Leeds Parliamentary Election Results
1837 - 27th July
E. Baines (Whig/Liberal) 2,028 votes
Sir W. Molesworth (Whig/Liberal) 1,880
Sir J. Beckett (Tory) 1,759
When William IV died, a general election was called as was normal following the death of the monarch. Melbourne’s Whig/Liberals retained power with 344 seats to 314. In Leeds the Liberals formed a coalition between the traditionalist Baines and Sir William Molesworth, a Philosophical Radical Liberal. However, the arrangement split the party. Many of the town’s Liberals refused to vote for Molesworth as they argued his religious scepticism ‘was tantamount to abandoning the word of God’ and the Leeds Protestant Association vigorously opposed him. When he was asked if he were a true Christian, Molesworth responded it was a question no liberal minded-man should put to another.
The main issues of the election was posed by Baines when he asked the crowd whether they preferred to be governed, by the policy of the House of Commons or the House of Lords, urged justice for Ireland and stressed the need that the Reform Bill should not become ‘a dead letter’. For the radical Leeds Times it was a ‘Triumph of Truth and Honesty over Tyranny and Knavery’.