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|28 Dec. 1558||SIR HENRY LEE|
|1571||SIR HENRY LEE|
|SIR WILLIAM DORMER|
|1572||SIR HENRY LEE|
|JOHN CROKE II|
|1584||MILES SANDYS 1|
|GRIFFITH HAMPDEN 2|
|1588/9||JOHN FORTESCUE I|
|1593||(SIR) JOHN FORTESCUE I|
|(SIR) ROBERT DORMER|
|1597||(SIR) JOHN FORTESCUE I 3|
|7 Oct. 1601||FRANCIS FORTESCUE|
Only three Buckinghamshire gentlemen obtained a county seat on more than one occasion during Elizabeth’s reign. The first of these was Sir Henry Lee, who at Elizabeth’s accession was a young man of about 25, of good pedigree and with powerful friends. He had sat for the county in Mary’s last Parliament as junior knight of the shire; in the Parliaments of 1559, 1571 and 1572, he assumed the senior seat, and did not stand for election again. Francis Goodwin, who obtained the senior seat in 1586, was 22 years of age at the time and had not yet succeeded to his father’s estates; no doubt he owed his election to the influence of his father-in-law, the puritan, Lord Grey. In the 1588 elections Grey was intent on sponsoring a candidate whose name remains unknown but who was almost certainly Francis Goodwin. Grey, however, came up against John Fortescue I, hitherto content with borough seats, but now, on the point of being made a Privy Councillor, anxious to secure a seat more suitable to his status. Fortescue, a conservative in religion and temperamentally estranged from the puritans Grey and Goodwin, prevailed upon a Privy Councillor—a ‘dear friend’ of Grey’s, possibly Walsingham—to write to Grey, earnestly soliciting him ‘not to hinder the preferment of Mr. Fortescue’.4 Grey obliged, asking his friends either to vote for Fortescue or to stay away from the election. A contest was averted; Goodwin secured a seat at Chipping Wycombe; Fortescue took the senior county seat, and retained it in 1593 and 1597. In 1601 he moved to a Middlesex seat in order to promote Francis Fortescue, his heir, from Buckingham to Buckinghamshire. Goodwin did not stand for a county again until 1597, when he was elected in second place to Fortescue.
In the main the second line Buckinghamshire gentry were content to take a single turn as knight of the shire. Such were Paul Darrell (1559); Thomas Fleetwood and William Hawtrey in 1563; John Croke II (1572); and John Borlase (1586). The Catholic Dormer family obtained the junior seat twice, in 1571 and 1593, and the Hampden family in 1584 and 1601. Miles Sandys got himself elected as first knight of the shire in 1584 but lacked the influence to repeat the experience, and had to be satisfied with borough seats thenceforward. Thomas Tasburgh (1589) had bought estates in Buckinghamshire and had consolidated his position by marrying Dame Dorothy Pakington, who owned the borough of Aylesbury.
A Star Chamber case,5 brought by Peter Wentworth against one Thomas Pigott, refers to a dispute grown ‘long since about the choice of knights of the Parliament for the shire of Buckingham’. If this Thomas Pigott can be identified with Thomas Pigott I who was sheriff of Buckinghamshire at the time of the 1572 election, it must have been this election that was in dispute, perhaps reflecting a division between the puritan gentry of the county and more conservative elements.
Acknowledgment is made to the version of this article drafted by Sir John Neale.