top of page

1807: Sergison fails to become MP in corrupt election

Cuckfield High Street, on the Mayor's Procession Day October 2008

[John] Fuller fought the fiercest election contest ever known in the county [of Sussex] in 1807, when he supported the Tory interest against Colonel Sergison, of Cuckfield Park, a Whig. The election, which took place at Chichester, occupied 15 days. Fuller’s electioneering expenses were enormous, since many of the voters had to travel over 50 miles to the polls.

Another reminiscence concerning this remarkable squire deals with the occasion when, being dissatisfied with the singing in Brightling Church, he purchased and sent to the village choir nine bassoons. He also presented to the church a barrel organ, which is still used, and a tuneful peal of eight bells.

Sussex Agricultural Express - Friday 13 April 1934


As election costs spiralled with a growing number of election contests and the extension of the franchise in 1868, MPs became increasingly willing not only to take decisive action against the problem of electoral corruption, but also to protect their own pockets by tackling the related issue of election expenditure. This combined attack on corruption and expenditure was central to the 1883 Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act, the most significant nineteenth-century legislation on this issue, which had far-reaching consequences for electioneering and party organisation.

The Whig party was a party that sought to limit the royal authority and increase parliamentary power.

The final results for the constituency of Sussex for 1807 were:

Hon. Charles William Wyndham 4333

John Fuller 2530

Warden Michael Sergison 2478

If you want to read more about this the election check out this article in the History of Parliament Online:

Photo: Cuckfield High Street, October 2008, the bunting is flying as the photograph was taken on the day of the Mayor's Procession. The mayor was elected a few days earlier in what has become the most corrupt election in the UK! Anyone can vote but they have to pay a penny for each vote they cast - this raises large amounts for charity every year. Now where did we get that idea from?! Photo from Public domain image.

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.


bottom of page