Liverpool

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
6 Jan. 1559SIR THOMAS SMITH
 RALPH BROWNE I
1562/3RICHARD MOLYNEUX I
 RALPH SEKERSTON
1571THOMAS AVERY
 RALPH SEKERSTON
1572RALPH SEKERSTON
 MATHEW DALE
24 Jan. 1576THOMAS GREENACRES vice Sekerston, deceased
5 Apr. 1583ARTHUR ATYE vice Greenacres, deceased
1584ARTHUR ATYE 1
 JOHN MOLYNEUX II 2
1586JOHN POOLE
 WILLIAM CAVENDISH II
28 Oct. 1588EDWARD WARREN
 FRANCIS BACON
1593MICHAEL DOUGHTY
 JOHN WROTH
16 Oct. 1597THOMAS GERARD II
 PETER PROBY
20 Oct. 1601EDWARD ANDERSON
 HUGH CALVERLEY

Main Article

Liverpool was governed during this period by a mayor, two bailiffs, 12 aldermen and a number of burgesses. Returns at parliamentary elections were made by the mayor and bailiffs, with the assent and consent of aldermen, burgesses and commoners. At the beginning of the reign Sir Ambrose Cave, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, apparently assumed that both seats at Liverpool were his for the taking. Liverpool, however, wished to keep a degree of independence, and attempted to do so by enlisting the support of the 3rd Earl of Derby and then playing the one powerful magnate against the other. For a time this worked, but by 1584 Liverpool was in the position of having to accept one nomination from each, until the death of the 4th Earl of Derby in 1593.

The 1559 election at Liverpool provides a good example of cynical interference. Sir Ambrose Cave nominated his friend, Sir Thomas Smith, former secretary of state, to the senior seat. The borough chose a leading townsman and councilman, Ralph Sekerston, as junior Member. A week after the’ election the borough learnt that Sekerston’s name had been erased from the return and replaced by that of Ralph Browne I, an obscure gentleman, probably in the service of Sir Ambrose Cave. In 1563 Cave evidently expected to get both seats again and nominated Sir Humphrey Radcliffe and William Wynter. The borough, however, determined to foil him. To the senior seat they elected Richard Molyneux I, son of the Crown lessee of the lordship of Liverpool; announced that the other seat was reserved for the 3rd Earl of Derby; elected Sekerston and sent him off to London, where the Earl accepted him as his nominee. Cave made an abortive attempt to stop Sekerston from sitting—the sheriff had refused to handle the indenture—and then issued aquo warranto to inquire into the town’s privileges. This dire threat was averted by the Earl of Derby, who talked things over with the chancellor.

In 1571 and 1572 everything continued smoothly from Liverpool’s point of view. Derby continued to permit Sekerston to sit as his nominee, and Sir Ralph Sadler, now chancellor of the duchy, nominated to the other seat. Thomas Avery (1571) was in Sadler’s service and held a duchy post. Mathew Dale (1572), a Middle Temple lawyer, was no doubt recommended by William Fleetwood I, a duchy official who had also studied at the Middle Temple. Later Dale was to become Fleetwood’s deputy as recorder of London.

Sekerston’s death, some time before 1576, put an end to the agreement which had suited the borough so well. For now the 4th Earl of Derby had established a right to one of the borough’s seats and was no longer inclined to return the borough’s nominees. To replace Sekerston he nominated one of his followers, Thomas Greenacres, and when Greenacres died, he nominated Arthur Atye, at the request of the Earl of Leicester. In 1584 Atye was again returned as Derby’s nominee with John Molyneux II, whose identity is doubtful, as the choice of the chancellor of the duchy. The 4th Earl’s nominees in the next three Parliaments were John Poole (1586), a relative by marriage, Edward Warren (1589), one of his followers, and Michael Doughty (1593), one of his servants. After the 4th Earl’s death in 1593, Derby influence in the borough disappeared, as neither of his Elizabethan successors to the title showed any interest in nominating at Liverpool. Meanwhile the successive chancellors of the duchy continued to nominate to one seat: William Cavendish II (1586) was probably returned by Sadler; Francis Bacon (1589) was a Walsingham nominee; John Wroth (1593), whose identity is uncertain, was acquainted with Walsingham and through him, with (Sir) Thomas Heneage, chancellor at that time; Peter Proby (1597) was a servant of Cecil’s and Edward Anderson (1601) a nephew of (Sir) John Fortescue I. The remaining two returns in 1597 and 1601 are difficult to explain. The duchy of Lancaster does not appear to have been concerned in them, neither does the borough itself appear to have taken advantage of the lack of interest shown in the Derby quarter. Thomas Gerard II (1597) was a recusant who lived near Liverpool and who appears to have been returned through his local family influence. No reason can be suggested for Hugh Calve