Grantham

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
8 Jan. 1559THOMAS RANDOLPH
 WILLIAM MORE I
1562/3ROGER MANNERS I
 WILLIAM COOKE I
1571WILLIAM KILLIGREW
 ARTHUR HALL
1572JOHN VAUGHAN I 1
 ARTHUR HALL
12 Nov. 1584ARTHUR HALL
 WILLIAM THOROLD
24 Oct. 1586SIR HENRY BAGNALL
 ROBERT MARKHAM
1586WILLIAM ASHBY vice Bagnall, chose to sit for Anglesey
1588/9RICHARD MORE I
 WILLIAM ARMYN
1593THOMAS HORSMAN
 FRANCIS NEALE
5 Oct. 1597THOMAS HORSMAN
 FRANCIS NEALE
3 Oct. 1601OLIVER MANNERS
 THOMAS HORSMAN

Main Article

In this period Grantham was governed by an alderman and 12 comburgesses. There was also a recordership held for much of the Elizabethan period by the Thorold family, who lived nearby. In a letter dated 1581 Anthony Thorold implied that he had held the position for many years and his father before him. The successive earls of Rutland, whose seat at Belvoir was only a few miles distant, were stewards of the manor of Grantham, and Lord Clinton (Earl of Lincoln from 1572) must have been steward of the borough, for in 1587 the 2nd Earl sought Burghley’s help in his efforts to succeed his late father in the office.

Grantham first sent Members to Parliament in 1467. No municipal records survive from the sixteenth century, but it seems likely that parliamentary and other elections were conducted in an assembly of all the burgesses in the alderman’s court. The election return for 1559 records that the Members were chosen by the alderman, comburgesses and ‘communitas’, while that of 1597 reads ‘with the authority of us and of all other burgesses and of the "communitas" of Grantham’. When the Earl of Rutland sought a nomination in 1584 the alderman told him that his request had been ‘moved at our last court’, but that ‘the greater number of our commons’ had already ‘given their voices’ to Arthur Hall and William Thorold. That the corporation could effectively control these meetings is suggested by the last sentence in the letter to the Earl: ‘hereafter you may commend us all, if we hear from you before our voices be passed to others’.

An incident in Arthur Hall’s turbulent career provides a clue to Grantham’s attitude to the payment of parliamentary wages. When he sued the borough for nonpayment the matter came before the House of Commons. There, one of Grantham’s representatives claimed that Hall had promised to serve without fee, and in any case was not entitled to payment since he was not a freeman. On this basis few, if any, of the borough’s Members could have received a fee for their services.

Most of the MPs for Grantham were strangers to the borough, and there can be little doubt that it was towards Sir William Cecil that many of them looked for favours. His influence was particularly marked in the earlier part of the period, when his nominations included Thomas Randolph (1559), the diplomat; William Cooke I (1563), his brother-in-law, whom he had already placed at Stamford in the previous Parliament; and two distant relatives, William Killigrew (1571) and John Vaughan I (1572), who died in 1577. No evidence has been found of a by-election to replace Vaughan for the 1581 session. The other 1559 Member, William More I of Loseley, was a close friend of Cecil’s, which explains his election for a seat so distant from his home. Arthur Hall had once been Cecil’s ward and usually looked to him whenever he was in serious difficulties, but he was a Grantham man and may not have needed any help to secure his election for three successive Parliaments. Burghley’s interest in Grantham elections seems to have declined as the reign progressed, but he probably nominated both Members in 1593: Thomas Horsman from Lincolnshire, a protégé whom he had launched into royal service, and Francis Neale, a young Exchequer official. Horsman’s connexion with the Cecils survived the lord treasurer’s death, so he continued to sit for Grantham until his own death in 1610.

Burghley may also have supported William Armyn in 1589, though Armyn’s father, a Lincolnshire country gentleman, was well known to the young Earl of Rutland’s family, another source of patronage at Grantham. Roger Manners I, who presumably owed his election in 1563 to his brother, the 2nd Earl, was himself virtual head of the family when his great-nephew Oliver Manners was returned in 1601. Having applied too late for a nomination in 1584, the 3rd Earl of Rutland seems to have been granted both seats next time. His original choice was Sir Henry Bagnall and a follower, Robert Markham. Bagnall preferred the Anglesey county seat to which he was also elected, and was replaced by William Ashby, who had recently undertaken diplomatic missions to the Continent for Sir Francis Walsingham and