Available from Boydell and Brewer
|7 Jan. 1559||EDWARD BASHE|
|THOMAS BROOKE alias COBHAM|
|1579||SAMUEL COXE vice Partridge, sick.|
|7 Nov. 1584||WILLIAM BROOKE alias COBHAM|
|3 Oct. 1586||WILLIAM BROOKE alias COBHAM|
|14 Oct. 1588||WILLIAM LEWIN|
|20 Oct. 1597||(SIR) EDWARD HOBY|
|SIR THOMAS WALSINGHAM|
|1601||(SIR) EDWARD HOBY|
|SIR THOMAS WALSINGHAM|
Rochester was an incorporated borough, elections were held in the guildhall and returns were made in the name of the mayor and citizens. The size of the electorate is unknown, but the franchise was not confined to members of the corporation. Indeed, at Rochester, unusually for the period, not one MP was mayor or held other borough office apart from the wardenship of Rochester Bridge.
One element in the situation at Rochester, in this as in later periods, was the patronage dispensed by the dockyard. Thus Bashe (1559, 1563), Watts (1563) and Holstock (1571) were all victualling officials, able to bring the town lucrative contracts; Holstock certainly and Bashe probably received gifts in return. Watts bought property at Rochester, set up residence there, became a benefactor of the town, and was buried in the cathedral.
Then there were the local gentry. The leading noble family of Kent, the Brooke Cobhams, were seated at Cobham Hall, only four miles away, and members of the family represented Rochester in 1559, 1584 and 1586. George Catlyn (1571, 1572) lived some 10 miles away at West Malling. William Partridge (1572), George Byng (1584), George Chowne (1593), (Sir) Edward Hoby (1597, 1601) and Sir Thomas Walsingham (1597, 1601) were all country gentlemen who may be presumed to have had sufficient local influence to be returned for the borough. Partridge had also a court connexion, and Byng may have enjoyed the support of the lord lieutenant, Lord Cobham. William Lewin (1586, 1589, 1593) was the chancellor of Rochester diocese. Two outsiders were returned: the courtier John Stanhope in 1588 and (Sir) Christopher Hatton I’s secretary Coxe in 1579. Coxe was one of those replacements for living MPs whose memberships were allowed (19 Jan.) at the start of the 1581 session, but disallowed at the end (18 Mar.).
C219/29, 31; Arch. Cant. ii. 82, 84; Rochester corp. archs.; K. M. E. Murray, Const. Host. Cinque Ports, 98; Hasted, Kent (2nd ed.), iv. 61; D’Ewes, 281, 282, 308.