Leeds Parliamentary Election Results
1865 - 13th July
G. S. Beecroft (Conservative) 3,223
E. Baines Jr (Liberal) 3,045
Lord Amberley (Liberal) 2,902
The Liberals increased their majority by registering 369 seats to the Conservatives 289. Palmerston, the Prime Minister, died that year and was succeeded by Lord John Russell. In Leeds the Conservatives had hoped that each party would put forward just one candidate and thus avoid the expense of an election. In the event the Liberals offered Edward Baines Jr and the son of Lord Russell, Viscount Amberley. There was widespread interest in the town with, according to various press reports, between 20,000 and 50,000 gathered at the nomination meeting on Woodhouse Moor. The Times declared that, ‘The contest was conducted in excellent spirit, but with an amount of animation rarely, if ever, equalled in this borough.’
Beecroft was a convincing winner by 178 votes beating Baines into second place. The Leeds Intelligencer claimed that some 2,945 plumpers, people who used only one of their two votes, voted for Beecroft. It meant with their votes alone he beat the inexperienced Amberley who was fighting his first election. The Intelligencer went on to claim that this showed that in Leeds there was considerable feeling for rejecting any further idea of Parliamentary Reform. The Conservatives were accused of extensive bribery in the town during the contest.