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|11 Nov. 1584||THOMAS JUKES|
|10 Nov. 1588||CHARLES WALCOT|
|16 Oct. 1597||HAYWARD TOWNSHEND|
|3 Oct. 1601||HAYWARD TOWNSHEND|
Bishop’s Castle, which formed part of the honour of Lydbury North, was for centuries parcel of the possessions of the bishopric of Hereford until sequestered by the Crown in 1559. According to theValor Ecclesiasticus of 1535 Bishop’s Castle was worth £24 3 s. 9 d. The royal charter granted in July 1574 named a bailiff and 14 head burgesses, among them Edmund Plowden†, Charles Walcot, Matthew Lloyd, and Plowden’s kinsman Andrew Blunden. The head burgesses were given power to choose a recorder, town clerk and minor officials. No mention was made in the charter of the right to send burgesses to Parliament, though this it did on the first possible occasion after the grant of the charter, no doubt through the influence of Plowden and Walcot, who had their principal seats close to the borough and a friend at court in Sir Henry Sidney. The first MPs were not challenged by the House. The electorate consisted of the bailiffs, head burgesses and resident burgesses — about 40 in number. The ‘foreign’ or non-resident burgesses were excluded from elections. One of the first Members, Thomas Jukes, was sworn a burgess of the town nine months after his election to Parliament.
Thomas Jukes and John Cole were both related by marriage to Edmund Plowden, who no doubt secured their returns at Bishop’s Castle in 1584. Charles Walcot had no need of a patron in 1586 and 1589. His fellow MPs, Thomas Darrell (1586) and Alexander King, an Exchequer official (1589), had no obvious connexions with the borough. Possibly Darrell obtained his seat through the influence of his brother-in-law, Edward Leighton, of Wattlesborough, Salop, and King may have been a relation of Ambrose King, a head burgess of Bishop’s Castle, which would explain his three returns for the borough (1589, 1593, 1601). Francis Beavans (1593) obtained his seat through his office of chancellor of the diocese of Hereford. Hayward Townshend (1597, 1601) came from a Shropshire gentry family. His father was Henry Townshend, justice of Chester, a ‘foreign burgess’ of Bishop’s Castle and possibly its recorder. Edmund Baynham (1597) was an Exchequer official whose seat at Bishop’s Castle was no doubt secured by his father, Exchequer receiver in the county.
Eyton, Salop, xi. 195, 200-3, 218, 221; CPR, 1560-3, p. 285; C66/1095; Bishop’s Castle mss, minute bk. and list of burgesses.