THE BRIDGEWATER
"MAN IN THE MOON."


       At the Bridgewater Commission on Saturday, Benjamin Humphreys TROMP,
the mysterious stranger who was so largely employed in bribing the electors,
was examined. He described himself as a solicitor. He said he was a native of
Bridgewater, and twenty years ago was clerk to Richard SMITH, the attorney in
that town. He had kept up an intimacy with Richard SMITH. When he came down he
was not recognised by anyone, as he had gone away when quite a boy. Never
disclosed his identity. Richard SMITH and Bealy SMITH knew him.

       Shortly after WESTROPP's first defeat witness invited young SMITH to a
party in London. SMITH expressed himself dissatisfied with the way in which
elections were managed in Bridgewater, and he asked witness to come down. He
gave him to understand that he would be wanted for bribery. Witness expressed
disinclination to come. In some months (1865) SMITH again asked him to come. He
told him he should have to bribe at least 200 men. SMITH and he met again in
Lindon, and witness said he would not come under 250 guineas. SMITH said that
would never do.  SMITH afterwards wrote to say that a lady would call upon him
and tell him whether they would agree to his terms. She came several times,
and at last agreed to pay him. She declined to say who she was. Thought she
lived in London. She declined to say from whom the money was coming, and she would
take care WESTROPP knew nothing of it. He would have £1,500. He came to
Weston-super-Mare. He went to a hotel where the lady was staying, and found the
money on a sofa, in small paper parcels, which he took away. He had lodgings
taken for him at Bridgewater.

       He came and saw the parties whose names were given him. They did not
know him; he did not dress as he did in London. They sat together in the
evening, and he drew up lists of the parties who were to be bribed. There were 200 -
some men of respectability - who would not vote without money. He distributed
money among the different men. On the morning of the election he had to
advance more money. He brought assistance with him. He acted with the articled
clerk of Bealy SMITH. On the day before the election it was evident that they must
have 200 men. Was told if at nine o'clock at night he went into a garden and
walked along a path into a summer house he would find £500. He went and found
the money, so that £2,000 was spent before nine o'clock in the morning, and he
then felt sure of the election.

       Ultimately he got £250, and the expenses of his assistants. The whole
expense was nearly £3,000. There were so many applicants that he got
disgusted. The lady came and paid him his fee. Believed with two exceptions, the
bribers had expended all the money entrusted to them. Had no communication with
anyone but Bealy SMITH, who told  witness that on no account would he let his
father know anything. The same lady came to him in London at the next election,
and said that they wanted him to come down for PATTON for nothing. This he
objected to. She gave him £1,000. He came down before the next election, and was
introduced to Robert BUSSELL. On the day of the election he thought the thing
lost. About 12 o'clock he got hold of 30 men, and desired that they should be
kept, and he wrote to B. SMITH and got £300 more. Never met with WESTROPP but
once, and that was at a dinner given by SMITH at the Golden Cross Hotel, in
London. That was before he heard of coming to Bridgewater. The £300 was brought 
to him, and he put it up and gave it to his assistant, BARRETT, and the men
were polled in half an hour, and the election was won.

       He considered PATTON the greatest screw. Only got £50. That election
must have cost £2,000. PATTON took offices. Bealy SMITH called and said he
meant to bring a gentleman to him who would not know him. He brought LILLY, the
auctioneer. Upon the earnest entreaty of B. SMITH, he came to Taunton, and then
came over to Bridgewater, and went to LILLY's house, and talked about a
Public-house that was for sale. LILLY said he would get the conditions of sale, and
went into another room. Witness did the same and found £2,000 in a bag on the
sofa. Witness took it away with him. He then determined to try another place.
It was understood that unless 200 went at once to the poll it was no use. The
bribers became alarmed, and he then wrote a list of the voters, employing his
own men to do great part. Gave instructions to his men to take every voter
instantly, or they would be taken  by the other party. Several were over bribed
by the Liberals and the election was lost. Money was the only thing wanted to
win. And at three o'clock obtained £30 from B. SMITH in order to get his men
out of the town. A man named NEWTON, had £200, the greater part of which he
kept. He brought up sham voters, to whom he gave money. Saw Mr. PATTON once on the
hustings. B. SMITH told him that PATTON was so timid that he must not know
anything about it. He had no idea from whom the money came. Did not believe any
political body advanced the money. He had but £15 for the last election of
1866. Could not give the slightest idea of the lady; she was about 35, and had
not a wedding ring. She had the manners of a lady. He thought she might be a
relation of WESTROPP. She had a slight Irish accent. There was another lady with
her. They were staying at the Royal Hotel, at Weston. B. SMITH called at his
house and left word that he was going to Australia. Knew Spofforth well.

       PATTON's expenses at his last election must have been £3,000. When
witness saw B. SMITH last he appeared to be completely broken up. B. SMITH told
him that PATTON was grievously pained and annoyed. PATTON must have been aware
of the bribery before his second election. The two ladies did not speak to
each other. They talked of coming to the nomination. Witness brought his wife
each time to take care of the money, as he was obliged to be out all night. Had
only been at one other borough, and begged not to be compelled to name it. He
had not acted at Totnes or Windsor.

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