East Looe

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
1571JOHN WOLLEY
 EDWARD CORDELL
23 Apr. 1572THOMAS STONE
 THOMAS WEST II
9 Nov. 1584ANTHONY ROUS
 RICHARD SPENCER
1586ABRAHAM HARTWELL
 EDWARD TRELAWNY
10 Nov. 1588ANTHONY EVERARD
n.d.SIR ROBERT JERMYN
1593WILLIAM HAMPDEN
 GREGORY DONHAULT
4 Oct. 1597AMBROSE BELLOTT
 ROBERT GAWDY
28 Sept. 1601JOHN HANNAM
 ROBERT YARDLEY

Main Article

By the opening of this period East Looe was part of the duchy of Cornwall. After a lapse of time it resumed sending Members to Parliament in 1571, probably through the influence of the 2nd Earl of Bedford, lord warden of the stannaries and lord lieutenant of Cornwall. Its right to do so was challenged in the House 6 Apr. 1571. Some years later in an Exchequer suit concerning the market, the leading inhabitants claimed, wrongly, that East Looe ‘now is and at all time heretofore hath been charged with the setting forth and finding of burgesses to her Majesty’s Parliament’. Few of the witnesses who gave evidence had any knowledge of the port’s parliamentary history, but Francis Courtney, one of the defendants in the case, denied that East Looe was at any time to be charged lawfully to find any burgess or burgesses to any parliament ... But ... of late he hath heard (rather by usurpation than of any lawful right or authority as he thinketh) burgesses have been sent to divers Parliaments for the said town and he is induced so to think for that he never could learn, know or ever did see any letters patent concerning the incorporation of the said town or village.1 Uncertainty was dispelled by the grant of a charter of incorporation in 1587, one clause of which confirmed East Looe as a parliamentary borough. The charter also mentions a governing body of nine capital burgesses, from whom a mayor was to be chosen each year, and a recorder. The capital burgesses, who were elected for life, formed a self-perpetuating common council.2

Parliamentary elections were made in the name of the mayor and burgesses, though most of the Members’ names were probably added to ‘blankrsquo; returns by outside patrons. Bedford was presumably responsible—directly or at the request of friends—for the following nominations: John Wolley, the Latin secretary (1571); Edward Cordell, brother of Sir William Cordell, master of the rolls (also 1571); and Thomas West II (1572), who has been identified as the puritan son of the first Lord De La Warr and son-in-law of Sir Francis Knollys. Lord Burghley enjoyed similar influence in the 1580s. During that decade the MPs included Richard Spencer (1584), a young diplomat and member of the Althorp family, apparently in Burghley’s service; Abraham Hartwell (1586), secretary to Archbishop Whitgift; Anthony Everard (1589), son of an Essex country gentleman and possibly connected with Burghley through Sir Henry Maynard, and Sir Robert Jermyn (1589), a Suffolk gentleman with puritan views, who may have asked Burghley, or perhaps Walsingham, to find him a seat.

The leading local families, particularly the Mohuns of Ha