1937 - Parish Council Election

In the history of the Parish Council, there have been two contested elections that had large numbers of candidates standing. The 1922 election had 12 candidates and the 1937 election had 14 (in both cases for 7 vacancies). The 1937 election is unique in that the Chelveston WI organised a successful campaign to get the first lady Councillors elected since the Council was formed in 1895.

The WI had selected two "suitable" candidates, both being married, "sensible" ladies that might be accepted by the electorate. All electors attending the Parish Meeting on 15th March 1937 were given a leaflet respectfully asking for their support in voting for the ladies by other WI members.

The election process in 1937 was different to the secret ballot process we currently enjoy. First the Parish Meeting (which we now call the Annual Parish Assembly) gave any qualifying candidate with two sponsors the opportunity to put their name forward. After 15 minutes had elapsed, the Chairman of the meeting (George Arthur Tilley) could announce all the names of the candidates nominated and (being more than the 7 vacancies) he announced an election would be held unless sufficient candidates withdrew.

As none withdrew, the Chairman announced each name in turn (alphabetically) and the electors present then voted in favour by show of hands. The Chairman then advised the meeting that unless a poll was demanded before the meeting closed, the 7 highest polling candidates (denoted e in the table below) would be elected. A poll would include all the electors, not just those attending the meeting.

A poll was duly demanded by 5 electors, and so a secret ballot of the whole electorate was conducted on 5th April 1937.

Results of the show of hands and the Poll


Show of Hands

Secret Ballot (Poll)

Charles Brittin



George Edward Brittin



Joseph Charles Brittin



Rev Thomas Crowther-Green

48 e

61 Elected

Percy Felce



Elsie Elizabeth Hudson

32 e

53 Elected

Reginald Gordon Hudson

35 e

58 Elected

Bessie Maud James

26 e

40 Elected

John Thomas James

25 e

43 Elected

Ernest William Lack

52 e

87 Elected

Bernard Alexander Bridges Rose



Ernest Loake Tilley

25 e

42 Elected

Sydney Albert Watts



Alfred Wills



Bessie James served for three years before resigning, but Elsie Hudson went on to become the first lady Chairman of the Council in 1946, before standing down as a Councillor in 1949. It would be another 27 years before a lady Councillor was elected again!