Beverley I

John Hotham, MP for Beverley (1625-43), had the dubious civil war distinction of being a traitor to both the king and parliament. Having held Hull against the royalists in 1642, he and his son were later arrested and executed for plotting to go over to the king.

A later Lord Hotham sat for the neighbouring East Riding constituency (1841-68). There is still a pub named after him in West Molesey, where the family owned land.

In the 19th century, Beverley became notorious for corruption; bribery was standard. Petitions to unseat winning candidates were common and, following the 1857 election, the victorious Edward Auchmuty Glover was disqualified and imprisoned for having falsely claimed the £300 property qualification.

According to accounts of the trial, it was the first ever prosecution for the charge and, in a tacit admission that the rule was archaic, it was abolished
just months after Glover served his sentence.

This article first appeared in the 10 January 2011 issue of the New Statesman, Here comes the squeeze