In May 1796, James Martin and William Dowdeswell, esqrs. were returned members for this borough. The election was contested by Peter Moore and Philip Francis, esqrs. who insisted, amongst other things, that no honorary freeman had right to vote, and that by the construction of the charter, the inhabitants at large had that right; but upon these being rejected by the returning officers, a petition was presented to the House of Commons against the return; and in consequence a select committee was appointed to determine the merits of the petition.
The statement given in by the Petitioners was, that the right of election was in the Bailiffs, Burgesses, and Commonalty; meaning, by the word Burgesses, such persons as are entitled to their freedom by servitude or copy; and by the word Commonalty, the inhabitant householders of the borough.
The sitting members stated the right of election to be in the freemen, and in any person seised of an estate of freehold, in an entire dwelling, within the said borough.
These statements were both negatived. The committee determining, that the right of election was in the freemen at large, and in all persons seised of an estate of freehold, in an entire dwelling house, within the ancient limits of the said borough; declared the sitting members to be duly elected, and that that part of the petition which related to the conduct of the returning officers, was frivolous and vexatious.
Source: The History and Antiquities of Tewkesbury by W. Dyde. Second Edition; Tewkesbury 1798