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of voting in any election. 4. That no person shall vote in right of any freehold, granted to him fraudulently to qualify him to vote. Fraudulent grants are such as contain an agreea ment to reconvey, or to defeat the estate granted; which agreements are made void, and the estate is absolutely vested in the person to whom it is so granted. And, to guard the better against such frauds, it is farther provided, 5. That every voter shall have been in the actual possession, or receipt of the profits, of his freehold to his own use for twelve calendar months before ; except it came to him by descent, marriage, marriage settlement, will, or promotion to a benefice or office. 6. That no person shall vote in respect of an annuity or rentcharge, unless registered with the clerk of the peace twelve calendar months before. 7. Thatin mortgaged or trusteitates, the person in possession, under the above-mentioned restrictions, shall have the vote. 8. That only one person shall be admitted to vote for any one house or tenement, to prevent the splitting of freeholds. 9. That no estate shall qualify a voter, unless the estate has been assessed to some land tax aid, at least twelve months before the election (a). 10. That no tenant by copy of court roll shall be permitted to vote as a freeholder[B]. Thus much for the electors in counties.
As for the electors of citizens and burgesses, these are fupposed to be the mercantile part or trading interest of this kingdom. But as trade is of a fluctuating nature, and seldom long fixed in a place, it was formerly left to the crown to suma
(a) By statute 20 G. III. c. 17, explained and amended by 30 Geo. III. c. 35. no person thall be allowed to vote in respect of any mellina ages, lands, or tenements, which have not been afleffed to the land tax for six calendar months next before such election, either in the name of the person claiming to vote, or of the tenant actually occupying the same at the time of such allestinent made ; and that no person shall be allowed to vote in respect of any messuages, &c. to which the person so claiining to vote (nall have become intitled by descent, marriage, marriage-settlement, devise, promotion to any benefice or office, within twelve calendar months next before such election, which melluages, &c. have not been assessed to the land-tax within two years next before such election in the name of the person through whom the person claiming to vote thall derive his title.
[B] By starute 22 Geo. III. C. 41. no commissioner or officer, employed in managing the duties of excise, cuftoins, Itamps, falt, windows or houses, or revenue of the post-ottice, shall be capable of voting in the election of a member of parliament,
ling; secretaries or receivers of prizes; comptrollers of the army accounts; agents for regiments; governors of plantations and their deputies; officers of Minorca or Gibraltar; officers of the excise and customs ; clerks or deputies in the
several offices of the treasury, exchequer, navy, victualling, , admiralty, pay of the army or navy, secretaries of state, salt,
stamps, appeals, wine licences, hackney coaches, hawkers and pedlars) nor any persons that hold any new office under the crown created since 1705°, are capable of being elected or sitting as members. 6. That no person having a pension under the crown during pleasure, or for any term of years, is capable of being elected or fitting 7. That if any member accepts an office under the crown, except an officer in the army or navy accepting a new commillion, his seat is void; but such member is capable of being re-elected"; 8. That all knights of the shire shall be actual knights, or such notable esquires and gentlemen as have estates suflicient to be knights, and by no means of the degree of yeomen. This is reduced to a still greater certainty, by ordaining, 9. That every knight of a shire shall have a clear estate of freehold or copyhold to the value of six hundred pounds per annum, and every citizen and burgess to the value of three hundred pounds : except the eldest sons of peers, and of persons qualified to be knights of Thires, and except the members for the two universities b. which somewhat ballances the ascendant which the boroughs have gained over the counties, by obliging the trading interest to make choice of landed men: and of this qualification the member must make oath, and give in the particulars in writing, at the time of his taking his seat i [c]. But, fube ject to these standing restrictions and disqualifications, every subject of the realm is eligible of common right : though there are instances, wherein persons in particular circumstances have forfeited that common right, and have been declared ineligible for that parliament by a vote of the house of commonsj, or for ever by an act of the legislature k. But it was an unconstitutional prohibition, which was grounded on an ordinance of the house of lords', and inserted in the king's writs, for the parliament holden at Coventry, 6 Hen. IV, that no apprentice or other man of the law should be elected a knight of the shire therein m: in return for which, our law books and historians " have branded this parliament with the name of parliamentum indoctum, or the lack-learning parliament; and fir Edward Coke observes with some spleen', that there was never a good law made thereat.
d Stat. 6 Ann. c. 7.
& Stat. 23 Hen. VI. €. 15.
fc7 By statute 22 Geo. III. c. 45. every person who shall directly or indirelliy, by himself or by any other to his ule, hold any contract made with the commissioners of the treasury, navy, or victualling office, or the malter-general or board of ordnance, or any other person, for, or on ac. count of the public service; or shall, in pursuance of any such contract, furuilh any money to be remitted abroad, or any wares or merchandize to be used in the fervice of the public, mall be incapable of being elected or fitting or voting in the house of cominons, during the time that he thall hold such contract.
3. The third point, regarding elections, is the method of proceeding therein. This is also regulated by the law of parliament, and the several statutes referred to in the margin P; all which I shall blend together, and extract out of them a summary account of the method of proceeding to elections.
As soon as the parliament is summoned, the lord chancellor (or if a vacancy happens during the sitting of parliament, the speaker (e), by order of the house; and without such order, if a vacancy happens by death, or the member's becoming a peer, j See pag. 163.
& M. c. 20. 7 W.JII.c.4. 7 & 8 W. k Stat. 7 Geo. I. c. 28.
