Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer


1386Sir John Bozoun
 Sir Walter Tailboys
1388 (Feb.)Sir Philip Tilney
 Sir Walter Tailboys
1388 (Sept.)Sir Philip Tilney
 Sir John Bussy
1390 (Jan.)Sir Philip Tilney
 Sir John Bussy
1390 (Nov.)John Rochford
 Sir John Bussy
1391Gerard Sothill
 Sir John Bussy
1393Robert Cumberworth
 Sir John Bussy
1394John Rochford
 Sir John Bussy
1395Robert Cumberworth
 Sir John Bussy
1397 (Jan.)Sir John Copledyke
 Sir John Bussy
1397 (Sept.)John Rochford
 Sir John Bussy
1399John Rochford
 Sir Thomas Hawley
1401Sir Henry Retford
 Sir John Copledyke
1402Sir Henry Retford
 (Sir) Gerard Sothill
1404 (Jan.)Sir Richard Hansard
 Sir John Copledyke
1404 (Oct.)Sir Henry Retford
 Sir Thomas Hawley
1406John Skipwith
 Sir John Copledyke
1407John Skipwith
 John Meres
1411Sir Thomas Willoughby
 John Pouger
1413 (Feb.)
1413 (May)Sir Richard Hansard
 John Bell
1414 (Apr.)John Skipwith
 Thomas Cumberworth
1414 (Nov.)Sir Richard Hansard
 Sir Thomas Willoughby
1416 (Mar.)Sir Robert Hilton
 William Tirwhit
1416 (Oct.)
1420Sir Robert Hakebeche
 (Sir) Thomas Cumberworth
1421 (May)Sir Richard Hansard
 Sir Godfrey Hilton
1421 (Dec.)Richard Welby
 (Sir) Thomas Cumberworth

Main Article

We know who represented Lincolnshire in no more than 26 of the 32 Parliaments summoned between 1386 and 1421, the other returns having been lost. At least 22 men were elected during this period, and although lack of evidence makes it impossible for us to be absolutely certain about the relative experience of those who sat after 1407, a striking element of continuity seems to have been maintained throughout. Indeed, taking the evidence as it stands, two newcomers to Parliament were returned together just twice, in 1411 and 1416 (Mar.); and it is of course possible that one or more of these men had actually served before. One novice entered the Commons with a more experienced colleague on at least 14 occasions, while on further ten both shire knights had already sat in Parliament. So far as we can tell, the county electors showed a particular preference for seasoned parliamentarians during the late 14th century, as they chose only four new men to attend the 11 Parliaments summoned in and between 1386 and 1397. During these years, the influential Sir John Bussy was returned no less than nine times, eight of which were actually consecutive. No other MP came near to rivalling this record, although Sir Walter Tailboys was re-elected in 1388 (Feb.), Sir Philip Tilney in 1388 (Sept.) and 1390 (Jan.), John Rochford in 1399, and John Skipwith in 1407. Only once, however, in the first Parliament of 1388 (the Merciless Parliament), was complete representative continuity assured with the re-election of both Members. In point of fact, the career of Sir John Bussy, who represented Lincolnshire in ten Parliaments altogether and was four times Speaker of the House of Commons, appears truly exceptional, marking him out from all the rest. Always allowing for the gaps in the returns, it seems that eight of his fellows sat only once for the county, four twice, and four three times. Sir Philip Tilney, John Rochford, Sir John Copledyke and Sir John Bozoun each had four elections to their credit; but Thomas Cumberworth alone could boast five, spread over a period of 23 years.

This means that each of the 22 MPs here under review sat for Lincolnshire in an average of just under three Parliaments, although if we allow for the fact that John Rochford was later returned once for Cambridgeshire and Sir Robert Hilton four times for his native Yorkshire, the average rises to exactly three. Sir John Bussy sat for both Lincolnshire and Rutland in the Parliament of 1391, being one of the very few shire knights in our period to represent two counties simultaneously. He probably sought out a second constituency because when the writs of summons were issued on 7 Sept. 1391 he was serving his third term as sheriff of Lincolnshire, and was thus barred by statute from offering himself for election. Although not usually deterred by legal niceties of this kind, Bussy clearly felt in need of some insurance in the event of his return being challenged. Instead, however, he was replaced as sheriff on 21 Oct., just 12 days before the Commons met, and accordingly took both seats. Sir John was by far the most important figure to represent the county during the late 14th and early 15th centuries, but he was not the only Lincolnshire MP to act as Speaker. Sir Henry Retford, who, unlike him, survived the Lancastrian usurpation unscathed after years in the service of Richard II, assumed the Speakership in 1402 while still a comparative newcomer to the Commons.

