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Cambridge University (UK Parliament constituency)

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Title: Cambridge University (UK Parliament constituency)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Robert Brady (writer), List of United Kingdom Parliament constituencies represented by sitting Prime Ministers, United Kingdom general election, 1922, List of MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, December 1910, List of MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1918
Collection: 1603 Establishments in England, History of the University of Cambridge, Parliamentary Constituencies in the East of England (Historic), Politics of Cambridge, United Kingdom Parliamentary Constituencies Disestablished in 1950, United Kingdom Parliamentary Constituencies Established in 1603, United Kingdom Parliamentary Constituencies Represented by a Sitting Prime Minister, University Constituencies in the United Kingdom
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Cambridge University (UK Parliament constituency)

Cambridge University
Former University constituency
for the House of Commons
Number of members two

Cambridge University was a university constituency electing two members to the British House of Commons, from 1603 to 1950.

Boundaries, Electorate and Election Systems

This university constituency was created by a Royal Charter of 1603. It was abolished in 1950 by the Representation of the People Act 1948.

The constituency was not a geographical area. Its electorate consisted of the graduates of the University. Before 1918 the franchise was restricted to male graduates with a Doctorate or MA degree. Sedgwick records that there were 377 electors in 1727. For the 1754–1790 period Namier and Brooke estimated the electorate at about 500.

The constituency returned two Members of Parliament. Before 1918 they were elected using the block vote. From 1918, the MPs were elected by the Single Transferable Vote method.


In the early 18th century the electors were mostly Tory. However the Whig ministers of Oxford University, where the King did not have the same prerogative power, remained safely Tory (indeed often Jacobite) in sympathies.

The leading mid-18th century Whig politician, the Duke of Newcastle, was Chancellor of the University from 1748–68. He "recommended" suitable candidates to represent the institution in Parliament. This practice continued under his successor, another Whig Duke and Prime Minister (1768–1770), the Duke of Grafton (Chancellor 1768–1811). However Grafton was less prominent as a politician than Newcastle had been and less attentive to the University. As a result, some of Grafton's choices were criticised, notably that of the Duke's friend Richard Croftes.

Croftes was atypical of a University MP: he was neither the son of a peer (like the Hon. John Townshend, the Marquess of Granby and Grafton's own son the Earl of Euston), a distinguished lawyer-politician (such as William de Grey, James Mansfield and Sir Vicary Gibbs) nor a prominent political figure (like William Pitt and Lord Henry Petty).

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries Pittite/Tory candidates began to be elected. At the start of this political development some of the Pittite MPs, like William Pitt himself (MP for the University 1784–1806), called themselves Whigs. As time passed the division between the 19th century Tory and Whig parties became clearer.

The future Prime Minister, [[Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston

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