Westmorland

County

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
1529SIR WILLIAM MUSGRAVE
 THOMAS BLENKINSOP
1536(not known)
1539(not known)
1542SIR JAMES LEYBURN 1
 NICHOLAS BACON
1545SIR INGRAM CLIFFORD
 SIR JAMES LEYBURN
1547SIR CHARLES BRANDON
 THOMAS WARCOP
by 23 Jan. 1552(SIR) ROBERT BOWES vice Brandon, deceased2
1553 (Mar.)(not known)
1553 (Oct.)THOMAS FALLOWFIELD
 THOMAS WARCOP
1554 (Apr.)THOMAS FALLOWFIELD
 THOMAS WARCOP
1554 (Nov.)THOMAS PERCY 3
 THOMAS WARCOP 4
1555(not known)
1558ANTHONY KEMPE
 THOMAS SACKVILLE

Main Article

Almost alone among English counties during this period, Westmoreland returned a number of knights of the shire with no known residence or office in the county, which reflects both its poverty and its remoteness from London. Leland listed only five ‘gentlemen of name’, Lowther, Musgrave, Salkeld, Sandford and Wharton, and there can have been relatively few substantial freeholders. The tenant farmers raised sheep and some cattle, with a little corn in the valleys, but the coal, lead, slate and marble found in some districts could not be marketed at any distance because of poor communications. The north or ‘bottom’, later to be more generally known as the honor or barony of Westmorland or barony of Appleby, had since the 13th century been controlled by the house of Clifford, raised in 1525 to the earldom of Cumberland. Its members were hereditary sheriffs ‘of Westmorland’, with a jurisdiction which they and, in general, the central government took to cover the whole shire, although it was from time to time challenged by leading families from the southern division, the barony of Kendal. In 1539 Henry VIII raised Sir William Parr of Kendal to the barony of Parr, and four years later, when he had become the King’s brother-in-law, to the earldom of Essex; but it was only while his sister remained Queen Consort that Parr presented any challenge to the Cliffords, whose military prowess and marital links with the Nevilles and Percys strengthened their hold on the west marches. When Parr, by then Marquess of Northampton, was attainted in August 1553 the barony of Kendal fell to the crown. There were four high constables in the shire, each administering one of the two wards into which both baronies were divided.5

Election indentures, all in Latin and several in poor condition, survive for the Parliaments of 1542, 1545, October 1553 and 1558. The elections were held at Appleby castle and according to two of the indentures they took place at about nine o’clock in the morning. The contracting parties are the Earl of Cumberland as sheriff and between four and 25 electors, with the consent of others unnamed. Thomas Blenkinsop and Thomas Fallowfield appear most frequently among the electors; others include Sir John Lowther, Thomas Sandford and several members of the Warcop family. The first Marian indenture bears at the foot the signatures of nearly all the named electors; there is one cross in place of a name, unusual on a shire return but perhaps not surprising in so backward a county. The and Earl of Cumberland, or someone empowered to affix his name, endorsed two of the four surviving writs, for December 1544 and August 1553. In 1539 the 3rd Duke of Norfolk assured Cromwell that as commander in the north he had arranged for the return of men amenable to the King, but in the absence of indentures for the county and for Appleby their names are not known.6

Five of the 12 known knights came of Westmorland families, but only one of them, Sir James Leyburn, had his main residence in the barony of Kendal: a kinsman of the Parrs, he was first returned at a time when the Earl of Cumberland’s influence had been weakened by conflict with his tenants. The other four, Blenkinsop, Fallowfield, Sir William Musgrave and Thomas Warcop, were Clifford followers, although Musgrave and Warcop (who was to sit for Westmorla