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  THE STORY OF SHOREHAM       BRIBERY  
                           
During the 18th century the town attained an un-enviable notoriety for bribery and corruption. The representation was eagerly sought for by contending parties, more especially as a return might be expected for the outlay incurred consequent on contested elections.   Successful candidates were able to exercise a degree of patronage in favour of their supporters, and those whom they wished to advance by obtaining from the   the promised guineas, and shortly after elected and returned him as their Member.
  But Mr. John Perry, the defeated Member had yet to be reckoned with. On the 3rd January, 1701, this gentleman petitioned Parliament, as did some of the inhabitants on the 26th February following, " that Thomas Edwards had curruptly returned Mr. Gould," and the whole story connected with the visit of that gentleman to Shoreham and the subsequent Election. came out.
          Government of the day, the appointments connected with the Customs, Tide-waiters, and other offices, supposed to be "in the gift" of the Members representingthe Borough.  
Picture              
    On the 13th March, Mr. Gould petitioned the House in reply. He pleaded "mistaken apprehension of the Law, acknowledged his error, and with the greatest humility, submitted himself to the justice and favour of the House."
    The House expelled him and directed that no new writ should be issued that session, but when it was, the Shoreham voters re-elected him.
    In Shoreham this sort of patronage was made use of to the fullest extent possible-"not that we consider it in this respect worse than its more fortunate neighbours," says one writer, " but it had the misfortune to have its delinquencies discovered."  
      A number of petitions followed. On 2nd November, 1705, Mr. John Perry petitioned against the return of Mr. Wicker. On 25th November, 1708, some of the inhabitants against the return of Mr. Richard Lloyd. At a Bye-election, 18th December, 1708, Gregory Page was returned and on the 22nd of the same month, Mr. Gould petitioned against his return. None of these petitions were proceeded with.
      On the 16th November, 1709, the return of Mr. Richard Lloyd was petitioned against by some of the inhabitants on the ground of " treating and undue practice," but on the matter being investigated by a Committee of the House of Commons, Mr. Lloyd was declared duly elected. Again, in 1710, the defeated candidates petitioned against the return of Messrs. Page and Gould, but it came to nothing and the elected liembers retained their seats.
  Doubtless, for many years, this system of bribery and corruption had flourished in the town, but its first glaring example is afforded in the account of a visit,  
    These particulars are sufficient to show us the unsatisfactory state of Political affairs in the Borough, and it is matter for small surprise that we find Dr. Burton, the Greek scholar, after having visited Shoreham, writing in 1751, that " they (the townspeople) get rich every seven years by pocketing gifts for their votes." It is on record that during the reign of George II., more money was spent at Shoreham and Bramber Elections than all the lands in the parishes were worth at twenty years' purchase. On one occasion the landlord of the "Star Inn" boasted that, during an Election, then just over, he made £300 of one pipe of canary !
paid to Shoreham by Mr. Nathaniel Could, who arrived pending an Election.  
Mr. Gould, certainly seems to have come to the town with the intention of making himself popular. Shortly after his arrival the public crier went through the streets with his bell, giving notice to all the voters to repair to the " King's Arms," to receive a guinea per man and to " drink Mr. Gould's health."  
Such an invitation was too good to be resisted. Most of the voters went to the Inn, drank Mr. Could's health, received  
                           
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Copyright © Martin Snow 2002 All rights reserved
Revised 27 February 2002