Newcastle-upon-Tyne

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
13 Jan. 1559ROBERT LEWEN
 CUTHBERT BLOUNT 1
20 Dec. 1562SIR ROBERT BRANDLING
 BERTRAM ANDERSON
1571WILLIAM CARR II
 WILLIAM JENISON I
26 Apr. 1572WILLIAM JENISON I
 WILLIAM SELBY I
2 Nov. 1584WILLIAM JENISON I
 HENRY ANDERSON
1586HENRY ANDERSON
 EDWARD LEWEN
20 Oct. 1588HENRY ANDERSON
 HENRY MITFORD
1593HENRY ANDERSON
 HENRY MITFORD
10 Oct. 1597HENRY CHAPMAN 2
 HENRY LINDLEY 3
14 Oct. 1601WILLIAM JENISON II
 GEORGE SELBY

Main Article

Incorporated as a separate county in 1400, Newcastle-upon-Tyne obtained renewal of its charters in 1589 and 1600. The government of the town was in the hands of a mayor, sheriff, aldermen and 24 burgesses. Parliamentary returns were made in the name of the mayor, burgesses and commonalty, following an election at the guildhall.4

Newcastle had a record of virtually unassailable independence in parliamentary elections. Apart from Henry Lindley, whose election in 1597 arose out of special circumstances, all MPs were townsmen, who had followed the customary pattern of service on the council, first as sheriffs, then as aldermen and mayors. Most were of old Newcastle families—Anderson, Brandling, Carr, Lewen, Mitford, Selby—backed by the accumulated wealth and prestige of generations of Newcastle merchants and freemen. Others were more recently established in the borough. William Jenison I, who accompanied his brother-in-law William Carr II to Parliament in 1571 and held the senior seat in the two following Parliaments, was the founder of a great merchant house at Newcastle; William Jenison II was his son. Cuthbert Blount (1559), whose antecedents are unknown, was probably a newcomer, while Henry Chapman (1597), a relative of the Andersons and Mitfords, represented only the second generation of the Newcastle branch of his family. These men, by entering the merchant adventurers’ and hostmen’s companies and by marrying into the older-established families, were quickly assimilated into the leading ranks of Newcastle burgesses.

A special feature of Newcastle’s civic and electoral history during the last decade of the sixteenth century was the concentration of power in the hands of a small oligarchy centred on the Andersons, Selbys, and Henry Chapman, whose father had married an Anderson. This group held the ‘grand lease’ of the manors of Gateshead and Whickham, the richest coal areas, and established a monopoly of the local coal industry, of civic offices, and of borough representation. All the MPs from 1589 were either lessees or their close associates. Henry Anderson (1584, 1586, 1589, 1593) and his cousin and fellow-Member in 1589 and 1593, Henry Mitford, were chief partners in the lease, as were Geroge Selby (1601), a son and heir of William and a relative of the Andersons, and Henry Chapman. Jenison, although it is not certain whether he inherited his father’s valuable share in the lease, was certainly one of their group. Finally, the only outsider of the period, Henry Lindley, was a servant and nominee of the Earl of Essex, returned through the influence of the lessees, who had arranged for the corporation to pay Essex an annuity of £6 13s.4d. to gain his support against an opposition group of ‘base and turbulent’ lesser merchants who resented the monopolists. Needless to say, the grand lessees won the day, their power being finally settled in the charter of 1600.