Oxford

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
7 Jan. 1559THOMAS WOOD
 ROGER TAYLOR
8 Dec. 1562WILLIAM PAGE
 THOMAS WOOD
1571EDWARD KNOLLYS
 WILLIAM FRERE
14 Apr. 1572EDWARD KNOLLYS
 WILLIAM OWEN
1576FRANCIS KNOLLYS 1 vice Knollys, deceased
2 Jan. 1581EDWARD NORRIS 2 vice Owen, deceased
23 Oct. 1584FRANCIS KNOLLYS
 WILLIAM NOBLE
22 Sept. 1586FRANCIS KNOLLYS
 GEORGE CALFIELD
10 Oct. 1588(SIR) FRANCIS KNOLLYS
 GEORGE CALFIELD
1593(SIR) EDMUND CAREY
 GEORGE CALFIELD
29 Aug. 1597ANTHONY BACON
 GEORGE CALFIELD
20 Sept. 1601FRANCIS LEIGH
 GEORGE CALFIELD

Main Article

The town of Oxford, granted the title of city in 1546, was governed by a mayor, two bailiffs and a council consisting of four aldermen, the past bailiffs and twenty-four common councilmen elected for life by the whole body of freemen or ‘hanasters’. By 1558 there had appeared an inner council of thirteen ‘associates’ or ‘assistants’ to the mayor. Parliamentary returns were made by ‘the mayor, bailiffs and commonalty’, under which description the city received incorporation in 1605.

Despite the council’s opposition to ‘outsiders’, the high steward may have nominated the senior burgess as early as 1559. Lord Williams of Thame was high steward in 1559 and Thomas Wood was probably his servant. In any case Wood, who lived at Cumnor, near Oxford, and who seems to have acted in a legal capacity on occasion for the borough, would have been an acceptable choice as burgess. Wood’s fellow-Member in 1559 was Roger Taylor, a townsman and borough official. By 1563 the 2nd Earl of Bedford had succeeded as high steward, and he nominated his servant William Page as senior burgess, leaving Wood to take the junior seat.

Bedford’s nomination of Page probably roused the council to its decision in November 1568 that no freeman should vote for a burgess who had not lived in the city and been free of it for at least three years. By that time Sir Francis Knollys had succeeded Bedford, and he took little account of the city’s resistance. In March 1571 the council agreed to dispense, ‘for that time only’, with its decision of 1568, in order that Edward Knollys might be returned. He was returned again, however, to the following Parliament, and on his death in 1575 the council agreed to return his brother Francis. In 1571 and 1572 the junior seats were taken by townsmen: William Frere, a borough official, and William Owen, a lawyer who sometimes was employed by the corporation. However, when William Owen d