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Database: Pocket Boroughs

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One of the issues surrounding the American Revolution was that the colonies had no representatives - and thus no say - in British Parliament.

To add insult to injury, some parts of the United Kingdom that had no actual residents DID have seats in Parliament. This essentially meant landowners could give the cushy government appointments to whomever they wanted. These areas were known as "pocket boroughs" (because the landowner had them in his pocket) or "rotten boroughs" (a fun game is to guess why).

One of the worst examples was the borough of Old Sarum, which had no voters and two seats in Parliament. However, it wasn't the only one. Pocket boroughs were numerous - as of 1761 it's estimated that 250 of the 558 parliamentary boroughs were under this kind of patronage - and the problem wasn't really corrected until the late 19th century.

So when the Colonists were complaining that the British Government was hopelessly corrupt? They had a point.

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