Page images


Russel, lord W. Thelluson, C. abandoned it with pleasure. The bill was Ross, sir C.

Thoroton, T. then read a second time, and ordered to Richardson, J. Tierney, G.

be committed.—The original proposition Stanley, lord Vereker, C.

which had been made by ministers, for Spencer, lord R.

Vaughan, H. J. Sheridan, R. B. Wrottesley, sir J.

giving the prince of Wales an annuity of Smith, T. Wynn, sir W. W.

60,0001. per annum for three years was Smith, A. Weston, C. C.

the final settlement of this important Somerville, sir M. Willet, J. W. business : for in a few days after, an Somerset, lord C. Ward, hon. J. event took place, which caused the Prince Sibthorpe, H. Wynn, C.

to signify to the House by Mr. Erskine, Shum, G. Walpole, hon. G.

his chancellor, that he could not think at Shakespeare, A. Wharton, J.

such a time, of increasing the burthens of Smith, W.

Wilkins, 'w. Tyrwhitt, T.

the country, and that he was perfectly Tarleton, B. Calcraft, J.

satisfied with what parliament had done. Taylor, C. Geary, sir W.

Debate in the Commons on the NottingThe Prince of Wales's Annuity bill kam Election Bill.] March 16. Mr. passed the Commons on the 7th. On the Hawkins Browne, from the select com14th it was read a second time in the mittee who were appointed to try and House of Lords; previously to which lord determine the merits of the petition of Pelham made some observations on the Daniel Parker Coke, esq., and also of the length of time, the prince had lived in a petitions of the several other persons, comstate of comparative obscurity; and the plaining of an undue election and return for universal wish that seemed now to per- the town and county of the town of Notvade the House, and the public, that he tingham, informed the House, that the should be relieved from his difficulties. said select committee have determined that Lord Moira stated, that on account of Joseph Birch, esq. and Daniel Parker debts, which the Prince found binding Coke, esq., are not duly elected ; and upon him, both in honour and in justice, that the last election for Nottingham iş he was prevented even now from resuming void, with respect to one of the burgesses his state and dignity; but felt grateful to to serve in parliament for the same. parliament, and content with the allow. And also, that the said petitions, and the ance they had made him; and had in- opposition of Joseph Birch, esq. thereto, structed his counsel to drop the proceed- did not appear to the said committee to ings respecting the duchy of Cornwall

. be frivolous or vexatious. The Earl of Carlisle felt, that this provi

Mr. Hawkins Browne also acquainted sion was not sufficient to enable his Royal the House, that the said select committee Highness to resume his state; but in the had come to the following Resolutions : present circumstances of the country, he 1. That it appears to this committee, thought no more could be done. The that John Allen, being the returning Earl of Darnley was of the same opinion, officer at the last election for Nottingham, but did not consider the situation of the acted contrary to his duty in opening a country so perilous as to justify despond- poll, and proceeding to take the votes of ency. The Duke of Norfolk thought the electors for the period of about an hour, allowance for the Prince insufficient; and and until forty-four electors had polled, that a person of his elevated rank in the there being, during the whole of that state, ought not to be left in a situation, time, no third candidate. 2. That after where he was eclipsed by many lords and the first day of the said election, the commoners. Lord Caernarvon disapproved freedom of the election was grossly vioof the bill, as inadequate to its object, and lated, by disturbances and riots, accom. as unconstitutional,' in getting rid of the panied with personal intimidation and Cornwall claims, which was a civil list violence, practised and continued during debt, without any inquiry. The Earl of the six subsequent days of polling. 3. Moira denied that the 'abandonment of That the petitioner D. P. Coke, esq., the Cornwall claims was at all the effect after sustaining several insults, and sufferof a compromise : his Royal Highness had ing personal violence, was obliged, from made that claim for the benefit of his cre- the just apprehension of hazard to his ditors, but when he found that the allow life, to leave the place, and could not ance now proposed would enable him to venture to return; and that a large numsatisfy his debts, without recurring to it, he ber of electors in his interest were deterred from exercising their franchise of pose, that they were completely intimi. voting. 4. That John Davison, the mayor, dated, and thereby prevented from polland Joseph Oldknow, and Thos. Oldknow, ing for the said D. P. Coke.—That the two of the aldermen of Nottingham, took said John Davison, the mayor, John no effectual means to preserve the freedom • Allen, the sheriff, T. Oldknow and J. of election, or restore it when so violated, Oldknow, two of the aldermen of the or to punish the offenders. 5. That it said town, and who, by virtue of their appears to this committee, by an entry in offices, were magistrates, frequently atthe corporation book of Nottingham, that' tended on the hustings, and were reat a common hall, held on Thursday the peatedly applied to, to preserve the 8th of January last past (after reciting peace of the place, and the freedom of the petitions referred to this committee), election; but the said magistrates took ic was • Resolved, that this corporation no effectual steps to prevent any of the I will defray all such legal expenses as violent or illegal acts which took place • have already been, or shall hereafter be at the said election.'–5. That the said • incurred by them the said J. Davison, A. Foxcroft stated to those who signed • J. Oldknow, T. Oldknow, and J. Allen, that petition, that it was a petition for • or either of them, or George Coldbam, those who would have voted for Mr. Coke, • under their direction, in preparing for, but he admitted that the major part of • or making their defences; and that the them were not acquainted with the alle• chamberlains for the time being begations against the magistrates and she• hereby authorized and directed, from riffs, and that about sixteen of those who • time to time, to advance Mr. Coldham signed the petition were, to his knowledge, • all and every such sum and sums of not at Nottingham at the time of the elec' money as may be necessary for this tion.” • purpose.

