Members expelled from the House of Commons
since the Restoration

The House of Commons’ power to expel its members is used only very rarely - only three times in the last century. As the table will show, it was much more common in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This is probably more a function of the professionalisation of politics (members not having the time to commit misdeeds) and the removal of systematic corruption, rather than a dislike to involve the electors in a new election. It is notable that both of the post-war expulsions were of a member of the governing party. The last member of whom it can be said that he was declared persona non grata due solely to views unacceptable to the majority was John Wilkes, in 1769. The House later recognised that this had been a mistake and Wilkes succeeded in expunging from the Commons Journal the resolution declaring him incapable of being elected.

Late seventeenth century politics was different, though one of the four Members expelled by the ‘Exclusionist Parliaments’ in 1679-80 has extenuating circumstances: Sir Francis Wythens, facing a motion for his expulsion, was advised to say that he had been representing his constituents and had committed no crime. However, he instead apologised and repented for his actions, disgusting his allies, who refused to defend him.

Expulsion at this time was no bar to continuing a Parliamentary career, even when it was held to be a disqualification from being elected. Several of those expelled in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were re-elected, some many times, and the extreme example is Robert Walpole who later served for over twenty years as First Lord of the Treasury and is generally credited as the first Prime Minister of Great Britain. Also on the list are a serving Speaker (Trevor) and former Speaker (Sawyer), a Chancellor of the Exchequer (Aislabie), two Commissioners for Forfeited Estates (Birch and Bond) and a Treasurer of the Ordnance (Hunt).

The number of members expelled for taking bribes in no sense reflects the actual number of members who were so corrupted; many members were given a lesser punishment, such as an admonition. Generally, the House waited until a member suspected of misbehaviour had been officially reported guilty or had absconded, thereby indicating guilt; this delay allows some MPs to resign. John Stonehouse escapes mention on the list: when the Select Committee inquiring into his case reported on 6th May 1975, it said a motion to expel would be justified but should be delayed in order to give him the option of attending. A debate on a motion to expel was scheduled for 12th June 1975 but was withdrawn so that it did not prejudice his trial. He would undoubtedly have been expelled after the 1976 summer recess had he not resigned on conviction for theft, forgery and fraud.

This list is derived from the History of Parliament series, the Journals of the House of Commons, and the Dictionary of National Biography.

