Page images

Lately published, handsomely printed in royal octavo, price in boards 31s. 6d., or half-bound with russia backs and corners and lettered, 35s., the Twenty-first Volume of


TRIALS, and Proceedings for High Treason and other Crimes and Misdemeanors, from the earliest Period to the present Time; with Notes and other Illustrations, by T. B. HOWELL, Esq. F. R. S. F. S. A.

A Table of Parallel Reference, compiled for the purpose of rendering this Edition of The State Trials applicable to those Books of authority in which references are made to the last Folio Edition, is given with this Volume. Gentlemen desirous of becoming Subscribers may have the option of purchasing the Work as far as published, at one time, or of being supplied at the rate of a Volume per month.

[ocr errors]

In the Edinburgh Review, (No. 49, June 1815, p. 208, note,) this Work is noticed (together with the New Parliamentary History,) as deserving "to be numbered among the most useful and best conducted Works of late Years;-being an indispensable part of all collections of English History." "The death of a person so singularly qualified for his task as Mr. Howell, the Editor, is a public loss very difficult to be repaired. The choice of a successor is a point in which historical literature is materially concerned. To mention such an important Work in a Note may seem to be a treatment very unsuitable to its importance. The truth is, that it has long been intended to notice it more becomingly; that such an intention is far from being now relinquished; but that experience of the accidents which are apt to delay the execution of literary projects, induces us to take the earliest opportunity of apprizing all our readers of its great value."

The Subscribers to the "State Trials" are assured, that the Proprietors have been fully impressed with the necessity of due cantion in the choice of a successor to Mr. Howell in a work of such National Importance; that the delay which has necessarily taken place since his death will prove in every respect of ultimate benefit to the Work; and that arrangements are nearly completed which will ensure its progress, and speedy termination.

Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, & Brown; E Jeffery; J. M. Richardson; Black, Parbury, and Allen; J. Hatchard; J. Booker; Baldwin, Cradock, & Joy; J. Booth; E. Lloyd; R. H. Evans; Budd & Calkin; and T. C. Hansard.

Parliamentary History.

26 GEORGE THE THIRD, A. D. 1786.







[Continued from Vol. XXV.] DEBATE in the Commons on County Election Bill.] May 15, 1786. On the order of the day for going into a Committee on the Bill for the better securing the Rights of Voters at County Elections,

inquiry, be found to be as he had stated. Certain he was, that if the present Bill passed into a law, there could not happen a vacancy in which, in all human probability, a great many of the freeholders would not find themselves disqualified. The Bill enacted, that no freeholder should have a right to vote who did not enter his freehold in a register to be kept for that purpose; and that a certain, but, he was ready to admit, a very moderate expense was to be incurred by so doing. To both of these regulations he strongly objected, because he was persuaded few of the free and independent mass of freeholders, whom undoubtedly that House Mr. W. W. Grenville observed, that must look to as the properest description could he have conceived the Bill would in of freeholders to send representatives to the least facilitate any one of those objects parliament, would be sufficiently careful which the noble framer (earl Stanhope) to enter their freeholds in the register, and had in view, he should certainly have because any expense whatever was in his given it his support; but being perfectly mind exceedingly wrong to be imposed on convinced that it tended to a very different the poorer part of freeholders. If the Bill effect, he must object to its being pro- passed, in all probability those freeholders ceeded in any farther. So far from secu- only who were in the interest of some ring the rights of election to freeholders, great and overbearing power which in the Bill tended rather to annihilate their fluenced the county, would be taken care existing rights, and to deprive them of of to make them enter their freeholds, their votes. A Bill similar to the present while the freeholders in the interest of had been passed in the parliament of Ire- favourite characters, and the larger deland in the course of the last session; and scription of independent freeholders in no such had appeared likely to have been its particular interest, but who consulted their operation and effect, that had any vacancy own judgment as to who was the fittest for a county member happened, there person to represent them, would not one would not have been a single voter quali-half of them think of entering their freefied to have voted for the candidate who offered to fill the vacancy. He understood, therefore, that the very first act of the Irish Parliament in the present session, had been to pass a Bill to suspend the operation of their act of the preceding session. He spoke of this fact under some degree of doubt; but he believed it would, upon [VOL. XXVI.]

