Gloucestershire

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
1529SIR WILLIAM KINGSTON
 SIR JOHN BRYDGES
1536(not known)
1539SIR WILLIAM KINGSTON 1
 ANTHONY KINGSTON 2
1542?(SIR) ANTHONY KINGSTON 3
 (not known)
1545(SIR) ANTHONY KINGSTON
 NICHOLAS ARNOLD
1547(SIR) ANTHONY KINGSTON 4
 SIR NICHOLAS POYNTZ 5
1553 (Mar.)(SIR) ANTHONY KINGSTON
 (SIR) NICHOLAS ARNOLD
1553 (Oct.)(SIR) EDMUND BRYDGES
 SIR ANTHONY HUNGERFORD
1554 (Apr.)SIR GILES POOLE
 NICHOLAS WYKES
1554 (Nov.)ARTHUR PORTER
 WILLIAM REDE I
1555(SIR) ANTHONY KINGSTON
 (SIR) NICHOLAS ARNOLD
1558SIR HENRY JERNINGHAM
 SIR WALTER DENYS

Main Article

A wealthy county with a flourishing cloth industry, one of the largest ports in the kingdom and plentiful timber, iron, clay and building stone, Gloucestershire had gentlemen, merchants and entrepreneurs prosperous enough to show considerable independence of the central government or to influence its decisions. The Dissolution elicited almost no opposition in the county, many of the inhabitants profiting from the dispersal of monastic lands. Few supported the western risings of 1548 and the following year, but Sir Nicholas Arnold and Sir Anthony Kingston took part in plots against Mary’s government, while several others voted against Marian religious measures. The latent Protestantism of the region became manifest during John Hooper’s episcopacy of Gloucester during the early 1550s.6

Elections were held at meetings of the county court held at Gloucester castle. Seven indentures written in Latin survive, for the last Parliament of Henry VIII’s reign and for all those summoned in the 1550s. These give the contracting parties as the sheriff with approximately 20 electors, said to have acted with the consent of many other freeholders. During the early 16th century the peers holding most land in Gloucestershire were the Berkeleys and the Somersets, earls of Worcester; the latter do not appear to have exercised any significant parliamentary patronage in the county. The most influential patrons, besides the Berkeleys, were Sir John Brydges, later 1st Baron Chandos, and his relatives. If kinship with one or both of these families is taken into consideration, all 13 known knights of the shire during the period could appear on the same genealogical tree. Only Sir Henry Jerningham, a Privy Councillor from East Anglia related to the Kingstons, was not a resident with experience in local affairs. Nearly all frequented the court, either in an official capacity or as figures in their own right on ceremonial occasions or the dependants of great men. Most had military experience, several having held commands of distinction. Only Edmund Brydges, Jerningham and William Rede are known to have had any previous parliamentary experience before sitting for the shire. Arnold, the Kingstons father and son, and Sir Giles Poole sat repeatedly for the county and several went on to represent other constituencies, often boroughs in Wiltshire. There was a tendency, whether or not by design, to return men with main estates near Gloucester, and only in the first two Parliaments of Mary’s reign did neither seat go to one of this group.7

The sale of wool in Gloucestershire was regulated by an Act of 1529 (22 Hen. VIII, c.1). Bills for cloth production there were introduced in 1539, 1542, and January and November 1547, and an Act (5 and 6 Edw. VI, c.6) was procured in 1552. A later Act (4 and 5 Phil. and Mary, c.5) confining the manufacture of woollen cloth to the old-established towns contained a proviso for ‘any the towns or villages near adjoining the water of Stroude in the county of Gloucester, where cloth(e)s hath been usually made by the space of 20 years last past’. A bill for Gloucestershire weavers to have greater wages had two readings in 1555 but proceeded no further. The county was authorized to build a new gaol under the Act of 1532 (23 Hen. VIII, c.2), and ferries across the river Severn were forbidden to work at night by another (26 Hen. VIII, c.5) designed to prevent felons evading justice in the county by escaping to Wales. In 1545 Gloucestershire obtained an Act (34 and 35 Hen. VIII, c.9) to help keep the Severn open to navigation. Measures regulating the barrelling of butter and cheese in the county and the ferry across the Severn at Aust failed in the Parliament of 1547. At the Union of Wales with England three marcher lordships were annexed to the county.8

Author: N. M. Fuidge

Notes

  • 1. E159/319, brev. ret. Mich. r. [1-2].
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Since the Act (34 and 35 Hen. VIII, c.27) specified that Members of Parliament of 1542 should be amongst those named to the commission to collect the subsidy and Kingston served on the commission