Norfolk

County

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 ROGER TOWNSHEND
 SIR JAMES BOLEYN
1536?SIR ROGER TOWNSHEND 1
 (not known)
1539RICHARD SOUTHWELL 2
 EDMUND WYNDHAM 3
1542SIR ROGER TOWNSHEND 4
 ?(SIR) RICHARD SOUTHWELL 5
1545SIR THOMAS PASTON
 CHRISTOPHER HEYDON
1547SIR EDMUND KNYVET
 SIR NICHOLAS LESTRANGE
by 23 Jan. 1552SIR ROBERT DUDLEY vice Knyvet, deceased
1553 (Mar.)SIR ROBERT DUDLEY
 SIR THOMAS RADCLIFFE
1553 (Oct.)(SIR) RICHARD SOUTHWELL
 SIR HENRY BEDINGFIELD
1554 (Apr.)(SIR) RICHARD SOUTHWELL
 SIR HENRY BEDINGFIELD
1554 (Nov.)(SIR) RICHARD SOUTHWELL 6
 SIR JOHN SHELTON
1555SIR JOHN CLERE
 JOHN APPLEYARD
1558SIR HENRY BEDINGFIELD
 SIR WILLIAM WOODHOUSE

Main Article

The elections for the knighthood of the shire for Norfolk were held at meetings of the county court in the shire house at Norwich castle. In 1542 the forthcoming election was announced at the previous meeting of the county court and at the markets at Great Yarmouth and Thetford. Indentures survive for all the Parliaments between 1542 and 1558 save that of November 1554. All are in Latin and the contracting parties are the sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk and the electors, whose names number between 20 and 80; in 1542 and 1555 two of the Norfolk coroners are also mentioned. Several Members were kinsmen of the sheriffs who returned them: in 1545 Sir William Drury returned his son-in-law Christopher Heydon and another relative of Heydon’s; in November 1554 Sir Thomas Woodhouse his kinsman Sir John Shelton, and in 1555 Shelton his cousin Sir John Clere. If the by-election following the death of Sir Edmund Knyvet was held in 1551 Sir Robert Dudley could have been returned by his father-in-law Sir John Robsart.7

There is a glimpse of crown intervention, and of a personal reaction to it, at the election of 1539, when the royal nomination of Edmund Wyndham and Richard Southwell provoked Edmund Knyvet into a futile display of petulance at the county court. The 3rd Duke of Norfolk was presumably the intermediary as he told Cromwell that before going north he had arranged for the return of such men ‘as I doubt not shall serve his highness according to his pleasure’. This is the only piece of evidence relating to intervention in the shire election by the dukes but their pre-eminence is reflected in the fact that I I of the knights elected between 1529 and 1558 were related either to them or to their kinsmen the Boleyns, or were in their service; moreover, as the son-in-law of one of its legal advisers and the brother-in-law of another, Sir Henry Bedingfield of Oxburgh in Suffolk must have commended himself to the ducal house. The only two knights not linked with the dukes were Sir Robert Dudley and his brother-in-law John Appleyard; both were elected when the Howard interest was wholly or partially eclipsed, Dudley while the 3rd Duke was in the Tower and Appleyard during the 4th Duke’s minority. All the knights were active in local administration and several of them were prominent at court and in national affairs. No payment of wages to the knights is known but the exemptions obtained by the inhabitants of Hunstanton in 1547 and by those of Ormsby in 1558 from contributing towards their expenses are a reminder that it might still be expected.8

An Act of 1531 (22 Hen. VIII, c. 11) provided for the punishment of anyone breaching a dyke in Marshland; this was repealed under the general words of the Edwardian Act of repeal (1 Edw. VI, c.12) but restored by a later Act (2 and 3 Phil. and Mary, c.19). The sale of wool and the production of cloth in Norfolk were regulated by a series of Acts from the 1530s onwards (22 Hen. VIII, c.1; 37 Hen. VIII, c.15; 5 and 6 Edw. VI, c.6 and 4 and 5 Phil. and Mary, c.5). Provision for the building of a new county gaol was included in an Act of 1532 (23 Hen. VIII, c.2) which was repeatedly renewed during the period.9

Author: N. M. Fuidge

Notes

  • 1. House of Lords RO, Original Acts, 28 Hen. VIII, no. 9.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xiv(1), 808 citing SP1/150/160; E159/319, brev. ret. Mich. r. [1-2].
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Indenture defac