The said report was ordered to be taken It appearing that the mayor and alder- into consideration on the 20th of April ; men have, by charter, an exclusive juris. and Mr. Speaker was directed not to issue diction within the town and county of the his warrant for a new writ. town of Nottingham, and the conimittee thinking it highly expedient to provide April 20. The House proceeded to some better security than is likely to be take the said report into consideration, provided by the corporation of Notting. The first resolution was postponed; the ham, to preserve the peace within the second, third, and fourth were agreed to: said town and county thereof, and to pre- and the subsequent ones were postponed. vent the repetition of the same disgrace. After which, ful scenes ; Resolved, 1. “ That it is the Mr. Hawkins Browne recapitulated the opinion of this committee, that the House circumstances of the shameful riots which be moved for leave to bring in a bill to give had been permitted to go on in Nottingthe magistrates of the county of Notting. ham during the late election, not only to ham concurrent jurisdiction with the ma- the alarm of the peaceable inhabitants gistrates of the town and county of the and the personal injury of many indivitown of Nottingham. 2. That unless duals, but to the total violation of every such or some other measure to the like thing like the freedom of election. Wheeffect be taken previously to the next ther those riots proceeded from a neglect election for Nottingham, there is no rea of duty on the part of the magistrates, or sonable hope that a free election can be from the inadequacy of the powers vested had. 3. That the evidence adduced be in their hands, it would not now be relevant fore this committee be laid before the to inquire; it was obvious, however, that House for its consideration. 4. That it some step was necessary on the part of the appears to this committee, that Alexander House, in order to prevent the recurrence Foxcroft was employed to procure signa- of such shameful disgraces. The purport tures to one of the petitions referred to of the bill, which he should move for leave this committee, namely, that signed by to introduce, would be to appoint such 537 petitioners, and containing the fol- officers to act in aid of the civil power lowing, allegations:That at the said during every future election, and to give • election they had determined to poll for such jurisdiction to the magistrates and • the said D. P. Coke, but that such was the county at large, as should more effectu

the violence of the mob, systematically ally tend to preserve the peace of that regulated and conducted for the pur town and its vicinage; and to preserve

the freedom of election. He then moved, that of calling in a military force. He

That leave be given to bring in a bill had heard an instance quoted by a very for the more effectually preserving the eloquent member of this House, of an peace, and securing the freedom of elec- election carried on at Brussels, within a tion in the town of Nottingham."

hollow square of the French army; but Mr. Pierrepont bore his testimony to he trusted never to hear of an election the shameful state of riot and outrage in for a member of that House carried on which he himself found that town, on his upon such principles. visit there during the election ; a state of Mr. Bond coincided with those who riot and outrage so utterly uncontrollable had stated the shameful riots which by the civil power, as to render the inter- existed at Nottingham during the election, ference of a military force absolutely to which he was himself a witness, and indispensable. Such proceedings were many atrocious instances of which he renot only violatory of the freedom of elec- capitulated ; particularly, that a cant tion, but dangerous to the lives of the phrase was in common use, by which peaceable inhabitants, and disgraceful to every person whose conduct or principles a civilized country. The magistrates he were held obnoxious to the opinions of a would not charge with actually encourag- self-appointed tribunal of the Nottingham ing the rioters, but he would state, that mob, was threatened with a complaint to they stood by as idle and indifferent spec- « punch;" or that “punch," would visit tators, without making due exertions for them for it; the obvious meaning of which the suppression of those riots. He, there was, that the land, garden, orchard, cattle, fore, most cordially approved of the bill. or any out-door property of the party

