The Times, Friday, Apr. 8, 1853.

HOUSE OF COMMONS, Thursday, April 7.

Mr. V. SMITH, after presenting a petition from inhabitants of Cambridge in favour of the appointment of a commission to inquire into corrupt practices in that borough, rose to bring forward the motion of which he had given notice. It was so much a matter of course that a commission should follow such a report as that made by the election committee in this case, that he did not deem it necessary to trespass long upon the attention of the House. He believed he should have little difficulty in satisfying the House that gross and extensive corruption prevailed in the borough of Cambridge, though the inquiry before the committee was necessarily of a limited character, for, when the sitting members came before them and said they were prepared to give up their seats, the committee could proceed no further. The case of Cambridge was not new to the House. In 1840 Mr. Manners Sutton was unseated, and on that occasion the committee came to a resolution that an extensive and corrupt system of treating prevailed among many of the influential members of the constituency of Cambridge, but nothing followed upon this, and a fresh election took place. At the late election the brining was carried on chiefly by a person named Samuel Long, who, it appeared, had formerly been imprisoned for 12 months for having been guilty of a similar offence. In spite of this, however, Long made his appearance again in the same capacity, and certainly it must be said of him that he was a most efficient performer. He hired an inn, where he received all applicants, the words "All's right" implying that the sum of 10l. was to be paid. It appeared that Long was accustomed to say to the voters, "If you go and do right I will do right;" and never was there more unbounded confidence in a promise to pay. To make the thing more agreeable and fascinating, after a man had given his vote according to the "all right" system he was waited upon a few days afterwards by a lady with a fall over her face, who presented him with 10l., asked and answered no questions, and then left him. (A laugh.) Then, generally speaking, the amount was spent in drink and conviviality. (Hear, hear.) The system of giving 10l. was spoken of by every witness as a matter perfectly notorious; and he sorry to say that this bribing was not confined to the poorer classes, for they had it in evidence that the money was received by persons who were earning a good livelihood in the borough. There was a man named Mansfield, who had no knowledge of his having a vote, but, on being told that he had, he sold it for a bribe without asking any questions about the parties or anything else, his sole object being to make money by the transaction. One man voted at half-past 3 o'clock, though the members returned were then at the head of the poll, being more than a hundred above the opposing party. Another man stood out too long, and did not get his 10l. Consequently he appeared as a witness against the whole system, and got his revenge. (A laugh.) It was evident that some remedy was required to cure such evils as these, and he might observe, in passing, that he was strongly impressed with the imperfect nature of the law of agency, as laid down by that House. (Hear, hear.) A great extension of the suffrage had been spoken of by the hon. member for Finsbury as a cure for the evils of corruption; but, even in a constituency of 20,000, parties might be so evenly balanced that 100 votes would turn the day; and, in such cases, corruption could easily be brought into play. He was afraid the cause lay deeper, and he looked very much to an improvement of the moral tone of the people for a real and efficient remedy. (Hear, hear.) The hon. gentleman then moved an address to Her Majesty to issue a commission to inquire into corrupt practices at elections at Cambridge—Mr. G. Wilmore, Q.C., Mr. G. Boden, and Mr. T. Tower to be commissioners.

Sir J. SHELLEY seconded the nomination; and the address was at once agreed to.

It was then ordered that a conference be desired with the Lords on the subject-matter of the address. Shortly afterwards, the conference having taken place,

Mr. V. SMITH reported to the House that the address had been communicated to the Lords, and their concurrence in it desired.

(House of Lords)

A message from the Commons by Mr. Vernon Smith and others, desiring a conference, was delivered at the bar. The Duke of Argyll, Lord Beaumont, Lord Ponsonby, Lord Colchester, and others, were appointed managers, and after a short delay, returned to the house, and the Duke of Argyll having stated the object of the conference to be that their lordships should agree to an address to the Crown for a commission of inquiry into the proceedings at the town of Cambridge election, a question to that effect was put and agreed to.

Only the final day of the Commission's proceedings seem to have been covered—Ed.

The Times, Monday, Aug. 8, 1853.


The Cambridge Election Commission terminated their proceedings (in Cambridge) on Saturday with the examination of Sir Fitzroy Kelly as to his connexion with the borough. It may be remembered that after Sir F. Kelly's election in 1843 an unsuccessful petition was presented against his return. The Rev. Dr. Bartlett (now of Hereford) stated that at that election the late Mr. Fisher sent him to the Golden Cross, Charing-cross, and that he there saw a stranger, whom he had never seen before or since; and the stranger gave him a packet "to contribute to Mr. Kelly's success." That packet was found to contain 1,000 sovereigns, and they were spent by Bartlett and Fisher in bribery and treating. Mr. Coppock, at his examination before the commission, handed in a brief used for Mr. Kelly's defence in committee, and which showed that it was intended to be shown that the expenses of the election were covered by 500l., which had been paid by Mr. Kelly into Mortlock's bank, but which was spent in addition to the 1000l., together with 300l., which Mr. Kelly was called on for afterwards. How Mr. Coppock came into possession of this brief is a mystery.

Transcription in progress

The Times, Monday, Aug. 12, 1854.


Sir W. JOLLIFFE rose to move for new writs for Canterbury, Cambridge, Maldon, Barnstaple, and Kingston-upon-Hull. He said, it would appear as if his hon. friend (Mr. T. Duncombe), in the amendment of which he had given notice, rather proposed that they should delay these writs indefinitely than that they should adopt the ballot. This question of the ballot would be as far from being settled by adopting the amendment of his hon. friend as it was at present. He was not there to dispute the long catalogue of crimes with which the amendment was prefaced against these delinquent boroughs; he did not come forward in any way to be their defender or to extenuate what had taken place there; he admitted it was very lamentable; and he admotted, too, that it was the province of the House of Commons to attempt to amend that state of things. This had been done by a general measure directed against bribery and corruption, and that bill having passed he thought they had no other course than to issue these writs. He thought a constitutional principle was involved in this question. They were depriving many members of their seats in that house. It had always been held that the House should be complete in its numbers, and that the people should be represented by 658 members. Now, the effect of the course which had been taken with regard to these boroughs had been to deprive the House during the whole of the present, and part of the last session, of 10 English members, and this, in addition to the four members whose seats were not filled up, in the case of the disfranchised boroughs of St. Albans and Sudbury. That made altogether 14 English members of whose services the country was deprived, in addition to those who were absent from England in consequence of the war.[1] Now, a limit should be put by the House to proceedings of this kind, and he hoped, therefore, the motion of which he had given notice would be adopted.

[1] Presumably the Crimea.

Mr. T. DUNCOMBE rose to move, as an amendment,—

"That whereas Her Majesty, in pursuance of the provisions

Transcribed by Keith Edkins 2009-2012. Original reports believed to be in the public domain due to their antiquity.
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