Available from Boydell and Brewer
|1558/9||JOHN KERRY 1|
|1566||John HYDE vice Webbe, deceased|
|29 Apr. 1572||JAMES WARNECOMBE 2|
|27 Sept. 1586||GREGORY PRICE|
|5 Nov. 1588||GREGORY PRICE|
|27 Sept. 1597||GREGORY PRICE|
|6 Oct. 1601||WALTER HURDMAN|
The composition of the governing body of Hereford was set down in a charter granted by Queen Elizabeth in 1597. It is evident, however, that the charter merely confirmed a framework in existence from at least the early part of the sixteenth century. The corporation, or common council, was made up of the mayor, six aldermen and 24 councilmen. They had the power to elect ‘famous and discreet’ men as stewards of the city, who, in turn, could appoint deputies ‘learned in the law’. There was also a common or town clerk, appointed for life. Overlapping the corporation’s jurisdiction was that of the bishops of Hereford, who still enjoyed power in the city. There is nothing to suggest, however, that the bishops interfered with the day-to-day running of the government, or indeed, with parliamentary elections.
The right of election was vested in the freemen. In 1559 the corporation, anxious to retain its independence from outside influence, renewed a decree made early in Henry VIII’s reign which declared that ‘no person should be elected nor admitted citizens for the Parliament except the same citizens were of the number of the election and common council of the said city’. Though the ordinance had ‘been for light causes thought void by some persons within the said city and causes contention to grow in the same’, the corporation decided to renew it as it ‘hath been ... very profitable’. The corporation further agreed that
if any freeman ... do give his voice or make any labour or motion to the contrary ... that then any such freeman shall be reputed and taken as a [perjured] person and to be disfranchised.
In the event all the Hereford MPs during this period were local men. Eight of the Members—Kerry, Church, Webbe, Green, Boyle, Mallard, Hurdman and Hyde—had their principal residence in Hereford itself and were prominent in the affairs of the council. Gregory Price, who sat for the city in six consecutive Parliaments after being chosen for the county in 1558, lived a few miles from Hereford but was active in local government, being mayor three times. Thomas Jones, another councilman, also lived just outside the city, and Nicholas Garnons, though not a townsman, was elected to Parliament in the year in which his brother was mayor. Two lawyers complete the list of Members. James Wa