Gatton

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
1529JOHN GUILDFORD
 ?WILLIAM SAUNDERS
1536(not known)
1539(not known)
1542THOMAS SAUNDERS
 THOMAS BISHOP
1545EDWARD BELLINGHAM
 ROGER HEIGHAM
1547RICHARD SHELLEY
 JOHN TINGLEDEN
by 23 Jan. 1552THOMAS GUILDFORD vice Tingleden, deceased1
1553 (Mar.)RICHARD SOUTHWELL alias DARCY
 LEONARD DANNETT
1553 (Oct.)SIR THOMAS CORNWALLIS 2
 CHIDIOCK PAULET 3
1554 (Apr.)THOMAS GATACRE
 THOMAS COPLEY
1554 (Nov.)WILLIAM WOTTON
 THOMAS COPLEY
1555HUMPHREY MOSELEY
 SIR HENRY HUSSEY
1558THOMAS COPLEY
 THOMAS NORTON

Main Article

In 1539 the 3rd Duke of Norfolk included Gatton in a list of boroughs where ‘in times past I could have made burgesses of Parliament’, but in this he was mistaken. One of his Mowbray predecessors had let the manor during Henry VI’s reign to John Timperley, whose son conveyed the remainder of the lease to the Copley family; the Copleys later bought the manor. Richard Copley (d. by 1507) left his wife a life-interest in it which in 1518 she and her second husband Michael Denys of Pucklechurch in Gloucestershire quitclaimed to her brother-in-law Roger Copley. On his marriage to Elizabeth Shelley, Roger Copley settled the manor on her, and from his death in 1549 until her own ten years later, when it passed to their son Thomas under a settlement of 1539, it was in Elizabeth Copley’s possession.4

As lords of the manor and sole burgesses there the Copleys controlled the representation of Gatton. In 1539 Sir Roger Copley offered the nomination of one of the Members to Christopher More who in turn offered it to Sir William Fitzwilliam I, Earl of Southampton. The earl refused, desiring More to have the nomination, whereupon More promised it to a ‘very friend’, but Southampton later showed More a letter from Cromwell asking for it on behalf of another. More persuaded his friend to defer to Cromwell’s wishes and asked the minister for the name of his candidate so that Copley could be informed and the indenture made; at the same time he told Cromwell that he had discharged Copley from paying wages as ‘there is but one house in the town to any release and help to the same’. In the absence of a return for 1539 the name of the minister’s nominee is not known. Indentures survive for the next four Parliaments and for those of November 1554 and 1555. Written (all but twice) in English, these name the contracting parties as the sheriff of Surrey and Sussex and the Copleys: in March 1553 Elizabeth Copley ‘and all the burgesses and inhabitants’ are said to have chosen the Members, perhaps because the franchise was held by a woman, but it was not thought necessary to repeat the fiction later. Thomas Bishop’s name appears over an erasure on the indenture for 1542, the erased name perhaps being Oxley. Apart from Sir Thomas Cornwallis all the Members were relatives, friends, neighbours or colleagues of the Copleys. Cornwallis was comptroller of the Household and his return was almost certainly in response to official prompting, perhaps through the sheriff Sir Anthony Browne, an ardent Marian. The alteration beside Gatton on the list of Members for Parliament of April 1554 may have been a mere copyist’s error but it could mean that Thomas Gatacre replaced Henry White there following White’s return also for Reigate.5

Author: S. R. Johnson

Notes