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|2 Nov. 1584||EDWARD MONTAGU II|
|22 Oct. 1588||RICHARD SPENCER|
|1593||(SIR) CHARLES BLOUNT|
|14 Oct. 1597||SIR CHARLES BLOUNT 1|
|28 Oct. 1601||CHARLES LISTER|
Bere Alston was jointly owned by the marquesses of Winchester and the lords Mountjoy and first returned Members in 1584. Enfranchisement was probably granted as a mark of favour to the 7th Lord Mountjoy, who succeeded to the title in 1581. Charles Blount, the new peer’s brother and heir, was rising in favour at court by 1583 and may well have played a part in the affair.
No resident of this ‘poverty-stricken township’ was chosen as an Elizabethan MP and its enfranchisement was obviously intended to give parliamentary patronage to Winchester and Mountjoy. Indeed, the return for 1584 stated that the Members then returned were elected ‘at the request’ of these two noblemen, ‘chief lords’ of the town and borough. Charles Blount and Edward Lane, a young relative of Mountjoy, were originally chosen but the writ was returned as ‘not delivered’.2 Their places were taken by Edward Montagu II, another relative of Mountjoy, and Edward Phelips, a rising lawyer who had given counsel to the dowager Marchioness of Winchester. In the following Parliament, Charles Blount took the first seat and his colleague was Nicholas Martin, an Exeter merchant and distant relative of Winchester.
Henceforth, it seems that the two patrons agreed to divide their nominations more simply. Mountjoy took over Bere Alston and the Marquess St. Ives, likewise jointly owned by the two peers. This move foreshadowed the division of the joint lands made in 1597 and 1601.
Richard Spencer, a cousin of Robert Cecil, probably owed the senior 1589 seat to the influence of Lord Burghley, exercised through Mountjoy. (Sir) Charles Blount (knighted 1587), was presumably responsible for the return of Ferdinand Clark in 1589. Clark was a servant of Blount’s friend, the Earl of Leicester, who had died ten days before the election writ was issued. Blount himself took the senior seat in 1593, the year before he succeeded his brother as 8th Lord Mountjoy. Little is known about Thomas Burgoyne (1593), but he may have been connected with Blount through his cousin William Burgoyne, who had been Blount’s contemporary at the Middle Temple, and had shared a chamber with John Longford, the 1601 MP for Bere Alston. Longford, of Longford, Devon, was a distant relative of the Blounts and his family had served theirs in the fifteenth century. Sir Charles Blount, cousin and namesake of the 8th Lord Mountjoy, took the senior seat in 1597, and George Croke, a London lawyer, whose brother John had married Catherine Blount, was returned to the junior seat. Charles Lister (1601), keeper of the little park at Windsor, was a nephew of Sir Richard Blount.