One of the many interesting features of the parliamentary representation of Lincolnshire is the frequency with which knights by rank were returned, particularly at the beginning of our period. In no less than 12 Parliaments both MPs were knights proper, and in a further 12 one gentleman or esquire sat with a knight. Only in 1407 (when Parliament met at Gloucester) and 1414 (Apr.) (when it met at Leicester) were both men of lesser rank. Moreover, although John Rochford, Gerard Sothill, William Tirwhit and Thomas Cumberworth each began their parliamentary careers as esquires, they went on to sit after knighthoods had been conferred upon them. Whatever their formal status, all of the 22 Members dealt with here were men of substance with sizeable estates in Lincolnshire. Given the comparative affluence of the county community as a whole, this fact is not in itself particularly surprising, although it is certainly worth noting that at least two-thirds of them came of families long established in the area. Sir Henry Retford appears to have shared the same background, but we cannot be quite so sure about his early life. The five knights, Sir Robert Hilton and his younger half-brother, Sir Godfrey, Sir John Bozoun, Sir Robert Hakebeche and Sir Walter Tailboys, were each the sons of prominent landowners who lived elsewhere, but whose estates included property in the county, so they too may be described as heirs to a local connexion. Only Gerard Sothill (a Yorkshireman) had no previous ties with Lincolnshire, but he made up for this by marrying an heiress with holdings in Lindsey.

At least 14 shire knights owned land in other parts of England, most notably across the county border in Yorkshire where at least 11 had territorial interests. In all other respects, however, the pattern of property owning by MPs was extremely diverse, since their possessions were scattered over no less than 14 counties (as well as London), from the far north to the south-west. Three of our men were landlords in Cambridgeshire and three in Nottinghamshire, while two had connexions with Norfolk (all of these being adjacent counties to Lincolnshire). Sir Robert Hakebeche may, indeed, have been a Norfolk man by birth, for the greater part of his inheritance lay in and around the village of Hackbeach, from which his name derived. One of his near neighbours was Sir John Copledyke, who was also lord of the manor of Horham in Suffolk. Both Sir Richard Hansard and Sir Walter Tailboys enjoyed considerable influence on the Scottish border: the former inherited the manor of Walworth in the palatinate of Durham, and the latter was born and bred in Northumberland, where he was an influential landowner. William Tirwhit’s patrimony brought him interests in Northamptonshire, Essex and London (where his father, the celebrated judge, had kept a town house); and John Pouger was heir to estates in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, not all of which he managed to keep. Thanks to an extremely advantageous second marriage, Sir Godfrey Hilton acquired a life interest in several manors in Hampshire and Sussex. We know that Sir John Bussy both bought and inherited land in Rutland, but it is less easy to tell how Thomas Cumberworth acquired his London property or Sir John Copledyke his holdings in Huntingdonshire.

There can, however, be little doubt that, taken as a whole, the men who represented Lincolnshire in our period enjoyed a degree of prosperity which many of their parliamentary colleagues had cause to envy. We can be reasonably certain of the minimum annual income from land of eight of our MPs, five of whom could rely on revenues well in excess of £100 a year. Thomas Cumberworth appears to have been the richest (£160), followed by Sir Godfrey Hilton and William Tirwhit (£130 each), but since we can only make the roughest estimate of the value of the estates of Sir John Bussy and John Skipwith (both well over £100) these comparisons may be misleading. With a rent-roll worth £52 p.a. or more, Sir Richard Hansard appears to have been the least affluent of the eight;1 and it is worth noting that several of the MPs whose financial position remains unknown were far more substantial landowners than he. John Bell, the only merchant to sit for Lincolnshire in the period under review, was probably the most affluent of all the shire knights, since he was engaged in a variety of lucrative commercial enterprises as well.

