January 28th James Halse (Baptism, 1769)  

James Halse (1769 – 1838) was a solicitor in St. Ives who also became town clerk and an alderman.  He made a fortune from his interests in a number of local tin mines, notably Wheal Reeth and St. Ives Consols

Prior to 1872, elections were held in public and often followed dinners paid for by the candidates. Candidates ‘lent’ electors one guinea which was only repayable if the elector voted for another candidate. 

Halse went one step further, using his fortune to build the village of Halsetown (within the St. Ives constituency) to accommodate his mineworker employees.  He ensured that each house lay on one quarter of an acre of land, which was one of the criteria for the right to vote.  In order to ensure that his employees and now tenants voted the ‘right way’ they were informed that if they did not vote for him then they would lose their jobs and be evicted.  At the time the constituency returned two Members of Parliament and in the 1820 election both seats were taken by Halse’s candidates. 

He was pursued by his main constituency rival, Sir Christopher Hawkins (April 6th), on allegations of electoral fraud. Halse was acquitted of bribery charges in 1821 and, in the 1826 election, he stood on his own account.  Both Halse and Hawkins were elected but Halse was defeated in 1830 by a nephew of the Duke of Wellington, William Pole-Tylney-Long-Wellesley although he regained the seat in 1831 and held it until his death. 

Rarely speaking in Parliament and initially believed to be a Whig, he voted  against Jewish emancipation, against the immediate abolition of slavery and against relief for the Irish poor and, by the time of his death, he described himself as a Tory.


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