holds, and thus they would, on an election taking place, find themselves unexpectedly disqualified. The operation of the Bill consequently would be, that the great and overbearing county interests must prove strengthened, and all the other interest's weakened, so that instead of encouraging men of moderate fortunes to stand the [B]

[ocr errors]

chance of an election, they would be de-, the Speaker's leaving the chair; but if terred from it, and the returns would lay the hon. gentleman intended to go into a where undoubtedly they ought least to committee, with a view to the passing the rest. The votes of freeholders appeared Bill into a law that session, he certainly much better secured as the law stood at would oppose the motion. present, by being assessed by the landtax assessors, and appearing upon their returns. He must, therefore, object, to the Speaker's leaving the chair.

Mr. Pitt remarked, that were he not convinced of the excellence of the Bill, the opinion of his right hon. friend would weigh very considerably with him against it, and his argument still more; he was however decided in his sentiments, that so far from having the tendency of excluding from the power of voting those who were entitled to vote, and of increasing the expense of elections, it would operate in a directly opposite way. It would confine the election to those only who were entitled to vote, except such as by their negligence in registering their freeholds shewed themselves unworthy of that privilege, and would, in his opinion, very much diminish the expense of the election. Thus, all the faults to be found in the most unobjectionable part of the constitution of the House of Commons (the county representation) would be effectually remedied; a blessing which he hoped the country would one time or other be able to obtain in every other department of the repre


Mr. Duncombe said, that he deemed it a very good bill; and being persuaded that it would have an excellent effect in large counties, he should certainly give it his support. A former Bill of this nature has by no means answered the purpose which the hon. gentleman (Mr. Powys) had doubtless meant to effect by it.

Mr. Powys entered into a few observations to mark the distinction between his Bill and that under consideration. His Bill was meant as a mere index to the votes of freeholders, by obliging the land-tax assessors to return the freeholds in their respective districts; whereas the noble earl's Bill professed to register them, and contained some very complicated provisions for the purpose, making each voter his own scrutineer. He thought the Bill extremely inadequate to its effect; but if the hon. gentleman who had now taken the charge of it, would say, that he meant no more by going into the committee than to amend it as much as possible, and then let it go forth to the consideration of the country at large, he would not object to

Sir Joseph Mawbey commended the Bill, and said, that in Surrey he was per suaded its operation would be extremely beneficial.

Mr. Bastard described the Bill as a collection of clauses, each of which alternately contradicted the principle laid down in the clause preceding it; indeed, it contained so much extraordinary matter, that he could not imagine its operation would be attended with any beneficial consequences.

Sir W. Dolben contended, that the present Bill went to a great object, the attainment of which must be extremely desirable; for what could be more so than the securing the rights of voters, and the putting a stop to the ruinous expense of county elections? He admitted that the Bill, as it stood at present, was incorrect; but when he saw the great abilities which were likely to be exerted upon amending it, he had no doubt but that if it was suffered to go into a committee, it would come out so improved, that all the objections to it would be done away.

Sir G. P. Turner observed, that he had formerly supported the Bill; but having heard two of his friends, the representatives of large counties, who must be the best judges of the subject, declare it would not answer the end, he had so much confidence in their superior knowledge, that he would vote against the Speaker's leaving the chair.

The Earl of Surrey declared, he rose with a full conviction of the necessity of the Bill going into the committee, that gentlemen who had started objections might be apprised of the checks and guards against the operation of those objections that were meant to be put in the Bill. He appealed to the candour and liberality of the House, whether, if means could be hit upon to prevent gentlemen, of large fortunes even, from wasting those fortunes in county elections, those means ought not to be resorted to, and those elections placed upon that footing of freedom and small expenditure which would encourage men of moderate fortunes, but independent principles, to stand for counties without risk of ruin.

