Full image caption
Reform Bill commemorative handkerchief. Cotton handkerchief - Reform Bill, 1831 after an engraving published by E. King. This rotten tree with its nests of cormorants stands for the corrupt parliamentary system. Supporters of the Reform Bill - Henry Brougham, Earl Grey, the Marquess of Lansdowne and others- attempt to chop it down, while others, including Sir Robert Peel and Wellington, prop it up. A 'rotten borough' was a constituency where only a few voters elected an MP. Old Sarum, for instance, in Wiltshire had just 11 voters. The Reform Bill of 1832 abolished these boroughs and widened the franchise. In London, a man's right to vote was linked to the property that he owned or leased. The new Act lowered the minimum annual value to L10 as the base line for being eligible to vote.
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