Available from Boydell and Brewer
|26 Dec. 1558||THOMAS MARKHAM 1|
|JOHN BATEMAN 2|
|1566||RALPH BARTON vice Quarnby, deceased|
|1571||RALPH BARTON 3|
|WILLIAM BALL 4|
|Plumptre's and Goodwin's election declared void, 5 Apr. 1571|
|28 Apr. 1572||SIR THOMAS MANNERS|
|26 Oct. 1584||RICHARD PARKINS 5|
|JOHN BATEMAN 6|
|1586||SIR ROBERT CONSTABLE|
|12 Sept. 1597||HUMPHREY BONNER|
Nottingham, with a population of perhaps 3,500 by 1600, continued to flourish throughout the sixteenth century: both Leland and Camden were impressed by its evident signs of prosperity. The charter granted by Henry VI in 1449, which made the town a county in itself with its own sheriffs and escheator, was confirmed, with little or no change, by every Tudor monarch and remained the basis of government until the reign of Charles II.7 At the accession of Elizabeth, as for many years past, Nottingham was governed by a common council of 13, seven being aldermen, who served in turn as mayor, and six common councilmen. There was also a recorder and a body of uncertain origin, generally described as ‘the clothing’, made up of former chamberlains and sheriffs, from which new councilmen were drawn. The general body of burgesses of the town attempted in the Elizabethan period both to enlarge the council and to take a part in the election of aldermen and councilmen, as laid down in the 1449 charter. After a demand in 1577 for a council of 48 members, the governing body agreed to double the number of councilmen to 12, but no major changes occurred until the reign of James I. One petition from the burgesses spoke of ‘other places where their corporations are better governed than this is’.8
The choice of MPs was probably made by the common council alone. Elections were conducted by the two sheriffs ‘in full county court’ in the guildhall, but the surviving returns give no hint that the ordinary burgesses helped to nominate the Members, who were doubtless selected in advance. Apart from the aldermen and recorder, the highest number of burgesses named on a return is 18 in 1584: these were probably councilmen, together with the chamberlains, coroner and other office holders. In 1597 there was a full attendance of aldermen, recorder and councilmen—no one else is mentioned.9 In 1571, for reasons unknown, besides the two named on the Browne Willis list, the recorder and town clerk, two townsmen, Nicholas Plumptre and Edward Goodwin, appeared in the Commons, but the House rejected them on the ground that their names had not been returned to the clerk of the Crown. The de Tabley list, strangely enough, for it is generally the better Source, names Barton and Plumptre.10
Though Nottingham was strong enough to retain the initiative in the choice of MPs, it found it expedient, possibly even desirable, to gratify the wishes of the Manners family, earls of Rutland. The 3rd Earl, and perhaps the 2nd also, was high steward of the borough, and the family held the constableship of Nottingham castle for most, if not all, of the reign. Prior to 1593, when Manners influence disappeared during the 5th Earl’s minority, at least one likely Rutland nominee is to be found in every Parliament save 1571 when the 3rd Earl, who had only just come of age, does not seem to have taken an active interest in elections. John Bateman, who was returned five times between 1555 and 1584, was one of the 2nd Earl’s secretaries until the latter’s death in 1563, when he seems to have entered the household of the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury. Bateman’s colleague in 1559 was Thomas Markham, a Nottinghamshire protestant country gentleman who had sat for the borough in Mary’s first Parliament. His father, who was knight of the shire in 1559, was a great friend of the 2nd Earl of Rutland, and he himself had earlier served the Manners family. Sir Thomas Manners (1572) was the 3rd Earl’s uncle, and Sir Robert Constable (1586) his first cousin and close friend. Constable, whose brother George was in Rutland’s household, had served with Sir Thomas in Scotland in 1570, both being knighted on the same day, and they were the two Nottingham county Members in 1584. George Manners, the son and heir of John Manners of Haddon Hall, Derbyshire, was still a minor when elected to the 1589 Parliament. With the earldom held by a boy, he may have owed his seat to his father’s influence, or to that of one of his uncles, Roger Manners I of Uffington, or (most likely) Sir Thomas, the 1572 Member, who became constable of Nottingham castle in 1588.
All the other Members were townsmen and were probably paid for their services in Parliament. Humphrey Quarnby was mayor at the time of his third election for the borough in 1563. Following his death, his place in the second session was taken by Ralph Barton, the recorder. Barton’s successor Richard Parkins was returned to the four Parliaments from 1584. The other Members include two mayors or town clerks, William Ball (1571) and William Gregory (1601), two aldermen, Humphrey Bonner (1593 and 1597) and Anchor Jackson (1597), and a councilman, William Greaves (1601), who served as coroner for more than 30 years.
- 1. C219/282/17.
- 2. Ibid.
- 3. Browne Willis.
- 4. Ibid.
- 5. Ibid.
- 6. Ibid.
- 7. Nottingham Charters, ed. Stevenson, 48-70; CPR, 1446-52, pp. 265-6.
- 8. Nottingham Recs. iv. pp. xi-xvi, 171-2, 191, 262-3, 408-9; Gray, Nottingham Through 500 Years (2nd ed.), 35-36, 56, 58.
- 9. C219/28/184; 29/195; 33/258; 282/17.
- 10. CJ, i. 83.