Bedfordshire

County

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

Elections

DateCandidate
2 Jan. 1559THOMAS PIGOTT I
 JOHN ST. JOHN I
1562/3JOHN ST. JOHN II
 LEWIS MORDAUNT
1571GEORGE ROTHERAM
 THOMAS SNAGGE I
1572(SIR) HENRY CHEYNEY
 GEORGE ROTHERAM
1572JOHN THOMSON  vice Cheyney, called to the Upper House
2 Nov. 1584GEORGE ROTHERAM 1
 NICHOLAS LUKE 2
 Thomas Radcliffe
1586THOMAS SNAGGE I
 GEORGE ROTHERAM
1588/9OLIVER ST. JOHN II
 EDWARD RADCLIFFE
1593OLIVER ST. JOHN II
 GEORGE ROTHERAM
19 Sept. 1597 (writ )(SIR) EDWARD RADCLIFFE 3
NICHOLAS LUKE
1601OLIVER ST. JOHN IV
 (SIR) EDWARD RADCLIFFE

Main Article

The leading county family in Bedfordshire during this period was the St. John family of Bletsoe. There is some uncertainty about the identification of the 1559 MP, John St. John I, but he is thought to have been the younger brother of the 1st Lord St. John. In 1563, John St. John II, although only 19, was elected senior knight of the shire over the head of Lewis Mordaunt of Turvey, despite the latter’s considerable family standing and seniority in age. Lewis Mordaunt succeeded his father as 3rd Baron Mordaunt in 1571. John St. John II became 2nd Baron St. John in 1582. When he died, his brother Oliver, the 1589 and 1593 senior knight of the shire, succeeded him. Oliver St. John IV (1601), was the eldest son and heir of Oliver St. John II. Thomas Pigott I of Stratton (1559) was related by his father’s second marriage to the St. Johns. Nicholas Luke (1584, 1597) was the brother-in-law of the 2nd Baron St. John. George Rotheram of Someries, a wealthy landowner who also had the advantage of counting the St. Johns among his relatives, represented the county five times (1571, 1572, 1584, 1586, 1593). Thomas Snagge I, Rotheram’s fellow MP in 1571 and 1586, was an eminent London lawyer who had married in 1564 the heiress to the extensive estates of Marston Moretaine. Snagge was later Speaker. (Sir) Henry Cheyney of Toddington (1572) had been the ward of his uncle, the 2nd Earl of Bedford, a most active patron in the west country but strangely passive in Bedfordshire. Cheyney was called to the Lords on 8 May 1572, and this allowed John Thomson of Husborne Crawley to take his turn as knight of the shire. Thomson had made his fortune as auditor of the Exchequer and had bought estates in Bedfordshire 12 years previously. Edward Radcliffe (1589, 1597, 1601) was of Elstow, Bedfordshire. His father was the younger son of the 1st Earl of Sussex, and he himself was to succeed to the title in 1629. His brother Thomas may have fought the only contested Bedfordshire election in this period, in 1584, to judge by a letter from Sir Henry Radcliffe, 4th Earl of Sussex, to Lord Mordaunt:

... I have thought good that my cousin Thomas Radcliffe should be called into the Parliament House and that I would have him stand for the knightship of the shire in Bedfordshire. This shall be to require your good Lordship that he may have the voices of yours and such of yours as your Lordship can make for his election thereunto, hoping your Lordship will have care herein as well for himself as for his kinsfolk and friends, wherein for my part I shall always be ready to requite your Lordship’s courtesy in any like case.4

It is not known whether the 1584 election went to a poll.

Author: M.A.P.

Notes

  • 1. Add. 38823.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Folger V. b. 298.
  • 4. Northants. RO, Stopford Sackville mss 239.

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