Eighteenth-Century

Political Participation
& Electoral Culture

Eighteenth-century Britain is notorious for its corrupt and restrictive politics, when few could vote and bribery and debauchery were commonplace. But it was also an age when modern democracy was being shaped. Parliamentary elections could be fiercely contested. Campaigns were fought at public meetings and entertainments, in print and song, through dress and decoration. Men and women, rich and poor, voters and non-voters, all participated – as consumers, but also as active makers of these unique cultural and political experiences.

Eighteenth-Century Political Participation & Electoral Culture collects in one place a wealth of information on English parliamentary elections from 1695 to the Reform Act of 1832. This includes which elections were ‘contested’, where poll books recording the votes can be found, and analysis of who voted and how. Our site also presents a wealth of material associated with elections, including print, artefacts and music.

You can explore this data through our Features introducing and analysing aspects of eighteenth-century electoral history. Or you can interrogate the data in your own ways by using our Directories and Data Explorer.


Learn About Eighteenth-Century Elections

The short articles here offer introductions to some of the main features of eighteenth-century elections, and data-driven analysis of particular aspects of electoral history.

Case Study Constituencies

Nineteen Eighteenth-Century case study constituencies have been selected as being representative of different kinds of constituencies in terms of their size and their franchise, as well as having a geographical spread, and a good amount of surviving data, particularly poll books.

Electoral Culture

Eighteenth-century election contests were multi-media events, playing out in print and aurally, as events in private and public spaces, and manifesting in a huge variety of material culture. Some aspects of this extensive material culture are presented here in a series of online curated exhibitions on particular themes. Items can also be searched for individually using the Cultural Artefacts Explorer.

Electoral Data

Election Directory

This directory is based on a survey of the [11,672] parliamentary elections which took place in England between 1695 and 1832. In addition to providing information about whether each election was contested, the directory records whether a corresponding poll book survives.

Election Directory
Poll Book Directory

This directory lists [1,867] surviving individual poll books for the period 1695–1832, corresponding to [1,379] separate elections, and provides information about where they are held.

Poll Book Directory
Data Explorer

This Data Explorer allows you to search the entirety of our data, including elections and results, as well as candidates and individual electors for the nineteen case study constituencies for which we have digitised polling data.

Data Explorer
Developer API

Use the ECPPEC APIs to access the entirety of our data for the nineteen case study constituencies for which we have digitised polling data and power your own interactive visualisation.

API