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|1571||THOMAS WALSINGHAM 1|
|NICHOLAS ST. LEGER|
|1572||NICHOLAS ST. LEGER|
|16 Nov. 1584||THOMAS RANDOLPH|
|4 Oct. 1586||JOHN ASTLEY|
|15 Oct. 1588||JOHN ASTLEY|
|1593||SIR THOMAS FLUDD|
|27 Sept 1597||SIR THOMAS FLUDD|
|(SIR) JOHN LEVESON|
|2 Oct. 1601||SIR THOMAS FLUDD|
|(SIR) JOHN LEVESON|
December 1559 Maidstone obtained a new charter to replace one granted by Edward VI. The 1559 charter restored the corporation and gave the town, among other privileges, the right to send two burgesses to Parliament. Maidstone first returned Members in this period to the 1563 Parliament, but unlike most returns made for the first time, Maidstone’s return was not challenged in the Commons. The electorate consisted of the mayor, jurats and commonalty defined in the 1559 charter as persons dwelling in the town, having freehold lands or tenements.
Apart from Thomas Dannett (1572), all the Elizabethan MPs were Kent men. The first Members were the recorder, Nicholas Barham, and Henry Fisher, the ex-recorder. Thomas Walsingham (1571) lived at Chislehurst, some way from the borough, and probably owed his return to his cousin, Francis Walsingham, who may also have been behind the returns of the diplomat, Thomas Randolph, in 1584, 1586 and 1588. Randolph’s first wife was also a cousin of Walsingham’s. However, Randolph had his main estates in Kent and was deputy constable of Queenborough castle, so his local standing might have been sufficient to secure his seats at Maidstone. Nicholas St. Leger (1571, 1572) and Michael Sondes (1584) were each returned on the strength of their family’s local standing. Two men with court appointments, John Astley (1586, 1589) and Sir Thomas Fludd (1593, 1597, 1601) were also members of the Kent gentry and had no difficulty in obtaining their returns for the borough. Lewen Buffkyn (1593), a local man, was related by marriage to his fellow-Member, Sir Thomas Fludd. (Sir) John Leveson (1597, 1601), was captain of Upnor castle and a Kent country gentleman. The only outsider, Thomas Dannett, was a servant of the Earl of Leicester and may have been returned through a court connexion; equally it is possible that he owed his return to Archbishop Parker who was instructed by the Privy Council in 1572 to ensure a ‘good choice’ of burgesses in Kent. Dannett was a former pupil and close friend of Aylmer, one of Parker’s protégés.
The only Maidstone MP known to have received wages was Henry Fisher, who received 40s. ‘towards his charges’.2