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Monday, 26 April 2010

Election Fever III

As the election race hots up, we should perhaps be grateful that electioneering has calmed down somewhat since Regency times. In Chester, the Exchange was often the focus of ‘disgraceful scenes’ in which ‘all the low ribaldry, coarse wit, and vulgarism’ of the populace was vented on respectable citizens. The hustings for the city elections were erected at the Exchange. Chester historian Joseph Hemingway commented that :‘many a broad and uncourteous joke has been played off, by our city wits of the lower grade, during those scenes of ardent conflict, when every tinker and cobler (sic) thinks himself of as high consequence and importance as any lord of the manor.’ Food and drink flowed freely at election time. The corporation and parliamentary elections were characterised by shameless bribery as rival candidates ‘treated’ the electorate to help win their votes. Edward ‘Teddy’ Hall, an ‘immoveable’ foe of the Grosvenor faction, was completely overcome by the excitement of the 1812 election, and became well known in Chester for his drunken antics.
Image: Plan of the city of Chester, c. 1828. Stranger’s Companion in Chester, 4th edition, c. 1828.

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