III. c. 7. and c. 25. 10 & 11 W. III. 14 Inft. 10.48. Pryn. Plea for lords. c. 7. 12 & 13 W. III. c. 10. 6 Ann. 379. 2 Whitelocke. 359. 368.
c. 23. 9 Ann. c. 5. 10 Ann. c. 19. and * Pryn. on 4 Inft. 13.
c. 33. 2 GeoJI. c. 24. 8 Geo. II. c. 30. A Walfingh. A. D. 1405.
18 Geo. II. c. 18. 19 Geo. II. c. 28. • 4 Init. 48.
10 Geo. III. c. 16. 11 Geo. II. C. 42. D? Hen. IV. c. 15. 8 Hen, VI. c.7. 14 Geo. III. c. 15. 15 Geo. III. c. 36. 23 Hen. VI. c. 14. W. & M. st. 1. 28 Geo. III. c. 52. C. 2, 2 W. & M. st. 1. c. 7. 5&6 W.
(e) [The statute 24 Geo. III. c. 26. repeals to much of 10 Gio. III.c. 41, and 15 Geo. Ill. c. 36. as authorises the ipeaker of the house of commons to issue his warrant to the clerk of the crown for making out writs for the election of members; and, instead thereof, lubstitutes (among others) the following provisions : that the speaker, during any receis, whether by prorogation or adjournment thall issue his warrant for make ing out writs for electing members in the room of hose who shall die or become peers of Great Britain : and that, to prevent the inconveniencies that may arise from the death of the speaker, or by his seat becoming va. cant, or by his absence out of the realm, the speaker is to nominate a certain number of members to execute the poweis given to him by that act.) VOL. I.
in the time of a recess for upwards of twenty days) sends his warrant to the clerk of the crown in chancery; who thereupon issues out writs to the sheriff of every county, for the election of all the members to serve for that county, and every city and borough therein. Within three days after the receipt of this writ, the sherifl is to send his precept, under his seal, to the proper returning officers of the cities and boroughs, commanding them to elect their members : and the said returning officers are to proceed to election within eight days from the receipt of the precept, giving four days notice of the same?; and to return the persons chosen, together with the precept, to the sheriff.
But elections of knights of the fluire must be proceeded to by the sheriffs themselves in person, at the next county court that shall happen after the delivery of the writ (a). The county court is a court held every month or oftener by the sheriff, intended to try little causes not exceeding the value of forty shillings, in what part of the county he pleases to appoint for that purpose: but for the election of knights of the shire it must be held at the most usual place. If the county court falls upon the day of delivering the writ, or within six days after, the sheriff may adjourn the court and election to some other convenient time, not longer than sixteen days, nor shorter than ten ; but he cannot alter the place, without the consent
9 In the borough of New-Shoreham u Geo. III. c. 55. the election must be in Sussex, wherein certain freeholders of within twelve days, with eigbr days nothe county are entitled to vote by itatute tice of the same (f).
(a) By 25 Geo. III. c. 8+. 1. 4. the theriff is, within two days after the receipt of the writ, to cause proclamation to be made at the place where the election ought to be holden of a special county-court to be there holden for the purpose of such election only, on any day (Sunday excepted) not Jater from the day of making such proclamation than the sixteenth, nor sooner than the tentlı day, and that he shall proceed in such election at such special county-court in the saine manner as if the election was to be held at a county.court, or at an adjourned county-court according to the laws now in being. And by the firit lection of the fame act, every poll shall commence on the day upon which the fame fhall be deinanded, or upon the next day at fartheit, (unlet's Sunday, and then the day ai.er) and shall be duly and regularly proceeded in from day to day (Sundays excepted) until the faine be finished, but so as that no poll shall continue for more than fifteen days at moit; (Sundays excepted) and if such poll thall continue until the fifteenth day, then the same shall be finally closed at or before the hour of three in the afternoon of the same day.
[So in the borough of Cricklade, Wiltshire, where certain freeholders are intitled to vote by itatute 22 Geo. III. c. 31. the election must be within twelve days, and not less than eigbe days; and notice of the fame must be given forthwith.]
of all the candidates : and, in all such cases, ten days public notice must be given of the time and place of the election.
And, as it is essential to the very being of parliament that elections should be absolutely free, therefore all undue influences upon the electors are illegal, and strongly prohibited. For Mr Locke' ranks it among those breaches of trust in the executive magistrate, which according to liis notions amount to a dissolution of the government, “ if he employs the force, “ treasure, and offices of the society to corrupt the represent“ atives, or openly to preingage the electors, and prescribe : , “what manner of persons shall be chosen. For thus to re“ gulate candidates and electors, and new model the ways of “ election, what is it, says he, but to cut up the government “ by the roots, and poison the very fountain of public secu“rity ?” As soon therefore as the time and place of election, either in counties or boroughs, are fixed, all soldiers quartered in the place are to remove, at least one day before the election, to the distance of two miles or more; and not to return till one day after the poll is ended. Riots likewise have been frequently determined to make an election void. By vote also of the house of commons, to whom alone belongs the power of determining contested elections, no lord of parliament, or lord lieutenant of a county, hath any right to interfere in the election of commoners; and, by statute, the lord warden of the cinque ports shall not recommend any members there. If any officer of the excise, customs, Itamps, or certain other branches of the revenue, presume to intermeddle in elections, by persuading any voter or diffuading him, he forfeits rool, and is disabled to hold any office,
Thus are the electors of one branch of the legislature sea cured from any undue influence from either of the other two, and from all external violence and compulfion. But the greatest danger is that in which themselves co-operate, by the infamous practice of bribery and corruption. To prevent which it is enacted that no candidate shali, after the date (usually called the teste) of the writs, or after the vacancy, give any money or entertainment to his electors, or promise to give any, either to particular persons, or to the place
I on Gov. p. 2. §. 222.