Constituencies 1660-1690

Published in 1983

In 1660 the House of Commons consisted of 507 Members. 39 English counties (Durham was not entitled to return Members) returned two Members each. The 201 English boroughs returned 388 Members. Most of them returned two each; 5 of them returned only one each; London, and a borough that had been combined out of two in the sixteenth century (Weymouth and Melcombe Regis), returned four each. In addition the two English universities (Oxford and Cambridge) returned two Members each. The twelve Welsh counties each returned one Member to Parliament, using the same franchise as for the English counties. There were 12 Welsh borough constituencies, 5 of them single boroughs, and the others groups of boroughs united for electoral purposes.

Durham County and Durham City were enfranchised by Act of Parliament in 1673, and Newark (Nottinghamshire) was enfranchised by royal charter in the same year. These enfranchisements were the last changes to the number of parliamentary seats in England and Wales before the Reform Act of 1832 apart from the disenfranchisement of Grampound in 1821.

The constituencies are briefly described in an appendix to the Introductory Survey, with a classification of boroughs as burgage, corporation, freeholder, freeman, freeman and other, householder, inhabitant and scot and lot. In a number of cases the franchise changed over the period, either through decisions of the House of Commons or through the substitution of a new charter. The appendix also lists all contested elections over the period. Some greater information on franchises in the late seventeenth century than is provided in the introductory survey to this section can be found in the introductory survey to the 1690-1715 section, although readers should be aware that that section does not provide a perfect description of the electoral system in the pre-Revolution period.