winnington memorial

Thomas Winnington 1696-1746

Thomas Winnington was elected to represent Droitwich in 1726, a seat he was to win at every general election until he died. In 1741 he also stood for Worcester and won both seats. He chose to represent Worcester. You will see from the inscription on the sarcophagus that he was made Lord of the Admiralty in 1730, Lord of the Treasury from 1736 to 1742, in 1741 he was made a Privy Counsellor and Cofferer of the Household and in 1743 Paymaster General of the Forces.

The idea of parliament can be traced back to Anglo Saxon times when the King would summon his advisors to discuss issues of the day. At that time there were regular meetings in the counties of local Lords, Bishops, the sheriff and four representatives from each village. Therefore only people of wealth and influence were involved. In due course these became the County Courts. The system eventually developed into the Houses of Lords and Commons, still with only people of influence and wealth able to stand for election or vote.

In the 1820s and 1830s there was social unrest by both the Middle Classes and the Working Classes with demonstrations and some rioting as they demanded representation in Parliament. Until the first Act in I832 the rapidly growing industrial towns of Birmingham and Manchester had no MPs to represent them whereas "rotten" boroughs such as Old Sarum had two MPs with only seven voters. With no secret ballot voters could easily be bribed or intimidated. This Act gave the right to vote to any man owning a household worth £10, adding 217,000 voters to an electorate of 435,000.

However the vast majority of the working classes were still excluded from voting and felt betrayed. The Act of 1867 extended the right to every male adult householder living in a borough constituency, that is an urban area, and added male lodgers paying £10 pa for unfurnished rooms. It also took away one MP from constituencies and boroughs of less than 10,000 inhabitants, giving these seats to larger towns etc. There was no change for rural areas.

The Act of 1884 gave the Counties the same rights as the boroughs so that adult male agricultural worker householders and lodgers were now entitled to vote. However these Reform Acts did nothing for women, none of whom had the right to vote regardless of wealth.

The first woman elected was Constance Markievicz on 14th December 1918 in Dublin St. Patrick’s but refused to take her seat as she was a member of Sinn Fein. The first woman to take a seat was Nancy Astor — Vicountess Astor — on 28th November I9I9 for the Sutton division of Plymouth.

 

To vote men had to reside in Britain for the twelve months before an election so those returning home from the Great War were disenfranchised. The Representation of the People Act of |9|8 gave the vote to women over 30 with a property qualification and all men over the age of 2l. It was not until The Equal Franchise Act of 1928 that women over the age of 2l were able to vote — the same as men. The first Palace of Westminster was built in the 11th Century as the London residence for English Kings and was destroyed by fire in 1512. It was replaced by "The Old Palace" which itself burnt down in 1834. Construction of "The New Palace" started in 1840 and took 30 years to complete.

 

The age of majority, that is the age when a minor legally becomes an adult and is no longer dependent on parents or guardian, stood at 2l years in Britain until it was reduced to |8 years on lst january 1970. A salary for Members of Parliament was introduced in 1911 at £400 pa. By 1st April 2012 this had risen to £65,738 pa plus expenses. Members of the House of Lords, being Nobles, are not allowed to stand for election to, nor vote for, members of The House of Commons.

 

The memorial was restored with support from Heritage Lottery fund