Orford

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 1512-15

Elections

DateCandidate
1523JOHN VALENTINE 1
 (not known)
1529ERASMUS PASTON
 RICHARD HUNT
1536?RICHARD POTY 2
 ?JOHN HARMAN 3
1539?RICHARD POTY 4
 ?JOHN HARMAN 5
1542JOHN COOK
 ?RICHARD POTY 6
1545JOHN HARMAN
 FRANCIS SONE
1547GEORGE HENEAGE 7
 JOHN HARMAN 8
1553 (Mar.)WILLIAM HONING
 HENRY CORNWALLIS
1553 (Oct.)GEORGE JERNINGHAM
 THOMAS HARVEY
1554 (Apr.)(not known)
1554 (Nov.)JOHN HARMAN 9
 ?LEONARD SANDELL 10
1555THOMAS SECKFORD
 THOMAS SPICER
1558FRANCIS SONE
 THOMAS SECKFORD

Main Article

In 1510 Henry VIII confirmed Orford’s medieval charters granting the inhabitants the town and mill. The town was governed by two constables assisted by a council of 12 of the leading burgesses. No municipal records survive from the early 16th century. The castle, with property in Orford itself worth £20 a year, was held of the crown by William, 11th Lord Willoughby. On his death in 1526 his widow’s interest in the crown lease was contested by the heir male, her brother-in-law Sir Christopher Willoughby of Parham. Willoughby’s attempt to treat the townsmen as his tenants was met by Richard Hunt’s rejoinder that ‘in future after my lady’s death, this town shall be your inheritance’. Yet when Willoughby’s son William, later 1st Baron Willoughby of Parham, inherited both the lease and the family’s property in the town he encountered fresh opposition from the townsmen. In October 1540 the Council ordered the ‘tenants’ of Orford to respect his rights pending a judgment in the Star Chamber, but a year later he was suing various inhabitants over grazing rights and the rentals of ‘stall boats’ in the haven. Following a confirmation of the town’s charter in 1547 Willoughby was himself defendant in a case concerning its liberties. This was still in progress in the autumn of 1554, when interrogatories and depositions were taken of the townsmen.11

Orford had returned Members under Edward I but ceased to do so in the 14th century. Its inclusion at the end of the boroughs listed in 1512 in connexion with the issue of writs de expensis suggests that this was the year of its restoration, although either 1510 or even 1504 is possible; William, Lord Willoughby, who must have been responsible, was himself summoned to the Lords from 1510. The Willoughby claim to nominate Members was recalled in the course of a lawsuit in 1554: one of the townsmen then testified that ‘the old Lord Willoughby ... desired to have nomination of one of the burgesses for a friend of his in Lincolnshire, which was granted’, and another that the family had since nominated on many, although not on all, occasions. Other witnesses thought the practice more recent: one deposed that the Members had been chosen by the town, ‘saving now of late within these ten years’, and a second that the 1st Baron Willoughby of Parham ‘now of late has desired that he might appoint one of them’, while Willoughby’s bailiff Thomas Spicer affirmed that ‘for this eight years the said Lord Willoughby has appointed one burgess and the town the other’. Cromwell’s inquiry as to whether a seat at Orford was available for him in 1529 had come when, following the death of the 11th Lord, the patronage perhaps lay with the Duke of Suffolk, the guardian and future husband of Willoughby’s daughter Catherine.12

Indentures survive for all the Parliaments between 1542 and 1558, save that of 1547 and the two of 1554. With one exception they are in Latin, the contracting parties being the sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk and the burgesses and inhabitants. Of the 13 known Members, Richard Hunt, Richard Poty and Thomas Spencer were townsmen, John Cook may have been one of the constables for the town, and Francis Sone lived nearby and had property there. All the others were of East Anglian origin or domicile save George Heneage who was a relative of the 1st Baron Willoughby of Parham. John Harman, Leonard Sandell, Thomas Seckford and Thomas Spicer were associated with the Willoughbys. Henry Cornwallis, George Jerningham and Erasmus Paston were kinsmen of the sheriffs who returned them.13

Author: M. K. Dale

Notes

  • 1. E111/48.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. Ibid.
  • 7. Hatfield 207.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. Huntington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs.; KB29/188, r. 48v.
  • 10. Hintington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs.
  • 11. LP Hen. VIII