WALTON, James (1479/80-1546/50), of Preston, Lancs.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. 1479/80, s. of James Walton of Preston by Ellen. m. Alice, a widow. suc. fa. by 1499.1
Bailiff, Preston 1515-16, mayor 1526-7, ?1532-3, ?1533-4, 1546-6, alderman by 1542.2
The Waltons had probably taken their name from Walton-le-Dale, two miles from Preston. A John de Walton and his son Richard were freemen of the borough in 1397, and when it began to return Members again in 1529, after a long interval without representation, James Walton was a natural, though probably not an undisputed, choice to be one of them.3
A reconstruction of Walton’s career involves its disentanglement from that of a younger namesake and probable kinsman. In November 1527 the elder Walton brought an action in the duchy of Lancaster court in which he claimed that, at the end of his term of office as mayor, Sir Richard Houghton and his faction had prevented the lawful election of his successor and had imposed their own candidate Nicholas Banaster. Houghton’s party, on the other hand, maintained that Walton had tried to foist William Wall on the town. Walton was able to prove his case and by February 1528 Christopher Haydock, who was to be Walton’s fellow-Member, had been appointed mayor and in November 1528 articles for ‘the good rule’ of Preston were drawn up by agreement between James Walton and Henry Clifton on behalf of the town and Audley on behalf of the duchy.4
At some time after October 1534 Walton brought a further action against Houghton, whom he accused of unlawfully retaining various freemen of Preston and outsiders ‘to the intent to have all the rule and governance there’. He listed those so retained, including James Walton the younger, and claimed that since his coming to London Houghton had tried to unseat him and replace him by one Alexander Clayton, then bailiff. Describing the reasons for this malice, Walton revealed that his agreed parliamentary wage was 16d. a day and that his stepdaughter was Houghton’s mistress. He went on to describe how James Walton the younger and others had been indicted on 5 Nov. 1534 for attempting another unlawful mayoral election on 3 Oct. 1534 and subsequent days. There is no evidence to suggest that Walton received less countenance and protection from