Partly as a matter of administrative convenience, since it was the second largest county in England, Lincolnshire was divided into three units for purposes of government, thus perpetuating an older historical and geographical tradition. Commissions of the peace, commissions for the assessment and collection of taxes, and royal commissions of a more general nature (particularly of sewers, which were extremely important in flat coastal and low-lying areas liable to flooding) were issued severally to the ‘parts’ of Kesteven, Holland and Lindsey, each of which maintained a separate feeling of community. The county could, none the less, return only two Members, and since the elections were held at Lincoln in Lindsey this area tended to predominate. On only four occasions between 1386 and 1421 were both shire knights returned from the same ‘part’, and on each occasion they were Lindsey men. Before the Lancastrian usurpation the overall predominance had lain with Kesteven, but only because Sir John Bussy had monopolized one seat for ten years, thus rather distorting the representative pattern. After his execution, in 1399, a distinct shift occurred in the balance back towards Lindsey, and not once between then and 1415 was a Kesteven man elected. In so far as returns to Parliament can serve as any guide, Lindsey was certainly the most important region of Lincolnshire, followed by Holland and then Kesteven — an order of priority which fairly reflects what we know about the comparative wealth of these areas.2

As befitted their position in the community, most of our men were actively involved for long periods in the business of local government, and only one (John Pouger) never occupied an administrative office of any kind. Indeed, the combined experience of the remaining 21 shire knights is remarkable, for the majority performed a wide range of duties as sheriffs, tax collectors, j.p.s and royal commissioners at various times in their careers. Over half (13) of them were made sheriffs of Lincolnshire, and of these six served two or more terms in office.3 Both Sir John Bussy and John Rochford were selected three times, and Sir Henry Retford four. Moreover, although Sir Philip Tilney and Sir Robert Hilton occupied this particular shrievalty only once, Tilney also fulfilled a term as sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, and Hilton was three times sheriff of Yorkshire. A further three MPs, who were never sheriffs of Lincolnshire, did serve elsewhere: Sir John Bozoun in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, Sir Richard Hansard in Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, and William Tirwhit in Yorkshire. This brings the number of those who became sheriffs up to 16, of whom approximately half had experience of the office before they first entered Parliament. Because of the subdivision of the county into three administrative units, an unusually high proportion of individuals became j.p.s: no less than 18 sat at some point on the Lincolnshire bench, and of these ten had already been appointed before the start of their parliamentary careers. In all, a total of 14 were elected when actually serving, and between them they attended at least 21 Parliaments. Indeed, on nine occasions both MPs were currently in office, a fact in itself worthy of comment. Three shire knights functioned as justices in other counties as well: Gerard Sothill and Sir Philip Tilney in Yorkshire, and Sir John Bussy in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, where he was introduced in 1397 as a royal placeman. Neither Sir Robert Hilton nor his half-brother, Sir Godfrey, were appointed to the bench in Lincolnshire, but the former served in Yorkshire and the latter in Hampshire.

All but two of our men (John Pouger and John Meres) received a variety of ad hoc royal commissions, some acquiring considerable expertise in this field. Although no one else could rival John Rochford’s remarkable record of 37 commissions executed between 1379 and 1410, others were almost as impressive in this regard. Sir John Bussy, for example, was chosen as a commissioner of the Crown on at least 32 occasions, Thomas Cumberworth on 28, John Bell on 26 and Robert Cumberworth on 22. A further nine of their colleagues served on ten or more commissions, and of the remainder none discharged less than five. Exactly three out of four of this group (15) had begun to act by the date of their first return to Parliament, so they were certainly well versed in local problems. Rather fewer men undertook the slightly less prestigious task of collecting or assessing taxes, 12 being employed in Lincolnshire and three more in other parts of England.

Given the large number of MPs who became involved in local government, it is surprising to note that only five ever held office as escheator. John Meres (whose administrative experience was otherwise very limited) did, however, occupy the post twice as a younger man; but, on the whole, the escheatorship seems to have been awarded to persons of somewhat lower social status. As might be expected, the merchant, John Bell, was employed as a customs official at Boston, where he spent 31 years in all first as a controller and then a collector of various subsidies. He was also made deputy butler there, a post which had previously been held by Sir Philip Tilney (whose elder brother was a merchant). John Skipwith’s appointment as controller of subsidies in Boston clearly resulted from his connexion with the Tilneys, as they were one of the most important families in the town.

Five shire knights played a particularly notable part in the affairs of Boston, being brethren of the influential guild of Corpus Christi, which attracted local landowners as well as merchants into its fellowship. Sir John Copledyke never rose to be alderman (or head) of the guild, but John Bell, John Rochford, Sir Philip Tilney and Sir Thomas Willoughby certainly did so. Willoughby (the only peer’s son to be returned for Lincolnshire during our period) was also elected alderman of the lesser guild of St. George in Boston. Rochford, Tilney and Bell, who were close personal friends, were, moreover, the moving spirits behind the foundation, in 1392, of another guild, which was dedicated to God and the Virgin.

