Queenborough

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
1571JOHN BROOKE alias COBHAM
 JOHN PARKER I
3 May 1572JOHN BROOKE alias COBHAM
 WILLIAM BUTLER
13 Dec. 1580SIR HUMPHREY GILBERT 1 vice Butler, deceased
11 Nov. 1584JOHN BROOKE alias COBHAM
 WILLIAM PARRY
20 Feb. 1585(SIR) EDWARD HOBY 2 vice Parry, expelled the House
24 Sept. 1586(SIR) EDWARD HOBY
 MICHAEL SONDES
29 [?Oct.] 1588WILLIAM BOYS
 MICHAEL SONDES
1593JOHN BROOKE alias COBHAM
 JOHN BAYNHAM
29 Sept. 1597SIR GEORGE CAREW
 MICHAEL SONDES
1601(SIR) MICHAEL SONDES
 NICHOLAS TROUGHTON

Main Article

Queenborough was one of the smallest boroughs enfranchised during Elizabeth’s period, its adult male population in 1585 amounting to only 35. By a charter of 1368, confirmed in 1559, the government of the town was in the hands of a mayor and two bailiffs. The mayor had to take an oath before the constable of Queenborough castle. This office was held from 1559 by Sir Robert Constable, who lived in the north and appears not to have involved himself in the borough’s electoral affairs. Constable appointed Thomas Randolph, the diplomat, his deputy in 1567. He was succeeded on 9 July 1597 by (Sir) Edward Hoby. Elections were held at the mayor’s court, attended by most of the burgesses.

Queenborough first sent Members to Parliament in 1571, apparently with no authority, for its right was challenged in the House and referred to the returns committee 6 Apr. 1571. Perhaps William, 10th Lord Cobham, whose principal seat lay only a few miles from the borough, was responsible. In 1571 the Privy Council instructed Lord Cobham and Matthew Parker, archbishop of Canterbury, to ensure that a ‘good choice’ of knights and burgesses was made throughout Kent, and Queenborough’s first Members were their respective kinsmen, John Brooke alias Cobham, and John Parker I. Cobham influence was consistent throughout the reign, securing one seat in each Parliament. The 1571 MP, John Brookealias Cobham, was also returned in 1572, 1584 and 1593, and Michael Sondes, a relative of Lord Cobham by marriage, was returned to the remaining four Parliaments of the reign, 1586, 1589, 1597 and 1601. It is interesting to note that Sondes was also closely acquainted with (Sir) Edward Hoby who was, after Lord Cobham, the most influential man in Queenborough. Hoby leased the royal manor of Shurland nearby, and became constable of the castle in 1597. He was returned for Queenborough twice, at a by-election 20 Feb. 1585, replacing William Parry, who had been expelled the House two days earlier, and in 1586. Hoby had probably known Parry at court and been responsible for his return