England has been divided into parliamentary constituencies since mediaeval times, with each English county and borough typically having 2 members of parliament. Until the late 1800s the qualification to vote was restricted to men over 21 normally linked to ownership of land with an annual value of forty shillings or more. Voting was open and from 1700 poll books record which voter voted for which candidate. Inclusion in a Poll Book therefore gives an indication of relative wealth and of political persuasion. The disproportional number of my voting ancestors coming from Northamptonshire reflects the yeoman/farmer "class" from which they were drawn and into which they intermarried. The two main political parties were Whigs and Tories.
Originating in the late 1600s the Whig party were the advocates of a protestant and parliamentary democracy.
Their enactment of the Mutiny Act ensured parliament would be summoned regularly, and the 1689 Toleration Act allowed dissenting religious practices to grow. Their establishment of the national debt in 1692 and the Bank of England in 1694 connected them with sound finance. Under Walpole the party was one of strong protestant nationalism, led by great landowners, supported by the towns, the dissenters and capitalists. It insisted on rigid mercantilist protection of English industries and excluding the monarch from personal participation in government. Subsequently many Whig landlords moved to the Tory party. The last Whig administration ended in 1852 with the radical banner picked up by the Liberal Party.
Characteristic doctrine was of implicit obedience to the lawful and anointed king (i.e. divine right).
The name derives from the debates over the succession to the throne in 1679 when it was suggested the Stuarts might use Irish troops against English patriots (Tory apparently is based on the Irish word for rebels and bandits). After the 1688 revolution the Tories were out of office for 70 years but retained its hold on the lower clergy and squirearchy. With the accession of George III the party's fortunes revived (having dropped the emphasis on divine right) and the French revolution triggered a move of Whig landlords to the party, fearing Englishmen might be "infected" with the same revolutionary ideas.
The repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 led to a considerable number of Tories deserting to Sir Robert Peel. The party was then divided but subsequently re-created by Disraeli.
HOW MY ANCESTORS VOTED
Leicestershire 1741 In Hinckley Jonathan Blower voted for Sir Thomas Cave and Edward Smith
Leicestershire 1741 In Sharnford William Marvin voted for Sir Thomas Cave and Edward Smith
Northamptonshire 1702 In Marston St Lawrence Thomas Gardiner voted for Lord Spencer and Sir St Andrew St John (Whig)
Northamptonshire 1702 In Badby Thomas Masters voted for Lord Spencer and Sir St Andrew St John (Whig)
Northamptonshire 1705 In Everdon Francis Montgomery voted for Sir Justinian Isham (Tory)and Thomas Cartwright esq (Tory)
Northamptonshire 1705 In Badby Thomas Masters voted for Lord Mordant
Northamptonshire 1730 In Cold Higham John Boswell of Cold Higham voted for William Hanbury (Whig)
Northamptonshire 1730 In Badby John Masters of Badby voted for Sir Justinian Isham (Tory)
Northamptonshire 1748 In Cold Higham John Boswell of Cold Higham voted for Valentine Knightley esq (Tory)
Northamptonshire 1748 In Welton Joshua Wafforn of Welton voted for Valentine Knightley esq (Tory)
Northamptonshire 1748 In Boddington Franc. Montgomery of Wormleighton com' War voted for William Hanbury (Whig)
Northamptonshire 1806 In Milton Rev F Montgomery of Milton voted for William Ralph Cartwright esq and Lord Viscount Althorp
Northamptonshire 1806 In Daventry Samuel Montgomery of Daventry voted for William Ralph Cartwright and Sir William Longham Baronet (Tory indep)
Northamptonshire 1806 In Litchborough John Waite of Litchborough voted for William Ralph Cartwright esq and Lord Viscount Althorp (Whig indep)
Northamptonshire 1806 In Litchborough Robert Waite of Litchborough voted for William Ralph Cartwright esq Lord Viscount Althorp (Whig indep)
Northamptonshire 1831 In Milton William Montgomery of Milton gent voted for William Ralph Cartwright esq and Charles Knightley Baronet
Northamptonshire 1831 In Holcot Robert Montgomery (clerk) voted for William Ralph Cartwright esq and Sir Charles Knightley Baronet
Northamptonshire 1831 In Norton William Montgomery of Lower Heyford farmer voted for William Ralph Cartwright esq and Sir Charles Knightley Baronet
Northamptonshire 1831 In Litchborough John Wait of Litchborough farmer voted for William Ralph Cartwright esq and Sir Charles Knightley Baronet
Northamptonshire 1831 In Litchborough Robert Wait of Litchborough farmer voted for William Ralph Cartwright esq Sir Charles Knightley Baronet
Northamptonshire 1857 In Nether Heyford William Montgomery of Nether Heyford voted for Colonel Richard Henry Richard Howard and Vyse Rainald Knightley esq
Warwickshire 1774 In Radbourne Edward Montgomery of Milton (clerk) voted for Skip Holt