Participation in local government was not the only tie which bound the Lincolnshire gentry to the Crown, for here, as elsewhere, many men were either retainers, holders of royal offices, or members of the King’s household itself. At least eight of our shire knights were crown servants of one kind or another, and of these Sir John Bussy stands out as by far the most influential. From 1391 (when he was retained at a fee of 40 marks p.a.) until his execution by Henry of Bolingbroke six years later, Bussy rose steadily in Richard II’s favour, becoming one of the chief agents of royal absolutism. Sir Henry Retford (a knight of the body from 1393 onwards) and John Bell (a collector of revenues for Anne of Bohemia, Richard’s first queen) also depended heavily upon royal patronage, but, unlike Bussy, neither of them suffered adversely as a result of the Lancastrian usurpation. On the contrary, Retford’s annuity as a King’s knight was promptly confirmed by Henry IV, and Bell was entrusted with a diplomatic mission to Scotland. (Both Retford and Bussy had previously served on royal embassies, Retford being sent to Avignon and Rome in 1397, and Bussy to Scotland in 1398 and 1399.) The newly crowned Henry IV took two other Lincolnshire MPs of knightly rank into his Household. The first was Sir Thomas Hawley, who also served loyally under Henry V and, despite advancing years, even fought at Agincourt, while Sir Robert Hilton was the second. In addition, King Henry confirmed (Sir) John Rochford in his post as steward of the duchy of Lancaster estates in Lincolnshire and gave him many other lucrative rewards. Thomas Cumberworth later became a knight of the body to Henry VI, and was made custodian of several important French prisoners of war captured in the previous reign; and William Tirwhit’s distinguished conduct in the field earned him a number of military appointments, including the captaincy of the castles of Mountjoie, St. Germain-en-Laye and Poissy. Although they occupied no official position at Court, Sir Thomas Willoughby and (Sir) Gerard Sothill were both knighted by Henry IV at the time of his coronation, and Sothill, at least, had a son who joined the royal household.

One of the many notable features of Sir John Bussy’s career is his early and continued attachment to John of Gaunt and his son, Henry of Bolingbroke. By 1382 Bussy had become one of Gaunt’s retainers, and just over ten years later he succeeded Sir Philip Tilney as steward of the duchy of Lancaster north parts. Indeed, the connexion between Bussy and Bolingbroke was finally broken only on John of Gaunt’s death in 1399, when King Richard seized the duchy for his own use. The Lancastrian influence in Lincolnshire was strong, and at least three other MPs were drawn into its orbit. The two knights, Sir Thomas Hawley and Sir Henry Retford, accompanied Gaunt on his Spanish expedition of 1386, during which Hawley’s father, himself a high-ranking duchy official, died. John Rochford, who came of a family long devoted to the house of Lancaster, was actually appointed to his stewardship by John of Gaunt. Rochford and Sir Thomas Hawley sat together in the first Parliament of Henry IV’s reign: and such was the desire of the county electors to choose MPs acceptable to the new regime that between them Hawley and his former comrade-in-arms, Retford, dominated the returns until 1406.

Other baronial families exercised considerable authority in Lincolnshire as well, especially the Lords Willoughby of Eresby. Indeed, one of their family actually represented the county in the Parliaments of 1411 and 1414 (Nov.). Sir Thomas Willoughby was the younger son of Robert, the 4th Lord, by his second wife, a daughter of William, Lord Zouche of Harringworth. His own wife was equally well connected, being the child of John, Lord Neville of Raby, and, through her mother, Baroness Latimer in her own right. The Willoughbys were staunchly loyal to one another, and Sir Thomas was continuously involved in the affairs of his kinsmen. He fought under the banner of his nephew, the 6th Lord, at Agincourt, as also did William Tirwhit. Willoughby was, moreover, related to John Skipwith, whose sister, Alice, had been his father’s first wife. This link was further strengthened when Skipwith’s eldest surviving son married one of Sir Thomas’s nieces. In point of fact, most of our MPs had some dealings with the Willoughbys, but a few kept on particularly good terms with them. John Bell, Robert Cumberworth and his son, Thomas, and Sir Walter Tailboys were all fairly intimate members of their entourage. In other quarters, however, the affiliations of the Lincolnshire gentry, who prided themselves on their independence, were extremely diverse, and this is reflected in the wide range of their connexions with the nobility.

