Available from Boydell and Brewer
|12 Jan. 1559||SIR NICHOLAS BAGNALL 1|
|JOHN SKEFFINGTON 2|
|1562/3||SIR RALPH BAGNALL|
|1571||SIR RALPH BAGNALL|
|23 Apr. 1572||RALPH BOURCHIER|
|Oct. 1588||THOMAS HUMPHREY|
|1 Oct. 1597||(SIR) WALTER LEVESON|
|30 Sept. 1601||EDWARD MAINWARING|
|THOMAS TRENTHAM II|
The borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme was governed by a mayor, two bailiffs and 24 capital burgesses throughout this period, and was incorporated by a royal charter in 1590. MPs were elected by the bailiffs and capital burgesses, the mayor having a casting vote. In 1597 the borough minute book records that the MPs were made freemen of the borough on being returned and swore to be true ‘to the wealth and worship of the town’. The manor of Newcastle belonged to the duchy of Lancaster.
The majority of Newcastle-under-Lyme MPs were local country gentlemen. Sir Nicholas Bagnall was returned to the senior seat in 1559, when his elder brother Sir Ralph, of Dieulacresse, was representing the county. Sir Ralph Bagnall then took the senior Newcastle seat in both 1563 and 1571. Ralph Bourchier of Haughton came in for his local borough in 1571 and 1572. Walter Chetwynd was the second son of a well-established Staffordshire family, and despite having inherited a manor in Warwickshire as his part of the estate, his family’s influence in Staffordshire was sufficient to secure him a seat at Newcastle-under-Lyme in both 1584 and 1586. James Colyer of Darlaston was returned in 1586 through the influence of his relative by marriage, Ralph Smythe, the mayor. (Sir) Walter Leveson of Trentham came in for his local borough in 1597 in order to escape his creditors. John Bowyer of Sidway (1597) and Edward Mainwaring of Whitmore (1601) were resident only a few miles from Newcastle, while Thomas Trentham II of Rocester (1601), also a Staffordshire landowner, had connexions with the borough through his mother’s family.
Of the remaining Newcastle-under-Lyme MPs, John James (1593), physician to the Queen’s household, was returned by the Earl of Essex, who had three years previously obtained Newcastle its charter. It is surprising that the Earl did not take more interest in the borough’s representation. Thomas Grimsditch (1572), a legal official at Lancaster, was an obvious nominee of the duchy of Lancaster. John Skeffington (1559) was to marry in 1563 a Staffordshire heiress and niece of Sir Ambrose Cave, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster. It is to be supposed that it was through these connexions that Skeffington, a Shropshire country gentleman, secured his seat at Newcastle-under-Lyme. The remaining MPs were probably nominees of the duchy of Lancaster. John Long (1563) of Draycot Cerne, Wiltshire, was related through his mother to the Dudleys, who may have recommended him to Sir Ambrose Cave. Peter Warburton (1584) of Northwich, Chester, was a lawyer and probably already a minor duchy official. He was later to be Queen’s attorney in the palatine courts of Chester and Lancaster. Thomas Humphrey (1589) has not been definitely identified, but if, as seems most likely, he was the Thomas Humphrey of Swepstone, Leicestershire, he would have been an official of the extensive duchy lands in Leicestershire. Francis Aungier (1589) was a Gray’s Inn lawyer whose father was in the duchy’s employ. Thomas Fitzherbert was a ruined man who continued to be returned in 1593 to escape his creditors. His arrest for debt on the morning of the election led to lengthy debates in the ensuing Parliament.3