New Romney


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


 (not known)
1535/36JOHN MARSHALL vice Gibson, deceased8
1545(not known)
6 Feb. 1552WILLIAM TADLOWE vice Dering, deceased16
1553 (Mar.)SIMON PADYHAM 17
 (not known)
by 24 Oct. 1553JOHN CHESEMAN 20
1554 (Nov.)GREGORY HOLTON 21

Main Article

New Romney was the general meeting place for the Brotherhood of the Cinque Ports but had so far declined economically through the silting up of its harbour that it was less prosperous than its ‘limb’ Lydd. Old Romney and much of the new town formed part of the archbishop of Canterbury’s manor of Aldington, and the archbishop appointed the bailiff of Romney at least until the exchange of lands with the crown made by Cranmer in April 1540 by which property in both Romneys was surrendered. It is uncertain whether the crown or the archbishop appointed thereafter but clear that the office was not elective, for in 1542 Romney and Hythe (also under archiepiscopal lordship until 1540) were required to show cause why their bailiff should attend meetings of the Brotherhood. In 1563 Romney was incorporated as the mayor, jurats and commonalty.22

As a Cinque Port relying on charters dating back at least to the reign of Henry I, Romney had often been in dispute with its lord. In 1521 Archbishop Warham complained that the jurats—apparently already 12 in number—would not allow his bailiff to exercise the office within the town, despite orders from the lord warden Sir Edward Poynings. ‘By colour of liberty of barony’ they had encroached on Warham’s ‘liberty and franchise, whereas the town is all bishopric’, a statement challenged by the jurats, who declared that only the north side of New Romney was held of the archbishop, the rest being held of the King by ship service. In 1530 there was further trouble and again in 1538 or the following year, this time with Cranmer.23

The Romney court book contains a copy of the by-election indenture of 6 Feb. 1552 to which the contracting parties are the lord warden, Sir Thomas Cheyne, the bailiff, eight jurats and three commoners. Cheyne had been slow to act on the writ for the by-election, dated 8 Dec. 1551, and the port had received his precept only on 1 Feb. 1552, nine days after the opening of the fourth session. There may have been some administrative confusion since the Romney chamberlains’ accounts for 1551-2 record a payment of 2s. ‘for the reform of the writ for the burgess to the Parliament and other things’. Romney generally paid its townsmen Members at the statutory rate of 2s. a day, Lydd contributing one-fifth of the amount. Its regular parliamentary expenses also included 2s. for the delivery of the return to Dover castle, and in 1536 it paid 8d. to a messenger who brought a letter from Chancellor Audley and Secretary Cromwell ‘for to choose the burgesses to the Parliament that were before’.24

Fourteen of the 23 known Members (counting both Sir John Guildford and John Cheseman for the first Marian Parliament) were townsmen; 12 were already jurats at their first or only election and seven served at some time as bailiff, including Cheseman who after holding that office four times between 1549 and 1563 was named the first mayor in the charter of 1563. Of the nine outsiders, seven were from Kent and only John Marshall and John Herbert came from further afield. Marshall was a servant or friend of Cranmer and Peter Hayman was the archbishop’s servant; Sir John Scott was a great-nephew of the lord warden Poynings, and the other six were probably all beholden to Sir Thomas Cheyne, to whom, however, they may have been recommended by other patrons—Richard Baker by his father, a Privy Councillor, and John Herbert by his cousin, the 1st Earl of Pembroke. Some of the townsmen may also have been favoured by the lord warden or by other local magnates, and early in 1553, after Romney had chosen William Tadlowe and Richard Bunting, Cheyne rejected them in favour of Simon Padyham, a townsman who was then chamberlain, and another nominee whose name has not survived. Padyham was paid wages despite being ‘appointed by our lord warden contrary to our election’ and the rejected candidates each received 20s. in compensation. The Cinque Ports were evidently disturbed about their legal position over payments to nominees; during this year Romney consulted all the other ports. An undated reference in the chamberlains’ accounts for 1553-4 may refer to the abortive writs for the election of a third Edwardian Parliament; entered as ‘a letter to ... Rye for to know what order Rye, Winchelsea and Hastings had taken or would take for their burgesses’, this item and two further ones for the same year are more likely, however, to have been concerned with March or October 1553, the question being ‘to know if they had or would pay their burgesses’. It was probably early in Mary’s reign that Tadlowe and Bunting rode to the lord warden ‘to require his favour concerning the election of burgesses’. This tactful approach may account for Tadlowe’s return to the Parliament of October 1553 and Bunting’s to that of April 1554.25

