Steyning

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
1529THOMAS SHIRLEY
 JOHN MORRIS
1536(not known)
1539(not known)
1542JOHN BOWYER
 (not known)
1545(not known)
1547ROBERT RUDSTON
 HENRY FAUXE
1553 (Mar.)SIR RICHARD BLOUNT
 WILLIAM CORDELL
1553 (Oct.)JOHN SOUTHCOTE II
 DAVID LEWIS
1554 (Apr.)GILBERT GERARD
 EDWARD STRADLING
1554 (Nov.)JOHN ROBERTS 1
 WILLIAM PELLATT 2
1555ROBERT BYNG
 (not known)
1558RICHARD ONSLOW
 ROBERT COLSHILL

Main Article

Until the Dissolution the manor and borough of Steyning belonged to Syon abbey: after 1539 they were annexed to the royal honor of Petworth. Some 18 or 20 gardens or houses in the town formed part of the barony of Bramber, thus giving the Howard family control over the borough: in 1539 the 3rd Duke of Norfolk listed it among the Sussex boroughs where ‘in times past I could have made burgesses of Parliament’. During the duke’s imprisonment under Edward VI his property in Steyning was conferred upon Admiral Seymour: on Seymour’s fall it reverted to the crown.3

Never incorporated, the borough was governed by a constable elected annually. There are no borough records for the early 16th century. Indentures survive for the Parliaments of 1542,1547, March and October 1553, and 1555, the first two written in Latin, the remainder in English. The contracting parties are the sheriff of Surrey and Sussex and the burgesses or the constable and burgesses. Where the indentures are intact, between 11 and 15 burgesses are named, often members of the Fernfield and Pellatt families. In September 1553 the electors are called the ‘burgesses, freeholders and inhabitants’. ‘Others of the community’ are said to have been present and given consent to the election, carried out ‘after our usage and custom’. The burgesses affixed their seals and sometimes signed the indentures, Thomas Pellatt styling himself constable in September 1553. On the indenture for February 1553 the name of William Cordell is inserted in a different hand from the rest of the document.4

John Morris returned in 1529 was a receiver in the service of Syon abbey and steward of its courts at Steyning: his fellow-Member Thomas Shirley was a younger brother of Sir Richard Shirley, who lived in the locality and was himself chosen for the shire. John Bowyer was bailiff of the honor of Petworth and Sir Richard Blount keeper of the manor of Dedisham which belonged to the honor. Robert Colshill, Gilbert Gerard, Richard Onslow and Edward Stradling owed their return to the 12th Earl of Arundel, in 1549 named steward of the honor. Of the rest, William Pellatt was a townsman and Robert Byng a kinsman of John Covert who as sheriff in 1554 returned him. As the son-in-law of Sir John Mason Byng may also have had Council backing. William Cordell, David Lewis, Robert Rudston and John Southcote presumably had official sponsorship, the