DateMember and ConstituencyReason

22nd November 1667John Ashburnham (Sussex)Accepted a bribe (�0 from merchants who wished to import French wines).
21st April 1668Hon. Henry Brouncker (New Romney)Invented orders from the Duke of York to down sail, which prevented England capitalising on its naval victory off Lowestoft in 1665.
1st February 1678Thomas Wancklyn (Westbury)Corrupt misuse of the privilege of Parliament against arrest of MP's ‘menial servants’.
25th March 1679Edward Sackville (East Grinstead)Denunciation of Titus Oates as a ‘lying rogue’ and disbelief in the ‘Popish Plot’.
28th October 1680Sir Robert Cann, Bt. (Bristol)Statement that the attempt to exclude the Duke of York from the succession was a ‘Presbyterian Plot’.
29th October 1680Sir Francis Wythens (Westminster)*Presented a petition abhorring the summons of a Parliament which would exclude the Duke of York from the succession.
14th December 1680Sir Robert Peyton (Middlesex)Association with the Duke of York and alleged complicity in the ‘Meal-Tub Plot’ (attempt to implicate exclusionists in a plot to kill the King and establish a Commonwealth).
20th January 1690Sir Robert Sawyer (Cambridge University)Leading the prosecution of Sir Thomas Armstrong for treason in the Rye House Plot while Attorney-General. Armstrong was convicted, sentenced to death and eventually hanged, but his conviction was later ruled a miscarriage of justice.
16th March 1695Sir John Trevor (Yarmouth, Isle of Wight)Corruption (Speaker of the House of Commons). Paid 1,000 guineas from the Corporation of London on passage of the Orphans Bill.
26th March 1695John Hungerford (Scarborough)Paid 20 guineas from the Corporation for his conduct as Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on the Orphans Bill.
1st February 1698Charles Duncombe (Downton)Obliged to pay �,000 to public funds, Duncombe bought Exchequer Bills at a 5% discount and persuaded the seller (John da Costa) to endorse them as though they had been paid to him for excise duty. This allowed him to pay them in at face value and keep the discount himself.
1st February 1698John Knight (Weymouth and Melcombe Regis)Persuaded his brother William and Reginald Marriott, a Treasury Official, falsely to endorse �000 of Exchequer Bills as though they were paid to settle tax payments (this meant that the Bills, circulated at a 10% discount, increased to their face value). Tried to persuade Marriott to take the full blame.
10th February 1699James Isaacson (Banbury)Commissioner of Stamp Duty; this office was a disqualification under the Lottery Act of 1694.†
13th February 1699Henry Cornish (Shaftesbury)Commissioner in the Stamp Office managing Duties on Vellum, Paper and Parchment; this office was a disqualification under the Lottery Act of 1694.†
14th February 1699Samuel Atkinson (Harwich)Commissioner for licensing hawkers and pedlars; this office was a disqualification under the Lottery Act of 1694.†
14th February 1699Sir Henry Furnese (Bramber)Trustee for circulating Exchequer Bills; acting as Receiver and Manager of the subscription of the new East India Company. These offices were disqualifications under the Lottery Act of 1694.†
20th February 1699Richard Wollaston (Whitchurch)Receiver-General of Taxes for Hertfordshire; this office was a disqualification under the Lottery Act of 1694.†
19th February 1701Sir Henry Furnese (Sandwich)Trustee for circulating Exchequer Bills; this office was a disqualification under the Lottery Act of 1694.†
22nd February 1701Gilbert Heathcote (City of London)Trustee for circulating Exchequer Bills; this office was a disqualification under the Lottery Act of 1694.†
1st February 1703Rt. Hon. Earl of Ranelagh (West Looe)As Paymaster-General of the Army, appropriated �4,138 of public funds; had severe discrepancies in his accounts, which were only made up to March 1692.
18th December 1707John Asgill (Bramber)Indebted to three creditors (among them Colonel John Rice) for �,000. Author of a book which argued that the Bible proved man may be translated from life on earth to eternal life in heaven without passing through death. The House held it to be blasphemous. The same member was also expelled from the Irish Parliament on 11th October 1703.
15th February 1711Thomas Ridge (Poole)Having been contracted to supply the fleet with 8,217 tuns of beer, supplied only 4,482 tuns from his brewery and paid compensation at a discounted rate for the non-supplied beer, thereby defrauding public funds.
12th January 1712Robert Walpole (King's Lynn)Corruption while Secretary at War. Forage contracts he negotiated stipulated payments to Robert Mann, a relation of Walpole’s, but Walpole signed for them and therefore received the money.
19th February 1712Rt. Hon. Adam de Cardonnel (Southampton)While Secretary to the Duke of Marlborough, he received an annual gratuity of 500 gold ducats from Sir Solomon de Medina, an army bread contractor.
18th March 1714Sir Richard Steele (Stockbridge)Seditious libel. Published an article in The Guardian and a pamphlet called The Crisis exposing the government’s support for French inaction on the demolition of Dunkirk; demolition was required under the Treaty of Utrecht.
2nd February 1716Thomas Forster (Northumberland)Participation in the 1715 Jacobite rebellion (he was General of all the pretender’s forces in England).
23rd March 1716Lewis Pryse (Cardiganshire)Refused to attend the House to take oaths of loyalty after the Jacobite rebellion.
22nd June 1716John Carnegie (Forfarshire)Participation in the 1715 Jacobite rebellion.
23rd January 1721Jacob Sawbridge (Cricklade)Director of the South Sea Company.
28th January 1721Sir Robert Chaplin, Bt. (Great Grimsby)Director of the South Sea Company.
28th January 1721Francis Eyles (Devizes)Director of the South Sea Company.
30th January 1721Sir Theodore Janssen, Bt. (Yarmouth, Isle of Wight)Director of the South Sea Company.
