The Westminster Review says of the 1841 election, “the annals of parliamentary warfare contained no page more stained with the foulness of corruption and falsehood than that which relates the history of the general election in the year 1841”.
At the general election in 1841, the candidates for the two Liverpool seats were Lord Sandon and Mr. Cresswell, the sitting Tory M.P.’s, and Sir Joshua Walmsley, and Lord Palmerston standing as Whigs/Liberals. Why on earth Palmerston was standing in Liverpool when he had no connexion to it is a slight mystery, – still an arrogant, bombastic, opportunistic, womanising Foreign Secretary is hardly unknown in British political life. Sir Josh’s own version of the election follows shortly. The short piece below is from the Tory supporting Spectator.
LIVERPOOL. Lord Sandon and Mr. Cresswell visited their supporters for the first time on Friday, and have personally addressed the electors. There was a large meeting at the Amphitheatre on Monday. Lord Sandon avowed himself ” such a Free-trader as Mr. Huskisson “; and endeavoured to show that Mr. Huskisson was such a Free-trader as Lord Sandon. He asked the electors what claim Lord Palmerston had upon them, when he had to accompany deputations from the town to complain of the Foreign Secretary’s inattention and neglect of the commercial interests of the country ?
The Spectator 26 June 1841, Page 6
Each of the Tories had a majority of over a thousand votes.
William Huskisson (1770-1830) had been one of the M.P.’s for Liverpool between 1823 and his death in 1830. Amongst other ministerial roles, he had been President of the Board of Trade; he was regarded as one of the few men who could reconcile Tory merchants to a free trade policy; hence Lord Sandon’s comments, in what was a very mercantile city. Huskisson is now rather better known as the world’s first railway passenger casualty when he was run over and fatally wounded by George Stephenson’s Rocket, at the opening of the Liverpool to Manchester railway. We’ll come to Sir Josh’s own version of this as well.
Viscount Sandon (1798 – 1882),was the Tory M.P. for Liverpool between 1831 and 1847 when he succeeded his father as Earl of Harrowby.
Sir Cresswell Cresswell, (1794 – 1863), was born Cresswell Easterby. He took the surname Cresswell in 1807 when his wife inherited much of the Cresswell family money. His mother was also a Cresswell. He had a reputation as a “violent Tory”. He was elected as one of the Tory M.P.’s for Liverpool in 1837, and again in 1841. He resigned his parliamentary seat in 1842 when he was made a judge of the Court of Common Pleas.