Devonians have a phrase for it! Quilling for votes (probably could be used for seeking other favours)

After a two-year campaign in Devon, the word that describes the practice of inebriating potential voters to get their backing at the ballot box has been recognised with a place in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Owl thinks we should re-introduce the term in East Devon to describe the seeking of favours in a more general way.

Quilling: drinks all round if that gets your vote

Charlie Parker www.thetimes.co.uk
Sometimes if you want to get somebody to vote for you, it might be an idea to buy them a drink first.

After a two-year campaign in Devon, the word that describes the practice of inebriating potential voters to get their backing at the ballot box has been recognised with a place in the Oxford English Dictionary.

While “quilling” may have died out, it has been acknowledged as a key part of historical ties between politics and publicans. The practice, where voters consumed drinks paid for by parliamentary candidates while casting their ballots, led to violence and some voters being accused of debauchery before it was eventually banned under electoral law.

The word is thought to refer to the use of a quill-type implement to get alcohol out of a barrel and it was particularly prevalent in Exeter and Devon.

Todd Gray, a historian at Exeter University, applied for the word to be formally recognised after discovering it in numerous documents that he came across during research. He also discovered forgotten Tudor swear words used in the county.

Dr Gray thought that it was most commonly used between the early 1700s and late 1800s. Quilling was defined in 1853 as “a very old term for social meetings of the electors at which there is drink of course”.

In the same year, during one evening of quilling at a pub in Exeter two days before a poll, 60 invited voters had 246 glasses of grog while 25 quarts of beer were given to labourers who could not vote but could show of support. Dr Gray said: “Quilling was a term, but not a practice, confined to Exeter and parts of Devon, and such bribery was common throughout the country.

“We know from reports that it encouraged violence and people living in Exeter were mocked [over] their enthusiasm for partaking of this hospitality. They did so because elections in the city were notoriously violent and contested. In 1761 a husband murdered his wife because they supported different parties. He attributed his actions to the ‘heat’ of liquor.”

Andrew Brice, an English writer and printer from Exeter, crafted the earlier definition of quilling, noting the “running of the quill”. Alexander Jenkins, author of a history of Exeter in 1806, wrote the “pernicious practice of quilling” happened during the city’s elections in 1790.

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