8th March 1721Rt. Hon. John Aislabie (Ripon)Negotiated the agreement to take over the national debt between the South Sea Company and the government, as Chancellor of the Exchequer; received �,000 of South Sea Company stock; destroyed evidence of his share dealings.
10th March 1721Sir George Caswall (Leominster)Banker of the South Sea Company; obtained for his company �,000 stock in the South Sea Company while the South Sea Bill was still before Parliament, and without paying for it.
8th May 1721Thomas Vernon (Whitchurch)Attempt to influence a member of the committee on the South Sea bubble in favour of John Aislabie, his brother-in-law.
15th February 1723Viscount Barrington (Berwick-upon-Tweed)Involvement in a Lottery held in Hanover, but organized in London. The House declared it illegal.
4th February 1725Francis Elde (Stafford)Corrupt attempt to compromise an election petition against him.
16th May 1726John Ward (Weymouth and Melcombe Regis)Involved in a fraud against the estate of the late Duke of Buckingham - compelled to buy Alum from Ward's Alum works, but which Ward kept and sold again to others.
30th March 1732John Birch (Weobley)Fraudulent sale of the Derwentwater Estate (escheated to the Crown by the Earl of Derwentwater, convicted of High Treason during the 1715 rebellion).
30th March 1732Denis Bond (Poole)Fraudulent sale of the Derwentwater Estate (escheated to the Crown by the Earl of Derwentwater, convicted of High Treason during the 1715 rebellion).
3rd April 1732George Robinson (Great Marlow)Fraudulent use of the funds of the Charitable Corporation for speculation. Diverted �6,000 of funds (�0,000 of which was in shares of the Corporation) into buying York Buildings Company stock, the profits from the sale of which were given to him.
4th May 1732Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Sutton (Nottinghamshire)False statement that the Charitable Corporation's authorized capital had been exhausted, allowing it to issue more (and so finance the corrupt speculation of other directors).
5th May 1732Sir Archibald Grant, Bt. (Aberdeenshire)Fraudulent use of the funds of the Charitable Corporation for speculation. Arranged for George Robinson (see above) to abscond.
20th January 1764John Wilkes (Aylesbury)Absconded to France after being charged with libel over issue no. 45 of the North Briton.
3rd February 1769John Wilkes (Middlesex)Previous conviction for libel and blasphemy, and a further seditious libel in the Introduction to a letter to Daniel Ponton (Chairman of Quarter Sessions at Lambeth) in the St. James’s Chronicle.
(17th February 1769John Wilkes (Middlesex)Returned despite his previous expulsion. The House resolved that he “was, and is, incapable of being elected a Member to serve in the present Parliament.”)
4th December 1783Christopher Atkinson (Hedon)Convicted of perjury after swearing that accusations against him of fraud were untrue. The accusations related to his dealings with the Victualling Board, and were in a letter printed in the General Advertiser on 31st January 1781.
2nd May 1796John Fenton Cawthorne (Lincoln)Convicted by court martial of fraud and embezzlement of the funds of the Westminster Regiment of the Middlesex Militia; cashiered for conduct unbecoming the character of an officer and a gentleman.
23rd May 1810Joseph Hunt (Queenborough)Absconded to Lisbon after being found to have embezzled public funds as Treasurer of the Ordnance. During his term he left a deficit of �,296.
5th March 1812Benjamin Walsh (Wootton Bassett)Convicted (later pardoned) of attempting to defraud Solicitor-General Sir Thomas Plumer. Plumer had given Walsh a draft of �,000 with which to buy exchequer bills, but Walsh used it to play the lottery, and lost; he then converted his remaining assets into American currency and set off for Falmouth to sail to America, but was brought back. Walsh had been expelled by the Stock Exchange for gross and nefarious conduct in 1809.
5th July 1814Hon. Andrew James Cochrane (Grampound)Convicted of conspiracy to defraud (circulated false rumours of the defeat and death of Napoleon Buonaparte in order to boost share prices); absconded to France before sentence.
5th July 1814Lord Cochrane (Westminster)Convicted of conspiracy to defraud (circulated false rumours of the defeat and death of Napoleon Buonaparte in order to boost share prices).
16th February 1857James Sadleir (Tipperary)Absconded after arrest for fraudulent conversion. He had abstracted �0,000 of stock from the Tipperary Joint-Stock Bank for his brother’s use.
22nd February 1882Charles Bradlaugh (Northampton)Contempt of orders of the House of Commons excluding him from the Parliamentary estate.
12th May 1891Edmund Hope Verney (Buckingham)Convicted of procuring a girl under the age of 21 (Miss Nellie Maud Baskett) for an immoral purpose.
26th February 1892Edward Samuel Wesley de Cobain (Belfast, East)Absconded to the United States of America after a warrant for his arrest on charges of commission of acts of gross indecency was issued. On 21st March 1893 he was convicted and sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment with hard labour.
2nd March 1892George Woodyatt Hastings (Worcestershire, Eastern)Convicted of fraudulent conversion. As a Trustee for property under the will of John Brown, appropriated to himself over �,000 from the estate.
1st August 1922Horatio William Bottomley (Hackney, South)Convicted of fraudulent conversion. Invited contributions to the Victory Bond Club which were supposed to be invested in government stock, but were actually diverted to his own use.
30th October 1947Garry Allighan (Gravesend)Contempt of the House of Commons: breach of privilege over article in ‘World’s Press News’ alleging corruption and drunkenness among Members; lying to the committee investigating the allegations.
16th December 1954Peter Arthur David Baker (Norfolk, South)Convicted of uttering forged documents. Forged signatures on letters purporting to guarantee debts in excess of �0,000 owed by his companies.

