Thirsk

Borough

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Elections

DateCandidate
1547SIR WILLIAM CAVENDISH 1
 ROBERT FLINT 2
1553 (Mar.)THOMAS LEE III
 REGINALD BESELEY
1553 (Oct.)THOMAS EYNNS
 JOHN GASCOIGNE I
1554 (Apr.)THOMAS WATERTON II
 REGINALD BESELEY
1554 (Nov.)CHRISTOPHER LASCELLES 3
 EDWARD BESELEY 4
1555CHRISTOPHER LASCELLES
 ROBERT ROOS
1558CHRISTOPHER LASCELLES
 THOMAS EYNNS

Main Article

The small market town of Thirsk lay on or near two main roads, one running from York to the port of Yarm and the other being the highway to Northallerton and Scotland. By 1509 the town extended on either side of the Cod beck; the term ‘borough’, used as early as 1145, was apparently confined to the settlement on the east bank, but on the other side of the river there was a ‘vill’ which had grown up around Mowbray castle. A mesne borough, Thirsk was held of the lords of the manor of Thirsk, who from the late 15th century were the Stanley earls of Derby. Another ‘manor of Thirsk’, held by the Augustinian priory of Newburgh, was granted to the see of York at the Dissolution but was promptly alienated to the crown, with over 60 other manors, by Archbishop Holgate: amongst the properties which the see received in exchange were the rectory and advowson of Thirsk. An Act of 1545 (37 Hen. VIII, c.16) confirmed the transaction and placed the crown’s property in Thirsk in the control of the court of augmentations.5

The borough’s chief officer was the bailiff, elected annually by the burgesses or ‘borough-holders’, those owning burgage tenements in the oldest part of the town and, later at least, numbering 50. The bailiff, who held the borough courts and was sworn into once by the lord’s steward at the manorial court leet, was probably already assisted by two constables, one elected for the borough and the other for the ‘vill’, and by other officers. Election indentures survive for the Parliaments of April 1554, 1555 and 1558, the first two in English, the last in Latin. The contracting parties are the sheriff of Yorkshire and between nine and 14 named electors, who are described in 1554 as inhabitors, in 1555 as ‘inhabitants of the borough town’ (over ‘burgesses’ erased) and in 1558 as burgenses. Only in 1558 is the first elector identified as the bailiff.6

Thirsk had returned Members to the Parliament of 1295 but is not known to have done so again until the 16th century. It was probably restored as a parliamentary borough at the elections to the Parliament of 1547, although the names of its Members in that Parliament are known only from the Crown Office list prepared for the last session, where it stands last of the cities and tow