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Presented to both houses of Parliament by Command of Der Majesty.
PRINTERS TO THE QUEEN'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY.
FOR HER MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE.
VICTORIA, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, To Our Trusty and Well-beloved Æneas John McIntyre, Esquire, one of Our Counsel, Wyndham Slade, Esquire, barrister-at-law, and Douglas Straight, Esquire, barrister-at-law, Greeting :
WIEREAs the Lords Spiritual, and Temporal, and Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament assembled have by a Joint Address humbly represented unto Us that Sir William Robert Grove, Knight, one of the Justices of the Court of Common Pleas at Westminster, and one of the Judges selected for the Trial of Election Petitions pursuant to “ The Parliamentary Elections Act, 1868," has reported to the House of Commons that there is reason to believe that corrupt practices extensively prevailed at the last Election for the Borough of Boston, and have humbly prayed that we will be graciously pleased to cause inquiry to be made pursuant to the Provisions of the Act of Parliament passed in the Sixteenth year of Our Reign, intituled “ An Act to provide for more and effectual Inquiry into the “ Existence of Corrupt Practices at Elections for Members to serve in Parliament," by the appointment of you the said Æneas John McIntyre, Wyndham Slade, and Douglas Straight as Commissioners for the purpose of making inquiry into the existence of such Corrupt Practices :
Know ye that We in compliance with the Prayer of the said Joint Address have authorised and appointed and Do by these Presents, in pursuance of the Powers vested in Us by the said Act, authorise and appoint you the said Æneas John McIntyre, Wyndham Slade, and Douglas Straight to be Commissioners for the purpose of making inquiry into the existence of such Corrupt Practices in the said Joint Address referred to.
Given at Our Court at Saint James's the Eleventh Day of
By Her Majesty's Command.
RICHARD ASSHETON CROSS.
TO THE QUEEN'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY. We, the Commissioners duly appointed to inquire into the existence of corrupt practices at elections for the borough of Boston, humbly submit this our Report to Your Majesty.
We opened the Commission on the 20th day of August 1875, in the county sessions house (which had been courteously placed at our disposal by the magistrates of the county), and we continued our inquiry by daily sittings until the 1st day of September. During this time we examined 89 witnesses in open court, and we did not consider it necessary to hold any further sittings for taking evidence after our adjournment to London.
As both political parties in the borough had determined to save expense to the ratepayers by not allowing the investigation to be delayed through any absence or reticence on the part of the witnesses summoned before us, our procedure was much facilitated, and consequently no more time was consumed than was absolutely necessary for the purpose of our inquiry.
In our Report we have strictly confined ourselves to the duty imposed upon us by the statute, and we have not felt ourselves at liberty to offer any finding or suggestion whatever as to the operation of Sch. I. 39 of 35 & 36 Vict. c. 33, which causes all the ballot papers to be destroyed at the expiration of a year after the election. In the present instance this was done after a Report that corrupt practices had extensively prevailed at the last election for Boston had been made by the Election Judge, and even when a Royal Commission was pending. Nor have we felt it our duty to express any opinion upon an arrangement entered into between counsel at the trial of the petition, which the agent for one of the respondents did his best to conceal from us, but which we have placed upon our notes as showing the relation towards each other of the various parties to that petition.
The borough of Boston, St. Botolph's Town, is situated on the tidal river Witham, at a distance of five miles from an estuary of the North Sea. It is a borough of con. siderable antiquity, having sent members to Parliament since the reign of Edward the 3rd in 1352, and was formerly a place of greater commercial importance than
it is at present.
The constituency, which was nearly doubled by the Representation of the People Act, consists of 2,651 voters, of whom 87 are freemen. The parliamentary area extends over 8,780 acres; and as the town is situated in the centre of a large agri. cultural district, and has no manufactories of importance, the population consists entirely of tradesmen, artisans, and general labourers. It was incorporated by charter in the 37th year of Henry VIII., and is governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18 councillors. The councillors choose their own aldermen for each of the two wards, the Bargate and the West Ward, and we found that the municipal elections had given
to close contests of late years. The last election of members to serve in Parliament took place on the 3rd of Februar
bruary 1874, when Messrs. Ingram and Parry were returned in opposition to essrs. Malcolm and Collins, who had been the sitting members—the numbers being
Jollows: Ingram, 1,572; Parry, 1,347 ; Malcolm, 996; Collins, 676; but on a petition being presented and tried, Mr. Parry was declared unduly elected, and Mr.
colm was seated in his place. In order to understand the feeling of political parties in Boston, we found it, cessary to examine into the state of affairs in the borough at a former election in
6. We had no need to go further back, because the elections which preceded that le had no immediate influence on those which followed, whereas the events which happened then have affected more or less every election since.