enumerated in Schedule B (30 in all) to return one member only.]

III. [Places named in Schedule C (22 in all) made boroughs to return two members to parliament.]

IV. [Places named in Schedule D (20 in all) made boroughs to return one member to parliament.]

V. [Four boroughs to include adjacent districts.]

VI. [Weymouth and Melcombe Regis to return two members instead of four; Penryn to include Falmouth, and Sandwich to include Deal and Walmer.]

VII. Boundaries to be fixed.]

VIII, IX, X. [Dealing with Wales.]

XI. [Returning officers.]

XII. [Yorkshire to return six members.]

XIII. [Lincolnshire to return four members.]

XIV. [Counties enumerated in Schedule F (25 in all) to return four members.]

XV. [Counties enumerated in Schedule F2 (7 in all) to return three members, and two members instead of one to be returned by three of the counties in Wales.]

XVI. [Isle of Wight to return one member, apart from Hampshire.]

XVII. [Towns, which are counties of themselves, to be included in adjoining counties.]

XVIII. That no person shall be entitled to vote in the election of a knight or knights of the shire to serve in any future parliament, or in the election of a member or members to serve in any future parliament for any city or town being a county of itself, in respect of any freehold lands or tenements whereof such person may be seised for his own life, or for the life of another, of for any lives whatsoever, except such person shall be in the actual and bona fide occupation of such lands or tenements, or except the same shall have come to such person by marriage, marriage settlement, devise, or promotion to any benefice or to any office, or except the same shall be of the clear yearly value of not less than 10£ above all rents and charges payable out of or in respect of the same; any statute or usage to the contrary notwithstanding: provided always, that nothing in this act contained shall prevent any person now seised for his own life, or for the life of another, or for any lives whatsoever, of any freehold lands or tenements in respect of which he now has, or but for the passing of this act might acquire, the right of voting in such respective elections, from retaining or acquiring, so long as he shall be so seised of the same lands or tenements, such right of voting in respect thereof, if duly registered according to the respective provisions hereinafter contained.

XIX. That every male person of full age, and not subject to any legal incapacity, who shall be seised at law or in equity of any land or tenements of copyhold or any other tenure whatever except freehold, for his own life, or for the life of another, or for any lives whatsoever, or for any larger estate, of the clear yearly value of not less than 10£ over and above all rents and charges payable out of or in respect of the same, shall be entitled to vote in the election of a knight or knights of the shire to serve in any future parliament for the county, or for the riding, parts, or division of the county, in which such lands or tenements shall be respectively situate.

XX. That every male person of full age, and not subject to any legal incapacity, who shall be entitled, either as lessee or assignee, to any lands or tenements, whether of freehold or of any other tenure whatever, for the unexpired residue, whatever it may be, of any term originally created for a period of not less than sixty years, (whether determinable on a life or lives, or not,) of the clear yearly value of not less than 10£ over and above all rents and charges payable out of or in respect of the same, or for the unexpired residue, whatever it may be, of any term originally created for a period of not less than twenty years, (whether determinable on a life or lives, or not,) of the clear yearly value of not less than 50£ over and above all rents and charges payable out of or in respect of the same, or who shall occupy as tenant any lands or tenements for which he shall be bona fide liable to a yearly rent of not less than 50£, shall be entitled to vote in the election of a knight or knights of the shire to serve in any future parliament for the county, or for the riding, parts, or division of the county, in which such lands or tenements shall be respectively situate: provided always, that no person, being only a sub-lessee, or the assignee of any under-lease, shall have a right to vote in such election in respect of any such term of sixty years or twenty years as aforesaid, unless he shall be in the actual occupation of the premises.

XXI. That no public or parliamentary tax, nor any church rate, county rate, or parochial rate, shall be deemed to be any charge payable out of or in respect of any lands or tenements within the meaning of this act.

XXII. That in order to entitle any person to vote in any election of a knight of the shire or other member to serve in any future parliament, in respect of any messuages, lands, or tenements, whether freehold or otherwise, it shall not be necessary that the same shall be assessed to the land tax; any statute to the contrary notwithstanding.

