Cambridgeshire

County

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
1529ROBERT PEYTON I
 GILES ALINGTON
1536(not known)
1539(SIR) GILES ALINGTON 1
 SIR THOMAS ELYOT 2
1542EDWARD NORTH
 THOMAS RUDSTON
1545(not known)
1547(SIR) EDWARD NORTH
 JAMES DYER
1553 (Mar.)(SIR) EDWARD NORTH
 JAMES DYER
1553 (Oct.)SIR JOHN HUDDLESTON
 SIR JOHN COTTON
1554 (Apr.)SIR JOHN HUDDLESTON
 (SIR) GILES ALINGTON
1554 (Nov.)SIR JOHN HUDDLESTON
 SIR JOHN COTTON
1555ROGER NORTH
 THOMAS WENDY
1558(SIR) GILES ALINGTON
 ROBERT PEYTON II

Main Article

The knights for Cambridgeshire were elected at a county court held in Cambridge castle by the sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire. Of the 32 returned between 1510 and 1558 the names of 12 are lost, and of the ten Parliaments for which the names of the knights are known three lack election indentures. The indentures, in Latin, throw no light on the process of election: about 30 electors are usually named, with more than 40 listed early in 1553 but less than 20 a year-and-a-half later.3

The men known to have been elected all lived in the county and most of them belonged to its established families. Sir Thomas Elyot, Sir John Huddleston and Edward North were leading figures at court or in government, and Thomas Wendy was physician to Queen Mary. Giles Alington’s kinship with Sir Thomas More may have influenced his return in 1529 but could not have done so when he was re-elected later. Although not a substantial landowner, Thomas Rudston probably represents the electors’ ideal spokesman. Elyot, North and James Dyer were relative newcomers to the shire but all had property there: when returned in 1547 Dyer had recently married Elyot’s widow. North’s ennoblement in 1554 ended his own spell of service in the Commons, but until his death he seems to have been influential in elections, among them that of his son Roger. Later in the century Roger North was to emulate him.

Following disputes over contributions towards the payment of wages to its knights during the 14th and early 15th centuries, the county had bought the manor of Burlewas in Madingley,alias ‘the shire manor of the county of Cambridge’, so that its profits of £10 a year should be applied to that purpose. This arrangement was expected to discharge the inhabitants of the county from further responsibility even though its yield was unlikely to cover the statutory rate of 4 s. a day. The 200 acres of meadow and pasture which made up the manor were leased by feoffees for the county. How the income was transmitted to the knights is not known until about the time the King’s serjeant John Hynde acquired the lease. Thereupon ‘all the gentlemen of the said county of Cambridge as well for themselves as the whole inhabitants of the said county’ petitioned that the knights should continue to be paid in the customary way. The petition resulted in an Act for the assurance of certain lands to John Hynde (34 and 35 Hen. VIII, c.24) passed in the second session of the Parliament of 1542. This confirmed Hynde and his heirs in their lease but obliged them to deliver the rent to ‘the wardens of the fees and wages of the knights of the shire of Cambridge’; the wardens were to be the knights themselves in succession, and if either or both died the sheriff was to fill the vacancy or vacancies. The two knights at the time the Act was passed, (Sir) Edward North and Thomas Rudston, were named in it as the first wardens. How long the arrangement persisted is not known, but the sum due had long since ceased to be paid by 1774 when the matter was raised in a pamphlet addressed to the freeholders of the county of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely.4

An Act of 1531 (22 Hen. VIII, c.11) provided for the punishment of anyone damaging the Oldfield dyke in the area adjoining Marshland in Norfolk, but this was repealed under the general words of the Edwardian Act of repeal (1 Edw. VI, c.12). A later Act (2 and 3 Phil. and Mary, c.19) restored the Henrician measure. The sale of wool produced in the county was regulated by another Act of 1531 (22 Hen. VIII, c.1), which was confirmed by the Parliament of 1545.

Author: N. M. Fuidge

Notes

  • 1. E159/139, brev. ret. Mich. [1-2].
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. C219/18B/12, 19/17, 20/14, 21/14, 22/12, 23/15, 24/14.