Friday, 5 May 2017

One hundred years of one house in Chorlton part 83 ......... on the day after an election

The continuing story of the house Joe and Mary Ann Scott lived in for over 50 years and the families that have lived here since.*

Joe and Mary Ann's house, 2017
Now yesterday was the election for Greater Manchester’s first Mayor and as you do I got thinking about how Joe and Mary Ann voted in the elections they could have participated in.

Of course I don’t even know if they did vote but assuming they did Joe’s first General Election would have been in 1910, and although Mary Ann was older she would have cast her first Parliamentary vote eight years later in 1918.

There is no one left now who knew them well enough to tell me how they might have voted and they have left no evidence of their political persuasion.

Election poster, 1951
How much easier it all was before the introduction of the secret ballot in 1870.  Before then voting was in public and a record was kept of who people voted.  These were called Poll Books for and many of these have survived.

The downside was that an open ballot was open to intimidation and there are plenty of examples of powerful and wealthy landowners “leaning“on electors to vote for their favoured candidate.

In the 1835 General Election in the South Lancashire seat which included Chorlton there was evidence of serious intimidation.

According to the Manchester Times & Gazette on January 3 1835, Thomas Joseph Trafford ** of Trafford Park instructed his tenants to vote for Lord Frank Egerton & Wilbraham while Lord Wilton followed the same practice, instructing his tenants to vote for Lord Egerton and use their second vote for the candidate of their choice.  Lord Wilton was in fact Thomas Egerton, 2nd Earl of Wilton, and so loyal a Tory that in January 1835 he was appointed Lord Steward of the Household in the short Tory administration of Sir Robert Peel.

Election poster, 1945
In Stretford all but one of Trafford’s tenants voted the Tory party line. The level of potential intimidation was all too clear from the one tenant who refused to follow the line.  He expected “in the spirit of the olden times, to hear of Tory vengeance.”

No one can defend such a practice but those Poll Books offer a fascinating insight in to how our small electorate cast their votes.  James Holt who lived at Beech House beside Barlow Moor Lane, voted for the Tory candidate in the 1832 election and in the following election three years later Chorlton voted 19 votes for the Tory and 7 for the Whig.

Alas there are no such records for Joe and Mary Ann but then that is perhaps as it should be.

Location; Chorlton

Picture;  Joe & Mary Ann Scot’s house, 2017 from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and And now win the Peace, Labour poster 1945, It’s time for a change Conservative, poster 1951

*The story of house,

**Thomas Joseph Trafford 1778-1852,  owned Trafford Hall and land in Trafford and Stretford

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