Pontefract by-election, 1872

The Pontefract by-election of 1872 was fought on 15 August 1872. The ministerial by-election was fought due to the incumbent Liberal MP, Hugh Childers, becoming Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Paymaster General. It was retained by Childers.

It was the first UK Parliamentary election that was held by secret ballot held shortly after the Ballot Act of 1872 ended the old practice of open voting had come into effect. There was considerable interest in the outcome, many observers believing that support for the parties might be drastically different once voters were able to make their choice in secret; but in the event the shares of the vote were much as they had been at the previous general election. Hugh Childers was re-elected on 15 August 1872 following his appointment as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. The Pontefract museum holds the original ballot box, sealed in wax with a liquorice stamp.[1]


  1. Pontefract's secret ballot box, 1872. BBC: A History of the World. Retrieved 19 May 2014

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