The Middlesex Election affair
In February 1769 Wilkes was expelled from the House of Commons on grounds of seditious and obscene libels. Despite being in prison Wilkes was subsequently returned unopposed for Middlesex at two by-elections, which the Commons declared void.
At a third by-election in April 1769 Wilkes was opposed by the government approved Colonel Henry Luttrell, who embarked on a personal vendetta against Wilkes. Wilkes triumphed once again but the Commons carried a government motion to return Luttrell as the successful candidate, causing great public and parliamentary debate on the rights of electors. Despite intense protest against this decision, Luttrell remained in this seat for the following five years. An observer has recorded in this notebook the tempestuous mood with his choice of words: “The people have been alarmed and solemnly assured that the right of election has been violated – This spreads like a sudden alarm of fire.”