Dover

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 WARREN
 JOHN ROBINS
1562/3JOHN ROBINS
 THOMAS WARREN
1571THOMAS ANDREWS II
 JOHN PINCHON
1572THOMAS ANDREWS II
 THOMAS WARREN
[?14] Nov. 1584RICHARD BARREY
 JOHN MOORE II
1586RICHARD BARREY
 JOHN MOORE II
1588THOMAS FANE
 EDWARD STEPHENS
1593THOMAS FANE
 THOMAS ELWOOD
22 Oct. 1597THOMAS FANE
 WILLIAM LEONARD
1601GEORGE FANE
 GEORGE NEWMAN

Main Article

Dover was the most important of the Cinque Ports and, by the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign, had already enjoyed several centuries of strong and independent local government. Parliamentary elections were conducted in the common assemblies, consisting of mayor, jurats, common council and freemen.

The 1559 Members were two townsmen, one of whom, Thomas Warren, had already sat at least twice. The same men were re-elected in 1563, the mayor’s name being placed above Warren’s on the return. The warden intervened for the first time in 1571 when John Pinchon, identified as an Essex landowner, was returned with the mayor, whose name again appears in the superior position. On this occasion it appears that the warden gave his nomination to a friend at court. In 1572 the two townsmen Andrews and Warren were again returned, and on 7 Sept. 1579 the common assembly resolved that none but jurats should in future be elected to Parliament. However, by the time of the next election the warden had drummed up some support from the Privy Council. He wrote to the town asserting that the Council had allowed him, ‘for certain special causes’, to nominate one of their Members. Dover referred the matter to their counsel and the assembly gave in on 7 Nov. electing Richard Barrey, the lieutenant of Dover castle, together with one of their own jurats. Before the next election the Privy Council asked boroughs to return the Members who had sat in 1584, which Dover did.

Barrey died in 1588, and was succeeded as lieutenant of the castle by Thomas Fane, who took over Barrey’s seat for Dover. The other man, Edward Stephens, a jurat, had just unsuccessfully contested the mayoralty. Fane was reelected in 1593 and 1597, on each occasion the other Member being the then mayor of Dover. It is interesting to see that, whereas the local man appears as senior Member in the minutes of the town council, the official return, sent into Chancery by the lord warden, names Fane first. In 1601 the lord warden asked Dover to send him the election return in blank, a request granted by the council, though ‘the like hath not heretofore been granted’. Cobham nominated George Fane, nephew of the lieutenant of the castle, who stood down himself because of illness. The junior Member, George Newman, commissary of Canterbury, had, before the election on 16 Oct., ‘craved to be admitted a freeman’ and paid £5 in gold, ‘which, in respect of the good which hereafter he may do for this town’, was refunded. He was then elected ‘by the general assent and consent of the whole house’. Following the election the mayor was sent to London with instructions for the new Members of Parliament.

Dover paid parliamentary wages to at least one of its Members for most of the period. Warren received more than £11 for the 1559 Parliament, though he may have shared this with Robins. In 1563 they were paid at least £12, though, later, in his will, Warren claimed that he had never received full payment for his attendance. Andrews, also, was paid, but the amount is not known. In 1586 the council resolved to pay both Members at the rate of 2s.6.d. a day, but in 1589, as in 1584, only the jurat was granted wages. Wages were raised to 4s. a day in 1593, and this time Fane was paid at the same rate as his colleague. Why Cobham’s nominees were paid on some occasions but not on others, is not known. Once again wages were raised in 1597, in view of ‘the great scarcity [of] victuals and horsemeat’, but were paid only to the mayor, William Leonard, who was promised 6s. daily and his expenses for ‘such suits as the burgesses shall have to handle at this Parliament’. The rising cost of wages may explain Dover’s willingness to elect a second outsider, Dr. Newman, in 1601.

Cinque Ports black bk.; Dover acct. bk.; Egerton 2095.