Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer


aft. 1532?JOHN UVEDALE vice Cooper, deceased1
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Main Article

Long in contention between England and Scotland, Berwick-upon-Tweed passed finally under English rule in 1482. It was incorporated by the reign of David I and its charters, granted by English and Scottish kings, were confirmed in 1510, 1547 and 1554. A market town with a guild and a civilian population of probably over a thousand, dependent upon fishing and the wool industry, Berwick was also a fortress, with the largest garrison in the country; its leading official was the captain or governor, whose authority was recognized in a grant of privileges from Henry VIII in 1533, but there were sometimes two captains, one for the town and one for the castle. The government of the town also included a mayor, a paid official of the crown but probably elected annually by the guild, an alderman, four bailiffs, a coroner, a town clerk (at least after 1554) and the Twelve, a body sometimes also known as the ‘feryngmen’ and seemingly not limited to 12 Members. In 1548-9 two councils were set up, a mayor’s council composed of former mayors and aldermen and a common council of 12 ‘other of the most ancient bailiffs and discreet men’. These councils, however, rarely appear in the records of the guild books after this date, whereas the mayor, aldermen and the Twelve, which included many of those who would have served on them, figure prominently. It is not clear whether yet another council, composed of officials of both the garrison and municipality (the governor or captain, the marshal, the master porter, the treasurer, the mayor and two or three aldermen), was part of the government of the town in this period.4

Berwick had been intermittently represented in Scottish Parliaments but it was probably first enfranchised as an English borough between 1491 and 1512. Unmentioned in the list of Members for the Parliament of 1491, it is included in the list of constituencies drawn up for that of 1512 in connexion with the issue of writs de expensis, where its placing suggests that it was not then returning for the first time. Only one election indenture, that of 1555, survives and that in poor condition. Made at ‘our commons [?commune] house’ at Berwick, it mentions the alderman and ‘all other the brethren and commonalty’.5

The guild books, which are incomplete for the period, show that the Twelve sometimes nominated one Member, sometimes perhaps both. It was probably in 1552 that the captain of Berwick, Sir Nicholas Strelley, complained to the Privy Council that ‘the burgesses chosen by the freemen little regard the profit of the soldiers’ and asked that the captain and his council should have the nomination of one Member as at Calais. Only seven Members are known for the period, but three of them may have had the backing of the military authorities, John Martin and John Cooper, as possible followers of the 5th Earl of Northumberland, warden-general of the east and middle marches in 1529, and Charles Wharton as a kinsman, possibly a son, of Thomas Wharton I, 1st Baron Wharton, captain of Berwick in 1555; moreover, the vacancy caused by Cooper’s death could have been filled by John Uvedale, a prominent government servant in the north. Three Members were leading burgesses, Odinel Selby, George Browne and Thomas Bradford; another, John Watson, whose Membership is known only from the list compiled for the final session of the Parliament of 1547, has not been certainly identified. If he was the man admitted to Lincoln’s Inn in 1