[Part omitted]

XXVI. That notwithstanding anything hereinbefore contained no person shall be entitled to vote in the election of a knight or knights of the shire to serve in any future parliament unless he shall have been duly registered according to the provisions hereinafter contained; and that no person shall be so registered in any year in respect of his estate or interest in any lands or tenements, as a freeholder, copyholder, customary tenant, or tenant in ancient demesne, unless he shall have been in the actual possession thereof, or in the receipt of the rents and profits thereof for his own use, for six calendar months at least next previous to the last day of July in such year, which said period of six calendar months shall be sufficient, any statute to the contrary notwithstanding; and that no person shall be so registered in any year, in respect of any lands or tenements held by him as such lessee or assignee, or as such occupier and tenant as aforesaid, unless he shall have been in the actual possession thereof, or in receipt of the rents and profits thereof for his own use, as the case may require, for twelve calendar months next previous to the last day of July in such year: provided always, that where any lands or tenements, which would otherwise entitle the owner, holder, or occupier thereof to vote in any such election, shall come to any person, at any time within such respective periods of six or twelve calendar months, by descent, succession, marriage, marriage settlement, devise, or promotion to any benefice in a church, or by promotion to any office, such person shall be entitled in respect thereof to have his name inserted as a voter in the election of a knight or knights of the shire in the lists then next to be made, by virtue of this act as hereinafter mentioned, and, upon his being duly registered according to the provisions hereinafter contained, to vote in such election.

XXVII. That in every city or borough which shall return a member or members to serve in any future parliament, every male person of full age, and not subject to any legal incapacity, who shall occupy, within such city or borough, or within any place sharing in the election for such city or borough, as owner or tenant, any house, warehouse, counting-house, shop, or other building, being, either separately, or jointly with any land within such city, borough, or place occupied therewith by him as owner, or therewith by him as tenant under the same landlord, of the clear yearly value of not less than 10£, shall, if duly registered according to the provisions hereinafter contained, be entitled to vote in the election of a member or members to serve in any future parliament for such city or borough: provided always, that no such person shall be so registered in any year unless he shall have occupied such premises as aforesaid for twelve calendar months next previous to the last day of July in such year, nor unless such person, where such premises are situated in any parish or township in which there shall be a rate for the relief of the poor, shall have been rated in respect of such premises to all rates for the relief of the poor in such parish or township, made during the time of such his occupation so required as aforesaid, nor unless such person shall have paid, on or before the 20th of July in such year, all the poor’s rates and assessed taxes which shall have become payable from him in respect of such premises previously to the 6th of April then next preceding: provided also, that no such person shall be so registered in any year unless he shall have resided for six calendar months next previous to the last day of July in such year within the city or borough, or within the place sharing in the election for the city or borough, in respect of which city, borough, or place respectively he shall be entitled to vote, or within seven statute miles thereof or of any part thereof.

XXVIII. That the premises in respect of the occupation of which any person shall be entitled to be registered in any year and to vote in the election for any city or borough as aforesaid, shall not be required to be the same premises, but may be different premises occupied in immediate succession by such person during the twelve calendar months next previous to the last day of July in such year, such person having paid on or before the 20th of July in such year, all the poor’s rates and assessed taxes which shall previously to the 6th of April then next preceding have become payable from him in respect of all such premises so occupied by him in succession.

[Part omitted]

XXXVI. That no person shall be entitled to be registered in any year as a voter in the election of a member or members to serve in any future parliament for any city or borough who shall within twelve calendar months next previous to the last day of July in such year have received parochial relief or other alms, which by the law of parliament now disqualify from voting in the election of members to serve in parliament.