The two Hilton half-brothers were related to the Lords Hilton of Hilton in County Durham, and Sir Robert also found another northern patron in the shape of Thomas Percy, earl of Worcester. Sir Godfrey, a soldier of repute, fought in France under the command of Thomas Beaufort, duke of Exeter. He later married as his second wife Eleanor, a daughter of John, Lord Welles (and grand daughter of the 4th Lord Mowbray), who was herself the widow of Sir Hugh Poynings, the heir presumptive of Lord St. John of Basing. Sir Walter Tailboys was also possessed of estates which had previously belonged to a member of the baronage, in this case Gilbert Umfraville of Kyme, titular earl of Angus, who died in 1381 without children, leaving Tailboys’s mother to inherit a substantial amount of his property. She was also related by marriage to the Percys, with whom Sir Walter may well have campaigned against the Scots. Among the other Members, Gerard Sothill and Sir Henry Retford were both friendly with Philip, Lord Darcy; and Sir Thomas Hawley was likewise close to William, Lord Furnival. John Bell acted as bailiff of the Lincolnshire estates of the earldom of Richmond when in the possession of John, duke of Brittany (son-in-law and ally of Edward III), who eventually, in 1384, went over to Charles VI of France and forfeited the earldom. Richard Welby maintained cordial relations with Walter, Lord Fitzwalter, for many years. Sir John Copledyke spent part of his youth in the household of Mary, dowager countess of Norfolk (albeit against his father’s will).

Understandably enough, Sir John Bussy did not lack friends in high places; and he, too, could call upon the goodwill of such influential figures as Sir Michael de la Pole (cr. earl of Suffolk 1385), John, Lord de la Warr, and John, Lord Beaumont. More surprisingly, only two of the shire knights of the period derived much apparent benefit from connexions with the Church. As a young man, Sir Philip Tilney was greatly helped by Richard Ravenser, archdeacon of Lincoln, sometime keeper of the hanaper of the Chancery and treasurer to Queen Philippa. He also stood high in the regard of John Fordham, bishop of Ely, who, in 1394, made him his steward. (Sir) John Rochford was retained by the dean and chapter of Lincoln cathedral and also held the constableship of Fordham’s castle of Wisbech in Cambridgeshire. His return as Member for Cambridgeshire in 1407 probably owed a good deal to the bishop, since he had not previously been well known there.

Most of our MPs had to thank an unbeatable combination of inherited wealth and parental assistance for their success, in early life at least; and some were particularly fortunate in this respect. Although, unlike Sir Thomas Willoughby, they were not actually born into the peerage, the Hiltons came of an extremely rich and powerful family whose home at Swine in Yorkshire was little short of baronial. Sir Thomas Hawley was the son of one of John of Gaunt’s senior employees; and William Tirwhit, too, had a father whose early preferment came in the service of the duchy of Lancaster. Robert Tirwhit eventually rose to become a j.KB and was sitting as a commissioner of the peace in both Kesteven and Lindsey when his son first entered Parliament in 1416. Two other shire knights (John Skipwith and John Meres) were also the sons of eminent lawyers, and both of them, like Tirwhit, inherited large estates which had been purchased out of the profits of judicial employment. Meres’s father was, moreover, a prominent member of John of Gaunt’s council as well as being his steward at Boston. On the other hand, comparatively few of our men were heirs to a tradition of parliamentary service. One of Sir John Copledyke’s ancestors had represented Lincolnshire at the beginning of the 14th century, and Sir Thomas Hawley was the grandson of a former shire knight, but only Sir John Bussy, John Rochford and Thomas Cumberworth (whose father, Robert, sat during our period) were the immediate descendants of county Members. Sir John Bozoun, John Skipwith and Gerard Sothill were, however, the sons of men who had represented, respectively, Nottinghamshire, the city of York and Yorkshire.

