Hereford

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
1558/9JOHN KERRY 1
 THOMAS CHURCH
1562/3THOMAS WEBBE
 HENRY GREEN
1566John HYDE vice Webbe, deceased
1571JAMES WARNECOMBE
 THOMAS CHURCH
29 Apr. 1572JAMES WARNECOMBE 2
 GREGORY PRICE
1584GREGORY PRICE
 JAMES BOYLE
27 Sept. 1586GREGORY PRICE
 THOMAS JONES
5 Nov. 1588GREGORY PRICE
 NICHOLAS GARNONS
1593GREGORY PRICE
 THOMAS MALLARD
27 Sept. 1597GREGORY PRICE
 ANTHONY PEMBRIDGE
6 Oct. 1601WALTER HURDMAN
 THOMAS JONES

Main Article

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 Warnecombe came from an important Herefordshire family. His father lived in Hereford and he himself was chosen as mayor and Member of Parliament in 1571. He died during the final session of the 1572 Parliament, but there is no evidence of a by-election. Pembridge