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|2 Jan. 1559||WILLIAM HOLMAN|
|23 Jan. 1563 (new writ)||JOHN GARDINER vice Montgomery, chose to sit for Northampton|
|26 Apr. 1572||GEORGE TRENCHARD I|
|13 Nov. 1584||ROBERT BEALE|
|10 Oct. 1586||ROBERT BEALE|
|19 Oct. 1588||ROBERT BEALE|
|26 Sept. 1597||ROBERT ASHLEY|
|1601||SIR HENRY BROUNCKER|
Dorchester, governed by two bailiffs, two constables and a council of burgesses and other officials, received a charter confirming its existing liberties in 1559.1 The 2nd Earl of Bedford, who owned a small property in the borough, and later William Paulet, 3rd Marquess of Winchester, obtained nominations there, but Dorchester was less susceptible to patronage than some other west country boroughs. In 1559 and 1563 the senior seats were filled by local men: William Holman, a leading Dorchester burgess, and Thomas Martin who has not been certainly identified, but probably was related to the Martins of Athelhampton who owned property in the borough. William Adyn (1571) and Mathew Chubbe (1601) were both Dorchester burgesses. Francis James, an eminent west country civil lawyer, probably secured his own return in 1593. The same may be true of the lawyer Robert Ashley (1597) whose family owned estates in Dorset, but in this instance, Paulet influence cannot be ruled out.
Until 1585, such patronage as there was at Dorchester was in the hands of the 2nd Earl of Bedford. John Leweston (1559) a local gentleman, was connected with Bedford’s puritan circle; Lewis Montgomery (1563) was a puritan lawyer known to Bedford; John Gardiner (1563), who replaced Montgomery, has been identified on the basis of his connexions with Bedford and Sir William Cecil; Henry Macwilliam (1571), Robert Beale (1584), clerk to the Privy Council, and Thomas Freke (1584) all had connexions with Burghley who no doubt influenced Bedford to secure their returns at Dorchester; George Trenchard I (1572) was nominated deputy lieutenant of Dorset by Bedford and George Carleton (1572) was a puritan Northamptonshire landowner and friend of Bedford.2
After Bedford’s death in 1585, Beale continued to sit in 1586 and 1589. The Earl of Warwick, guardian of the young 3rd Earl of Bedford, was probably responsible for the return of Robert Napier, a local lawyer, to the 1586 Parliament. Certainly Napier’s name was entered on a ‘blank’.3 In the later years of the reign the Paulet influence is evident at Dorchester. Thomas Dabridgecourt lived near the 3rd Marquess of Winchester and was returned by him in 1593. Richard Wright, returned in 1597, was associated with several of Winchester’s followers. Nowell Sotherton (1589) may have been a Winchester nominee, but as an Exchequer official it is more likely that he owed his return to Burghley, who brought him in later at St. Ives. In 1601, by which time Winchester was dead, the senior seat was taken by Sir Henry Brouncker, a Cecil supporter; presumably he owed his return to Viscount Bindon, who obtained several nominations from Dorset boroughs and offered him to (Sir) Robert Cecil.