In the 19th century elections were frequently challenged, due to ongoing cultures of bribery, intimidation and treating of voters. Results were challenged through the presentation of election petitions. Parliament passed acts in 1848 and 1868 in order to fairly try election petitions, with responsibility for doing this ultimately shifting from the House of Commons to the High Court of Justice in 1868.
The Parliamentary Archives holds Controverted Elections Court Evidence minute books dating between 1829 and 1906. These evidence books cover a number of constituencies across primarily England and Ireland. Each volume contains transcripts of the evidence. From these the Sessional Papers were later prepared. As archival sources, these often contain rich information about local political cultures. They also often provide anecdotal evidence about local communities and places, including workplaces, industries and contemporary social habits.
The research group consulted controverted elections evidence books relating to the 1868 Norwich election.