This is the only report I can find from the 1841 general election relating to Cambridge.
(From a Correspondent of the Standard.)
It does not often happen that the purity of election people lay themselves open quite so unguardedly, or expose their buying and selling propensities quite so openly, as in the case we are about to narrate. It is true, that with St. Alban's fresh in our recollection, we ought to be surprised at nothing; but really the circumstances we have to lay before our readers to-day, and which, connected with Ministers by the name of Russell, cannot but be especially interesting to the electors of London, are more than commonly glaring, disgraceful, and in every way disreputable.
On Saturday evening one of the electors of Cambridge, a man of respectability, had been insulted by the offer of a bribe from a person—a perfect stranger to Cambridge—who attempted in this way to exhibit the sterling merits of the two Reform and anti-bribery candidates, Lord Cosmo Russell and Mr. Foster. The elector communicated to Mr. Beckett and Mr. Naylor, two supporters of Messrs. Sutton and Grant, the nature of the offer, in the hope of doing good to the Conservative candidates, for whom he had always voted; and by the assistance of three persons, employed to expose this disgraceful affair in such a way as might securely attain the ends of justice, the delinquent was at length taken in the very fact. The same evening this stranger called at the house of the voter at about 10 o'clock, and wished to make some arrangements, offering weighty reasons why his opinion should be adopted, but hearing a noise he was alarmed for that time, and proposed to be on the spot at 10 o'clock the next morning (Sunday), to bring matters to a conclusion. At 10 o'clock accordingly he came, and was seen to pay the sum of 11l. to the voter, after first attempting to ascertain that no one was near. He then left, and proceeded to the house of another voter. He had, however, been watched. After the act of bribery had been committed, one of those who were on the watch obtained a policeman, others surrounded the delinquent, and he was taken prisoner immediately and conveyed to the police station. There was found on his person the following property:—money to the amount 85l., chiefly in notes of Messrs. Foster's bank, and, besides the money, a list of humble voters, persons thought likely to be tempted by the splendid offers to be made.
Now, it must be remembered that the Liberal (liberal enough in all conscience) candidates are—first, Lord Cosmo Russell, half-brother to Lord John, and sent down to Cambridge, as the brother is sent to London, to dazzle the electors with the name of Russell; and second, Mr. R. Foster, a Dissenter, and the late mayor of Cambridge. The time chosen for the good work was Sunday morning, and the hour about that at which most persons would be at church.
What will the people of England say to this? It is not the mere ordinary bribery of the Liberal party. The crime is of a deeper shade—hypocrisy and open profanity are superadded. Who is to give an indifferent person 85l. to squander upon six or eight voters, whose names could only have been procured from the committee-room? Who is to do all this out of mere love of Liberalism and purity of election? Verily it is but little creditable to the Liberals if their labours of love are of this nature, and if con amore they thus occupy themselves in such very dangerous amusements.
The person implicated in this disgraceful affair has been removed from the police station, and is at the moment we write under examination in the town gaol.
EXAMINATION OF THE PRISONER
William Topping Large deposed, that on Saturday night last the prisoner came to his house, and asked him if his name was William Topping Large, and being answered in the affirmative, said he wished to speak to him privately, and wished his wife to go up stairs, which she did. The prisoner then wished to know whether he had promised his vote, and he told him he had promised Sir A. Grant and Mr. Sutton. He then asked him to recall it, and vote for Mr. Foster and Lord Cosmo Russell; to which Large replied, that he had made a promise, and meant to act upon it. This was half-past 8 o'clock. He then asked Large whether he could not go out of town; when the told him he could not, as he played in the band. He then appointed to come again between 9 or 10 o'clock. Large then stated, that he then sent to his master to let him know the circumstance, who, with Mr. Naylor, of Queen's, the churchwarden of the parish, came up, but not till the man had been a second time. At this second interview he repeated his offers, but would not come in, saying, he would see him between 9 and 10 o'clock the next morning. He, however, did not arrive till nearly 11 o'clock, when a person named Edward Beckett was in the passage adjoining, having been requested to stay there by Mr. Naylor. The prisoner then pressed him for nearly a quarter of an hour to accept 10l.to vote for Mr. Foster, and 1l. to pay his expenses in leaving the town afterwards.
Transcribed by Keith Edkins 2009. Original reports believed to be in the public domain due to their antiquity.
Return to: Cambridge elections of the mid-1800s