Bribery & Corruption
In 1865, bribery and corruption surfaced when Henry Westropp, Tory, topped the poll and was proven to have paid for votes. Here you will find the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Select Committee on the Bridgwater Election Petition with the Proceedings of the Committee 1866. In 1869 a Royal Commission of Enquiry was set up to establish to investigate how bad the corruption was. The enquiry took place in the Town Hall and lasted for 47 days, from August 23rd to the 16th October. A report consisting of over 1000 pages and dealing with over 74,500 questions and answers was produced. In conclusion, evidence was found that corrupt practices had taken place over the past 40 years. It was on the 1st January 1870 that the commission recommended the disenfranchisement of Bridgwater as a punishment, stating “We find that corrupt practices have extensively prevailed at every election since 3rd May 1831”. Bribery was described as “the chronic disease of the place” See also Bridgwater (UK Parliament constituency)
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