The earlier supersession of the townsman William Wodar, elected on 26 Dec. 1514, by the jurat Richard Stuppeny is probably to be explained by Wodar’s own unwillingness to serve; less than four years later he was to be described as old and poor. It is less easy to account for the change apparently made in Romney’s representation in the second Parliament of 1553. The Crown Office list, which doubtless reproduces the lord warden’s return to Chancery, gives the names of Tadlowe and Guildford, although Guildford had been elected for another of the Cinque Ports, Winchelsea, of which he was crown bailiff; Winchelsea is credited with two different Members in the list. Romney, moreover, paid parliamentary wages to Tadlowe and Cheseman, the former being paid for 70 days and the latter for 46. The explanation of the discrepancies is almost certainly to be found in Cheyne’s arbitrary interference with elections in the ports. If Guildford did appear at the beginning of the Parliament for Romney, some objection, unrecorded in the Journal, may have been made to his Membership, perhaps on the ground that he was sheriff of Kent, and in that event Cheseman could have replaced him in time for the second session, which lasted 44 days. In 1558 the civilian Thomas Randolph, whose father was a friend of Cheyne, was returned for St. Ives as well as Romney: it is not known which of the two he preferred.26

A private bill for Romney Marsh was introduced in the Parliament of 1529, passed by the Commons in 1534 but defeated in the Lords at the instigation of Cranmer: among the town’s expenses over the bill was 6s.8d. paid to the Speaker ‘to be good to us for our marsh’. Cranmer probably favoured a later bill for the re-edifying of houses in Romney marsh since it was introduced into the Lords; passed there, it received a first reading in the Commons 12 Mar.1549 but was lost through the prorogation two days later.27

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Romney assessment bk. 1492-1516, f. 150v; Add. 34150, f. 135.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Romney assessment bk. 1492-1516, f. 162; Add. 34150, f. 136.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Romney assessment bk. 1492-1516, f. 183.
  • 6. Ibid.
  • 7. Cinque Ports White and Blacks Bks. (Kent Arch. Soc. recs. br. xix), 185, 187.
  • 8. Romney chamberlains' acct. 1528-80, f. 26.
  • 9. Ibid. ff. 32, 49v.
  • 10. Ibid. ff. 37, 39v.
  • 11. Ibid.
  • 12. Ibid. f. 53.
  • 13. Ibid.
  • 14. Romney ct. bk. 1552-9, f. 1.
  • 15. Hatfield 207.
  • 16. Romney ct. bk. 1552-9, f. 1v.
  • 17. Romney chamberlains' acct. 1528-80, f. 81.
  • 18. Bodl. e Museo 17.
  • 19. Ibid.
  • 20. Romney chamberlains' accts. 1528-80, f. 81.
  • 21. The schedule, evidently in error, gives George Holton, C219/23/184.
  • 22. Leland, Itin. ed. Smith, iv. 67; K. M. E. Murray, Const. Hist. Cinque Ports, 56 and n.; Arch. Cant. xiii. 358n.; LP Hen. VIII, xv, g. 613(32); Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. 230; CPR, 1560-3, p. 499.
  • 23. Murray, 15; Arch. Cant. xiii. 214-15; Cinque Ports White and black Bks. 212; Romney chamberlains’ accts. 1528-80, f. 35.
  • 24. Romney ct. bk. 1552-9, f. 1; chamberlains’ accts. 1528-80, passim.
  • 25. Romney chamberlains’ accts. 1528-80, ff. 81, 82v.
  • 26. HMC 5th Rep. 550, 553; Romney assessment bk. 1492-1516, f. 183; 1516-2