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,