The House divided on the question, that the Speaker do now leave the chair.


Sir J. Mawbey

Mr. Steele

[ocr errors]




Sir W. W. Grenville -
Mr. Powys -


} 22

where would be the justice of inflicting unmerited restrictions on one set of men by way of douceur to another? He particularly adverted to the two clauses which the Bill went to repeal; and said, that only three or four counties had enforced

The House then went into the Com- the clause empowering magistrates to


Debate in the Commons on the Bill to explain the Hawkers and Pedlars Act.] May 16. The order of the day being read for the second reading of the Bill to explain and amend the Act of the last session relative to Hawkers and Pedlars,

Mr. Popham reminded the House, that a heavy tax had last year been imposed on shopkeepers, and that at the time it had been held out to them that the hawkers and pedlars should be abolished; but that afterwards that measure was changed, and the House had thought that, as hawkers and pedlars were men liable to no local assessments, nor contributing in any proportionable degree to the exigencies of the state, they were fair objects of taxation and restriction. Upon this the House had proceeded in their Act of the last session, and therefore the faith of Parliament was pledged, that the hawkers and pedlars should remain under the restrictions then imposed. He concluded by moving, That the second reading be put off until that day three months.

suppress hawkers and pedlars, and to oblige them to keep without the district of the county. It was fair, therefore, to conclude, that as thirty-six or thirty-seven counties had forborne to put that severe clause in execution, the extreme arbitrari. ness of it had carried conviction to them, that it ought not to be enforced. An honest employment was as much a man's property as his estate; and competition was the heart and soul of trade. It was universally admitted to be true policy to encourage competition as much as possible; upon that principle, therefore, it would be wise to let the present Bill pass into a law.

Lord Mulgrave was fully aware that competition was the soul of trade; but then he wished always for a fair and equal competition, and not to suffer a hawker and a pedlar, who was not liable to local assessment, and contributed little or nothing either to parochial or government taxes, to carry his goods to market under those advantages, to undersell the resident shopkeeper, who paid many very heavy taxes of both kinds. If the hawkers and pedlars deserved the high character given them for industry and knowledge of business, why could they not fix their abode, and take shops to sell their goods in as well as carry them about the country? With regard to a compact, undoubtedly no express compact had been made, so as to pledge that House to any specific line of conduct respecting hawkers and pedlars; but gentlemen must recollect that it had been suggested, when the shop tax was stated to the House, that shopkeepers would be relieved from the intrusion made upon them by hawkers and pedlars. Therefore, although the House were not pledged by any specific stipulation to abide by the act of the last session, they were bound in honour to do so.

Mr. J. H. Browne described the hawkers and pedlars as an honest, industrious, and useful description of people. There were some thousand acres of the county of Stafford, which the hawkers and pedlars had cultivated, and converted from a barren and wild spot to a rich and fertile circuit. They had there given the strongest proofs of their industry, their peaceable disposition, and their aptness for civil society; why, therefore, should so laudable a set of men be singled out for severity? He had heard nothing urged against them but ungrounded suspicions, upon which alone the Legislature surely ought not to rest any measures of an injurious tendency. He saw no reason why it should be imagined that hawkers and pedlars were more Sir E. Astley contended, that when the addicted to smuggling than shopkeepers. shop tax had been proposed, the shopThe latter could surely better conceal keepers were given to understand from smuggled goods in their shops and houses authority that the hawkers and pedlars than a pedlar, who carried all his goods were to be abolished. Under that proon his back. He denied that the faith of mise and suggestion it was, that many Parliament had been pledged to the shop-gentlemen had been induced to support keepers, that the Act of the last year should remain in full force, and asked,

