Southampton

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
3 Jan. 1559THOMAS BECKINGHAM
 EDWARD WILMOTT
1563JOHN CAPLYN I
 JAMES BRANDE
1571EDWARD HORSEY
 JOHN CROKE I
Apr. 1572SIR HENRY WALLOP
 NICHOLAS CAPLYN
1581FULKE GREVILLE vice Wallop, away in Ireland
23 Oct. 1584THOMAS DIGGES 1
 THOMAS GODDARD 2
26 Sept. 1586JOHN PENRUDDOCK
 WILLIAM THORLEY
29 Nov. 1588THOMAS WILKES
 RICHARD GODDARD
1593(SIR) THOMAS WILKES
 THOMAS HETON
26 Sept. 1597WILLIAM WALLOP
 FRANCIS BACON
1597Sir Oliver Lambert vice Bacon, chose to sit to sit for Ipswich3
28 Sept. 1601THOMAS FLEMING I
 THOMAS LAMBERT II

Main Article

Southampton was a corporate town and formed a county of itself. Its principal officers were a mayor, a sheriff, two bailiffs, a steward or treasurer, a recorder or town clerk, and his deputy, aldermen and 12 or more ‘assistants’.

During this period Southampton returned at least one corporation official to each Parliament, with the exception of 1584, but even then Thomas Goddard was attorney for the town. In all, 12 corporation officials represented the borough. Edward Horsey (1571), captain of the Isle of Wight, Sir Henry Wallop (1572), a Hampshire country gentleman with property in the borough, and Thomas Wilkes (1589, 1593), clerk to the Privy Council, were all made freemen of the borough before their elections. Thomas Wilkes, a burgess of Southampton since at least 1581, was offered a seat by the town in 1586, but after accepting, he withdrew when he thought he was to be sent overseas by the Queen. He suggested that his brother-in-law, Henry Smythe, replace him. Three days later Sampson Lennard was suggested by a friend of the mayor, but neither suggestion was accepted, the town choosing William Thorley, possibly a London lawyer, whose connexions with the borough have not been ascertained. Thorley’s name was written in over an erasure in the original return and the date left unchanged as 26 Sept. 1586.4

However, elections were not entirely free from outside influence. In 1584 the town agreed to leave the choice of one of its MPs to the Earl of Leicester, who leased Southampton’s monopoly of sweet wines.5 His nominee on that occasion was Thomas Digges. It is possible that Leicester was also responsible for the return of the courtier, Fulke Greville, at the by-election of 1581 to replace Sir Henry Wallop. The 2nd Earl of Essex succeeded Leicester as lessee of the sweet wines, and probably took advantage of his position to nominate Francis Bacon in 1597. When Bacon chose to sit for Ipswich, he was replaced by Sir Oliver Lambert, a Southampton resident who also had connexions with Essex.

Author: R.C.G.

Notes

  • 1. Browne Willis: Third Rem. Bk. (Soton Rec. Soc.) iii. 34.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Folger V. b. 298.
  • 4. C219/30/162; Letters 15th and 16th Cent. (Soton Rec. Soc. xx), 98, 99.
  • 5. J. S. Davies, Hist. Soton, 203, 258-9.

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