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The plan of these volumes is similar to that described on pp. xi-xv of vol. I of The House of Commons 1558-1603, any modifications (as, for example, in the preliminary paragraphs of the constituencies), being due to the limitations of the sources. Members are styled according to their status at the assembly of the first Parliament to which they are known to have been elected: men knighted later are indicated in the text by the use of ‘(Sir)’. The device of Roman numerals after surnames distinguishes between namesakes. An asterisk after the date of a Parliament at the head of a biography indicates that a man’s Membership did not run the full length of that Parliament, either because he was returned at a by-election or because he ceased to be a Member before the dissolution. Some birth dates have been estimated approximately on the assumptions that a man was at least 14 on entering an inn of court or a university and 16 on attending musters. In the lists of offices minor posts held by major figures have been omitted after a single example, usually held early in their advancement, unless one or more had a particular significance. The use of ‘?’ before a date implies reservation about the source or the estimate, while ‘c.’ indicates an approximation of perhaps five years either side of the date printed.
The aim of the biographies is to describe a Member’s parliamentary career. His life outside the period is mentioned briefly, if at all. In the text of biographies other than his own, a man who sat in Parliament during the period under review is marked with a raised asterisk*; one who sat only outside the period with a raised dagger†. The spelling and punctuation of quotations have been modernized. Standard printed works of reference covering education, legal advancement, office holders and franchises are not cited in the footnotes. The list of manuscript sources for the names of justices of the peace during the reign of Elizabeth has not been repeated here.
Individual references have not been given to two basic theses: H. Miller ‘The Tudor Peerage 1485-1547’ (London M.A. 1950), and C. G. Ericson ‘Parliament as a Legislative Institution in the Reign of Edward VI and Mary’ (London Ph.D. 1973).