Available from Boydell and Brewer
No names known for 1510
|1512||RICHARD PHELIPS 1|
|RALPH WORSLEY 2|
|1515||RICHARD PHELIPS 3|
|1536||?WILLIAM BIDDLECOMBE 4|
|1539||?WILLIAM BIDDLECOMBE 5|
|1542||OLIVER LAWRENCE 6|
|JOHN CAREW 7|
|1547||JOHN HANNAM 8|
|JOHN HARWARD 9|
|1553 (Mar.)||WILLIAM NEWMAN 10|
|THOMAS WHITE III 11|
|1553 (Oct.)||ANTHONY DILLINGTON|
|1554 (Apr.)||WILLIAM WIGHTMAN|
|1554 (Nov.)||ANTHONY DILLINGTON|
A ‘member’ of the royal manor of Canford, Dorset, Poole was only in the hands of the crown at intervals between 1509 and 1558, being held successively by Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond (1526-36), Henry Courtenay, Marquess of Exeter (1536-9), Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset (1547-50) and Exeter’s widow Gertrude (1553-8). The stewards of Canford during the period included Henry Uvedale, Sir William Parr and John Paulet, Lord St. John, later 2nd Marquess of Winchester; in 1537 Sir Giles Strangways I, whom Henry VIII had wished his son to appoint steward of Canford, became steward of Poole and keeper of the deer at Canford.12
Helped by charters which gave it liberties based upon those of Southampton, Poole prospered as a port and became the seat of the local customs administration; in 1526 it was granted exemption from admiralty jurisdiction. Municipal authority was vested in a mayor, a single bailiff (although there were two bailiffs when Poole was incorporated in 1568) and various subordinate officials. The composition of the governing body is not precisely known and little has come to light about the parliamentary franchise. The mayor, bailiff (in September 1553 the bailiff’s deputy) and some five named burgesses are the contracting party with the sheriff of Somerset and Dorset in the four surviving election indentures, all dating from Mary’s reign and all in English. An Act for the erection of a conduit and windmill at Poole (33 and 34 Hen. VIII, c.25) was passed in the Parliament of 1542.13
The names of 19 Members are known, several of them from entries of payment in the first Poole record book (1490-1553). Not all Members were paid, and those who were received sums seemingly well below the statutory rate. The highest sum, £6, went to William Biddlecombe on 27 Apr. 1541 ‘for being four times at the Parliament’, that is, probably, the single session of 1536 and the three of 1539-40 unless the payment was a belated one for four sessions of the Parliament of 1529. Some non-townsmen accepted wages but others, such as the probable nominees of Richard Phelips and Sir John Rogers in the last four Parliaments of Mary’s reign, doubtless agreed to serve without recompense from the town. Only four of the 19 Members held office as bailiff or mayor, Biddlecombe and Thomas White having been both before their election, and William Newman and John Scriven being ex-bailiffs and future mayors. Newman was mayor when Poole had to answer to a writ of quo warranto in the reign of Mary.
Few of the remaining Members were complete strangers and several had residences in the town. The largest single group was of those connected with the customs administration: it comprised Richard Phelips, Ralph Worsley, Oliver Lawrence, John Carew, John Harward and Anthony Dillington, and could be extended to include Phelips’s servant Andrew Horde, his kinsman John Phelips and his son Thomas Phelips, as well as Thomas Goodwin who probably owed his seat to his uncle John Mallock, a collector of customs at Poole. Despite their local connexions, John and Thomas Phelips were domiciled in Somerset and Goodwin in London. The only other Members not from Dorset were William Wightman of Harrow-on-the-Hill, Middlesex, probably a nominee of William Herbert I, 1st Earl of Pembroke, and Robert White who lived only about ten miles away in Hampshire. Robert White was not related to Thomas White, the mayor of Poole, but he had been the ward of William Thornhill and his kinship with the Hampshire magnate Sir Thomas White gave him a link with the Paulets. Thornhill, of a Dorset family related to Sir John Russell, was a Middle Templar like Sir Giles Strangways, a knight for Dorset in the same Parliament. John Hannam, also perhaps of the Middle Temple, was a follower of the Protector Somerset, then lord of Poole. Richard Shaw was a client of Sir John Rogers, a leading figure in west Dorset and knight of the shire in four Parliaments. Shaw was one of eight Members for Poole who sat for other Dorset boroughs, one of them, Richard Phelips, also attaining the knighthood of the shire in Mary’s third Parliament; the only Member to sit elsewhere than in Dorset was Wightman. Besides the relationships already noticed, Harward and Newman were brothers-in-law and Dillington and Scriven both married daughters of Biddlecombe, although Dillington did not do so until well into the reign of Elizabeth.
According to Thomas Hancock, rector of Poole between 1547 and 1553 and a protégé of the Protector, the people of Poole were then ‘in favour with the rulers and governors of the realm’ and were the first in that part of England to be called Protestants. Yet neither Member in Mary’s first Parliament voted against the initial measures towards the reunion with Rome.