Wilton

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
1529GEOFFREY POLE
 EDMUND KNIGHTLEY
1536(not known)
1539(not known)
1542SIR EDWARD BAYNTON 1
 WILLIAM HERBERT I 2
1545(SIR) THOMAS LEE I
 (aft. 25 Nov. 1545 not known)
 CHRISTOPHER WILLOUGHBY
1547ROBERT WATSON 3
 ROBERT WARNER 4
1553 (Mar.)WILLIAM DAMSELL 5
 WILLIAM WIGHTMAN 6
1553 (Oct.)NICHOLAS CHOWNE
 HENRY CREED
1554 (Apr.)WILLIAM CLERKE
 MATTHEW COLTHURST
1554 (Nov.)WILLIAM CLERKE 7
 HENRY CREED 8
1555HENRY CREED
 WILLIAM CLERKE
1558WILLIAM CLERKE
 HENRY CREED

Main Article

Once a prosperous clothing town and ‘the head town of Wiltshire’, Wilton had declined with the growth of its neighbour Salisbury. In the 16th century the county court still met at Wilton but the assizes were held at Salisbury. The borough, which was ancient royal demesne and part of the barony of Wilton, was in the hands of the crown at the beginning of Henry VIII’s reign, but in 1513 Margaret Pole, daughter of the Duke of Clarence, was restored to the dignity of Countess of Salisbury and to her father’s forfeited lands, including Wilton. On her disgrace the borough passed into the hands of William Herbert, later 1st Earl of Pembroke, who also acquired the site and lands of Wilton abbey and later made Wilton House his chief residence.9

Wilton claimed charters dating back to the reign of Henry I. By the 16th century municipal government was vested in a mayor and a body of comburgesses, sometimes styled the ‘council of the 12’ although generally more than that in number; the 15 men who joined with the mayor to elect Sir Edward Baynton and Herbert in December 1541 were probably the comburgesses. Election indentures survive for the Parliament of 1545 and all those between March 1553 and 1555; all are in Latin except the one for April 1554. The contracting parties are the sheriff of Wiltshire and the mayor and burgesses, described as comburgesses only in 1545. The names of the Members have generally been inserted in a different hand or at least in a different ink. Although the county court met at Wilton none of the borough indentures bears the same date as those for the shire. In 1555 a bill for the paving of Oxford, Newark and Wilton passed the Commons but proceeded no further than its first reading in the Lords.10

The first two Members whose names are known were clearly nominees of the Countess of Salisbury and most, if not all, of the remaining 12 were beholden to Herbert, although some of them may have been recommended to him by other patrons. Henry Creed, a London mercer, was the only native of Wilton returned during the period.

Author: N. M. Fuidge

Notes

  • 1. Wilton entry bk. p. 160.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Hatfield 207.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. C219/282/10.