How were controverted elections tried?

Controverted elections were election results which had their legitimacy challenged. These elections were challenged through the presentation of an election petition. A petitioner challenged the seat, and witnesses were called to provide evidence. The defendant (the accused) could also provide witnesses to support their claim to the seat.

How were election petitions resolved?

When an election petition was raised, there could be four possible outcomes:

  • The election was declared void.
  • The election was held to have been undue (improper): the original return was quashed, and another candidate was declared to have been elected.
  • The election was upheld, and the member returned was found to have been duly elected.
  • The petition was withdrawn.

Related information

The De Montfort Project is an outreach project run by the Parliamentary Archives which explores the life and impact of local MPs and Peers on both their local area and at Parliament.