History Of Brighton And Environs - Online Book

From The Earliest Known Period To The Present Time.

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235
England, the most condign punishment assuredly follows the disclosure.
The right of voting for this Borough was first granetd in the 23rd Edward I. to the inhabitant house­holders paying scot and lot, whose number, however, was very small, and who appear very early to have addicted themselves to the commission of the crimes for which they afterwards suffered; for we find that on the 26th of February, 1700, certain of the inhabitants petitioned the House and complained that their free right of Election had been invaded. On the 25th of November, in the same year, the inhabitants petitioned against the sitting Member who had treated; and on the lGth of November, 1709, a similar petition was presented from the same persons ; but it was not till the year 1771 that the whole of the infamous system pursued in this place was brought to light.
In the latter year, however, the Returning Officer returned a candidate with only 37 votes, instead of another for whom 87 had been tendered, but of which number the Returning Officer had queried 76, and made his return without examining the validity of the votes he had so questioned. Against this return a petition was presented, and the Returning Officer was called to the Bar to answer for his conduct. " It appeared," says Oldfield, " from the defence made by him, that a majority of the freemen of that Borough had formed themselves into a society, under the name of the Christian Club, the apparent ends of which institution were to promote acts of charity and benevolence and to answer such other purposes as were suitable to the import of its name. Under this sanction of piety and religion and the cover of occasional acts of charity, they profaned that sacred name by making it an excuse for carrying on the worst purposes ; making a traffic of their oaths and consciences, and setting their Borough to sale to the highest bidder ;
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