Calne

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
1529WILLIAM CROWCHE
 JOHN TURGEYS
1536(not known)
1539(not known)
1542(not known)
1545ROBERT LONG
 FRANCIS GOODERE
 (aft. 22 Dec. 1546 not known)
1547GRIFFIN CURTEYS 1
 JOHN COCK II 2
 (aft. Jan. 1552 not known)
1553 (Mar.)(not known)
1553 (Oct.)ROBERT HUNGERFORD
 WILLIAM ALLEN
1554 (Apr.)WILLIAM BASELEY
 WILLIAM ALLEN
1554 (Nov.)SIR JOHN MARVYN
 EDWARD WASTFIELD
1555WILLIAM ALLEN
 EDWARD WASTFIELD
1558WILLIAM ALLEN
 RICHARD NICHOLAS

Main Article

Two thirds of the prosperous clothing town of Calne lay within a prebendal manor held by the treasurer of Salisbury cathedral, and one third within another manor, usually described as the hundred of Calne which was owned by the Zouche family until 1554, when it passed to Thomas Long. In 1540 the fee-farm of £15 paid by the Zouche family was granted to Anne of Cleves.3

A pre-Conquest villa regia, Calne was described as a burgus in Domesday Book and returned Members from 1295; it was not incorporated until the reign of James II. Records of payment for the confirmation of ‘charters’ in the 16th century probably refer to recognition of the townsmen’s privileges as inhabitants of ancient demesne. There was no borough court and from at least 1520 the burgesses owed suit to that of the manor of Ogbourne St. George, 14 miles away and a member of Wallingford, Berkshire, a duchy of Cornwall honor until 1540 when it was annexed to the King’s Oxfordshire manor of Ewelme. By the mid 16th century municipal government was identified with that of the guild merchant: when the arms of the borough were ratified in 1565, there were two guild stewards, sometimes known as bailiffs, and 15 other members called burgesses. The guild stewards were elected each as Apr. until 1579; their earliest surviving book of accounts contains entries from 1561, copied retrospectively in 1584.4

The franchise was limited to the burgesses. The precept for the election of Members seems to have been sent by the sheriff of Wiltshire to the two guild stewards, who supervised the procedure. Indentures, uniformly in Latin, survive for the last Parliament of Henry VIII and the five Parliaments of Mary, the contracting parties being either the sheriff and the stewards with the burgesses or the sheriff and the burgesses. The stewards affixed the common seal of the town on the copy sent into Chancery while the sheriff put his on the one kept at Calne.5

Of the 12 known Members only William Allen and Richard Nicholas were townsmen and burgesses, and even Allen had been (and perhaps still was) a servant of William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke. Most seem to have been the nominees of the neighbouring gentleman Sir Henry Long, whose relationship to Thomas Long has not been discovered but who had interests of his own in Calne and nearby. Francis Goodere and his brother-in-law John Cock, although later connected by marriage with the Longs, were probably the nominees of Queen Catherine Parr who held the manor of Compton Bassett, two-and-a-half miles from Calne. Sir John Marvyn purchased Compton Bassett in 1553 and could have procured his own return: his name appears on the indenture for 29 Oct. 1554 over an erasure and in a hand different from that of the rest of the document. Cock was returned for Cardiff as well as Calne, and having chosen Calne transferred to Hertfordshire at a by-election in January 1552. The guild stewards’ book shows that in 1563 Nicholas was still owed 10s. for his attendance in 1558 but it is not known whether his partner Allen or any earlier Member was paid wages.6

Author: T. F.T. Baker

Notes