Dunwich

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
1558/9SIR EDMUND ROUS 1
 GREGORY COPPYN 2
1562/3ROBERT HARE
 ROBERT COPPYN
1571WILLIAM HUMBERSTON
 ARTHUR HOPTON
29 Apr. 1572ROBERT COPPYN
 RICHARD SONE
1576GODFREY FOLJAMBE vice Coppyn, deceased
10 Nov. 1584WALTER DUNCH
 ANTHONY WINGFIELD I
6 Oct. 1586ANTHONY WINGFIELD I
 ARTHUR MELLES
6 Nov. 1588EDWARD HONING
 WALTER DUNCH
1593HENRY SAVILE II
 THOMAS CORBET
18 Oct. 1597ARTHUR ATYE
 CLIPSBY GAWDY
11 Oct. 1601JOHN SUCKLING
 FRANCIS MYNGAYE

Main Article

The right of election at Dunwich was in the ‘bailiffs, burgesses and commonalty’. By the beginning of this period the port was declining through the ‘force and violence of the rages of the sea, nigh whereunto it standeth’ and the governing body (two bailiffs, 10 aldermen and 24 common councilmen) was anxious to return MPs who would serve without wages. Hence the Chancery suit between the borough and the local gentleman Sir Edmund Rous, who having said that he would serve as MP ‘freely without receiving any wages’, afterwards ‘nothing regarding his said promise’ claimed £19. 4 s. He did not himself again represent Dunwich, but was apparently responsible for the return of Robert Hare in 1563. The junior Members in 1559 and 1563 were townsmen, son and father respectively. Robert Coppyn came in again in 1572. Arthur Hopton (1571), probably Richard Sone (1572), Anthony Wingfield I (1584, 1586), Arthur Melles (1586) and Edward Honing (1589) were related to each other and to Lord Wentworth, lord lieutenant for a short time about 1570. Of the other Members between 1571 and 1589, Humberston (1571) owned the harbour; Foljambe (1576) may have owed his return to Francis Beaumont, and Dunch (1584, 1589) had no ascertained claim to a seat, though it has been guessed that his surname may have derived from Dunwich, and so be indicative of an old connexion.

From 1593 Dunwich had a high steward in the person of the Earl of Essex, who brought in Savile (1593) and Atye (1597). Another magnate who began to intervene at Dunwich at this time was Edward Coke the attorney-general, to whom Dunwich was paying an annuity of two pounds. When Essex asked for both nominations in 1597, the Dunwich authorities told him that they had already elected one man (Clipsby Gawdy) on Coke’s nomination. Probably Coke had already been responsible for Corbet (1593), and in 1601 the town assembly ‘willingly consented unto’ the return of his nephew Francis Myngaye. The return shows that ten of the twelve aldermen voted, eight of the 24 common councilmen and seven freemen, all townsmen. The names are given. Myngaye’s co-Member, John Suckling, is described in the town minute book as ‘secretary to the right honourable the lord high treasurer of England’. Lord Buckhurst had no known connexion with Dunwich, and his secretary was presumably elected through an intermediary. A possible explanation is found in another entry in the town books, for 19 Apr. 1603, which suggests that in 1601 a Dunwich seat had originally been offered to one of the Stanhopes, presumably the courtier Michael, who in the event sat for Ipswich. As Buckhurst was high steward of Ipswich, he may have hoped to nominate Suckling there, but found that the town authorities were already committed to Stanhope. Perhaps Buckhurst now persuaded Stanhope to recommend Suckling to the Dunwich electors as their Member. The town seems to have been worried about a possible precedent here. At the beginning of James I’s reign, when a certain Mr. Talbot approached them on behalf of