On Thursday, my wife and I, were invited to attend the ‘Mayor making Ceremony’ at the Pavilion Theatre Weymouth, when Councillor Ray Banham was elected as this year’s Mayor of Weymouth. The Thomas Fowell buxton society has a special interest because all the Mayors since the Society was inaugurated in 2010 have consented to be our Honorary President.
As deputy Mayor, Ray had attended our AGM in February and kindly took the Chair for the afternoon.
In Mayor Banham’s inaugural speech, he mentioned that the office of Mayor was instituted in 1571 by Queen Elizabeth. As I was not taking notes, I wanted to make sure that I had heard correctly, and therefore decided to do some googling about Weymouth’s history. Sure enough, google found a book by an Nineteenth Century Antiquarian “The History and antiquities of the Borough and Town of Weymouth” by George Alfred Ellis 1829, and I was able to scan through the pages and locate the event 1st June 1571.
The boroughs of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis facing each other across the harbour had been so long at loggerheads, complaining to Parliament that the Queen decided to sort it all out by combining them into a single unit. Bernard Maior, was the first Mayor and Cllr Ray Banham is his 430th successor!
In this same history book, there is an account of our hero TFB and his election to Parliament in 1826. (Recall that he had first been elected in 1818 and by 1823 he was leading the anti-slavery movement. This election was important to him and the cause.) This was a stormy election – with armed mobs roaming the town and the Military called out to keep the King’s peace. The account states:
” The military conducted themselves with great degree of forbearance, though provoked by repeated acts of imprudence; the chief magistrate was knocked down, the hall taken by storm, polling books destroyed, and the poll closed by force and arms. The town itself though protected by the military who scoured the streets, and by an extra number of the posse commitatus hired at 5s. per day, was a scene of wild anarchy riot and confusion, for such were the horrid contests that ensued that nearly betokened a civil war; neither did the close of the poll arrest the irascibility of the malevolent passions excited! Legal proceedings were instituted at the County hall, pecuniary compensations were awarded and several of the most active were incarcerated in the county gaol.”
After everything had settled down the votes for the candidates were as follows:
T. F. Buxton, Esq. 248
Colonel Gordon 189
Rt. Hon. Thos. Wallace 177
Masterton Ure Esq. 170
J. W. Farrer, Esq. 153
So Buxton and Gordon, Wallace and Ure were returned as members for Weymouth. This was before the parliamentary reform act when Weymouth returned 4 members to Parliament.