The Returning Officer: Rutland

Cayenne pepper and foot-and-mooth colour Rutland's election history.

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In 1883, Gerard Noel resigned as MP for Rutland. This was only the second time there had been a contest in the constituency since the Reform Act 1832. The London Standard noted, “Foot-and-mouth disease is in the district [and] it is attracting quite as much attention as the election.”

The Tory James Lowther beat the Liberal J W Davenport-Handley by 860 to 194. The Derby Daily Telegraph noted, “The system of registration is said to be extremely defective . . . and the poll [was] decided by non-residents.” Lowther didn’t stand in 1885 and became Viscount Ullswater. In 1927, he recalled that at one meeting the crowd “burned cayenne pepper and drove us out of the hall”.

This article appears in the 30 January 2015 issue of the New Statesman, The Class Ceiling