Mr. Fox said, that whatever measure liable to depredation, was sure to be dethe House should think fit to adopt on spoiled or plundered ; and this passed this occasion, he trusted they would not without any material interference of the be satisfied to support it upon mere asser. magistrates. He wished, therefore, to see tion, however respectable the quarter the the jurisdiction extended to the magisinformation came from. If what was al. trates of the county at large, that the aid leged by the hon. gentleman was founded, of the posse comitatus might be resorted then were the committee most grossly to. He could not conceive upon what defective in their duty. But if he was to ground the hon. member who spoke last form his opinion upon the evidence before gave his opposition to a measure so nethat committee, he could find no such cessary. charge substantiated. On the contrary, Leave was given to bring in the bill. those magistrates deserved thanks, for having done every thing in their power April 25. Mr. Fox presented a petition preserve

the peace, without having the against the bill, from the mayor and cordesired effect. It appeared that they had poration of Nottingham, who stated, that given every aid which the civil power it would be a virtual censure upon, and could possibly afford; and if that was un degradation of, the corporation, without successful, the fault was not theirs. The any imputation of delinquency; and a chief charge against the mayor was, that violation, in the persons of the magistrates, he was averse to seeing the election booth of those rights and privileges, which Notsurrounded by a military force, and the tingham had enjoyed for nearly 400 years. electors constrained to give their votes under the intimidating influence of a body April 29. On the order of the day for of armed soldiers; a thing which must be the second reading, Mr. Serjeant Lens allowed directly to militate against the appeared at the bar, and was heard against letter and spirit of every election act, and the bitt. After which, the bill was read a of the British constitution itself. It apo second time. peared also, on the minutes of the com. Mr. Hawkins Browne said, that the mittee, that an uncontrollable spirit of riot evidence not only proved that dreadful had prevailed upon former elections in riots took place during the last election, that town. Therefore, though he fully but on all similar occasions in that town. agreed that some bill was necessary, he The bill went to put an end to those could not see the justice of implicating scenes of disorder. He did not see the magistrates. But whatever measure single evil that could arise from the bill, was adopted, he trusted that no power of and should therefore move, that it be so obnoxious a nature would be given, as committed on Monday. (VOL. XXXVI.)



Mr. Henderson said, that the object of the views of government, had been in the the bill seemed to be to increase the ma- habit of calumniating all its opponents, gistrates of Nottingham. It was, in and particularly the corporation of the effect, to annul its charter. Now, by the town. The house and mills of Mr. Davi27th Hen. 8th, c. 24, the crown had the son, a most respectable gentleman, were sole right of appointing justices. Though attacked-so were the house and person Nottingham was locally situated in the of Mr. Oldknow; and they were obliged county of Nottingham, it was, by its to endure it. The power of government charter as distinct from it as the county was not with them. Those riots, how of York. The proper mode of attaining ever, provoked no legislative interference. the end of the bill appeared to him to be, The impotent corporation was left to to bring in a bill to enable his majesty to suffer. There was no party spirit to inrepeal so much of the charter of Notting. duce any bill for their protection; but, ham as gives an exclusive jurisdiction to in 1802, a pressing necessity for this imthe corporate magistrates; and thence, by portant innovation on an old charter, is the common law, the county magistrates found to exist, in order, as it is professed, would have a right to exercise jurisdiction to secure the freedom of election. The in the town.

