1832 Reform Act

The passage of the 1832 Reform Act, Works of Art 0920

The Reform Act was finally passed on 4 June 1832.  It granted two MPs to Birmingham.  Before this, Birmingham had only been represented by the MPs for Warwickshire.

Thomas Attwood was lauded for his role in the passing of the Act.  He was popularly known as ‘King Tom’ and his return journey from London to Birmingham has been described as being like a Royal progress.

Attwood was elected one of Birmingham’s two MPs in the election of 1832.  Another Birmingham Political Union figure, Joshua Scholefield, was the other MP.  No Tory candidates could be found to stand against them and they were elected unopposed.

The 1832 Reform Act was Attwood’s political triumph.  All acknowledged his role and that of the BPU in the passage of the Act.  But although it was a huge step forward, and expanded the electorate by over 50%, the Act did not go far enough.  Much middle class support for reform disappeared once they received representation, and the Reform movement became predominantly working class. 

For more information please visit the Living Heritage page on the 1832 Reform Act.