[General Election of 1835: the Duke of Wellington's brother Lord Charles Wellesley defeated at Rochester by one vote.] Manuscript documents from legal team of victorious candidate T. T. Hodges, at House of Commons 'Controverted Election' committee.

Lord Charles Wellesley; Thomas Twisden Hodges; General Election, 1835; Rochester Kent; Controverted Elections; House of Commons Committee of Privileges and Elections; Duke of Wellington
Publication details: 
House of Commons, Houses of Parliament, Westminster (London). [Rochester, Kent.] 1836 and 1837.
SKU: 21415

Between 1604 and 1868 the House of Commons exercised jurisdiction over controverted (disputed) elections, which were usually referred to its Committee of Privileges and Elections. The Parliamentary Archives hold the Controverted Elections Court Evidence minute books for the period between 1829 and 1906. The minute books contain transcripts of the evidence laid before the committee. The present material – in addition to casting light on parliamentary procedure in the aftermath of the Great Reform Act – fills out the entries in the minute books, by providing documents from the electoral and legal team (the 'Agents' and 'Counsel') of the sitting member, the Whig Thomas Twisden Hodges (1809-1865), in the Rochester constituency at the General Election of 1835, against whom a petition had been delivered by electors in the interest of the defeated Tory Lord Charles Wellesley (1808-1858), younger brother of the Duke of Wellington, who had lost the election by one vote. The present collection of manuscript material comprises five packets – each folded and endorsed in the customary fashion – with one further item folded into the fifth packet. Items Two to Five each consist of the same 'bundle' of three papers, and each has 'Prentis, | Rochester' written at the foot of the endorsement, Henry Prentis being one of Hodges' two agents. The sets of four copies were made for Hodges' legal team, as three of the four variously carry the names of the three 'Counsel for the Sitting Member [i.e. Hodges]': 'Mr. Austin', 'Mr. Joy' and 'Mr. Chandless'. The most significant item in the collection, Item One, has 'Pratt | Rochester' at the foot of the endorsement, 'Pratt' being the other agent. The final item, the notes enclosed with Item Five, carries no background names. A committee was appointed to examine the petitioners' case on 17 March 1835, and its proceedings are described in a sixty-page account in J. W. Knapp and E. Ombler, 'Cases of Controverted Elections in the Twelfth Parliament of the United Kingdom, being the Second Parliament since the Passing of Acts for the Amendment of the Representation of the People' (London: 1837, pp.71-130, 'Case V. The City of Rochester'). That account begins: 'The petition in this case was presented against the election and return of Mr. Hodges, by electors in the interest of Lord Charles Wellesley, who had been the unsuccessful candidate at the previous election. The numbers, at the close of the poll, were, for Mr. Bernal 502, Mr. Hodges 443, and Lord Charles Wellesley 442. The case was one of scrutiny, and all the questions arose on the discussion of particular votes.' After sixty pages detailing the scrutiny of the various votes, the account concludes: 'The Committee came to the usual resolutions, that Mr. Hodges was duly elected and ought to have been returned, and that neither the petition nor the opposition to it were frivolous or vexatious; and they reported to the House that they had altered the poll by striking off William Wyles, &c. twenty names.' ('Prentis' and 'Pratt' are described in Knapp and Ombler as Hodges' 'Agents: - Mr. Henry Prentis, and Mr. Pratt, Rochester.' And the other named parties are Hodges' three 'Counsel for the Sitting Member: - Mr. Joy, Mr. Austin, and Mr. Chandless.' (It is worth noting that Hodges' first wife was Mary Ann Floretta Chandless.) The following description is divided into six parts. ONE: Endorsed '1836 | Rochester Registration | Freemen | Mr. Prentis's Bundle.' Eleven-page document giving details of each contested vote, with each page