Lincolnshire was so large and possessed so many affluent landowners that no single family or group was able to dominate the county. Some MPs were related to one another, but the balance of power was very evenly spread, and although certain ties of kinship, such as those between Sir Philip Tilney and his cousin, John Rochford, or between the two Yorkshiremen, Sir Robert and Sir Godfrey Hilton, are worthy of note, they should not be given undue emphasis. A complex series of marriage alliances whereby the Hiltons, Robert Cumberworth and his son, Thomas, and Sir John Copledyke all established connexions with the Constables of Flamborough and Halsham in Yorkshire might at first sight be regarded as a cohesive factor in local society, although by 1432 relations between Sir Godfrey Hilton and the rest of his kinsmen (including (Sir) Thomas Cumberworth) had become so bad as to merit the appointment of a royal commission of oyer and terminer. Sir John Copledyke, who was allegedly related to John Rochford, spent his youth as a ward of Sir Thomas Hawley’s father, and his second wife was also a member of this distinguished family. His younger son and eventual heir, William, married one of Hawley’s daughters; and the latter’s sister became the wife of John Skipwith’s younger son, Patrick. Skipwith, in turn, was the son-in-law of Sir Philip Tilney’s elder brother, Sir Frederick, one of the richest men then living in Boston. A match was arranged between Gerard Sothill’s son and John Pouger’s only child, Joan, who inherited her father’s estates at the age of 12, and thus became an extremely valuable commodity on the marriage market. The Tirwhits and Hansards were also related by marriage, which probably explains why Sir Richard Hansard took part in the ambush with which the judge, Robert Tirwhit, planned to snare his enemy, Lord Roos. He was certainly regarded as one of Tirwhit’s principal supporters, being singled out with him for public humiliation afterwards. It is also significant that both Sir Walter Tailboys and Sir Godfrey Hilton were kinsmen of the Luttrells of Lincolnshire. All in all, however, these rather complicated connexions had no demonstrable effect on the political scene in Lincolnshire, where family background, administrative experience and wealth seem to have been the most telling factors in the choice of parliamentary candidates.

At least eight of our MPs also earned some measure of distinction as soldiers: Sir Thomas Hawley, Sir Godfrey Hilton, Sir Henry Retford, Sir Walter Tailboys and William Tirwhit in particular spent much time campaigning both at home and abroad. Sir John Copledyke’s military career was somewhat briefer, being confined to an expedition against the Scots in 1384; (Sir) John Rochford probably fought against the Welsh during the early years of Henry IV’s reign; and, as we have seen, Sir Thomas Willoughby took part in the battle of Agincourt. Unusually for a county which produced so many able lawyers during this period, Lincolnshire seems to have elected to Parliament only two men with legal training. Although we cannot be entirely certain, it is more than likely that Gerard Sothill and John Meres were practising lawyers, since both were heavily involved in a wide range of property and business transactions. Only very occasionally can we discover anything about the personal tastes and recreations of the early 15th-century gentry, so it is of particular interest to find that (Sir) John Rochford devoted his last years to the compilation of indexes and digests of historical chronicles. The Hiltons, too, were cultivated enough to own several books.

The parliamentary elections for Lincolnshire were held at the county court in Lincoln. The surviving returns for our period bear on average the names of about 22 of the electors present, although far more people must have been involved, especially if a contest was expected to occur. Indeed, the return for 1423 lists no fewer than 64 witnesses, and the one for 1427 the remarkably high number of 121. A curious feature of these elections is the evident absence of any persons who had either sat as shire knights in the past or were to do so in the future. During the period 1407 (when indentures of election were first required by law) to 1423 only one former MP, Sir Richard Hansard, appears to have taken part in an election, and that only once, in March 1416.4 Since the names of quite modest landowners were punctiliously recorded by the sheriffs it seems improbable that men of higher social standing would not have been called upon to witness the returns had they actually attended the county court. The factor of distance must, of course, have prevented some from discharging their responsibilities as electors, although on many occasions the leaders of the local community had no doubt already made the necessary nominations, leaving the elections proper a forgone conclusion. Outside interference was altogether a different matter, for although the gentry showed themselves ready to return men acceptable to the King (or, as in 1388, the ruling faction), no instances of overt intervention by either the monarch or some powerful magnate are known to have occurred between 1386 and 1421.

Author: C.R.


  • 1. The others are John Pouger (£60) and Sir Walter Tailboys (£67).
  • 2. For a fuller discussion of this and other aspects of the parliamentary representation of Lincs. between 1377 and 1422 see J.S. Roskell’s article in Nottingham Med. Studies, iii. 53-77, reprinted in Parl. and Pol. in Late Med. Eng .
  • 3. Sir John Bussy, Sir John Copledyke, Thomas Cumberworth, Sir Robert Hakebeche, Sir Thomas Hawley, Sir Robert Hilton, Sir Henry Retford, John Rochford, John Skipwith, Gerard Sothill, Sir Walter Tailboys, Sir Philip Tilney, Sir Thomas Willoughby.
  • 4. C219/11/8, 13/2, 5. For brief biographies of the electors of Lincs. during the 15th century see Lincs. Archit. and Soc. iii. 41-79; iv. 33-55; v. 47-58; vi. 67-81.