Portsmouth

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
14 Jan. 1559WILLIAM WYNTER
 GEORGE BROOKE alias COBHAM
1563WILLIAM WYNTER 1
 THOMAS SMYTHE
1571LAWRENCE BLUNDESTONE
 HENRY SLATER
22 Apr. 1572SIR HENRY RADCLIFFE
 ROBERT COLSHILl 2
9 Nov. 1584THOMAS BODLEY
 THOMAS RADCLIFFE
4 Oct. 1586THOMAS HARRIS I
 THOMAS THORNEY
16 Oct. 1588THOMAS HARRIS I
 THOMAS THORNEY
1593EDWARD RADCLIFFE
 THOMAS THORNEY
10 Oct. 1597WILLIAM GREENE II
 THOMAS THORNEY
20 Oct. 1601JOHN MOORE III
 EDWARD JONES

Main Article

Portsmouth was a dockyard town, and the captain of the dockyard was frequently the parliamentary patron. Sir Adrian Poynings was responsible, in all probability, for the return of ‘Customer’ Smythe in 1563. Poynings’s successor, Sir Henry Radcliffe, came in himself in 1572, brought in his relations Thomas and Edward in 1584 and 1593 respectively, and may have been responsible for the return of the gentleman pensioner Robert Colshill in 1572. Colshill died in 1580 but no mention has been found of a by-election to replace him. Sir Henry Radcliffe was given the additional appointment of high steward in 1590, and his successor in 1593 as captain of Portsmouth, the 8th Lord Mountjoy, was made high steward in 1594. Mountjoy brought in William Greene II, whose identity is uncertain, in 1597, and, probably, Edward Jones in 1601.3

Apart from the recorder, John Moore III (1601), only two MPs in this period were townsmen, Henry Slater (1571) and Thomas Thorney (1586, 1589, 1593, 1597). The borough being open to court influence, the remainder were a mixed bag. Wynter (1559, 1563) was an admiral; George Brooke Cobham (1559) seems to have owed his return to his brother the warden of the Cinque Ports; the patrons of two lawyers, Lawrence Blundestone (1571) and Thomas Harris I (1586, 1589), have eluded discovery; and Thomas Bodley (1584) probably came in under the auspices of Walsingham or Leicester.

Author: P. W. Hasler

Notes