Lincoln

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

Elections

DateCandidate
1512ROBERT ALANSON 1
 RICHARD CLERKE 2
1515ROBERT ALANSON 3
 RICHARD CLERKE 4
1523RICHARD CLERKE 5
 JOHN HALTON 6
1529VINCENT GRANTHAM
 WILLIAM SAMMES
1536VINCENT GRANTHAM 7
 THOMAS MOIGNE 8
1539ROBERT DIGHTON 9
 ANTHONY MISSENDEN 10
1542ANTHONY MISSENDEN
 WILLIAM ALANSON 11
by 22 Jan. 1543GEORGE ST. POLL vice Missenden, deceased12
1545GEORGE ST. POLL
 WILLIAM YATES
1547GEORGE ST. POLL
 THOMAS GRANTHAM
1553 (Mar.)?ROBERT FARRAR
 (not known)
1553 (Oct.)GEORGE ST. POLL
 ROBERT FARRAR
1554 (Apr.)ROBERT FARRAR
 WILLIAM ROTHERAM
1554 (Nov.)GEORGE ST. POLL 13
 ROBERT FARRAR 14
1555ROBERT FARRAR 15
 (not known)
1558GEORGE ST. POLL
 FRANCIS KEMPE

Main Article

By the 16th century Lincoln was in full decline. The departure of the wealthier merchants formerly resident there left less influential citizens to administer the city. Houses fell vacant as the population continued to fall—in 1540 it was estimated to be less than 2,000—and churches became redundant. The city was exempted from payments towards the subsidies of 1512, 1513 and 1515; it was included in the Act of 1540 (32 Hen. VIII, c.18) for the re-edification of towns and in 1549 it secured an Act (2 and 3 Edw. VI, no.48) for the reorganization of its parishes. Three taverns were allowed there under the Act (7 Edw. VI, c.5) controlling the sale of wine. Nearly all the city’s income was derived from the two fairs and the weekly markets; money for taxes and special expenses had often to be raised by pawning plate, selling the freedom of the city or enclosing and leasing the common lands. An attempt in 1551 by a group of aldermen to re-establish a cloth industry had failed by 1559.16

The areas around the cathedral and the castle formed separate liberties, the first under the control of the dean and chapter and the second belonging to the duchy of Lancaster. The city was liable to an annual fee-farm of £80 to the dean and chapter and £100 to the crown, which leased its portion to the Manners family, from 1525 earls of Rutland. In its straitened circumstances Lincoln could not afford either payment, but the 1st Earl refused all its offers to purchase the fee-farm, and not until 1559 was this arranged with his successor.17

Henry II’s charter was confirmed and amplified throughout the middle ages and again in 1515. Government was by a common council consisting of a mayor, 12 aldermen, generally known as the inner chamber, and about 26 freemen. These personages, together with the recorder, held office for life or during good behaviour, and were assisted by two sheriffs, four coroners and four chamberlains, all elected annually from among the citizens. The minutes kept of the decisions taken by the common council survive from 1511, as do some of the city’s accounts and miscellaneous papers.18

Chancery directed writs for elections to the city’s own sheriffs, who presided over them at meetings of a county court held in the guildhall. In 1547 four candidates were nominated and at the poll Thomas Grantham received 36 votes, George St. Poll 29, John Broxholme 15 and William Yates four. Only three indentures survive for the period, those for 1545, 1547 and September 1553, and two of these are in bad condition. They are in English, except for the wording of the writ, which is copied in full. The contracting parties are given as the sheriffs and the mayor and commonalty; between 17 and 25 electors are listed as having ‘freely and liberally chosen and elected’ the Members in accordance with the stipulation on the writ that they should be of the ‘discreet and most sufficient’ citizens.19

Of the 15 Members sitting in the Early Tudor period only Robert Farrar, the 2nd Earl of Rutland’s secretary, and Francis Kempe, Chancellor Heath’s mace-bearer, did not satisfy the city’s preference for residents, but both were made freemen on or shortly after their election. The recorder normally took one of the seats, the custom being set aside on only three occasions: in 1529 Richard Clerke may have been already a dying man, while of St. Poll’s two intermissions the second, in 1555, was due to his return for the shire and the first, in the spring of 1554, perhaps to an unsuccessful bid for that honour. The other seat nearly always went to a citizen of long experience, the exceptions being Robert Dighton, who had married into the St. Poll family, and Thomas Grantham, whose election in 1547 preluded his civic career; Grantham’s mother was a St. Poll, a relationship which probably helps to explain both his own and his father’s elections, although the Alansons, who furnished the only other father-and-son sequence, are not known to have enjoyed the same connexion. Robert Farrar’s four or five returns gave him and St. Poll a virtual monopoly during the 1550s. None of the Members had any known parliamentary experience before being elected for Lincoln, but both St. Poll and the two outsiders were later to sit elsewhere. There is evidence of intervention by Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and by successive earls of Rutland. Early in 1553 the 2nd Earl asked the city for one nomination; to this the common council agreed, but with the proviso (to which it did not adhere) that in future no-one save the recorder should be elected unless he was an alderman. In 1515 the city had complied with the King’s request for the re-election of the previous Members, but in 1536 its difference with William Sammes led it to ignore a similar one by replacing Sammes by the next recorder Thomas Moigne.

Lincoln seems to have paid its Members regularly until the mid 1540s, although not without difficulty. The money was raised by a special levy on the inhabitants, and in 1539 the common council let it be known that the Members could sue anyone who withheld his contribution. In 1535 Vincent Grantham remitted part of his wages.

Author: N. M. Fuidge

Notes

  • 1. Lincoln min. bk. 1511-42, f. 3v.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid. f. 38v.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Ibid. f. 161.
  • 6. Ibid. ff. 157, 157v.
  • 7. Ibid. 254, 255v.
  • 8. Ibid.