XXXVII. That the overseers of the poor of every parish and township shall, on the 20th day of June in the present and in every succeeding year, cause to be fixed on or near the doors of all the churches and chapels within such parish or township, or if there be no church or chapel therein, then to be fixed in some public and conspicuous situation within the same respectively, a notice according to the form numbered 1. in the schedule (H.) to this act annexed, requiring all persons who may be entitled to vote in the election of a knight or knights of the shire * * * in respect of any property situate wholly or in part in such parish or township, to deliver or transmit to the said overseers on or before the 20th of July in the present and in every succeeding year a notice of their claim as such voters, according to the form numbered 2. in the said schedule (H.), or to the like effect: provided always, that after the formation of the register to be made in each year, as hereinafter mentioned, no person whose name shall be upon such register for the time being shall be required thereafter to make any such claim as aforesaid, so long as he shall retain the same qualification, and continue in the same place of abode described by such register.

XXXVIII. That the overseer of the poor of every parish and township shall, on or before the last day of July in the present year, make out or cause to be made out, according to the form numbered 3. in the said schedule (H.), an alphabetical list of all persons who shall claim as aforesaid to be inserted in such list as voters in the election of a knight or knights of the shire * * *, in respect of any lands or tenements situate wholly or in part within such parish or township; and that the said overseers shall on or before the last day of July in every succeeding year make out or cause to be made out a like list, containing the names of all persons who shall be upon the register for the time being as such voters, and also the names of all persons who shall claim as aforesaid to be inserted in the last-mentioned list as such voters; and in every list so to be made out by the overseers as aforesaid, the Christian name and surname of every person shall be written at full length, together with the place of his abode, the nature of his qualification, and the local or other description of such lands or tenements, as the same are respectively set forth in his claim to vote, and the name of the occupying tenant, if stated in such claim; and the said overseers, if they shall have reasonable cause to believe that any person so claiming as aforesaid, or whose name shall appear in the register for the time being, is not entitled to vote in the election of a knight or knights of the shire * * *, shall have power to add the words “objected to” opposite the name of every such person on the margin of such list; and the said overseers shall sign such list, and shall cause a sufficient number of copies of such list to be written or printed, and to be fixed on or near the doors of all the churches and chapels within their parish or township, or if there be no church or chapel therein, then to be fixed up in some public and conspicuous situation within the same respectively, on the two Sundays next after such list shall have been made; and the said overseers shall likewise keep a true copy of such list, to be perused by any person, without payment of any fee, at all reasonable hours during the first two weeks after such lists shall have been made; provided always, that every precinct or place, whether extra-parochial or otherwise, which shall have no overseers of the poor, shall for the purpose of making out such list as aforesaid be deemed to be within the parish or township adjoining thereto, such parish or township being situate within the same county, or the same riding, parts, or division of a county, as such precinct or place; and if such precinct or place shall adjoin two or more parishes or townships so situate as aforesaid, it shall be deemed to be within the least populous of such parishes or townships according to the last census for the time being; and the overseers of the poor of every such parish or township shall insert in the list for their respective parish or township the names of all persons who shall claim as aforesaid to be inserted therein as voters. * * *

XXXIX. That every person who shall be upon the register for the time being for any county, or for any riding, parts, or division of a county, or who shall have claimed to be inserted in any list for the then current year of voters * * * may object to any person as not having been entitled on the last day of July then next preceding to have his name inserted in any list of voters * * * so to be made out as aforesaid; and every person so objecting (save and except overseers objecting in the manner hereinbefore mentioned) shall, on or before the 25th of August in the present and in every succeeding year, give or cause to be given a notice in writing according to the form numbered 4. in the said schedule (H.), or to the like effect, to the overseers who shall have made out the list in which the name so objected to shall have been inserted; and the person so objecting shall also, on or before the 25th of August * * * give to the person objected to, or leave at his place of abode as described in such list, or personally deliver to his tenant in occupation of the premises described in such list, a notice in writing according to the form numbered 5. in the said schedule (H.), or to the like effect; and the overseers shall include the names of all persons so objected to in a list according to the form numbered 6. in the said schedule (H.), and shall cause copies of the same to be fixed on or near the doors of all the churches * * * on the two Sundays next preceding the 15th of September in the present and every succeeding year; and the overseers shall likewise keep a copy of the names of all the persons so objected to, to be perused by any person. * * *

