Newcastle-upon-Tyne

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
1529SIR THOMAS TEMPEST
 HENRY ANDERSON
1536?SIR THOMAS TEMPEST 1
 (not known)
1539(not known)
1542(not known)
1545(SIR) ROBERT BOWES
 ROBERT BRANDLING
1547(SIR) FRANCIS LEKE 2
 (SIR) ROBERT BRANDLING 3
1553 (Mar.)ROBERT LEWEN
 BERTRAM ANDERSON 4
1553 (Oct.)(SIR) ROBERT BRANDLING
 EDWARD HALL II
1554 (Apr.)BERTRAM ANDERSON
 CUTHBERT HORSLEY
1554 (Nov.)BERTRAM ANDERSON
 JOHN WATSON 5
1555(SIR) ROBERT BRANDLING
 CUTHBERT BLOUNT
1558BERTRAM ANDERSON
 ROBERT LEWEN

Main Article

A leading provincial town and port, often used as a base for war against Scotland, Newcastle-upon-Tyne had a population of some 10,000 in 1545. It had returned Members since 1283 and was incorporated as a county of itself in 1400. In 1510, 1548 1554 and 1557 it received confirmation of its charters and in 1516 a Star Chamber decree which settled a dispute between the mayor, aldermen and ‘certain the honest commoners’ of Newcastle and the ‘artificers, burgesses and guildmerchants’ approved its oligarchic constitution. Four ‘such burgesses as hath been both mayors and aldermen’ were elected by a committee of 24 representatives of the town’s 12 guilds and themselves chose eight ‘of such as have been mayors, aldermen or sheriffs’; these 12 then selected ‘other 12 burgesses ... most faithful and proved men of all the residue of the said burgesses of the said town’ to complete the Twenty-Four which elected the mayor, six aldermen, the recorder, the sheriff and various minor officials. The confirmation of 1557 increased the number of aldermen to ten and declared that the Twenty-Four should be ‘of the common council of the town’.6

Election indentures survive for the Parliament of 1545 and the five between March 1553 and 1555: all save the first are in English and three are in poor condition. The writs were sent to the sheriff of Newcastle and the elections held in the guildhall on the receipt by the mayor of the sheriff’s precept. The burgesses or commonalty were contracting parties with the mayor and sheriff, but their names are given (or can be read) only in the first of the surviving indentures, when the 20 burgesses participating included Henry Anderson, Robert Brandling and Robert Lewen.7

Including the recorder Sir Thomas Tempest, eight of the 11 known Members were townsmen. Henry Anderson and his son Bertram, Brandling, Lewen and Cuthbert Blount belonged to Newcastle’s merchant oligarchy, and the elder Anderson, an alderman and former sheriff, was the only one of them who had not served as mayor at least once before his first election. Edward Hall was a baker and the only craftsman known to have sat for Newcastle during the century: he held no municipal office. John Watson was of Lincoln’s Inn, being so described on the indenture, but he was almost certainly sprung from a resident family. Tempest and two of the three outsiders, (Sir) Robert Bowes and Cuthbert Horsley, were also Lincoln’s Inn men. Bowes was a leading crown servant in the north and active in warfare against both the Scots and the French. (Sir) Francis Leke was captain of Tynemouth castle, a fortress erected on the foundations of the former priory: he had first served there under the Earl of Hertford, who as Duke of Somerset and Protector may have had a hand in his election. Horsley was a local gentleman and lawyer, seated ten miles from Newcastle and active in county administration.

An Act (21 Hen. VIII, c.18) passed during the first session of the Parliament of 1529 confirmed Newcastle’s monopoly in the loading and unloading of goods in the area of the Tyne, a matter long in contention between the merchants of Newcastle, the bishop of Durham and the prior of Tynemouth. An Act for the town of Newcastle (2 and 3 Edw. VI, no. 58) was passed in 1549 and one of 1553 (7 Edw. VI, c.10) annexed Gateshead to Newcastle; in the same Parliament a new diocese of Newcastle was created by the Act for the dissolution of the bishopric of Durham (7 Edw. VI, no.17). Nothing further was done about the bishopric and the two Acts of 1553 were repealed in Mary’s second Parliament (1 Mary st. 3, c.3), but Newcastle was correctly described as a city in the indenture of 24 Sept. 1553. A bill for the quantity of salmon barrels at Berwick and Newcastle was introduced in Mary’s fourth Parliament but did not survive its first reading. Newcastle was allowed four taverns under the Licensing Act (7 Edw. VI, c.5).8

Author: M. J. Taylor

Notes

  • 1. House of Lords RO, Original Acts 28 Hen. VIII, no. 6.
  • 2. Hatfield 207.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Only the christian name and the first three letters of the surname survive on the indenture, C219/20/159.
  • 5. The christian name missing from the indenture (C219/23/174) is supplied from Huntington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs.
  • 6. R. Welford, Newcastle and Gateshead, ii. 173-4, 244-5; Arch. Ael. (ser. 4), xxxviii. 73-97; xxxix. 179-205; J. Brand, Newcastle, ii. 127 seq.; Select Cases St. Ch. ii (Selden Soc. xxv), pp. xcvi-cii, 75-118; CPR, 1555-7, p. 399.
  • 7. C219/18C/81, 82, 20/159, 21/203, 22/124, 23/174, 24/213.
  • 8. Select Cases St. Ch. ii. pp. xciii-vi, 68-74; CJ, i. 44.

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