Notes:

* - Wythens' election was declared undue, after he had been expelled.

† - The Act of Parliament referred to was 5 & 6 William and Mary, Chapter 7. In section 57 it prohibited all Members of the House of Commons except Commissioners of the Treasury and Land Tax, and Thomas Neale, from being farmers, collectors or managers of any of the Sums of Money, Duties, or other Aids granted to Their Majesties by this Act, or that hereafter shall be granted by any other Act of Parliament.

APPENDIX: MEMBERS EXPELLED FROM THE IRISH PARLIAMENT 1692-1800

DateMember and ConstituencyReason

11th October 1692George Crofts (Charleville)Supported the forces of King James II during the 1690 rebellion.
22nd October 1692Fergus Farrell (Lanesborough)Supported the forces of King James II during the 1690 rebellion.
27th June 1696Robert Saunderson (Cavan County)Refused to sign the ‘Association’ to exact revenge for the plot of Sir John Fenwick to assassinate King William III.
28th September 1703Francis Annesley (Downpatrick)Wrote (together with others) a book published in London which claimed that the Irish Freeholders were unwilling to find anyone guilty of participating in the 1690 rebellion, because they disliked the consequent process of forfeiting estates.
11th October 1703John Asgill (Enniscorthy)Author of a book which argued that the Bible proved man may be translated from life on earth to eternal life in heaven without passing through death. The House held it to be blasphemous and contrary to the Church of Ireland, and ordered the book to be burnt. The same Member was expelled from the Great Britain House of Commons on 18th December 1707.
7th June 1705Francis Flood (Callan)As an Army Major, unlawfully billeted troops on tenants of Agmondisham Cuffe MP; made false enlistment returns; kept to himself money granted to others by the Grand Jury; enforced illegal methods of recruitment.
17th September 1717John Leigh (Drogheda)Signed the County Louth address in support of Sir Constantine Phipps, formerly Lord Chancellor of Ireland, whom the House of Commons had voted to remove in 1713. Disaffection from the Protestant succession in the House of Hanover.
23rd November 1753Arthur Jones-Nevill (Wexford County)As Engineer and Surveyor-General, failed to procure contractors for building and repairing barracks so as to make them fit and convenient for the reception of the Army, and did not use reasonable and proper endeavours to do so.
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