Berwick-upon-Tweed

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
1562/3ANTHONY TEMPLE
 THOMAS NORTON
1571SIR VALENTINE BROWNE
 HENRY CAREY
1572MARTIN GARNETT
 ROBERT NEWDIGATE I
1584WILLIAM MORTON
 THOMAS PARKINSON
7 Oct. 1586SIR VALENTINE BROWNE
 THOMAS PARKINSON
22 Jan. 1589WILIAM MORTON
 WILIAM SELBY II
1593WILLIAM MORTON
 WILLIAM SELBY II
18 Oct. 1597WILLIAM SELBY II
 THOMAS PARKINSON
1601WILLIAM SELBY II
 DAVID WATERHOUSE

Main Article

Although trading guilds existed in the frontier town of Berwick, it was primarily a military centre, and the unusual structure of town government there reflects this fact. The principal officer, appointed by the Crown, was the governor, usually the same person as the warden of the east march. He was assisted by a corporation, including three officials—a mayor, bailiff and town clerk—whose salaries were paid by the government.

Writs for parliamentary elections were sent straight to the town and not to the sheriff of Northumberland. Return was made by the mayor and his ‘brethren’. The influence of the governor at these elections was considerable. There were five Elizabethan governors: William 13th Lord Grey of Wilton, who died in December 1562; the 2nd Earl of Bedford, from December 1563 to 1568; Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, from 1568 until his death in 1596. After Hunsdon’s death, his son, Sir John Carey, became locum tenens at Berwick until the appointment of Lord Willoughby in March 1598. When Willoughby died in 1601, Sir John Carey achieved his ambition and became the governor of the town.

If Berwick returned Members to the 1559 Parliament, their names have not been found. The 1563 MPs were a local man and borough official, Anthony Temple, and a puritan lawyer, Thomas Norton. Norton was probably nominated by Lord Grey just before his death: both Grey and Norton had been in the household of Protector Somerset. No election occurred during Bedford’s tenure of the office of governor, but Hunsdon’s influence in the elections of 1571 and 1572, just after his appointment as governor, is clearly discernible. On the first occasion the treasurer of Berwick, Sir Valentine Browne—a military official—and Hunsdon’s son, Henry Carey, were returned. On the second occasion a townsman, Martin Garnett, and a friend of Hunsdon, Robert Newdigate I, were chosen.

For many years Hunsdon was away from Berwick and his absence may explain the election of two townsmen in 1584. One of them, William Morton, was an outspoken critic of the military authorities at Berwick, and in particular of Hunsdon himself, and in 1589, when MP for the second time, he presented a list of complaints about them to the Queen. This did not prevent him from being elected for Berwick a third time in 1593. His colleague in 1584, Thomas Parkinson, shared his views and campaigned with Morton for extended powers for the civil authorities at Berwick. Parkinson sat again in 1586 and 1597, and was largely instrumental in obtaining a new charter for the town in 1604, which incorporated some of the desired changes. Parkinson’s colleague in 1586 was Sir Valentine Browne, who still owned property at Berwick but had long since lost his treasurership there and was living in Middlesex. He is unlikely to have been the governor’s nominee, and it may be, therefore, that the town chose him to save the expense of sending a second local man to London.

The pattern of one military and one civil representative was re-established in 1589, with the election of William Selby II, brother of the gentleman porter of Berwick, Sir John Selby, along with Alderman Morton. The pattern continued in 1593 and 1597. By this time William Selby had himself become gentleman porter and appears to have been the most active official in the town. This probably explains his election to five consecutive Parliaments (the last being in 1604) notwithstanding the changes of governor. In 1601 his colleague was a Yorkshire lawyer, David Waterhouse, clerk of the Crown in the Queen’s bench, who is not known to have had any connection with Berwick and was presumably the governor’s nominee.

It was the custom of Berwick to pay wages only to Members who were local merchants. In 1563 a general cess was levied to pay the wages of Anthony Temple. In 1572 the corporation agreed to pay Martin Garnett 5s. a day—more than the statutory rate—though he was admonished ‘not to dally in London on his own business’. By 1581 his wages had been raised to 6s.8d. per day and that year he was owed £24 13s.4d. of which £10 was paid from a cess, £10 paid by a certain Nicholas Pindlebury who wished to become a freeman, and £4 13s.4d. was remitted. The town was less generous to its 1584 Members who were allowed only 7s.6d. a day between them.

J. Scott, Berwick-on-Tweed (1888), passim; C219/30, 31; Cal. Border Pprs. i. 269, 432, 433, 436; Berwick guild bk. 1568-85 ex inf. Dr. C. Crosse; 1585-95, ff: 5, 54.

Author: R.C.G.

Notes

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