Leeds Parliamentary Election Results
1874 - 5th February
R. M. Carter (Liberal) 15, 390 *
W. Wheelhouse (Conservative) 14,864
R. Tennant (Conservative) 13,494
E. Baines Jr (Liberal) 11,850
Dr F. R. Lees (Radical) 5,954
[ * Resigned 1876]
A 5.9% swing saw Benjamin Disraeli’s Conservatives victorious with 350 seats and a majority of 48 over the other parties. The Liberals won 242 seats. The Irish Nationalists became the significant third party in Parliament with 60 seats. For the Conservatives 125 were unopposed. This was the first election where the secret ballot was used. In Leeds, with its population of 270,000 and some 45,000 on the electoral roll, the Conservatives followed the national trend and acquired two of the three seats with the biggest local shock of the election being the defeat of Edward Baines Jr. The Radical candidate, Dr Lees, was brought forward by the temperance party and was supported by many trade unionists and Irish Home Rulers, who were particularly abusive of the more moderate Liberals. Some accused him of not being a serious candidate at all until he mortgaged his property in order to raise the £200 he needed to stand.
The main issues raised in Leeds were the Vaccination Acts, woman’s suffrage, Irish Home Rule and the disestablishment of the Church of England. The campaign was acrimonious at times with Lees accusing Baines of lying whilst Lees himself was accused of taking a bribe from the Tories to stand in order to divide the Liberal vote. On voting day the morning opened brightly but later a dense fog settled over the town.