Bath

Borough

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Elections

DateCandidate
1558/9EDWARD ST. LOE 1
 WILLIAM ROBINSON I
1562/3EDWARD LUDWELL
 THOMAS TURNER II
1566JOHN GWYNNE III vice Ludwell, deceased
1571EDWARD BABER
 GEORGE PEARMAN
18 Apr. 1572GEORGE PEARMAN
 EDWARD BABER 2
13 Nov. 1584THOMAS AYSHE
 WILLIAM SHARESTON
1586THOMAS AYSHE
 WILLIAM SHARESTON
4 Nov. 1588JOHN COURT
 JOHN WALLEY
1593WILLIAM SHARESTON
 WILLIAM PRICE II
8 Oct. 1597WILLIAM SHARESTON
 WILLIAM HEATH
1601WILLIAM SHARESTON
 WILLIAM HEATH

Main Article

Returns were made by the ‘mayor and citizens’ of Bath, but the constitution of the borough was not clearly defined until the charter granted by Elizabeth in 1590, which set up a corporation of a mayor, alderman and council of 20. With one known exception, the country gentleman Edward St. Loe (1559), and one possible exception (John Gwynne III, 1566), all the Bath Members in this period were townsmen and/or borough officials. Edward Baber (1571, 1572), Thomas Ayshe (1584 and 1586) and John Court (1589) were recorders, but Bath did not observe the custom of other cities of similar status whereby the recorder was almost invariably returned. It is not even known whether Baber, who died in 1578, was replaced as MP for the last session of the 1574 Parliament. Perhaps he was not, for, as it happened, Ayshe, the next recorder was already a member of the Commons. Baber, Ayshe and Court were all substantial Somerset landowners. Though Court lived until the end of the century he did not bother to sit again in the Commons. He was offered election in 1593, but his place as Bath’s lawyer in the Commons was taken by a lesser official, the town clerk, William Price II, a townsman. Most of the townsmen members served as mayor at one time or another. William Shareston did so seven times. He represented Bath in every Parliament for 20 years save that of 1589 when his marriage relation John Walley sat instead. Shareston was related to many of the Bath chamber, and was the city’s London agent, so his being also MP was a convenient arrangement.

Information about payments to the Bath MPs has been found only for 1593, 1597 and 1601 when the rate was 2s. a day.