East Grinstead

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 RUTTER
 EDWARD GOODWIN
1536(not known)
1539(not known)
1542(not known)
 JOHN SACKVILLE I
1545(not known)
1547JASPER CULPEPER
 JOHN SACKVILLE II
by 23 Jan. 1552GEORGE DARRELL vice John Sackville II, deceased1
1553 (Mar.)SIR ROBERT OXENBRIDGE
 GEORGE DARRELL
1553 (Oct.)SIR THOMAS STRADLING
 JOHN STORY
1554 (Apr.)RICHARD WHALLEY
 ANTHONY STAPLETON
1554 (Nov.)THOMAS DUFFIELD 2
 JASPER CULPEPER 3
1555?WILLIAM BARNES I
 JOHN WISEMAN
1558THOMAS FARNHAM
 THOMAS PARKER II

Main Article

East Grinstead was a market town and the meeting place of the Lent assizes for east Sussex. The manor and borough belonged to the duchy of Lancaster. In 1559 it was described in a duchy survey as ‘a liberty of itself without any intermeddling of the hundred. or vice versa’, with 48 burgages; ‘the burgage holders and cottagers are all the Queen’s tenants and hold their tenements of her majesty as of the manor of East Grinstead by fealty only and suit of court’. A borough by prescription with a seal of its own, it was governed by a bailiff elected annually and assisted by the burgesses. No borough records exist for the period.4

Indentures survive for the elections to the Parliaments of 1542, March and October 1553, November 1554 and 1555 as well as for the replacement of Thomas Sackville in the Parliament of 1558 after his decision to sit for Westmorland. All are in poor condition. The first two are written in Latin, the remainder in English. The contracting parties are the sheriff of Surrey and Sussex and the bailiff and about 16 named burgesses. The names of those returned in September 1553, 1555 and 1558 are inserted in a different hand. In 1555 the bailiff and some of the burgesses affixed their seals, and ‘their common seal’ was added ‘in the name of all other the inhabitants’.5

The influence of the duchy on the Membership was limited. Of the 16 Members sitting in this period, Sir Robert Oxenbridge held a minor duchy post, Sir Thomas Stradling and Richard Whalley owed their return to the 12th Earl of Arundel as the steward of the duchy’s lands in the county, and John Story his to John Caryll as its attorney-general: William Barnes perhaps had the support of Sir Robert Rochester as chancellor. Both Thomas Duffield and Edward Goodwin were townsmen, and William Rutter had a house and a brother there. The Sackville family, with a home at Withyham six miles away and six burgages in the town, furnished two Members and seems to have promoted the return of Barnes, Thomas Farnham, Thomas Parker, Anthony Stapleton and John Wiseman. Jasper Culpeper was a servant of Sir John Gage of Firle, who owned property nearby, and George Darrell was the son of one of his legal advisers: Parker and Oxenbridge were kinsmen of his. During his chancellorship of the duchy Gage probably nominated one or both of the Members but in the absence of a return to the Parliament of 1545 this is uncertain. East Grinstead did not comply fully with Mary’s recommendation for residents in the autumn of 1554, but in electing Culpeper with Duffield it was perhaps attempting to