Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
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Background Information

No names known for 1510-15



Main Article

Ludlow was the headquarters of the council in the marches of Wales and both Prince Arthur and Princess Mary held court there. Apart from some clothmaking, the town depended for its livelihood on the presence of the council, and the most prominent craft guild seems to have been that of the ‘hammermen’, an amalgamation of smiths, armourers, masons, ironmongers, saddlemakers and others. The London merchant Rowland Hill gave the money for a new bridge over the Teme, and the annual St. Catherine’s fair (apparently the only one until the charter of 1552 provided a second) and frequent markets attracted considerable trade. The town was none the less included in two Acts of 1536 and 1544 for urban renewal (27 Hen. VIII, c.1 and 35 Hen. VIII, c.4). It had two houses of friars, Austin and Carmelite, dissolved in 1538, and a wealthy hospital dedicated to the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist; most of the hospital’s estates passed to the Foxe family. The palmers’ guild was first investigated by chantry commissioners in 1546 and after its dissolution in 1551 its endowments, with those of Hosier’s alms-houses, were transferred to the corporation for the maintenance of the grammar school, the annual rent of £8 13s.4d. being added to the borough’s fee-farm of £24 13s.4d.9

A deed of 1241 makes mention of ‘all the burgesses and men of Ludlow’, and when some two centuries later Richard, Duke of York, to whom the town had passed with the earldom of March, granted it a charter this stated that ‘since the time that no mind is ... 12 and 25 burgesses [had] ruled and governed’ there and ‘were the body of the said town’. In 1461 the duke’s son King Edward IV rewarded Ludlow for its support of his cause by incorporating it as the bailiffs, burgesses and community. This charter, confirmed several times in the late 15th century and in 1510, 1552 and 1553, released the borough from all feudal obligations and recognized its governing body; its leading officials were henceforth to be two bailiffs elected on each 28 Oct. by ‘the burgesses’, who were also to choose two Members of Parliament ‘of themselves or others’.10

The resulting parliamentary elections were held in the guildhall. Election indentures survive for all the Parliaments from 1542 to 1558 except that of 1547. The first of them, the only one in Latin, is similar in form to that of the same date for Much Wenlock and almost certainly in the same hand; the contracting parties are the bailiffs and some 16 named burgesses and inhabitants. Thereafter, the second party is the sheriff of Shropshire and no electors are named, although the bailiffs are said to have acted with the ‘assent and consent’ of all the burgesses and inhabitants. It was, in fact, the bailiffs, the Twelve and the Twenty-Five who chose the Members, ‘as also all other officers within the said town’, and even those who challenged this practice before the council in the marches were forced to admit that they had done so ‘time out of man’s memory’. Judgment was given in the corporation’s favour on 23 Feb. 1554, five months after an election which may have been contested, since the indenture claims the consent of only ‘the most part’ of the burgesses, a phrase which appears over an illegible erasure. The next indenture, of 18 Mar. 1554, has a word, perhaps ‘chief’, erased before burgences in the passage claiming the consent of them all. In 1558 Richard Prince’s name appears twice over erasures and in a different hand, and the index to a lost minute book suggests that a Mr Allsop (presumably the same who had sat in the second Parliament of 1554) was originally elected. The charter of 1461 exempted Ludlow from contributing to the wages of the knights of the shire and there are scattered references to its paying its own Members during the period, although at what rate is not known.11

Including the recorder James Warnecombe, 11 of the 16 known Members were townsmen and eight of them served as bailiff, six or seven (depending on whether or not William Foxe was returned in 1523) doing so at least once before their first or only appearance in Parliament and one, Thomas Wheeler, being in office at his first election. The Foxe family was the most important in the town, but William Foxe’s sons Edmund and Charles made their careers largely in the service of the council in the marches: both were to claim privilege during the Parliament of 1542 after being committed to the Fleet for slandering the president Bishop Lee. Other townsmen could have profited from a connexion with the council, notably Wheeler, William Foxe’s son-in-law, and John Bradshaw, a relative by marriage of Bishop Lee and a friend of Adam Mytton, and the five strangers were probably council nominees. Robert Blount, a younger son in the family of Kinlet, Shropshire, held office under the council, although whether he did so before his election is not known; he was perhaps then more beholden to his master the 5th Earl of Shrewsbury, lord lieutenant of Shropshire and other counties. Sir John Price, sheriff of Herefordshire at his election for Ludlow, was secretary of the council, William Heath a brother of the president Bishop Heath and Richard Prince one of the council’s legal officers. Thomas Croft has not been certainly identified but he presumably belonged to the locally prominent family of Croft Castle, Herefordshire, and could have been indebted for his return to Heath’s successor in 1555 William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke.

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), vii. 8-9 from bailiffs' accts. (now lost).
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Ibid. 10; Salop RO, Ludlow bailiffs' accts. 1540-1.
  • 6. Ibid.
  • 7. Leland, Itin. ed. Smith, ii. 76-80; iii. 50; VCH Salop, i. 417; ii. 93-96, 102-4, 108, 134-9, 147; P. H. Williams, Council in the Marches of Wales, 139, 209; HMC Hatfield, xi. 225, 320; T. Wright, Ludlow, 317, 366, 370-5.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. Leland, Itin. ed. Smith, ii. 76-80; iii. 50; VCH Salop, i. 417; ii. 93-96, 102-4, 108, 134-9, 147; P. H. Williams, Council in the Marches of Wales, 139, 209; HMC Hatfield, xi. 225, 320; T. Wright, Ludlow, 317, 366, 370-5.
  • 10. Wright, 314-17; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), vii. 2-3; (ser. 3), vii. 149-55; CChR, vi. 155-61.
  • 11. C219/18B/72, 74, 18C/97, 20/101, 21/128, 22/62, 23/108, 24/135, 25/89; Salop RO, 356/2/15, 16; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. lvi. 284.