Ipswich

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
1558/9THOMAS SECKFORD I 1
 ROBERT BARKER 2
1562/3THOMAS SECKFORD I
 EDWARD GRIMSTON
1571EDWARD GRIMSTON
 JOHN MORE II
1572THOMAS SECKFORD I
 EDWARD GRIMSTON
16 Nov. 1584(SIR) JOHN HEIGHAM
 JOHN BARKER I
6 Oct. 1586JOHN BARKER I
 JOHN LANEY
18 Oct. 1588JOHN BARKER I
 WILLIAM SMARTE
1593ROBERT BARKER II
 ZACHARIAH LOK
18 Oct. 1597MICHAEL STANHOPE
 FRANCIS BACON
12 Oct. 1601MICHAEL STANHOPE
 FRANCIS BACON

Main Article

Ipswich was incorporated in the fifteenth century. In the Elizabethan period the elections appear to have been made in the ‘assembly’, consisting presumably of the bailiffs, ‘portmen’ or aldermen, and common councilmen. A resolution of the assembly in December 1596 indicates that the borough would have preferred to limit its parliamentary representation to resident freemen, though a modification of that resolution, added almost immediately and extending the qualification to ‘such knights as be resident within this county of Suffolk’, reveals that they could not hope entirely to exclude outsiders. In fact, in the first five Parliaments of the reign, townsmen made way for local gentlemen who wished to represent the borough. Thomas Seckford I, of Woodbridge, a master of requests, represented Ipswich in 1559, 1563 and 1572, missing 1571 when he sat for the county. On two occasions he shared the representation of the borough with Edward Grimston of Rishangles, a local gentleman who had married the daughter of a townsman and was on friendly terms with the leading local magnate, Lord Wentworth. When Seckford took the county seat in 1571, Grimston replaced him as senior burgess. This made room for the townsman, John More II, who took the junior seat, as Robert Barker I, the only other townsman to represent Ipswich so far in this period, had done in 1559. In 1584 (Sir) John Heigham was a local Suffolk landowner, and John Barker I, son of the 1559 MP, a townsman. In 1586 and 1589 there was no outside competition for the seats, and Ipswich returned two townsmen to each Parliament: John Barker I (1586, 1589), John Laney (1586), the recorder and William Smarte (1589) a borough official. However, in 1593, although the senior seat was retained by a townsman, Robert Barker II, grandson of the 1559 MP, the junior seat was taken by a nominee of the high steward of the borough, Henry Carey, 1st Lord Hunsdon. Previously the high stewards had taken no interest in Ipswich elections, but Hunsdon’s successor, the Earl of Essex, lost no time in returning his nominee, Francis Bacon, in the following Parliament of 1597. This caused a difficult situation for the Ipswich assembly, since they were faced with two contenders for the remaining seat: Sir William Waldegrave, a Suffolk gentleman, and Michael Stanhope, groom of the privy chamber, a nominee of Cecil. Ipswich chose Waldegrave, but in the event was able to avoid offending Cecil, when Waldegrave chose to sit for the county and Stanhope replaced him. The same two, Stanhope and Bacon, sat in 1601.

In 1560 Robert Barker I was paid £31 4s. ‘for money that was borrowed of him at London, and for his meat and drinks while he was burgess of the Parliament’. William Smarte was paid £6 in 1589 and Zachariah Lok, Hunsdon’s nominee, was paid £5.3

Author: N. M. Fuidge

Notes

  • 1. E371/402(1).
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Weinbaum, Charters, 109-10; Neale, Commons, 180-2; Ipswich Annals, 252-408; HMC Var. vii. 88; Ipswich treasurer’s accts. 1594-5.

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