ID 1082

Parliament of Tasmania, House of Assembly election

Election of 29 May 1861

Show only vote and seat summary details

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General election for the House of Assembly
Date of election (or first day of voting at elections held over more than one day)
29 May 1861

Government in office and parliamentary support before and after the election

Government in office at election

Premier in office at date of election. (check notes to see if change of Premier since previous election)
Premier's party affiliation
Support from parliamentary factions and independents
House of Assembly support for government at election
If coalition, coalition partner(s)

Government in office after election

Premier's party affiliation
Support from parliamentary factions and independents
House of Assembly support for government after election
If coalition, coalition partner(s)

Enrolment and voting

Total number of voters on the roll
Number of Assembly seats
Number of uncontested seats
If uncontested seats, number of voters on the roll in uncontested seats
No data available
Number of voters on the roll in contested seats
Total ballots cast (may differ from number of votes in multiple voting systems)
Turnout (rate of voting in contested seats)
Total valid votes
Rate of informal (invalid) voting
Not applicable
Informal (invalid) ballots in multiple voting system
Electoral system
Property and occupational franchise, plural voting, single and multimember districts, first past the post (plurality) voting (see notes)

Tasmania, House of Assembly votes and seats won

Display Chart

Election held on 29 May 1861
Criteria for the inclusion of parties in this table are set out in the Glossary under 'listed party'

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Party Name First preference vote n First preference vote share % Change from previous election % Seats won n Uncontested seats held n Seat share %
Independents (No disciplined party groupings)  6,964  100.00  0.00  30  11  100.00 
Votes for other than listed parties 0 0.00 0.00       
Totals 6,964  100.00    30  11  100.00 

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Election dates: Elections were held over the period from 29 May to 17 June 1861.

Premier in office at election: There had been four changes of Premier since the previous House of Assembly general election in 1859: Champ resigned on 26 February 1857; Gregson was defeated in parliament and Weston was commissioned on 25 April 1857; Weston's government lasted only seventeen days and Weston resigned in favour of Smith on 12 May 1857; Smith, in turn, resigned on 1 November 1860 in favour of Weston who remained in office over the election held during May and June 1861. For summary details of these changes of Premier and references to the careers of these Premiers, see the entries for each Premier in the 'Periods in office' component of this website; see also Reynolds, p. 115-123 (see 'References', below).

Premier in office after election: 'Weston's ill health .... caused him to resign and move to Victoria', Terry Newman, Tasmanian Premiers 1856-1988: A Biographical Handbook, p. 13, (Hobart: Tasmanian Parliamentary Library, [1988]). Chapman was appointed Premier immediately after the second general election held in May-June 1861 at which he 'appeared to have good support', Reynolds, p. 130, (see 'References', below). For more references on the Premier's career, click on Weston's name in the 'Government in office after election' table, above.

Franchise: The franchise was granted to 'males over 21 who possessed a freehold estate worth £100 clear, to householders paying £10 annual rent, to salary earners of £100 per annum upwards, and to those with professional qualifications' (graduates, barristers, solicitors, medical practitioners, ministers of religion, or officers, including retired officers, of Her Majesty's forces); Townsley, Tasmania, p. 111, (see 'References', below). The franchise had to be claimed annually. Plural voting was permitted for those who had the qualifications for the franchise in more than one electoral district; see Terry Newman, Sandstone and Statutes: A History of the Tasmanian Parliament, (in process), and note Bennett and Bennett, pp 5-6 (see 'Sources', below).

Electoral system and voting: Thirty members were elected to the House of Assembly from 22 single member electoral districts and 2 multimember districts; Hobart Town with 5 members, and Launceston with 3 members. Voting was by striking out the names of candidates on a printed ballot paper until, for single member districts, only one name remained. In the case of Hobart Town and Launceston, 5 and 3 names respectively had to remain after the names of other candidates on the ballot had been struck out. For all districts, if more or fewer names remained on the ballot than the number of members to be elected from the district, the ballot was declared invalid. Votes were counted by the first past the post (plurality) method and cast using the secret ballot (see Newman in 'References', below).

Missing data: The enrolment figures shown in the table 'Enrolment and voting', above, for contested seats are likely to be substantially understated. Information is available for only 3 of the 15 contested electoral districts; the figure shown is the sum of the enrolment figures listed for the electoral districts of Hobart Town (3,689), Sorrell (160), and Queenborough (109). The sum of the enrolment in these districts has been added to the ballots cast in the remaining 12 districts in which there were electoral contests to produce a minimum total of enrolled electors of 5,840. The real figure, assuming a 75 percent turnout rate in the 12 contested districts without enrolment details, is likely to have been some 500 enrolled voters higher.

Information is available from only 4 of the 15 contested electoral districts for the number of informal (invalid) ballots, understating the number of ballots cast.

References: For a description of the style of elections and parliamentary government in this period, see W A Townsley, 'Electoral Systems and Constituencies', and John Reynolds, 'Premiers and Political Leaders', in F C Green (editor), Tasmania: A Century of Responsible Government 1856-1956, pp 59-65, and 115-192, (Hobart: L G Shea, Government Printer, [1956]), and W A Townsley, Tasmania From Colony to Statehood 1803-1945, pp 111-128 (Hobart: St David's Park Publishing, 1991, ISBN 0724625753). On Tasmania's early adoption of the secret ballot in 1856, see Terry Newman, 'Tasmania and the Secret Ballot', Australian Journal of Politics and History, 9 (1) 2003: 93-101, and note pp 99-100 which gives an idea of the context of voting in early Tasmanian elections.


Voting figures and election results calculated from information in Scott Bennett and Barbara Bennett, Tasmanian Electoral Handbook, 1851-1982, (Kensington, NSW: Reference Section of History Project Incorporated, University of New South Wales, 1983). The difficulties of determining the accuracy of early Tasmanian election results is discussed in Scott Bennett, 'The Statistics of Tasmania and the Study of Tasmanian Elections: A Cautionary Note', in Tasmanian Historical Research Association, Papers and Proceedings, 45(4), December 1998: 237-242.