Bletchingley

Borough

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

Background Information

No names known for 1510-23

Elections

DateCandidate
1529NICHOLAS LEIGH
 JOHN ST. JOHN
1536(not known)
1539(not known)
1542THOMAS CAWARDEN
 WILLIAM SACKVILLE
1545(not known)
1547(SIR) THOMAS CAWARDEN
 JOHN CHEKE
by 23 Jan. 1552HENRY POLSTED vice Cawarden1
1553 (Mar.)(SIR) JOHN CHEKE
 SIR MAURICE BERKELEY
1553 (Oct.)HENRY POLSTED 2
 MATTHEW COLTHURST 3
1554 (Apr.)JOHN HARMAN
 NICHOLAS SAUNDERS
1554 (Nov.)HUMPHREY CHOLMLEY
 ROBERT FREEMAN I
1555JOHN VAUGHAN I
 WILLIAM SMETHWICK
1558BERTRAM CALTHROPE
 ROGER ALFORD

Main Article

The manor of Bletchingley belonged to the 3rd Duke of Buckingham until his attainder in 1521 when it escheated to the crown. In July 1522 Henry VIII granted it to his master of the horse Sir Nicholas Carew, who in 1539 was himself executed for treason. In 1540 the King settled it on Anne of Cleves, who made Thomas Cawarden keeper, and six years later he granted the reversion to Cawarden. Cawarden took up residence at once and paid rent for his occupancy to Anne of Cleves until her death in 1557. The manor included the borough, which was a mesne one never incorporated. In the absence of borough records little is known about its administration which was headed by a bailiff. The reluctance of the inhabitants to accept office meant that authority rested with the lord of the manor or his keeper. The burgesses or borough-holders held their own court or ‘portmanmote’ and the franchise seems to have been vested in them.4

Indentures survive for the Parliaments of 1542, 1547, March 1553, 1555 and 1558, the first two being in English, the others in Latin. The contracting parties are the sheriff of Surrey and Sussex and between seven and 23 burgesses, described in 1542 as ‘the inhabitants and borough holders of the barony of Buckingham’. The indentures for 1555 and 1558 mention that alii de communitate burgi were present at the election, presumably only as witnesses. In 1553, when Sir Maurice Berkeley’s name was inserted in a different hand from the rest of the document, Cawarden’s name heads the list of electors. Both the Members returned in 1529 were kinsmen of Carew, who was himself one of the knights of the shire, and nearly all those returned after 1542 owed their Membership to the patronage of Cawarden. Following Cawarden’s arrest early in 1554 the sheriff, (Sir) Thomas Saunders, returned his kinsman Nicholas Saunders: the other Member John Harman, who usually sat for Orford, had ties with the locality through his wife and other relatives. Apart from Cawarden, Humphrey Cholmley and William Sackville also lived at Bletchingley. As Cholmley’s return met Mary’s preference for residents, it is possible that Robert Freeman who sat with Cholmley was a townsman, but he has not been identified.5

Author: S. R. Johnson

Notes

  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Bodl. e Museo 17.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. C. Rawcliffe, The Staffords, Earls of Stafford and Dukes of Buckingham, 1394-1521, pp. 82, 83, 87, 192; U. Lambert, Bletchingley, 1-48; VCH Surr. iv. 255-6.
  • 5. C219-18B/90, 19/103, 20/121, 23/120, 24/153, 25/112; Guildford mus. Loseley 968.

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