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The bribery oaths were rarely administered.8 In the contest of 1812, the anti-Catholic Isaac Gascoyne, the Townside and corporation Member since 1796, and the pro-Catholic Canning, newly proposed by a coalition of disaffected Greens and wealthy ship owners excluded from the corporation led by the Tory John Bolton of Storrs, Westmorland, and the ‘ Whig’ John Gladstone, had defeated the Whigs Henry Brougham* and Thomas Creevey*.This split the independent party and heralded changes in the organization of Liverpool politics, which initially favoured the Reds or Canningites.The mutually jealous and politically ambitious businessmen who dominated the local parties rarely became more than nominal candidates (serving to provide additional booths or prolong polling) and had to seek seats elsewhere: for example Ralph Benson at Stafford; Joseph Birch at Nottingham; William Ewart initially at Bletchingley, John Gladstone at Woodstock and Berwick-upon-Tweed and his son Thomas at Queenborough.5 The aristocrats asked to field and ‘countenance’ candidates and co-operate on local legislation included the lord lieutenant, the 12th earl of Derby of Knowsley, a Whig moderate; the developer of North Toxteth, the 2nd earl of Sefton* of Croxteth Hall, who aligned with the ‘Mountain’; the Canningite marquess of Stafford, and, from 1824, when his wife inherited the Gascoyne estates, the Tory 2nd marquess of Salisbury.6 Power was vested locally in the mayor and two bailiffs (the returning officers), elected annually on 18 Oct.

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The Concentric Society (1812) and the Independent Debating Society (1813) provided a forum for the Whig Dissenters, and the pro-reform, pro-emancipation Liverpool Freemen’s Club (1812), managed by the auctioneer Thomas Green, rallied the Pink and Green ‘foes of corruption’.9 Additionally, in December 1812 Liverpool had become the first and remained the only constituency with a permanent Parliament office in Westminster for the transmission of business between lobbyists, Members and ministers.

Situated in Fludyer Street and headed by Canning’s private secretary John Backhouse, whom William Wainwright (acting mainly for Huskisson and Sandon) replaced in September 1823, it was funded by the corporation (whose annual revenues increased from £559 in 1704 to £55,000 in 1829) and mercantile associations representing the ship owners, the underwriters, the salt manufacturers and the American, Irish, East Indian, West Indian, Portuguese, Brazilian, Mexican and South American trades.

1822 observed, Liverpool’s expanding Colombian trade was unprotected in law.38 Legislation for a new church (St.

Luke’s) was enacted, .39 The corporation sponsored bills for a new fish market, paving and harbour improvements and the transfer of the assizes to Liverpool failed, and the 1822 waterworks bill, extending the provisions of the 1785 Act to Toxteth Park and West Derby, was strenuously opposed by the corporation, the select vestry and the inhabitants before it received royal assent, 24 June 1822.40 The cost of the distressed Irish, 12,783 of whom, according to the pass master Robert Chambers, were returned to Ireland on passes issued at Liverpool between June 1818 and June 1820, remained an important local issue.41 Anticipating Canning’s departure for India as governor-general, lobbying against the East India Company’s trade monopoly also revived in 1822.42 From June 1821, the orchestrated a campaign to oust Canning should he seek re-election on returning to office.43 Shepherd mustered support at the Cheshire Whig Club during the hotly contested 1821 mayoral election, when their candidate, Leyland’s nephew and heir Richard Bullin, defeated the Canning Cycle’s nominee, the merchant William Molyneux (1,619-1,567) in a four-day poll that cost each side over £3,000.44 The number polled was 310 greater than at any parliamentary election and included 200 non-residents, ‘a circumstance without a parallel’ which the Tory press attributed to ‘the admission of such persons as are considered paupers, and who are not, by law, permitted to vote at elections for Members of Parliament, as well as by officers employed in the customs and excise, forming altogether an aggregate of 3186’.45 ‘Junta domination’, open tendering for corporation contracts and Ewart and Moss’s monopoly of government remittances (and the 15-days’ interest accruing thereto) were the main issues.

Crompton’s proposers were Williams (whom he afterwards nominated for the county) and the broker Robert Ellison Harvey; while Leyland’s were the hatter and treasurer of the Pink and Greens John Harvey and the stationer and future barrister Edward ‘Roaring’ Rushton.20 The Canning Club dismissed the contest as a ‘sham fight’.21 Creevey was informed on 14 Mar.

by the Whig Lord Folkestone*, who held him personally responsible for their local party’s poor showing, that it proceeded ‘rummishly’.22 The sitting Members were consistently and unassailably ahead and the radical Whigs used the seven-day poll to publicize their campaign for reform, inquiry into Peterloo and lower taxes, and to denounce the Liverpool government’s repressive Six Acts, the corporation and ‘all corruption’.

As the absent Gladstone crossly remarked, Gore’s statistics confirmed the importance of the corporation-Canningite coalition, which their party leaders publicly denied.26 Printing errors in the poll book, which gives votes for 2,173 freemen and misattributes most of Leyland’s votes, inhibits independent analysis. 1823) of Mossley Hill, who contributed some £3,500 towards Canning’s election, from liability for duty on stock destroyed in a warehouse blaze.28 Ewart’s influence (Canning considered him ‘unquestionably the most powerful man in Liverpool’) was insufficient to secure repeal of the tariff on imported wool, but Canning, the presenter on 9 Apr.

1821 of a relevant petition got up by him, promised to ‘at least abstain from voting [with government] against ...

Despite its apparent success, it was regularly bypassed by the corporation and the commercial men who employed London agents.

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