Richmond

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
1584JOHN PEPPER 1
 MARMADUKE WYVELL 2
10 Oct. 1586ROBERT BOWES II
 SAMUEL COXE
12 Oct. 1588JAMES DALE
 JOHN SMYTHE II
1593TALBOT BOWES
 JOHN PEPPER
1 Oct. 1597MARMADUKE WYVELL
 CUTHBERT PEPPER
16 Oct. 1601CUTHBERT PEPPER
 TALBOT BOWES

Main Article

Although Richmond had received writs in the fourteenth century, the borough made no returns in this period until 1584, the first general election after the granting in 1577 of its charter of incorporation, which gave the borough the right to return two Members, at its own ‘burden and cost’ The returns were made by the alderman (i.e. mayor) and 12 head burgesses, who constituted the corporation. The alderman was elected annually by all the inhabitants from two names put forward by the retiring alderman and the head burgesses. The borough also had a recorder who, like the alderman, was an ex officio j.p.

From 1582 the honour of Richmond had been entirely in the possession of the Crown. By the time of the borough’s enfranchisement most of the important Crown offices connected with it had been granted to the Scropes of Bolton, who also owned extensive property in the area. Chief stewards in the liberties of Richmondshire, they were also constables of Richmond castle and stewards of Richmond. Marmaduke Wyvel, twice MP for Richmond, was a relative of the Scropes through his mother, and this connexion no doubt helped him to his seat in 1584 when he had not yet succeeded to his estate of Constable Burton, five miles from the borough. By 1597, when he sat again, Wyvell must have been of sufficient local standing to secure his own return. Another Richmond MP who was probably indebted to the 9th Lord Scrope for his seat was Samuel Coxe, an outsider and secretary to (Sir) Christopher Hatton I, who probably made an arrangement with Scrope to have Coxe returned. On the return, Coxe’s name has been inserted above another which had been erased. James Dale (1589) has not been identified and may have been another Scrope nominee. However, in view of their pre-eminence in Richmond, the Scrope family did not exercise much parliamentary patronage there. In fact, with the death of Henry, 9th Lord Scrope, in 1592, they ceased to take any interest at all in the parliamentary representation of the borough during this period.

With the exception of John Smythe II in 1589, all the remaining MPs were local men. John Pepper (1584, 1593) was a townsman and mayor of the borough, and cousin of Cuthbert Pepper (1597, 1601), recorder of Richmond and country gentleman, living at East Cowton, nearby. Robert Bowes II (1586) lived at Aske, two miles away, and his half-brother Talbot (1593, 1601) lived in Richmond itself, and was a borough official and mayor on more than one occasion. It was through his connexion with the Bowes family that John Smythe II, from King’s Lynn, obtained his seat at Richmond. Smythe headed a syndicate which owned a monopoly on the production of white salt. One of his partners was Robert Bowes I, of Aske, and treasurer of Berwick. It appears that they believed their monopoly was going to be challenged during the 1589 Parliament, and that Smythe wished to secure a parliamentary seat to protect his own interests. Bowes, already having a safe county seat for Cumberland, no doubt used his influence in his fami