HC Deb 27 May 1819 vol 40 cc820-3

The House, on the motion of lord J. Russell, went into a committee on the Grampound Bribery Indictments. Alexander Lamb was called in, and examined. The examination was conducted by lord J. Russell, Mr. Wynn, Mr. Scarlett, and Mr. M. A. Taylor. The witness stated, that he had been an agent at the last election for the borough of Grampound. He was employed by Mr. Teed, one of the candidates. A list of voters had been put into his hands, which also contained an account of the sums of money which particular individuals among them had received. It was certainly his belief at the time that the sums so marked had been received. It was proposed by Mr. Teed, to put the bribery oath to some of these persons, but several gentlemen remonstrated against it, saying it was of no use, and could only lead to the commission of perjury Mr. Teed then consented to withdraw it.—The witness was here ordered to withdraw, whilst the committee considered whether the poll book was admissible evidence. It being, after a short conversation, resolved in the affirmative, the witness, not having the book in his immediate possession, was ordered to produce it on his next attendance. In continuation of his testimony he added, that the township of Grampound had threatened to pelt those who should tender the bribery oath to them before the returning officer. Amongst the gentlemen who had objected to pressing the oath was Mr. Shaw, one of the candidates. He was not aware of any division or opposition of parties prevailing at that time. He had accompanied Mr. Teed on his canvass, and told the voters, that he knew certain sums of money had been distributed amongst them, and that he had evidence to prove it. He was examined before the grand jury, when bills of indictment were preferred against several of the electors. Twenty of these persons had been subsequently tried and convicted; seven or eight more, in consequence of information which they had given, not being brought to trial, although bills of indictment had been found against them. The list with which he was furnished in the first instance contained the names of those who had not, as well as those who had, received sums of money in consideration of their notes. Witness did not recollect the number of the latter. He had been employed to carry on the prosecution, and knew, that if the parties convicted were to be brought up for judgment, it should have been done || within the first four days of the last term. He had, however, received no instructions to that effect, and he supposed the reason of this was, that the matter was under the consideration of that House. There had been no communication between him and Mr. Teed respecting the propriety or impropriety of bringing the parties up for judgment. Early in April he had ceased to be employed by Mr. Teed, with whom, however, his account was not yet settled. Other persons had been concerned in the prosecution, and from them he had received part of his charges. The names of these persons his professional duty did not allow him to disclose. He could not tell whether the demand at present against Mr. Teed was large or small; it certainly was more than 100l., and less than 2,000l. He believed that those twenty persons would have been brought up for judgment, had it not been for the proceedings before this House relative to the borough. Witness had ceased to be agent for Mr. Teed before the Grampound election committee was appointed.

Here the evidence of this witness closed, and John Edwards was called to the bar, and examined by lord John Russell. Witness stated, that he was present at the last election for Grampound, in the character of a solicitor; that he had been requested to attend in order to support one of the candidates, but that he had no interest himself in the election. He then detailed the proceedings which took place at the election. He had conversed with three or four of the electors, who had told him that more than twenty of the electors had been bribed. He then, apparently with some reluctance, mentioned the names of those persons with whom he had conversed, and stated his belief that they would not have taken bribes previously to the election. He did not ask them directly if they would take the bribery oath, but he insinuated a question to that effect; and they appeared to understand him, but did not say whether they would or would not—they certainly did not say they would not. Mr. Shaw demanded the bribery oath to be tendered, but it was withdrawn from a conviction of the state in which the electors were.—Examined by Mr. Scarlett. Witness had been acquainted with the electioneering proceedings at Grampound for the last 24 or 25 years. He never advised the electors at any previous election, although, on seeing them singly, or in small parties, he had often told them what they were likely to bring on themselves by their practices. The practice to which he alluded, and which he stated to them on these occasions, was that of receiving bribes for their votes. None of them denied the fact, but the}' excused themselves on account of their poverty, and considered it a privilege to which they were entitled. Witness stated to them at the last election, that that would probably be the last occasion on which they would ever stand in the character of electors. He had come to the knewledge of the fact that they required to be paid for their votes, by many of them asking himself for money for their votes. He did not know how long these practices had existed, but he had reason to believe they had existed at the two previous elections. He believed very few of the electors were exempt from the propensity to demand money for their votes; two or three, he believed, would not, and his belief was founded on his knowledge of their characters. He had no doubt that the rest of the electors were willing to sell their votes. One of the electors had proposed that 8,000l. should be forthcoming at a limited time after the election, to be divided among the electors for both seats. It was Timothy Symons, mayor of Grampound, who had proposed 8,000l. to be forthcoming.

The chairman reported progress, and asked leave to sit again.—The. House then adjourned to the 2nd of June.