Bridgwater

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
6 Jan. 1559SIR THOMAS DYER
 ROBERT MOLYNS
1562/3NICHOLAS HALSWELL
 JOHN EDWARDS I
1566JOHN TOOLES vice Halswell, deceased
1571EDWARD POPHAM
 JOHN EDWARDS I
20 Apr. 1572EDWARD POPHAM
 JOHN EDWARDS I
5 Nov. 1584EDWARD POPHAM
 ROBERT BLAKE
1586JOHN COURT
 ROBERT BLAKE
6 Nov. 1588ALEXANDER POPHAM
 ROBERT BLAKE
1593ROBERT BOCKING
 WILLIAM THOMAS II
23 Sept. 1597ALEXANDER POPHAM
 ALEXANDER JONES
5 Oct. 1601(SIR) FRANCIS HASTINGS I
 ALEXANDER POPHAM

Main Article

Bridgwater’s charter, confirmed in 1554, placed the town in the hands of a mayor, recorder and two bailiffs. By a charter of 1587 it was re-incorporated as the mayor, aldermen and burgesses of Bridgwater. During Elizabeth’s reign the principal landowner in Bridgwater was the Crown.1

The senior Members in 1559 and 156 were country gentlemen with sufficient local influence to return themselves. One of them, Nicholas Halswell, who had given legal advice to the corporation on several occasions, died before the 1566 session and was replaced by John Tooles, about whom nothing is known. From 1571 onwards the senior seat appears to have been at the disposal of the recorder of Bridgwater. In 1571 the recorder was John Popham, but he was returned for Bristol that year, and passed the senior Bridgwater seat to his brother Edward, who replaced him as recorder and took the senior seat in 1572 and 1584. John Court (1586) and Alexander Popham (1589, 1597) were also recorders and took the senior seat. The two exceptions to this pattern were Robert Bocking (1593), the only mayor to take the senior seat during this period, and (Sir) Francis Hastings I (1601), younger brother of the 3rd Earl of Huntingdon, who had settled at North Cadbury near Bridgwater. The recorder, Alexander Popham, took second place in 1601. With the exception of Popham, the junior seats throughout this period were taken by mayors or ex-mayors of Bridgwater. The townsmen were usually paid: Molyns received 1s.6d. daily but his successor, Edwards, was paid 2s. Both 1593 Members received 2s. a day and something more besides. The recorder, Alexander Popham, received 2s. daily as parliamentary wages as well as his fee as recor