The Parliamentary Constituency of Sutton Coldfield came into being in 1945. In previous centuries Sutton had been represented in the House of Commons by the four Knights of the Shire - the four Warwickshire MPs. The only Sutton Coldfield man to be elected as a Knight of the Shire was Thomas Willoughby, who had been a Colonel in Cromwell’s New Model Army. He was elected to the short-lived 1654 parliament, and did not seek re-election in 1656.
By the eighteenth century Sutton was represented by the two MPs for North Warwickshire. Often the candidates were elected unopposed, but in 1774 there were three candidates. To be eligible to vote you had to own property, and in 1774 there were 110 electors qualified by their Sutton property, but 47 of these were non-residents. Practically everyone in North Warwickshire cast their first vote for Skipwith, but their second votes were nearly equally divided between the other two candidates, Holte and Mordaunt - 107 Suttonians voted for Holte, only three for Mordaunt, and they were all non-residents.
Sutton electors had to go to Coleshill to vote until 1837, when Sutton Coldfield also became a polling place. In that election two Tories were elected for North Warwickshire, the two Whigs being defeated. Party feeling was strong - the Holbeche sisters, who lived at 3 Coleshill Street opposite the old Moot Hall where the polling booth was, supplied the clerks with dishes of fruit decorated with marigolds - orange being the Tory colours. The son of Wilmott, one of Tories, was staying at the Holbeche house, and their windows were broken in consequence. Blue was the colour of the Whigs, and next door to the Holbeches lived a “hot radical doctor” who hung out a blue flag.
At the 1865 election “At Sutton Coldfield a booth erected in the market place served for the purposes of polling” reported a local newspaper, “Several local Conservative celebrities, while standing in the booth, were subjected to a running fire of banter, and every voter polling for Newdegate and Bromley was vociferously hooted while Muntz’s supporters were as vigorously cheered, showing unmistakeably that the crowd of non-electors were of Liberal tendencies.” Although the 1832 Reform Act had extended the franchise, you still had to prosperous (and male) to qualify, and the total electorate for North Warwickshire in 1856 was only 6,710.