Petition of the electors of the borough of Sunderland supporting George Hudson

Sunderland Borough Council

The petition supports George Hudson (1800–1871), MP. The address is ‘Petition of the Electors of the Borough of Sunderland to George Hudson Esquire MP’. The text addresses Hudson and consists of four paragraphs ‘depreciating the unjust attacks and unmeasured abuse to which you have been recently exposed’, attributing these to ‘the disappointed feelings of too sanguine speculators’, offering gratitude for the benefit of Hudson’s undertakings had called into existence and offering the best wishes of signatories. The signatures are headed by that of Jos Simpson, Mayor and several Justices of the Peace. There are 688 signatures in total. The address is undated but must be between 1845 and 1859.

George Hudson was MP for Sunderland 1845-1859. He was a railway promoter whose career attracted much controversy. He had shares in many new projects in the early railway building period. By 1844 he controlled over 1000 miles of railway and was dubbed the ‘Railway King’. However by the mid to late 1840s Hudson was embroiled in scandals relating to share prices which resulted in him losing credibility. He was subjected to a number of committees of inquiry relating to his business practices, these exposed that dividends had been paid out of capital, figures of traffic, revenue and expenditure had been manipulated. He was compelled to resign from many of his company directorships and to repay large sums of money which he was deemed to have misappropriated.

Hudson remained a member of parliament and was returned for Sunderland in 1847 and 1852. This meant that he could not be arrested for debt while the House of Commons was in session, but in between sessions he went to France and Spain in order to evade his creditors. In June of 1850 the Sunderland Dock was opened amid scenes of jubilation. This was Hudson's last triumph. He was re-elected member of parliament for Sunderland in 1857, but the dock company was beginning to fail and he lost his seat at the general election of 1859. He now retired permanently to France to avoid his creditors.

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