Kingston-upon-Hull

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
1558/9WALTER JOBSON 1
 JOHN OVERSALL 2
1562/3CHRISTOPHER ESTOFTE
 JOHN THORNTON
1566HENRY FANSHAWE I vice Estofte, deceased3
1571JOHN THORNTON
 JAMES CLERKSON
28 Apr. 1572THOMAS DALTON
 JAMES CLERKSON
2 Jan. 1581 (new writ)THOMAS FLEMING I and JOHN FAWETHER alias FAIRWEATHER, vice  Dalton and Clerkson, 'languidi et impotentes'
2 Nov. 1584JOHN THORNTON
 JOHN ALDRED
26 Sept. 1586EDWARD WAKEFIELD
 JOHN ALDRED
21 Oct. 1588LEONARD WILLAN
 WILLIAM GEE
1593LEONARD WILLAN
 PETER PROBY
26 Sept. 1597LEONARD WILLAN
 ANTHONY COLE
27 Oct. 1601JOHN LISTER
 JOHN GRAVES

Main Article

Kingston-upon-Hull was expanding rapidly in the sixteenth century. Its prosperity, based for the most part on trade with Scandinavia and the Netherlands, helped to give the port a vigorous municipal life and a large degree of independence in the conduct of its affairs. Its principal charter was granted by Henry VI in 1440. This mentions a mayor, 12 aldermen (elected for life from the burgesses), a chamberlain, a coroner and other minor officials. It also made Hull a county in its own right, with a sheriff, to whom parliamentary election writs were sent, and an escheator. Queen Elizabeth confirmed the town’s liberties in 1577, and in 1598 granted a new charter in which the mayor and aldermen are referred to as the common council. By that date there were also a recorder and a high steward. It is not known when the office of high steward first appeared, but (Sir) Francis Walsingham’s appointment in 1583 was to replace an unnamed predecessor. Walsingham was followed in 1590 by (Sir) Thomas Heneage, who died in 1595, and then by (Sir) Robert Cecil. A noticeable feature is the strong puritan element in the governing body. Every Elizabethan MP whose religious views are known was radical in outlook.

A Hull charter of 1299 defines burgesses as those who pay ‘scot and lot’, and no later source amends the description. Municipal officers were elected by the burgesses assembled in the guildhall; parliamentary elections were probably conducted in the same way, though it is not clear whether they were, in effect, controlled by the mayor and aldermen. Hull probably paid its MPs in the reign of Elizabeth, since the practice is still to be found in the seventeenth century.

The port was sufficiently large and independent to resist interference by outsiders in its choice of Members of Parliament. Such an attempt was made, probably in 1586, by the 3rd Earl of Huntingdon, lord president of the council in the north. In a letter to the mayor, advising him to elect a ‘religious man’ and one ‘well affected to the Queen and State’, he asked for the nomination of the other Member, but his request was denied. Ten of those who sat for Hull—Jobson, Oversall, Thornton, Clerkson, Dalton, Wakefield, Willan, Cole, Lister and Graves—were leading townsmen who all held the office of mayor at leas