Managers and Agents: Conservative Party Organisation in the 1850s
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During the 1850s in the wake of the calamitous Peelite split, Britain's Conservative Party struggled to rebuild its numbers in the house of commons. The structure of the party's electoral organisation is well known-parliamentary leaders, election managers such as Sir William Jolliffe and Philip Rose, plus local constituency based agents. Jolliffe's and Rose's 1859 election notebooks help understand this, but they also reveal serious gaps in the Conservatives' information networks. This article delineates the electoral activities of Sir John Yarde Buller (first Baron Churston) and his ally Samuel Triscott, who supplemented the spasmodic flow of information from small boroughs in at least two counties. Mid-level or second-tier managers, to whom no attention has previously been given, assisted the Conservatives in their gradual electoral recovery. Their roles also suggest that the party's organization may have been more complex than previously believed.