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United Kingdom general election, 1874

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Title: United Kingdom general election, 1874  
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Subject: List of UK Parliamentary election petitions, List of MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1874, William Lawrence (London MP), Henry Samuelson, Denzil Roberts Onslow
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United Kingdom general election, 1874

United Kingdom general election, 1874

31 January–17 February 1874

All 652 seats to the House of Commons
327 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Benjamin Disraeli William Ewart Gladstone Isaac Butt
Party Conservative Liberal Home Rule
Leader since 27 February 1868 3 December 1868 November 1873
Leader's seat Buckinghamshire Greenwich Limerick
Last election 271 seats, 38.4% 387 seats, 61.5% N/A
Seats won 350 242 60
Seat change Increase 79 Decrease 145 N/A
Popular vote 1,091,708 1,281,159 90,234
Percentage 44.3% 52.0% 3.7%
Swing Increase 5.9% Decrease 9.5% N/A

PM before election

William Ewart Gladstone

Subsequent PM

Benjamin Disraeli

1865 election MPs
1868 election MPs
1874 election MPs
1880 election MPs
1885 election MPs

The 1874 United Kingdom general election saw the Liberals, led by William Ewart Gladstone, win a majority of the votes cast, but Benjamin Disraeli's Conservatives won the majority of seats in the House of Commons, largely because they won a number of uncontested seats. It was the first Conservative victory in a General Election since 1841.

The election also saw Irish nationalists in the Home Rule League become the first significant third party in Parliament. This had been the first General Election that used a secret ballot following the 1872 Secret Ballot Act. The Irish Nationalist gains could well be attributed to the effects of the secret ballot as tenants faced less of a threat of eviction if they voted against the wishes of their landlords.

This is the only time since the introduction of the secret ballot that a party has been defeated despite receiving an absolute majority of the popular vote. However, this is primarily due to the fact that over 100 Conservative candidates were elected unopposed. This meant that there was no contest in many constituencies where the Conservatives were popular.


UK General Election 1874
Candidates Votes
Party Standing Elected Gained Unseated Net % of total % No. Net %
  Liberal 489 242 − 139 37.1 52.0 1,281,159 − 9.5
  Conservative 507 350 + 79 53.7 44.3 1,091,708 + 5.9
  Home Rule 80 60 0 0 + 60 9.2 3.7 90,234 N/A
  Others 4 0 0 0 0 0.0 2,936 0.0

Total votes cast: 2,466,037. "Others" include the Catholic Union.

Voting summary

Popular vote
Home Rule

Seats summary

Parliamentary seats
Home Rule

Regional Results

Great Britain

Party Seats Seats change Votes % % Change
Conservative 319 1,000,006 44.6
Liberal 232 1,241,381 55.4
Others 0 2 0.0
Total 551 2,241,389 100
Party Seats Seats change Votes % % Change
Conservative 280 905,239 46.2
Liberal 171 1,035,268 53.8
Others 0 2 0.0
Total 451 1,940,509 100
Party Seats Seats change Votes % % Change
Liberal 40 148,345 68.4
Conservative 18 63,193 31.6
Total 58 211,538 100
Party Seats Seats change Votes % % Change
Liberal 19 57,768 60.9
Conservative 14 31,574 39.1
Total 33 89,342 100


Party Seats Seats change Votes % % Change
Home Rule 60 New 90,234 39.6 New
Irish Conservative 31 Decrease6 91,702 40.8 Decrease1.1%
Liberal 10 Decrease56 39,778 18.4 Decrease39.5%
Other 0 2,934 1.2
Total 101 Decrease2 224,648 100


Party Seats Seats change Votes % % Change
Conservative 7
Liberal 2
Total 9 100

All University candidates were elected unopposed.


  • F. W. S. Craig, British Electoral Facts: 1832-1987
  • British Electoral Facts 1832-1999, compiled and edited by Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher (Ashgate Publishing Ltd 2000
  • Spartacus: Political Parties and Election Results
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