Hertfordshire

County

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Elections

DateCandidate
5 Jan. 1559SIR THOMAS PARRY
 SIR RALPH SADLER
1562/3SIR RALPH SADLER
 HENRY CAPELL I
1571SIR RALPH SADLER
 SIR GEORGE CAREY
10 Apr. 1572SIR RALPH SADLER
 JOHN BROCKET
5 Nov. 1584SIR RALPH SADLER
 (SIR) HENRY COCKE
 Edward Denny
6 Oct. 1586SIR RALPH SADLER
 (SIR) HENRY COCKE
3 Oct. 1588ROBERT CECIL
 SIR PHILIP BUTLER
1593(SIR) ROBERT CECIL
 (SIR) HENRY COCKE
 (Sir) Edward Denny
22 Sept. 1597(SIR) ROBERT CECIL
 ROWLAND LYTTON
15 Oct. 1601(SIR) ROBERT CECIL
 SIR HENRY CAREY

Main Article

Throughout this period the senior Hertfordshire seat was monopolized by courtiers, and only three of the junior knights (Henry Capell I, John Brocket and Sir Philip Butler) can be regarded as independent. Sir George Carey and Henry Carey were to succeed to peerages; Henry Cocke obtained the lucrative office of cofferer of the Household in 1597; Rowland Lytton followed ‘his father in an hereditary dependence on’ the Cecils, eventually becoming captain of the gentlemen pensioners. Even Edward Denny, who twice contested the junior seat, though he was not even on the commission of the peace in Hertfordshire at the time of his first attempt, held a court appointment. However, as a general rule it was considered proper that courtiers should have estates in the counties that elected them and Sir Thomas Parry is the only Elizabethan Hertfordshire MP who did not.

Whether the independent country gentlemen of the county resented this domination by the court cannot be known, perhaps there were too few to count in what was even then commuting territory. Certain it is that the two, possibly three1 contested elections had nothing to do with any court v. country feeling. In 1584 the independent Brocket supported Denny, who had just been given a court office, against Cocke, who at that time had not. After both Denny’s attempts to win a seat there were accusations of fraud and undue influence; i