Clitheroe

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
13 Jan. 1559THOMAS GREENACRES
 WALTER HORTON
4 Jan. 1563THOMAS GREENACRES
 JOHN JEFFREY
1571RICHARD GREENACRES
 GEORGE HORSEY
1572WILLIAM WYNTER
 THOMAS DOCWRAY
1584MICHAEL PUREFOY 1
 ALEXANDER FISHER 2
1586EDMUND POLEY
 JOHN WALMESLEY
17 Oct. 1588ROBERT PILKINGTON
 JOHN WHITE
1593WILLIAM TWYSDEN
 JOHN CHAMBERLAIN
16 Oct. 1597WILLIAM HOLT
 GEORGE ROTHERAM
13 Oct. 1601JOHN OSBALDESTON
 ANTHONY DERING

Main Article

Clitheroe was a small borough run by two bailiffs who were also the returning officers. An insight into the way elections were conducted in this period is provided by a letter sent by the bailiffs to ‘the sergeant of our borough and corporation of Clitheroe’ 10 Oct. 1601:

Whereas we have received a proclamation heretofore made by the sheriff of the county of Lancaster wherein is declared her Majesty’s pleasure for and concerning a Parliament to begin at Westminster the 27th of this instant October, and that within the same is commanded all boroughs that they make choice of two sufficient burgesses for the same, and to have such power as is within the said proclamation mentioned; as also we have received a letter from the chancellor of her Majesty’s duchy of Lancaster for and concerning the nomination of one of our burgesses for the Parliament: these are therefore by virtue hereof you will and require all the said burgesses within our borough being resident to be and appear before us at our said town of Clitheroe the 13th of this instant October by 9 of the clock being Tuesday next at the house of Jane Mercer widow. There as also you command all and every the tenants and the burgesses there being not resident that presently upon summons given by you that they and every of them do repair to their lords being burgesses of our said boroughs and that they and every of them do require the said lords to be here for the nomination and election of the said burgesses according to the tenor of the said proclamation as they and every of them will answer to the contrary in that behalf and for this you by virtue hereof do will and require all and every the inhabitants of Clitheroe to be and personally appear at the said place day and hour at every of their peril in that behalf.3

Of the Clitheroe MPs five could be described as local men—the two Greenacres, Pilkington, Holt and Osbaldeston, but there is the usual difficulty in describing the patronage in terms of central or local influence. Only Osbaldeston (1601) came in clearly through his local standing. Thomas Greenacres (1559, 1563) had a powerful friend in the 3rd Earl of Derby, and secured the 1563 seat despite a request by the chancellor of the duchy, Sir Ambrose Cave, for the return of John Newdigate, so the extra weight of Derby’s patronage was doubtless needed. Pilkington (1589) and Holt (1597) were lawyers who may have worked for the duchy. Then there are the strangers, among them more lawyers, who must be presumed to be duchy nominees but whose connexion with the duchy or its chancellor has not been ascertained. These were Horton (1559);Jeffrey (1563); Wynter, the admiral (1572); Purefoy and Fisher, recorder of Maidstone (1584); Poley and Walmesley (1586); White (1589); Chamberlain, whose identity is suspect (1593); George Rotheram (1597), a Bedfordshire gentleman whose reason for seeking return at Clitheroe after regularly representing his own county is unknown; and Anthony Dering (1601). Matrimonial ties also played their part at Clitheroe: George Horsey (1571) was married to the chancellor’s daughter; Thomas