Essex

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 1510-15

Elections

DateCandidate
1523?SIR JOHN MARNEY 1
 (aft. 24 May 1523 not known)
 (not known)
1529THOMAS BONHAM
 (aft. 18 June 1532 not known)
 THOMAS AUDLEY I
 (aft. Jan. 1533 not known)
1536?RICHARD RICH 2
 (not known)
1539(SIR) RICHARD RICH 3
 SIR THOMAS DARCY 4
1542?(SIR) RICHARD RICH 5
 (not known)
1545(SIR) RICHARD RICH
 SIR THOMAS DARCY
1547(SIR) WILLIAM PETRE
 SIR THOMAS DARCY
by 23 Jan. 1552(SIR) JOHN GATES vice Darcy, called to the Upper House6
1553 (Mar.)(SIR) JOHN GATES 7
 ?(SIR) WILLIAM PETRE 8
1553 (Oct.)SIR ROBERT ROCHESTER
 (SIR) WILLIAM PETRE
1554 (Apr.)SIR ROBERT ROCHESTER
 (SIR) WILLIAM PETRE
1554 (Nov.)SIR ROBERT ROCHESTER
 (SIR) WILLIAM PETRE 9
1555SIR ROBERT ROCHESTER
 (SIR) WILLIAM PETRE
1558(SIR) WILLIAM PETRE
 SIR EDWARD WALDEGRAVE

Main Article

Most of the Essex knights of the shire whose names survive were leading figures at court or in government. This is not surprising in a county adjacent to London, although its self-sufficiency in the matter is shown by the fact that only three of the eight—or, if Sir Henry Marney sat for his native shire in 1523, nine—were not of Essex birth. Two of the newcomers, Thomas Bonham of unknown but perhaps Wiltshire origin, and William Petre, of a Devon family, married into their adopted county, and Richard Rich first established himself there as a servant of John de Vere, 15th Earl of Oxford. The parliamentary influence of the de Veres and the Radcliffes, lords Fitzwalter and earls of Sussex, scarcely extended beyond the boroughs of Colchester and Maldon. Marney succeeded to his father’s barony during the Parliament of 1523; Sir Thomas Audley, Rich and Sir Thomas Darcy were ennobled, Darcy likewise while a Member. Audley was Speaker in 1529, Rich in 1536, and both went on to become lord chancellor. Five other Essex knights (Darcy, Petre, Gates, Rochester and Waldegrave) were Privy Councillors, although Darcy did not attain that rank until after he had been returned at least three times for Essex. All save Waldegrave served on the Essex commission of the peace but only Bonham and Gates were also pricked sheriff. Only Darcy and Petre did not hold office in the duchy of Lancaster, of which Rochester and Waldegrave were successive chancellors. The two seats were pre-empted by Rochester and Petre from Mary’s accession until Rochester’s death in 1557, but Waldegrave alone is known to have sat for another shire. Audley and Rich sat for Colchester before achieving the knighthood of the shire, Gates and possibly Petre sat for boroughs elsewhere. Marney and Bonham were brothers-in-law, Rochester and Waldegrave uncle and nephew. Following the death of Bonham in 1532 and the appointment as lord keeper of Audley in 1533, Cromwell considered three candidates for nomination as their replacements in the Commons and signified his preference for Sir Thomas Darcy and the clerk of the Parliaments Sir Brian Tuke. The outcome of the by-election is not known.10

Election indentures survive for the seven Parliaments between 1545 (when the indenture is in the same hand as that for Maldon) and 1555; the first four are in Latin and most of them are in poor condition. The elections were held at the shire court at Chelmsford and the indentures were drawn up between the sheriff and from about 12 to over 40 named electors. Sir Henry Tyrrell, of an ancient Essex family and a friend and connexion by marriage of Petre, was present at the four elections held in 1553 and 1554; in March 1554 his kinsman Edmund Tyrrell was returned for Maldon and in October he was joined at the shire election by five other members of the Tyrrell family. Sir John Mordaunt, a Privy Councillor, was also present at the election of 26 Sept. 1553, taking precedence over Tyrrell in the indenture. Mordaunt’s intervention suggests that there was some concern over the return of reliable men to the first Marian Parliament but the sheriff Sir Thomas Pope, although evidently trusted by the Duke of Northumberland, had rallied to Mary and had himself been sworn of her Council. Mordaunt’s cousin Anthony Browne II attended the election of March 1554.11

Essex was one of the counties covered by the Act regulating the sale of wool (22 Hen. VIII, c.1) which was renewed in 1545, and by the Act for the production of cloth (5 and 6 Edw. VI, c.6) which was modified in 1558. Provision for building a new county gaol was made in the Act of 1532 (23 Hen. VII, c.2) renewed twice under Henry VIII and again under Mary. A bill for the upkeep of Tilbury ferry failed after a single reading in the Commons on 14 Nov. 1549.12

Author: D. F. Coros

Notes

  • 1. Roper,