XL. That on the 29th of August in the present and in every succeeding year the overseers of every parish and township shall deliver the list of voters so made out as aforesaid, together with a written statement of the number of persons objected to by the overseers and by other persons, to the high constable or high constables of the hundred or other like district in which such parish or township is situate; and such high constable or high constables shall forthwith deliver all such lists, together with such statements as aforesaid, to the clerk of the peace of the county, riding, or parts, who shall forthwith make out an abstract of the number of persons objected to by the overseers and by other persons in each parish or township, and transmit the same to the barrister or barristers appointed as hereinafter mentioned to revise such lists, in order that the said barrister or barristers may fix proper times and places for holding his or their courts for the revision of the said lists.

XLI. That the lord chief justice of the court of king’s bench shall, in the month of July or August in the present and in every succeeding year, nominate and appoint for Middlesex, and the senior judge for the time being in the commission of assize for every other county shall, when travelling the summer circuit, * * * nominate and appoint for every such county, or for each of the ridings, parts, or divisions of such county, a barrister or barristers to revise the lists of voters in the election of a knight or knights of the shire; and such barrister or barristers so appointed as aforesaid shall give public notice, as well by advertisement in some of the newspapers circulating within the county, riding, parts, or division, as also by a notice to be fixed in some public and conspicuous situation * * * (* * * to be given three days at the least before the commencement of his or their circuit,) that he or they will make a circuit of the county, riding, parts, or division for which he or they shall be so appointed, and of the several times and places at which he or they will hold courts for that purpose, such times being between the 15th of September inclusive and the 25th of October inclusive in the present and in every succeeding year, and he or they shall hold open courts for that purpose at the times and places so to be announced. and where two or more barristers shall be appointed for the same county, riding, parts, or division, they shall attend at the same places together, but shall sit apart from each other, and hold separate courts at the same time for the despatch of business; provided always, that no member of parliament, nor any person holding any office or place of profit under the crown, shall be appointed such barrister, and that no barristers so appointed as aforesaid shall be eligible to serve in parliament for eighteen months from the time of such his appointment. * * *

XLII. That the clerk of the peace shall at the opening of the first court to be held by every such barrister * * * produce or cause to be produced before him the several lists of voters for such county, riding, parts, or division which shall have been delivered to such clerk of the peace by the high constable as aforesaid; and the overseers of every parish and township who shall have made out the lists of voters shall attend the court to be held by every such barrister at the place appointed for revising the lists relating to such parish or township respectively, and shall also deliver to such barrister a copy of the list of the persons objected to, so made out by them as aforesaid; and the said overseers shall answer upon oath all such questions as such barrister may put to them or any of them touching any matter necessary for revising the lists of voters; and every such barrister shall retain on the lists of voters the names of all persons to whom no objection shall have been made by the overseers, or by any other person, in the manner hereinbefore mentioned; and he shall also retain on the list of voters the name of every person who shall have been objected to by any person other than the overseers, unless the party so objecting shall appear by himself or by some one on his behalf in support of such objection; and where the name of any person inserted in the list of voters shall have been objected to by the overseers, or by any other person in the manner hereinbefore mentioned, and such person so objecting shall appear by himself or by some one on his behalf in support of such objection, every such barrister shall require it to be proved that the person so objected to was entitled on the last day of July then next preceding to have his name inserted in the list of voters in respect of the qualification described in such list; and in case the same shall not be proved to the satisfaction of such barrister, or in case it shall be proved that such person was then incapacitated by any law or statute from voting in the election of members to serve in parliament, such barrister shall expunge the name of every such person from the said lists; and he shall also expunge from the said lists the name of every person who shall be proved to him to be dead: and shall correct any mistake which shall be proved to him to have been made in any of the said lists as to any of the particulars by this act required to be inserted in such lists and where the Christian name of any person, or his place of abode, or the nature of his qualification, or the local or other description of his property, or the name of the tenant in the occupation thereof, as the same respectively are required to be inserted in any such list, shall be wholly omitted therefrom, such barrister shall expunge the name of every such person from such list, unless the matter or matters so omitted be supplied to the satisfaction of such barrister before he shall have completed the revision of such list, in which case he shall then and there insert the same in such list: provided always, that no person’s name shall be expunged from any such list, except in case of his death or of his being objected to on the margin of the list by the overseers as aforesaid, or except in case of any such omission or omissions as hereinbefore last-mentioned, unless such notice as is hereinbefore required in that behalf shall have been given to the overseers, nor unless such notice as is hereinbefore required in that behalf shall have been given to such person, or left at his place of abode, or delivered to his tenant as hereinbefore mentioned.

