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47 There were besides, a vast army of members of both Houses obligated to the government, not pensioners or placemen themselves but whose sons, brothers, uncles or cousins had places or sought and obtained favours of all kinds for their friends, tenants or constituents. There were few real 'independents' on the Whig side. The first Lord Egmont, whose career is so well documented by his parliamentary diary (the best for the period), prided himself on his independence. Yet his own testimony shows that he could not have maintained his interest at Harwich without Walpole's help and obtained many other favours from him.
One such inquiry, not political as such, was begun by James Edward Oglethorpe, the philanthropist, after the death of one of his friends in a debtors' prison. What the gaols committee (1729--30) found was horrifying. The state of the Fleet prison, where Bambridge the sadistic warden tortured helpless prisoners for his own pleasure, revealed a 'dismal and shocking ... scene of cruelty, barbarity and extortion'. Some prisoners died of bitter cold in the winter, others of 'want of air' in over-crowded conditions in summer.
Bond and Birch were expelled from Parliament, but Walpole was able to save Eyles, who got away with a mere reprimand. Lord Gage received the thanks of the Commons conveyed in a most handsome manner from Speaker Onslow. The sale of the Derwentwater estates was declared void and the profits and rents from them were later applied by Act of Parliament to finishing Greenwich Hospital. 56 The other affair which shook Parliament at that time was that of the Charitable Corporation. This involved leading government supporters.