Huntingdon

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
1529THOMAS HALL II
 WILLIAM WEBBE I
1536(not known)
1539(not known)
1542(not known)
1545(not known)
1547JOHN ARSCOTT
 JOHN MILLICENT
1553 (Mar.)WILLIAM TYRWHITT
 THOMAS MARIA WINGFIELD
1553 (Oct.)THOMAS MARIA WINGFIELD
 JOHN PURVEY
1554 (Apr.)THOMAS MARIA WINGFIELD
 SIMON THROCKMORTON
1554 (Nov.)PHILIP CLAMPE 1
 WILLIAM HORWOOD 2
1555ROBERT BROCKBANK
 THOMAS WORLICH
1558ROBERT BROCKBANK
 JOHN BRIGANDINE

Main Article

Little can be said about the municipal history of Huntingdon in the early 16th century owing to the paucity of its records. The town’s link with the duchy of Lancaster dated from 1267 when its fee-farm of £45 had been included in Henry III’s grant of the duchy to Edmund Crouchback: Richard III reduced the fee-farm by 21 marks. Although favourably situated ‘on the highway from the north to London by means of the river Ouse’, by 1500 the town had been overtaken by St. Ives as the centre of local trade. Its decline led the townsmen to petition early in Henry VIII’s reign for the fee-farm not to be restored to its original level: half the houses were then said to be empty and only four parish churches remained out of more than a dozen.3

The government of Huntingdon was based upon the charter of incorporation granted in 1484 and confirmed in 1515. The conduct of affairs was in the hands of two bailiffs assisted by a council of Twenty-Four. No reference was made in the charter to any other official but the town is known to have had both a town clerk and a recorder. By 1550 Thomas Hall was steward of the town. A deed subscribed in 1532 by ‘all and singular the burgesses’ contained 54 names, including those of the two bailiffs. The election indentures, which survive for all the Parliaments from 1547 to 1555 except that of November 1554, are between the sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire and the two bailiffs and the burgesses of Huntingdon: the burgesses involved are listed only in 1553, when in both indentures William Horwood heads a list of 21 names.4

As a duchy borough Huntingdon could have been expected to return at least one nominee, but there is no evidence that it did so. Of the 13 Members known for the period only John Purvey was an established officer in the duchy, although John Arscott and John Millicent later entered its service. Philip Clampe, Hall, Horwood and William Webbe were townsmen, and as the husband of Hall’s only child and heir Robert Brockbank held property there. Simon Throckmorton, Thomas Maria Wingfield and Thomas Worlich lived in the neighbourhood; Millicent’s home was in the adjoining county of Cambridge and William Tyrwhitt’s in Lincolnshire; and although John Brigandine’s domicile has not been traced, as a stepson of the Cambridgeshire magnate Edward North, 1st Lord North, he would have been well known in the Fens. Thus Arscott and Purvey are alone left as strangers to both town and locality. Arscott, like Millicent, was known to North, yet the magnate to whom the borough chiefly deferred was not North, nor any less substantial landowner like Richard Cromwell alias Williams or Oliver Leder, but Sir Robert Tyrwhitt I of Leighton Bromswold. Of the Members returned under Edward VI and Mary, Throckmorton was one of Tyrwhitt’s clients and William Tyrwhitt, Wingfield and Worlich his kinsmen, while as the duchy’s steward for Higham Ferrers he may have been instrumental in the return of Purvey. Wingfield is the only Member known to have represented the town more than once. In 1533 Hall tried to transfer to a shire seat, with what success is not known; but both Throckmorton and Wingfield were to sit for the county after being Members for the town.

In 1534 Huntingdon was designated the seat of a suffragan bishop by 26 Hen. VIII, c.14, but no appointment was made.

Author: M. K. Dale

Notes