The 1884 Reform Act, (strictly the Representation of the People Act 1884 though it was also known as the Third Reform Act), was the third reform to Britain’s system of voting in the Nineteenth Century. The 1867 Reform Act had been so extensive that there seemed to be little to change. However, while the 1867 Reform Act had concentrated on urban areas, the 1884 Reform Act was to target rural areas that had been bypassed by the 1867 act.
The Commons accepted Gladstone’s bill to give working men in rural England the same rights as those in the boroughs. However, the Conservative dominated House of Lords rejected the bill. Gladstone persevered and the Lords passed the bill after making an agreement with Gladstone that the 1884 Reform Act would be followed by a Redistribution Bill. The 1884 Reform Act gave the counties the same voting rights as the boroughs had – all adult householders and men who rented unfurnished lodgings to the value of £10 a year. The electorate after this act stood at 5,500,000 – though an estimated 40% of all men still did not have the right to vote as a result of their status within society.