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pocket borough

(before the Reform Bill of 1832) any English borough whose representatives in Parliament were controlled by an individual or family.
an election district under the control of an individual, family, or group.
Origin of pocket borough
First recorded in 1855-60 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pocket borough
Historical Examples
  • Like Gatton, Reigate was a pocket borough, and sent two members to Parliament until 1832, when the two were reduced to one.

  • In pre-Reform days it was a pocket borough, returning two members.

    Somerset G.W. Wade and J.H. Wade
  • Thereafter, it was storekeeper Lincoln's pocket borough; its ruffians were his body-guard.

    Lincoln Nathaniel Wright Stephenson
  • Had it not been for a pocket borough, Burke, that Cicero of English politics, would never have entered the halls of legislation.

    Ande Trembath Matthew Stanley Kemp
  • In February 1830 the doors of the House of Commons were opened to him through what was then called a “pocket borough.”

  • Bramber was, for many years, a pocket borough of the worst type.

British Dictionary definitions for pocket borough

pocket borough

(before the Reform Act of 1832) an English borough constituency controlled by one person or family who owned the land Compare rotten borough
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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