Lichfield

Borough

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Elections

DateCandidate
1547WILLIAM LAYTON 1
 EDMUND TWYNEHO 2
by 23 Jan. 1552ALEXANDER WALKER vice Layton, deceased
1553 (Mar.)MARK WYRLEY
 WILLIAM FITZHERBERT
1553 (Oct.)SIR PHILIP DRAYCOTT
 JOHN GIFFARD
1554 (Apr.)HENRY VERNON
 JOHN TAYLOR II
1554 (Nov.)MARK WYRLEY
 THOMAS EDWARDS
1555THOMAS EDWARDS
 FRANCIS BULSTRODE
1558ROBERT WESTON
 RICHARD CUPPER

Main Article

Before the Reformation the city of Lichfield, with its shrine to St. Chad and its other cults, was a place of pilgrimage. It had few crafts but provided a market for the district. Deprived in 1547 of the means of self-government by the abolition of the guild of St. Mary and St. John the Baptist, the city availed itself of the help of Secretary Paget to achieve incorporation by letters patent of July 1548 as the bailiffs and citizens, with a governing body consisting of two bailiffs and 24 burgesses. In December 1553 Mary conferred on Lichfield the status of a county, ostensibly for its loyalty during the succession crisis. The manor belonged to the bishop, who in October 1548 leased it to the city for £50 a year. No civic records for the period survive.3

Lichfield had returned Members to several medieval Parliaments, but by 1547 it had not done so for nearly 200 years. Its restoration was almost certainly the work of Paget: the two original Members of the Parliament of 1547 were both dependants of his, and he was to control elections until his death in 1563. Richard Cupper was his receiver-general, Edmund Twyneho his surveyor, John Taylor one of his bailiffs and William Fitzherbert a lawyer in his service. Fitzherbert had property in the city but is not known to have resided there, as did the civilian Robert Weston and Mark Wyrley, one of the bailiffs; Weston may have been a nominee of the bishop. Several of the other Members were from the county: Sir Philip Draycott and Henry Vernon were kinsmen of Fitzherbert, and John Giffard was a nephew of Sir Thomas Giffard, himself a knight of the shire in the same Parliament. Francis Bulstrode, who had houses in Bedfordshire and Worcestershire, was related by marriage to the influential Staffordshire family of Littleton. Thomas Edwards and Alexander Walker have not been identified.

Elections were held in the guildhall. Indentures, in bad condition, survive for all the Parliaments between March 1553 and 1555; they are in Latin, save an English one for April 1554. The first two are between the sheriff of Staffordshire and the bailiffs, burgesses and citizens, but after the city became a county its own sheriff contracted with the bailiffs and electors, numbering between 17 and 30 and described variously as citizens or burgesses and communers. The elections are said to have been carried out freely and indifferently and the choice made by ‘unanimous assent and consent’. Both names on the second indenture for 1554, and one for 1555, Francis Bulstrode, appear to be later insertions, although in the same hand as the remainder of the document.4

Author: N. M. Fuidge

Notes

  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Staffs. Rec. Soc. 1950-1, pp. 158-9, 163-5, 173-6, 178; T. Harwood, Lichfield, 12-13, 149, 336, 351-4, 419-20; VCH Staffs. iii. 166-9, 268-9, 275-83; Guild of St. Mary, Lichfield (EETS extra ser. xiv.), 3-17; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 386-7; 1553-4, pp. 50-52.
  • 4. C219/20/112, 21/141, 22/122, 23/169, 170, 24/208, 209.

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