bill went to establish a precedent for the Mr. Fox entered into a defence of the invasion of ancient charters to take Nottingham magistracy, and protested from the people the appointment of their against the use of the word • lenity,' as magistrates. "It was not a measure merely applied to those gentlemen-it was insult. drawn to meet and repress riots; but to ing and unjust. They were ready to an- give to magistrates appointed by the swer any charges that could be brought crown a concurrent jurisdiction with that forward. They desired to know the nature of the corporation; and for the purpose, of their guilt, if any could be alleged, too, of giving a triumph to that party and the degree to which they were guilty? in the town which had never been found But this was not done. They were not backward in rioting. This was the first to be taken before any legal tribunal; but case in which a popular tumult in any they were to suffer, from a kind of punish corporation town was made a pretence for ment which excluded trial and defence. invading the privileges of that corpora. Did they request not to be prosecuted? No. tion. As a proof of the police of this Did they try to elude legal punishment ? town, he would ask any of the judges who No. why, then, talk of lenity? Those re- had gone that circuit for the last ten spectable magistrates were thus slandered years, whether they knew of any town by implication, and without any specific evi- | where a smaller number of crimes had dence to justify it. He wished the investi- been committed? Though during that gation of their character should be left to space of time this town was under the thelaws, that if they had neglected their government of some of the most enlightduty, they should be brought to the bar ened men in the country, they were conof the court of King's-bench; but that demned to suffer from popular fury more they should not be attacked in the smooth severely, perhaps, than the members of and lenient style in which some gentlemen any other party ; but yet things went on had dealt. It was the duty of the com- as smoothly as in other towns agitated by mittee to have ascertained and stated the opposite political parties, until the late degree of guilt which attached to the election, when two candidates appeared ; magistracy; it should not have expressed and if the sheriff had immediately returnany doubt on the subject. The justice ed them, or rather if Mr. Coke had not and dignity of parliament should forbid delayed in order to register some freeit. He would only ask of gentlemen to men, the House would have heard nothing take a candid review of the conduct of of this bill. It is said that the magisthe magistrates of Nottingham for some trates did not give a due opposition to the years back. It was perfectly true, that riots which took place during the election; they had in many instances, like prudent but it did not appear, in the minutes of men, yielded to some inconveniencies, the committee, that they were in any inrather than by resistance expose them stance culpable. Did they refuse to do selves to still greater. There existed in any thing which the friends of Mr. Coke that town, two parties exceedingly hostile requested ? No; except that of calling in to each other, the Old Whigs and the the military to surround the booth, not Tories. The latter party, favourable to to secure the freedom of election, but ta dictate to the electors. Let them be, bill was not, to create any magistracy, but charged with rejecting the application to to extend the authority of a magistracy make it a military election, and try the already created ; and that an act of parevent; but don't let them be the victims liament may do this, without any invasion of loose, indefinite accusations. What of the prerogative of the crown, he had remedy could be derived from the inter- many analogous cases to show. The ference of county magistrates in case of preamble of the bill did not merely state riots? What means could they employ the late riots at Nottingham, but took different from, or better than, those in the notice of many former riots; and the power of the corporation? Was it sup- single question now propounded to the posed that the mere increase of the num. House, was, whether they should apply a ber of magistrates would answer; or was remedy to that evil? If any member it proposed to call in the posse comitatus on reading the whole of the evidence, of the county to preserve the peace? Of would say that the mayor of Nottingham this he could not approve; the bill, how. deserved praise, he had a temper and a ever, would be much less objectionable, if mode of thinking not to be envied. The it authorised the interference of county magistrates of Nottingham were crimi. magistrates only in case of riots. It did nally responsible for their conduct at the not follow, because on such occasions late election ; but there were many matetheir assistance might be necessary, that rial circumstances of extenuation in their therefore they were to participate in the case; and therefore, it was his wish, that whole municipal jurisdiction of the town. lenient measures should be adopted; but This would be a deviation from the old if he could have no remedy such as this established policy of this country ; for it bill proposed, he must pursue these mawould enable the magistrates of the king's gistrates as criminals. With regard to appointment to rule over the magistrates the justice of the case, he would inquire, of the people's election. It would be whether this was an invasion of the rights extending that dangerous power of the of any parties ? and if it was, whether it crown-dangerous he would call it, and was strictly necessary ? Confining the the history of the nation had shown the right of election to a few, might render danger of it, for the first attack of all that right valuable ; but it was not for the those who meditated the subversion of value of it to a magistrate that the power British liberty was upon corporate towns, was given to him ; it was for the advanupon those charters which formed the tage of the place where he was to act ; best security of popular rights, and the and if that advantage was not accomplishmost effectual control on ministerialed by the office being properly filled up, power. Nottingham was about to lose its the interference of that House was necesprivileges for exercising its control. sary. This was particularly the case of The independent spirit of its corporation corporations : from the nature of their was to be the cause of that privation. It constitutions, if their magistrates did not was mockery to attribute it to riots; for properly fill up their situations, they beriots had happened in almost every cor. came a blot upon the character; for the porate town; and was that to be received inhabitants of a chartered corporation as a reason for invading charters ? Was had none of the common privileges of it to be said, “ because the peace of your another place. They were not like comtown has been disturbed by an election mon subjects. To cure the evil of their riot; your corporate rights shall be done magistrates' inefficiency, they had no adaway, and we shall give the government vantages but their charter, which, if their of your town to the king's magistrates." magistrates did not do their duty, they Such was the language of the bill before could not enjoy ; so that they might be the House. The provisions of this bill said to be left out of the reach of the law. would not be quite so bad if they applied This was the case of the town of Notto riots only; if they were confined to tingham. The truth was, that at Nottingthat, yielding to bad times and to bad ham, they were used to riots. This was principles, he perhaps, though he would not only the case at an election for a not like it, might not oppose it; but in its member of parliament, but of every elecpresent shape it was utterly inconsistent tion whatever. It had been said, that the with his ideas of justice or constitutional magistrates of Nottingham had received freedom.

the thanks of the judges once; now, he Mr. Bond said, that the operation of the had information that riots often happened

« PreviousContinue »