Election of Members of Parliament, 1841

This print shows a hustings held at Brighton Town Hall to select candidates for the 1841 general election. Captain George Brooke Pechell and Isaac Wigney were nominated for the Whig Party and would go on to win the seats.

Use the controls to zoom in and view details of the print. You can also download and re-use the image.

Below we’ve highlighted some details you can find. You can read more about Isaac Wigney on the Royal Pavilion & Museums main blog.

What can we see?

Candidates

Detail of print showing election candidates

Here we can see candidates preparing to give their speeces on this balcony. Hustings commonly took place in Town Halls, but the crowds were not usually large enough to force them outside.

Health & Safety

Detail of crowds on a balcony

People have croweded into every area of the building, including spaces where they would have been unable to listen to the candidates.

The figures sitting with their legs over the balcony show a different attitude to health and safety than we would expect today.

Ship

A replica ship has been brought to the hustings, decorated with flags.

Behind it we can glimpse a banner bearing the words ‘Queen, Constitution, Reform’. This is an indication that the hustings were on behalf of the reformist Whig Party.

Top hats and travel

Detail from print showing crowd at hustings

The carriages suggest that some had travelled a considerable distance to attend the hustings. Like most of the crowd, the occupants are well-dressed. Indeed, almost all of the men in the picture are wearing top hats, an item of clothing worn by the wealthier classes.

This is no coincidence. Only property owning men were allowed to vote at this time. Only about 3% of the population would actually cast a vote in the election.

Author: Charles Paddick, Collections Assistant


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