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Not Brentford

John Wilkes and events of 1768 (continued)

I am indebted to Count Otto Black (deceased) who suggested the Library of Congress website has interesting material for the UK: "Mostly they have high-quality and easily downloadable scans of out-of-copyright books". A good source indeed, I followed the Count's advice to search for 'Brentford London' and found a wealth of books - over a thousand published between 1800 and 1899 alone.

The Count had previously alerted me to material about the 1768 general election, in which John Wilkes, Radical was elected as one of the two MPs for Middlesex. This was in March 1768. The Salisbury and Winchester Journal of 25 April 1768 (and other titles) reported:
Yesterday afternoon a writ of capias utlagatum was issued against John Wilkes, Esq, on which he was taken into custody.

Wilkes was reported as saying'Two Verdicts have been found against me. One is for the re-publication of the North Briton, No. 45, the other for the Publication of a ludicrous Poem.'. He argued against the verdicts in the same piece, but without success and was imprisoned in the King's Bench Prison on 10 May 1768.

1768 By-Election - Middlesex

At the General Election Wilkes had been elected along with Sir George Cooke, longstanding MP for Middlesex. However the latter died within three months, prompting a by-election to be called in December 1768. The ministerial candidate was Sir William Beauchamp Proctor, who had been ousted by Wilkes in March 1768.

John Glynn was named by Wilkes, at the request of the majority of the Middlesex freeholders, as the "Wilkes and liberty" candidate. This group had a connection with Brentford through John Horne (later he took the name John Horne Tooke), perpetual curate of New Brentford since 1760. Horne was active in raising subscriptions to defray election expenses. Read more about Rev. Horne

The Library of Congress has the following cartoon from December 1768, titled 'An Election Entertainment at Brentford' and described as: 'Satire on the ministerial party's attempts at bribery to influence the poll at Brentford'. It shows the freeholders dining; Rev. John Horne is the man in clerical garb. See a more detailed analysis of the image.

Freeholders choosing Glynn as candidate in the 1768 by-election

The speech bubbles read:
Huzza for the Rector of old Brentford Huzza!
Your money and you be d*med heres a trumpet? to Glyn!
Huzza for the Freemen of Middlesex, Glyn for ever Huzza!

The reference to old Brentford (not Old Brentford) is interesting as Horne was the rector of New Brentford - which is the earlier settlement ...

As at the General Election, there was disorder at polling.

The following summary is from the UK Parliament website:
The riotous proceedings which accompanied polling during the by-election in Middlesex in December 1768 required the intervention of the House of Commons. This order, drafted by the Clerk of the House of Commons, John Hatsell, empowers the Sheriffs of London and Middlesex to recover the poll books relating to the election and requests the attendance of magistrates at the polling.

The original order is in the Parliamentary Archives and can be viewed online.

Salisbury and Winchester Journal of 19 December 1768 reported 'Yesterday the poll for the election of a Knight of the Shire for the county of Middlesex was continued at Brentford, pursuant to the last adjournment; at the close of which the numbers stood as follow:
For Serjeant Glynn ....... 1,542
Sir W. B. Proctor .......... 1,278
Majority for Serjeant Glynn .. 264
Who was thereupon by the sheriffs declared duly elected.'


There were further Middlesex by-elections in 1769, but that is a tale to be continued.

Published December 2022