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County Councils Act

County Councils Act, 1888. The Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 had given elected corporations to the large towns. Rural administration remained in the hands of the justices of the peace, though the smaller towns had their own local institutions. The 1884 Reform Act, which extended the parliamentary vote to many people in the shires, made the situation anomalous. In the Act of 1888, Lord Salisbury's government created 62 county councils in England and Wales, some of the larger shires being subdivided. Sixty-one towns of over 50,000 inhabitants were given county borough status and London was given its own county council. The franchise was similar to that in the boroughs. Unmarried women could vote for the new councils but not serve on them—a position not remedied until 1907. To the counties' responsibilities for highways, and a share in the police, were soon added powers for education. In England there was great continuity of personnel, many JPs being elected, and several lords-lieutenant becoming chairmen. But in Wales there was a much greater change and nonconformist liberals swept the board at the expense of the gentry. The equivalent Scottish Act was passed in 1889.

J. A. Cannon

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