on a separate paginated leaf, and a twelfth covering leaf, the twelve leaves attached together with pink ribbon. The document is titled at head of first page: 'City of Rochester registration 1836 | Freemans Claims & Objections'. Heavily annotated in several hands. The first three pages list the 'Claims' in alphabetical order from 'Austen John | Troy Town Rochester' to 'Wood William | Standgate Creek'. Austen's entry is typical in setting out the points in a particular claim: 'To prove claim and service of it - | To prove that he is an admitted freeman | To prove his residence within the city for 6 months previous to 31st. July'. Each claim is annotated in the margins, with some entries accompanied in the left-hand margin by notice of the committee's decision, such as 'claim allowed', 'struck out', 'disallowed'. The right-hand margin appears to give the name of the individuals charged with checking each point, i.e. 'Town Clerk', 'Wm. Scrimes & Wm. Chambers', 'John Pordage', 'Richard Peall'. The left-hand margin carries notes on how to approach the various points, the notes for 'Balcomb John Barton | St. Nicholas Rochester' being the longest: 'struck proof of title: same evidence as if before corpr for freedom [in another hand] Bindg. & service or birth &c as case may be. - Inchoate right. Sec: 32. - sec. 46 exception to necessity of admission see Rog: 184. 185 | Vote admitted by H: of Commons only | Master must be present to satisfy count of service | qu: also age: -'. The requirement regarding 'Collin James' of 'Eastgate St. Nicholas Rochester' is 'To prove that he is dead', with marginal note 'Sec: 50. | may certify mistake | person prove dead &c.' The list of 'Objections' is laid out in the same manner as the 'Claims', beginning with 'Allbeury, Robert' of 'Strood' and ending with 'Young George' of 'St. Nicholas Rochester'. It is longer, covering pp.4-11 of the document. The covering leaf to the eleven-page document carries six references to a legal work ('Rogers'). TWO: Endorsed '(No 1. | (see Note written | Pr) | 1835 | Rochester Election Petition. | Index to Briefs. | Mr. Austin.' Consisting of three documents, totalling 5pp, on five 41 x 33 cm sheets, pinned together. The first of the three documents is 3pp, and headed 'Rochester Election | 1835 | Index by Class of the List of Objections put in by the Petitioners'. In margin of first page: 'Note. The letter plan is to index the names only alphabetically, and then to write in the margin of the Sheet, containing the names, the nature of the objections: as | “Relocation” | “Bribery” | “Non payment of rates” -'. List of names, arranged in three columns, under headings including 'Relief', 'Not registered for successive occupation', 'No Voter, illegally registered', 'Non payment of Taxes' and 'Felony'. The second of the three documents is 1p, and headed 'Index by Class to List of Objections put in by the Sitting Member'. List of names, arranged in three columns, under headings including 'Bribery', 'Wagers', 'Felony' and 'Reward by Compensation'. The third of the three documents is 1p, headed 'Employment under 7th. & 8th. Geo: 4th. C. 37 Sec: 1'. A list of names, with headings including 'Tenders for Lord Wellesley' and 'Tenders for T. T. Hodges Esqr.' The following three items (Three, Four and Five) have identical contents to Item Two, but with each of the three differently endorsed. THREE: Endorsed '1835. | Rochester Electn. | Index to Brief for the Sitting Member. | [in another hand] Mr. Joy'. FOUR: Endorsed '3 | 1835 | Rochester Election Petition | Index to Brief for Sitting Member'. Some pencil deletions. FIVE: Endorsed '1835. | Rochester Election Petition. | Index to Brief for Sitting Member. | [in another hand] Mr. Chandless.' SIX. Manuscript lists of names (3pp, 8vo, bifolium), folded into Item Five. Presumably made by or for a member of the committee. First page headed '1836 Novr 1. | Claims Freemen', with 'allowed' and 'disallowed' columns for 'Pink claims' and 'Blue claims'; the second page has similar columns for 'Claims St. Margaret' and 'St. Nicholas'; and the third for 'Claims Strood'.