Orford

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
1558/9RICHARD WINGFIELD 1
 FRANCIS SONE 2
1562/3LAWRENCE MERES
 WILLIAM YAXLEY
17 Mar. 1571ANTHONY WINGFIELD I
 ANTHONY RUSH
1572ANTHONY WINGFIELD I
 ANTHONY RUSH
7 Nov. 1584HENRY WINGFIELD
 JOHN CUTTING
1 Oct. 1586RICHARD WINGFIELD
 WILLIAM DOWNING
18 Oct. 1588RICHARD WINGFIELD
 GEORGE CHITTINGE
1593EDWARD GRIMSTON
 JOHN NORTH
22 Sept. 1597THOMAS RIVETT
 WILLIAM FORTHE
10 Oct. 1601(SIR) JOHN TOWNSHEND
 SIR RICHARD KNIGHTLEY

Main Article

Only one genuine townsman was returned for Orford during this period, John Cutting (1584); and only one local country gentleman independent of a patron, William Forthe (1597). In the earlier part of this period the most important influence was that of the Wingfields of Wantisden, and their relatives the Sones. Three members of the Wingfield family represented the borough: Richard Wingfield (1559, 1586, 1589), Anthony Wingfield I (1571, 1572) and Henry Wingfield (1584), whose identity is in some doubt, since there were in the family two men of the same name, but in either case he would have been returned for the borough through his local family influence; he was made a freeman of the borough just before his election, and received no wages. Francis Sone sat for Orford for the third time in 1559, and a relative of the Sones, Thomas Rivett of Rattlesden, sat in 1597. Anthony Rush, who had an estate two miles from Orford, accompanied his relative Anthony Wingfield I to the Parliaments of 1571 and 1572, Edward Grimston (1593) of Rishangles, Suffolk, was also related to the Wingfield family, and William Yaxley (1563) to the Grimstons. Edward Coke became recorder of Orford in 1593, but his influence cannot be seen before 1601, when he returned both Members.

It is difficult to explain the other returns. The Duchess of Suffolk may have been behind that of Lawrence Meres (1563); John North (1593) has not been accounted for; George Chittinge (1589) was of Suffolk origins, so, probably, was William Downing, a London notary whose letter to Orford corporation of 6 Oct. 1586 clearly shows that he was a stranger. Probably Downing’s return was arranged through a friend at the Exchequer.

As at other boroughs the Privy Council was concerned to exercise some control over the choice of MPs in 1571 and 1572. The sheriff’s letter to the bailiffs of Orford dated 24 Feb. 1571 reads in part:

For your better direction herein you shall do well to repair unto Aldeburgh for a copy of my Lord Wentworth’s letter sent to the bailiffs there, concerning the due ordering of these affairs, purporting the Council’s pleasures therein.

The borough was incorporated in 1579 with a mayor, eight portmen and twelve capital burgesses as the governing body. The returns up to 1584 are either missing or badly torn. From 1584 they carry the name of the mayor.3