Rochester

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
7 Jan. 1559EDWARD BASHE
 THOMAS BROOKE alias COBHAM
1562/3EDWARD BASHE
 RICHARD WATTS
1571WILLIAM HOLSTOCK
 GEORGE CATLYN
1572GEORGE CATLYN
 WILLIAM PARTRIDGE
1579SAMUEL COXE vice Partridge, sick.
7 Nov. 1584WILLIAM BROOKE alias COBHAM
 GEORGE BYNG
3 Oct. 1586WILLIAM BROOKE alias COBHAM
 WILLIAM LEWIN
14 Oct. 1588WILLIAM LEWIN
 JOHN STANHOPE
1593WILLIAM LEWIN
 GEORGE CHOWNE
20 Oct. 1597(SIR) EDWARD HOBY
 SIR THOMAS WALSINGHAM
1601(SIR) EDWARD HOBY
 SIR THOMAS WALSINGHAM

Main Article

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 pres