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|CHARLES CUTTER I|
|10 Nov. 1584||BASSINGBOURNE GAWDY I|
|1 Oct. 1586||BARTHOLOMEW KEMP|
|22 Oct. 1588||EDWARD GRIMSTON|
|17 Sept. 1597||ANTHONY GAWDY|
The borough was included in the royal honour of Eye, where in Elizabeth’s reign the Crown still appointed the keeper, or constable, of the castle. The government of the borough was confirmed by a charter of 1559, but partly owing to overlapping jurisdictions, disputes broke out, and following a Star Chamber case, ordinances for ‘better government’ were drawn up in 1565. Confirmed by a new charter ten years later, these described the governing body as 12 principal burgesses, including the two bailiffs, and 24 common councilmen. The charter contained a clause granting the bailiffs, burgesses and commonalty the right of returning MPs (though Eye had already done so), and this formula was used in the parliamentary returns. In 1597, though not on other occasions in Elizabeth’s reign, the bailiffs signed their names at the foot of the return.
The borough first sent Members to Parliament in 1571. Perhaps the lord keeper, Sir Nicholas Bacon†, was behind this. If so, it did not prevent the matter being referred to the returns committee on 6 Apr. 1571. Bacon influence, exercised by the lord keeper in 1571 and 1572, and by his heir Nicholas in subsequent Parliaments, can be seen in every Elizabethan election. By the end of the reign