XLIII. Provided also, that if it shall happen that any person who shall have given to the overseers of any parish or township due notice of his claim to have his name inserted in the list of voters in the election of a knight or knights of the shire, shall have been omitted by such overseers from such list, it shall be lawful for the barrister, upon the revision of such list, to insert therein the name of the person so omitted, in case it shall be proved to the satisfaction of such barrister that such person gave due notice of such his claim to the said overseers, and that he was entitled on the last day of July then next preceding to be inserted in the list of voters in the election of a knight or knights of the shire. * * *

XLIV-LII. [Regulations for registration of voters for boroughs.]

[Part omitted]

LVI. That for the purpose of defraying the expenses to be incurred by the overseers of the poor and by the clerk of the peace in carrying into effect the several provisions of this act, so far as relates to the electors for any county, or for any riding, parts, or division of a county, every person, upon giving notice of his claim as such elector to the overseers, as hereinbefore mentioned, shall pay or cause to be paid to the said overseers the sum of 1 s.; and such notice of claim shall not be deemed valid until such sum shall have been paid; and the overseers of each parish or township shall add all monies so received by them to the money collected or to be collected for the relief of the poor in such parish or townships, and such monies so added shall be applicable to the same purposes as monies collected for the relief of the poor; and that for the purpose of defraying the expenses to be incurred by the returning officer of every city and borough, and townships in and by the overseers of the several parishes every city and borough, and place sharing in the election therewith, in carrying into effect the provisions of this act, so far as relates to the electors for such city or borough, every such elector whose name shall be upon the register of voters for such city or borough for the time being shall be liable to the payment of 1 s. annually, which sum shall be levied and collected from each elector in addition to and as a part of the money payable by him as his contribution to the rate for the relief of the poor, and such sum shall be applicable to the same purposes as money collected for the relief of the poor; and that the expenses incurred by the overseers of any parish or township in making out, printing, and publishing the several lists and notices directed by this act, and all other expenses incurred by them in carrying into effect the provisions of this act, shall be defrayed out of the money collected or to be collected for the relief of the poor in such parish or township; and that all expenses incurred by the returning officer of any city or borough in causing the lists of the electors for such city or borough to be copied out and made into a register, and in causing copies of such register to be written or printed, shall be defrayed by the overseers of the poor of the several parishes and townships within such city or borough, or place sharing in the election therewith, out of the money collected or to be collected for the relief of the poor in such parishes and township, in proportion to the number of voters placed on the register of voters for each parish or township; and that all expenses incurred by the clerk of the peace of any county, riding, or parts in causing the lists of the electors for such county, riding, or parts, or for any division of such county, to be copied out and made into a register, and in causing copies of such register to be written or printed, and in otherwise carrying into effect the provisions of this act, shall be defrayed by the treasurer of such county, riding, or parts out of any public money in his hands, and he shall be allowed all such payments in his accounts: provided always, that no expenses incurred by any clerk of the peace under this act shall be so defrayed unless the account shall be laid before the justices of the peace at the next quarter sessions after such expenses shall have been incurred, and allowed by the court.

LVII. That every barrister appointed to revise any list of voters under this act shall be paid at the rate of five guineas for every day that he shall be so employed, over and above his travelling and other expenses; and every such barrister, after the termination of his last sitting, shall lay or cause to be laid before the lords commissioners of His Majesty’s treasury for the time being a statement of the number of days during which he shall have been so employed, and an account of the travelling and other expenses incurred by him in respect of such employment; and the said lords commissioners shall make an order for the amount to be paid to such barrister.

