The Returning Officer


In 1806, Caesar Colclough was elected as one of the MPs for Wexford County, despite being a prisoner of war in France at the time. In the general election of the same year he was succeeded by John Colclough, who was only in parliament for a year as the fall of the Greville ministry brought on another election. After refusing to surrender the votes of the tenantry of a Mrs Cholmondeley to his opponent William Congreve Alcock, John Colclough and Alcock fought a duel. Colclough was killed and Alcock was returned to parliament in his place.

In 1866, Arthur MacMurrough Kavanagh was returned as a Tory for the seat. The only quadraplegic to serve in the Commons, he was given special permission to be wheeled into the chamber by his servant and had to write notes to the speaker using his mouth. He travelled to parliament in his own schooner and wrote The Cruise of the RYS Eva, about a yachting trip to Albania to shoot wild pigs and birds.

This article first appeared in the 15 August 2011 issue of the New Statesman, The coming anarchy