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|12 Jan. 1559||ROGER ALFORD|
|RICHARD COOKE I vice Goldsmith, chose to sit for Helston|
|3 Nov. 1584||WILLIAM FLEETWOOD II|
|14 Oct. 1588||THOMAS HESKETH|
|16 Oct. 1597||JOHN BROGRAVE|
|(SIR) JOHN STANHOPE|
|16 Oct. 1601||JOHN BROGRAVE|
Preston received a charter of confirmation in 1557 and was incorporated in 1566, its common council consisting of the mayor, two bailiffs, and 24 principal burgesses. From 1542 onwards, a meeting of the guild merchant was held at intervals of 20 years. Neighbouring noblemen and gentry customarily obtained admission to the guild as ‘foreign burgesses’ and, by 1602, outnumbered the local or ‘inburgesses’.
After a lapse of almost two centuries, Preston again became an active parliamentary borough during the reign of Henry VIII, election being by the mayor and bailiffs with the consent of the aldermen, burgesses and commonalty. In the Elizabethan period the two outside influences on its choice of Members were the earls of Derby and the duchy of Lancaster. At least once, in 1601, the borough returned a blank, the name of William Waad being later inserted; and earlier, in 1584, the recorder, Fleetwood, after arranging for one name to be scratched out and another substituted, wrote to the mayor on the back of the return: ‘I have caused the sheriff to amend the writing of the name of one of those on this indenture, viz. William Fleetwood, my son.’ Something of this sort, rather than a formal by-election, may have brought about the return of Cooke in place of Goldsmith in 1559; and it is impossible to tell whether the election was contested when Hodgkinson, not Ascham, was returned in 1563. No Preston Members are known to have been paid; indeed, the 1559 and 1597 returns expressly relieved the borough of this liability.
In 1559 Sir Ambrose Cave, chancellor of the duchy, and his friend Sir William Cecil between them secured the return of Cecil’s servant Roger Alford, and, at the last minute, of Cecil’s brother-in-law Richard Cooke I. For the 1563 Parliament the 3rd Earl of Derby, the lord lieutenant, was able to have Gilbert Morton returned, perhaps on the understanding that he would support the town’s candidate for the junior seat; at any rate the townsman Hodgkinson was elected despite Cave’s nomination of Roger Ascham. In 1571 it looks as though the seats were shared between Derby (Reginald Williams) and the duchy (Edward Bashe), but Hodgkinson came in again in 1572, perhaps with Derby’s support, and the 4th Earl certainly nominated Michael Doughty in 1588. These exceptions apart, elections at Preston were dominated by the duchy. Sir Ralph Sadler, in the first two elections after he became chancellor, brought in a son-in-law at each (Bashe in 1571 and Horsey in 1572), and in 1584 Thomas Cromwell, grandson of the man in whose household he had been brought up. John Brograve, attorney of the duchy, took the senior seat in three Parliaments (1586, 1597, 1601). Hesketh (1586, 1589), a local lawyer, no doubt practised in the duchy courts. James Dalton (1593), another lawyer, was returned during the chancellorship of (Sir) Thomas Heneage, whose servant Bulbeck was the second 1593 Member. Cecil was no doubt responsible for the return of Stanhope in 1597 when he was chancellor, and of Waad, clerk of the Privy Council, in 1601 when he was not.
C219/26/43, 29/72, 33/111; Weinbaum, Charters, 67; Preston Charters (1821), 3-34; Preston Burgess Rolls (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. ix), passim; HMC Hatfield, xi. 443-4.