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|12 Jan. 1559||SIR THOMAS BENGER|
|WILLIAM FLEETWOOD I|
|1562/3||JOHN HALES I|
|WILLIAM FLEETWOOD I|
|11 Nov. 1584||HENRY SADLER|
|THOMAS GERARD I|
|1586||THOMAS GERARD I|
|14 Oct. 1588||ROGER DALTON|
|JOHN AUDLEY II|
|15 Oct. 1597||THOMAS HESKETH|
|20 Oct. 1601||SIR JEROME BOWES|
|(SIR) CAREW REYNELL|
Lancaster, the northern centre of duchy activity, was enfranchised under Henry VIII, but was not incorporated until 1604. A code of customs, drawn up and ratified in 1572, reveals that it was governed by a mayor, two bailiffs and 12 capital burgesses. Parliamentary election was made by the mayor, bailiffs, burgesses and commonalty. The dominant influence on the borough’s parliamentary returns was that of the duchy of Lancaster.
Sir Thomas Benger (1559) an Oxfordshire country gentleman and courtier, no doubt owed his return to his court connexions with Sir Ambrose Cave, then chancellor of the duchy. Benger later became a duchy feodary. His fellow MP, William Fleetwood I, originally came from Lancashire but at the time of the election was a practising lawyer in London. Fleetwood, who knew Cave in London, was a duchy official by the following year. He sat again in 1563, this time with John Hales I who no doubt owed his return to his former colleague in Chancery, Sir Ralph Sadler, now a duchy official who in 1568 was to succeed Cave as chancellor. Sadler took the opportunity to nominate two of his sons to Lancaster seats after his appointment. Henry, his third son, sat in 1571, 1572, 1584 and 1586, while his eldest son, Thomas, only sat in 1572. Sadler was no doubt also behind the return of Miles Sandys in 1571, whose religious views would have pleased him, and whose family had long-standing connexions with the duchy.
In 1584 Lancaster sent a ‘blank’ return to Sir Gilbert Gerard, vice-chancellor at Lancaster. Gerard nominated his son, Thomas Gerard I, to a seat in 1584. Both 1584 MPs sat again in 1586. Sir Gilbert Gerard also probably arranged the return of John Audley II in 1593. One of the eventual overseers of Audley’s will was Sir Gilbert Gerard’s nephew. It is not known whether Audley took his seat for Lancaster, since he had also been returned at another duchy borough, namely Stockbridge, and there is no evidence of a by-election in either case to replace him. John Preston (1593), a student at Gray’s Inn, may also have owed his return at Lancaster to Gerard. He was the son of a minor Lancashire landowner, and like John Atherton in 1589, may have been one of the few Lancaster MPs to be returned on the strength of his own local influence.
Roger Dalton (1589) probably owed his return at Lancaster to a connexion with Walsingham, then chancellor of the duchy, through the secret service. Thomas Hesketh (1597) was recorder of the borough and had succeeded Sir Gilbert Gerard as vice-chancellor at Lancaster. Hesketh’s colleague, Edward Hubberd, may have been returned through the influence of John Brograve, attorney of the duchy.
It is not known how the 1601 MPs came to be returned for Lancaster, but court connexions with Cecil or (Sir) John Fortescue may be presumed.
Weinbaum, Charters, 66; Lancaster Recs. ed. Brown and Nuttal, 9, 10; T. Pape, Charters of City of Lancaster, 45, 46-47, 49; C219/29/72, 73.