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In 1487 the inhabitants of the parish of St. Ives received a charter from Henry VII to hold a weekly market and two fairs a year. The borough, which was conterminous with the parish, was administered by a portreeve assisted by 12 councilmen; it was not incorporated until 1639. No municipal records survive for the early 16th century.1
The grant of 1487 was in response to a petition from Robert, 1st Lord Willoughby de Broke, as lord of the manor of Ludgvan Lese with St. Ives. On the death of the 2nd Lord Willoughby in 1521, the manor passed to his daughter Elizabeth, who married John Paulet, Lord St. John, but her mother retained an interest in it which she transmitted to the family of her second husband, the 4th Lord Mountjoy. During the 1550s the lordship of both manor and borough was shared between St. John and the 6th Lord Mountjoy, and according to tradition it was at the suit of St. John’s father Sir William Paulet, 1st Marquess of Winchester, that St. Ives was enfranchised in 1558. If so, his part was not reflected in the choice of the first two Members, whose affiliations were with Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford, the lord lieutenant of Cornwall, and with the duchy itself, which owned the nearby manor of Porth ia Prior. In the absence of an election indenture nothing can be inferred about the franchise.2
Thomas Randolph had not long been back from the Continent when he was returned for St. Ives; as he was also chosen for New Romney he could have preferred to sit for that port and been replaced at St. Ives but there is no trace of a by-election. His patron was almost certainly Bedford, with whom he was soon to be on terms of intimacy and who was to be responsible for his re-election at St. Ives in 1572. William Chambers was a London goldsmith long known in the area and a friend of John Cosworth the receiver-general of the duchy.