Definition of pocket borough in English:

pocket borough


  • (in the UK) a borough in which the election of political representatives was controlled by one person or family. Such boroughs were abolished by the Reform Acts of 1832 and 1867.

    • ‘A third of MPs were elected to ‘pocket boroughs’, nominated by a handful of rich landed aristocrats.’
    • ‘The territorial nobility were impregnable in their many surviving ‘pocket boroughs '.’
    • ‘He was elected in 1807 for a pocket borough in the Isle of Wight and subsequently represented Cambridge University 1811-31, Bletchingley 1831-2, Hampshire South 1832-4, and Tiverton 1835-65.’
    • ‘True, the Tories lost ground significantly at the 1715 general election, but in pocket boroughs rather than in counties and popular urban constituencies.’
    • ‘It was this dominance of the town which led them to come to regard Grimsby as its own pocket borough.’