Cumberland

County

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Elections

DateCandidate
1558/9LEONARD DACRE 1
 WILLIAM MUSGRAVE 2
5 Jan. 1563LEONARD DACRE
 HENRY CURWEN
1571SIR HENRY PERCY
 SIR SIMON MUSGRAVE
9 Apr. 1571 (new writ)[unknown] vice Percy, chose to sit for Northumberland3
1572SIR SIMON MUSGRAVE
 EDWARD SCROPE
4 Nov. 1580(SIR) THOMAS BOYNTON 4 poss. vice Scrope, deceased
1584THOMAS SCROPE 5
 ROBERT BOWES I 6
1586ROBERT BOWES I
 HENRY LEIGH
1588/9(SIR) THOMAS SCROPE
 ROBERT BOWES I
1593NICHOLAS CURWEN
 WILFRED LAWSON
27 Sept 1597JOSEPH PENNINGTON
 CHRISTOPHER PICKERING
20 Oct. 1601WILLIAM HUDDLESTON
 GERARD LOWTHER II

Main Article

The Dacre family monopolized the Cumberland county seats in the first Parliament of Elizabeth’s reign. William, 3rd Lord Dacre, was the father of Leonard Dacre, the senior knight of the shire and the maternal grandfather of William Musgrave of Hayton, the junior knight of the shire. Leonard Dacre took the senior seat again in 1563 when he was accompanied to Parliament by Henry Curwen of Workington, the head of a family which had represented Cumberland in Parliament since the fourteenth century. Curwen’s son and heir Nicholas took the senior county seat in 1593, although he had not yet succeeded to his estates. Sir Henry Percy of Tynemouth and Norham castles, Northumberland, had a particular reason for wishing to sit in the 1571 Parliament, because the question of his succession to the titles of Earl of Northumberland and Baron Percy was due to be discussed. He therefore canvassed in Northumberland as well as in Cumberland, was returned for both counties, and chose Northumberland. Although a new writ was issued on 9 Apr. 1571 for the election of another Member for Cumberland, no more of the matter is known. The junior 1571 seat was taken by Sir Simon Musgrave of Eden Hall, of an old-established Cumberland family. Musgrave had served under the 9th Lord Scrope and the 3rd Earl of Sussex on the 1570 expedition into Scotland and had won a commendation from Scrope and a knighthood from Sussex for his ability in the field. As Scrope was warden of the west march and Sussex president of the council in the north, Musgrave was in a good position to stand for a county seat. In 1572 he was elected senior knight for the county, and his fellow MP was an Edward Scrope, probably the younger brother of the 9th Lord Scrope. Since Scrope’s death date is unknown, and Musgrave is known to have lived to 1597, it was possibly Scrope’s death that occasioned the by-election of 4 Nov. 1580 when (Sir) Thomas Boynton was chosen. Boynton was an eminent Yorkshire country gentleman who had no known connexion with Cumberland. In both the 1584 and the 1589 Parliaments the senior seat was taken by Thomas Scrope, who succeeded his father as l0th Lord Scrope in 1592. In both Parliaments Scrope’s fellow MP was Robert Bowes I of Aske, Yorkshire, a member of the council in the north and treasurer at Berwick-upon-Tweed. In 1586 Bowes achieved the senior county seat and the other went to Henry Leigh, a penurious follower of the Scropes, though of good family. Wilfrid Lawson (1593) had acquired his Cumberland estate of Isell through a fortunate marriage in the 1570s, and by 1593 was of sufficient status to take a turn as junior knight of the shire. Joseph Pennington of Muncaster (1597), Christopher Pickering of Threlkeld (1597), William Huddleston of Millom (1601) and Gerard Lowther 11 of Penrith (1601) were all county landowners, though Lowther was primarily a lawyer. His uncle had represented Westmorland in 1563, and the nephew had succeeded the uncle to Penrith in 1597, which gave him the chance to stand for a Cumberland seat; it is interesting that he did so in the year that the famous Dacre inheritance went to the Howards. For an unascertained reason both 1593 MPs had their parliamentary service cut short by leave of absence ‘for their necessary service in the affairs of her Majesty’.7

Author: M.A.P.

Notes

  • 1. E371/402(1).
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. D'Ewes, 159.
  • 4. T/S list of su