the shop tax, and though the House had not acted up to the extent of that sugges

tion, yet the matter had been in a man- | and pedlars to remain under all the severe ner compromised by the tax imposed on restrictions imposed by the Act of the last hawkers and pedlars, and the restrictions session so forcibly, that the collective auwhich accompanied it. In Norfolk the thority of all their constituents put togeclause of the Act, authorizing magistrates ther should not induce him to support an to prevent hawkers and pedlars from en- act of injustice, and such he considered tering or continuing within the county, the Act of the last session. He had been had been enforced, and the shopkeepers a supporter of the shop tax; he still ap. considered their being so kept out as some proved of that tax, and he should be exdouceur, and they the more cheerfully tremely glad to hear it was cheerfully paid the tax on shops in consequence of paid; but he would not purchase the it. He denied that hawkers and pedlars consent of the shopkeepers at the expense were generally considered so useful as had of the oppression of the hawkers and been represented, and declared that they pedlars. Competition, as an hon. gentlecarried about old-fashioned, and often man had said, was the soul of trade. It smuggled goods; and being generally was so undoubtedly; and therefore he employed in travelling about, had no set-wished to leave the hawkers and pedlars tled home, and consequently did not pay in any proportion to the taxes, to which the resident shopkeeper so largely contributed.

Mr. Alderman Hammet appealed to the recollection of the House, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not, when he first proposed the shop tax, mentioned his intention of suppressing the hawkers and pedlars, and whether many gentlemen had not been induced to vote for the shop tax in consequence of that proposition, and, in particular, influenced the hon. baronet, who now so consistently opposed the present Bill. If the Bill was in any view proper, it should have been accompanied with another for the repeal of the shop


Mr. Powys remarked, that he could not see any reason to refuse releasing the hawkers and pedlars from restrictions which bore hard upon them, and could not be supported upon any principle of expediency, necessity, or justice. The argument against the Bill, he understood to be, that a compact had been made between parliament and the shopkeepers, that the restrictions imposed on hawkers and pedlars by the Act of the last session should not be repealed. He knew of no such compact; nor indeed was it possible that such a compact should have been made, because the House would not bargain to oppress a harmless and innocent set of people, for so that House had declared hawkers and pedlars to be by tolerating them. If they were not fit people to be tolerated, let them be abolished altogether; but the House surely would not act so unjustly as to pronounce them fit to exist, and then, in an indirect way, deprive them of the means of existence. He felt the hardship of obliging the hawkers

unfettered with restrictions calculated to support the most ardent wish of every shopkeeper, a monopoly.

Mr. Alderman Newnham said, that the shop tax was certainly an oppressive and partial tax, but he could not see how taxing hawkers and pedlars would render it less so. Hawkers and pedlars were, in his mind, a very honest, useful, and industrious set of people. If any body of men could be said to earn their bread by the sweat of their brow, that body certainly consisted of hawkers and pedlars.

Mr. J. T. Ellis said:-The worthy alderman must have been particularly fortunate in his dealing with the hawkers and pedlars, to venture to speak so decidedly in declaring them to be a very honest set of people. I think so many of the late revenue burthens are laid on occupiers of houses, that they have a claim to protection against competitors, who do not equally contribute to the exigencies of the state. I wish to guard against the facility which, as the clauses are now worded, they give to evasion. Such restrictions as the Legislature think it wise to continue should remain inviolable. Shopkeepers submit to their burthens, relying on the stability of our proceedings, and that we shall not suffer these invaders of their rights to make farther encroachments on their means of subsistence; but if to what the Legislature professes to grant, they should be permitted, through our inattention, to carry their trade into every market-town in the kingdom, they would share the profits without proportionably sharing the burthens of the place. I shall therefore give my vote for the amendment.

Mr. Beaufoy.-If I do not mistake the arguments of the hon. gentleman who

« PreviousContinue »