Chippenham

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
11 Jan. 1559EDWARD BAYNARD
 NICHOLAS SNELL
15 Dec. 1562FRANCIS NEWDIGATE
 NICHOLAS SNELL
7 Mar. 1571JOHN SCOTT I
 ROBERT VISER
18 Apr. 1572WILLIAM BAYLEY
 JOHN SCOTT I
18 Nov. 1584ROBERT BAYNARD
 ROBERT HYDE
10 Oct. 1586LAWRENCE HYDE
 ROBERT HYDE
26 Jan. 1589HENRY BAYNTON II
 WILLIAM SWAYNE
1593EDWARD MARIA WINGFIELD
 FRANCIS HARVEY I
1 Oct. 1597THOMAS EDMONDES 1
 SHARINGTON TALBOT
1597EDWARD WYMARKE vice Edmondes, went abroad
9 Oct. 1601ROBERT BERKELEY
 EDWARD WYMARKE

Main Article

A charter of incorporation granted to Chippenham by Queen Mary on 2 May 1554 and confirmed by Elizabeth on 29 Jan. 1560 placed the government of the town in the hands of a bailiff and 12 aldermen with power to co-opt new members. By Mary’s charter, the corporation was granted lands in Chippenham, formerly the possessions of Lord Hungerford, to provide for the upkeep of the bridge and for the expenses of the town’s burgesses in Parliament. The town appointed a high steward, although the office was not mentioned in the charter, and its holder in 1567 was the first Earl of Pembroke. It is probable that his son held the office later in the reign.

During the Elizabethan period the electorate consisted only of the bailiff and 12 burgesses. The electoral history of the borough during the period can be divided into two parts: from 1559 to 1589 and from 1593 to 1601. Most of the Members returned during the early period were local men or had local associations. Those returned in and after 1593 were nominees of the heirs of Sir Henry Sharington, to whom the borough paid an annual rent of £8 for the market.

Both 1559 Members were gentlemen living near Chippenham. Edward Baynard resided at Lackham, two miles away, and owned property in the town. Nicholas Snell of Kingston, three miles from Chippenham, was farmer of the hundred of Chippenham and also steward of the 1st Earl of Pembroke, but there is no evidence that Pembroke intervened on his behalf either in 1559 or in 1563. Francis Newdigate, the other Member in the latter year, was married to Protector Somerset’s widow, and, in her right, was in possession of the manor of Monkton Farleigh near Chippenham.

All the Members returned in 1571 and 1572 were townsmen. On both occasions the 2nd Earl of Pembroke had received instructions from the Privy Council to ensure a ‘good choice’ of burgesses in Wiltshire. In 1571 he forwarded the Council’s instructions to Chippenham, but does not appear to have nominated anyone. Two local gentlemen were returned at the 1584 election: Robert Baynard, son of the 1559 MP, and Robert Hyde, eldest son of Lawrence Hyde I, the Wiltshire lawyer. Hyde probably owed his return at Chippenham in 1584 and 1586 to the and Earl of Pembroke. It has proved difficult to decide whether the 1586 Lawrence Hyde was the father or brother of Robert Hyde. In 1589, Henry Baynton II, a gentleman with local estates, and William Swayne, who lived in Chippenham, were returned.

The pattern changed at the next election. Sir Henry Sharington of Lacock, the virtual lord of the borough, had been perpetually in dispute with the burgesses, and while he lived, it was unlikely that the town would accept his nominees. He died in 1581 leaving two daughters. One married Anthony Mildmay, son of the chancellor of the Exchequer; the other, first John Talbot, a Worcestershire gentleman, and secondly Sir Robert Stapleton of Yorkshire. It was not until 1593 that Mildmay’s influence was felt at Chippenham. Edward Maria Wingfield was a Huntingdonshire gentleman whose estate at Kimbolton lay very near Apethorpe, the Mildmays’ estate. Francis Harvey I was a gentleman pensioner and dou