Under the Septennial Act, a general election had to take place in 1754. Since Tucker began to play an important part in politics at this time, it is desirable to sketch in the setting for his activities. Outside of the City of London and Westminster, Bristol was the only city in the land with over 5000 electors. The franchise was open to all freemen of the city and could be acquired by birth, purchase, apprenticeship, or marriage to the daughter of a freeman. Voters also had to be natural-born subjects, Protestants, not in receipt of alms or poor relief over the previous twelve months, and over twenty-one years of age. As noted, freedom could be purchased and this was an important source of income for the Common Council, which had a special committee to handle it. In April 1754, 986 new freemen were created, with both parties engaging in the activity. In theory, an elector was not entitled to exercise his franchise until he had been a freeman for one year, but this and other tiresome restrictions appear to have been over-looked in the heat of the contest. The reform-minded Oldfield, writing in the early nineteenth century, said about Bristol,
KeywordsPolitical Activity Poor Relief Invalid Vote Libel Suit Uneasy Reflection
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