[Part omitted]

LXII. That at every contested election of a knight or knights to serve in any future parliament for any county, or for any riding, parts, or division of a county, the polling shall commence at nine o’clock in the forenoon of the next day but two after the day fixed for the election, unless such next day but two shall be Saturday or Sunday, and then on the Monday following, at the principal place of election, and also at the several places to be appointed as hereinafter directed for taking polls; and such polling shall continue for two days only, such two days being successive days; (that is to say,) for seven hours on the first day of polling, and for eight hours on the second day of polling; and no poll shall be kept open later than four o’clock in the afternoon of the second day; any statute to the contrary notwithstanding.

LXIII. That the respective counties in England and Wales, and the respective ridings, parts, and divisions of counties, shall be divided into convenient districts for polling, and in each district shall be appointed a convenient place for taking the poll at all elections of a knight or knights of the shire to serve in any future parliament, and such districts and places for taking the poll shall be settled and appointed by the act to be passed in this present parliament for the purpose of settling and describing the divisions of the counties enumerated in the schedule marked (F.) to this act annexed; provided that no county, nor any riding, parts, or division of a county, shall have more than fifteen districts and respective places appointed for taking the poll for such county, riding, parts, or division.

LXIV. That at every contested election for any county, riding, parts, or division of a county the sheriff, under-sheriff, or sheriff’s deputy shall, if required thereto by or on behalf of any candidate, on the day fixed for the election, and if not so required may if it shall appear to him expedient, cause to be erected a reasonable number of booths for taking the poll at the principal place of election, and also at each of the polling places so to be appointed as aforesaid, and shall cause to be affixed on the most conspicuous part of each of the said booths the names of the several parishes, townships, and places for which such booth is respectively allotted; and no person shall be admitted to vote at any such election in respect of any property situate in any parish, township, or place, except at the booth so allotted for such parish, township, or place, and if no booth shall be so allotted for the same, then at any of the booths for the same district; and in case any parish, township, or place shall happen not to be included in any of the districts to be appointed, the votes in respect of property situate in any parish, township, or places omitted shall be taken at the principal place of election for the county, or riding, parts, or division of the county, as the case may be.

[Part omitted]

LXXI. That from and after the end of this present parliament all booths erected for the convenience of taking polls shall be erected at the joint and equal expense of the several candidates, and the same shall be erected by contract with the candidates, if they shall think fit to make such contract, or if they shall not make such contract, then the same shall be erected by the sheriff or other returning officer at the expense of the several candidates as aforesaid, subject to such limitation as is hereinafter next mentioned; (that is to say,) that the expense to be incurred for the booth or booths to be erected at the principal place of election * * * or at any of the polling places so to be appointed as aforesaid, shall not exceed the sum of 40£ in respect of any one such principal place of election or any one such polling place; and that the expense to be incurred for any booth or booths to be erected for any parish, district, or part Of any city or borough shall not exceed the sum of 25£ in respect of any one such parish, district, or part; and that all deputies appointed by the sheriff or other returning officer shall be paid each two guineas by the day, and all clerks employed in taking the poll shall be paid each one guinea by the day, at the expense of the candidates at such election: provided always, that if any person shall be proposed without his consent, then the person so proposing him shall be liable to defray his share of the said expenses in like manner as if he had been a candidate; provided also, that the sheriff or other returning officer may, if he shall think fit, instead of erecting such booth or booths as aforesaid, procure or hire and use any houses or other buildings for the purpose of taking the poll therein, subject always to the same regulations, provisions, liabilities, and limitations of expense as are hereinbefore mentioned with regard to booths for taking the poll.

[Part omitted]

LXXVIII. Provided always, that nothing in this act contained shall extend to or in any wise affect the election of members to serve in parliament for the universities of Oxford or Cambridge, or shall entitle any person to vote in the election of members to serve in parliament for the city of Oxford or town of Cambridge in respect of the occupation of any chamber or premises in any of the colleges or halls of the universities of Oxford or Cambridge.

[Part omitted]