Rage of Party: election day in the 1690-1715 period

The History of Parliament

Today we go to the polls to vote in European and local elections. Voting was a very different experience at the turn of the 18th century…

One of the most prolific periods for elections in Britain occurred long before universal suffrage. After the reforms of the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688-89, parliament passed the Triennial Act, stating that parliament must meet annually and elections be held every three years. This, combined with serious political issues – war on the continent, religious differences between high church Tories and pro-dissent Whigs (see our Explore page for more), and the rival interest of ‘court’ and ‘country’ – led to fierce political battles in what has become known as the ‘rage of party’. Elections during the period 1690-1715 occurred on average every two and a half years, unique in British history.

The electoral system was of course very different to that of today…

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