Much Wenlock

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
16 Jan. 1559ROLAND LACON
 GEORGE BROMLEY
1562/3SIR GEORGE BLOUNT
 CHARLES FOXE
1571WILLIAM LACON
 THOMAS EYTON
23 Apr. 1572SIR GEORGE BLOUNT
 THOMAS LAWLEY
12 Nov. 1584THOMAS LAWLEY
 WILLIAM BAYNHAM
7 Oct. 1586THOMAS LAWLEY
 WILLIAM BAYNHAM
5 Nov. 1588WILLIAM BAYNHAM
 ROBERT LAWLEY
1593WILLIAM BAYNHAM
 SIR JOHN POOLE
15 Sept. 1597WILLIAM BAYNHAM
 WILLIAM LACON
11 Nov. 1597THOMAS FANSHAWE I vice Baynham, deceased
1 Oct. 1601JOHN BRETT
 WILLIAM LEIGHTON

Main Article

After the dissolution of the monasteries, the lordship and site of Wenlock priory were granted to Thomas Lawley, a Calais merchant, who died in 1559 leaving infant sons. Control of the borough seats then passed into the hands of the neighbouring gentry.

The borough was incorporated as the bailiff, burgesses and commonalty, and the right to vote at parliamentary elections was vested in the burgesses.

During the early years of the reign, Much Wenlock’s MPs were drawn from a group of inter-related country gentry. Roland Lacon (1559), whose seat, Willey, lay within the borough, was the cousin of his fellow MP, George Bromley, an Inner Temple lawyer and brother of the future lord chancellor. Sir George Blount (1563, 1572), was Lacon’s nephew, and a relative of the guardian to the Lawley heir. Charles Foxe (1563), of Bromfield, Salop, was related to the Lacon family by marriage. In 1571 and 1597 Roland Lacon brought in his younger brother William. Thomas Eyton (1571) has been identified as either the third son or the nephew of a county official of the same name; in either case, he was of a local gentry family and related to the Lacons. Sir George Blount sat again in 1572 with Thomas Lawley, son of the former owner of the borough, now of age. Lawley sat again twice (1584, 1586) and then returned his brother Robert in 1588.

In 1584, however, the junior seat was taken by the first outsider in the period, William Baynham of Boxley, Kent, the receiver-general in Shropshire. Baynham was related to Richard Horde, the former recorder of Much Wenlock, but no doubt his return for the borough was mostly due to his associations with the county families afforded by his Exchequer post. He represented the borough in every Parliament from 1584 until his death in 1597, taking over the senior seat in 1589. His colleague in 1593, Sir John Poole, has not been identified. Baynham was replaced at a by-election in 1597 by another Exchequer official and outsider, Thomas Fanshawe I from Derbyshire, who, when he heard of Baynham’s death, wrote to the borough asking to be returned and was accepted. In 1601 John Brett, a London lawyer, whose wife had relations in Shropshire, took the senior seat and William Leighton of Plaish Hall, eldest son of a Welsh judge and membe