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|16 Jan. 1559||ROLAND LACON|
|1562/3||SIR GEORGE BLOUNT|
|23 Apr. 1572||SIR GEORGE BLOUNT|
|12 Nov. 1584||THOMAS LAWLEY|
|7 Oct. 1586||THOMAS LAWLEY|
|5 Nov. 1588||WILLIAM BAYNHAM|
|SIR JOHN POOLE|
|15 Sept. 1597||WILLIAM BAYNHAM|
|11 Nov. 1597||THOMAS FANSHAWE I vice Baynham, deceased|
|1 Oct. 1601||JOHN BRETT|
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 member of the council in the marches of Wales, took the junior seat.
Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxix); Eyton, Salop, iii. 223, 264; J. Randall, Tourists’ Guide to Wenlock, 54, 166-71; Weinbaum, Charters, 100; HMC 10th Rep. IV, 420 seq.; Wenlock reg. bk. 1495-1658.