The Corruption Trial of Sir Henry Edwards

In 1857, Sir Henry Edwards was elected Conservative MP for Beverley. In 1868, he was elected MP for Beverley for the last time.

After the 1868 election, there were allegations of corruption against Sir Henry and the other candidate, Captain Kennard.

In 1869, an enquiry revealed corruption – with around 900 persons having been bribed – and the election was pronounced null and void. Sir Henry and Kennard were exonerated from having any knowledge of the illegal practices.

Gladstone agreed to a Royal Commission of Enquiry into the matter, and this concluded that there was evidence of corruption at this and several earlier elections.

As a result, the Borough of Beverley was disenfranchised.

Sir Henry was committed for trial at the 1870 York Spring Assizes, charged with bribery in that private finance which had been made available by him and F. W. Cronhelm to his agent – Mr Wreghitt – in Beverley had been used for the purposes of bribery with his knowledge and consent.

At the conclusion of the trail, Mr Justice Brett told the jury

Then, gentlemen, after what has passed, it is your duty to say that Sir Henry is Not Guilty. There is no evidence to justify you in finding any other verdict
The total cost of the legal proceedings borne by Sir Henry was £10,000.

On 1st February 1871, a banquet, presided by the Hon Admiral Duncombe and attended by about 1,000 people, was given at Halifax to congratulate him on the failure of the bribery prosecutions at Beverley, and also to acknowledge the manner in which he had served Beverley and Halifax

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 12:30 / 14th May 2021 / 3479

Page Ref: E28_1

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