Sir Henry Josias Stracey, Conservative candidate for Norwich in the 1868 election, was accused of bribing and treating voters with money and alcohol in order to secure votes. The three evidence books provide extensive testimony by witnesses on the circumstances and nature of the accusations.
How did the judge respond?
After all evidence had been given, the judge (Samuel Martin Knight) was responsible for making a decision about the election petition. He provided a report, which summarises the evidence given and the reasoning behind his judgement. He wrote:
“At the middle of the day of polling Sir William Russell and Mr. Tillett, the Liberal candidates, had a considerable majority, and there is no reason to believe that up to this time any corrupt vote had been given on either side; but from thence until the close of the poll I believe that bribery was extensively committed in order to procure the election of Sir Henry Josias Stracey.”
What was the outcome of the petition?
Knight ruled that the allegations made were accurate. The election was declared void, and the result annulled. Another election was held in due course and Tillett was elected, although in due course that result was also declared void on petition.
Knight's report was sent to the House of Commons, where it was discussed by Members. As a result of this discussion, the House recommended that further inquiry be taken into corrupt practices at elections in the United Kingdom. This particular election was referenced later in a debate about the need for the secret ballot as a particularly clear example of corruption in voting practices.