Stamford

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
9 Jan. 1559WILLIAM COOKE I
 JOHN HOUGHTON
1562/3THOMAS CECIL
 FRANCIS THORNEFF
1571THOMAS CECIL
 MICHAEL LEWIS
5 May 1572THOMAS CECIL
 FRANCIS HARINGTON
1584ROBERT WINGFIELD II 1
 GEORGE LYNNE 2
1586WILLIAM CECIL
 ROBERT WINGFIELD II
1588/9WILLIAM CECIL
 ROBERT WINGFIELD II
1593ROBERT WINGFIELD II
 RICHARD SHUTE
30 Sept. 1597ROBERT WINGFIELD II
 THOMAS BALGEY
5 Oct. 1601ROBERT WINGFIELD II
 EDWARD WATSON

Main Article

The market town of Stamford, incorporated in 1462, was governed by an alderman and 12 comburgesses, assisted by 12 capital burgesses. Election procedure in the Elizabethan period remains obscure, but two of the four surviving returns contain the names of the alderman and of more than a score of burgesses—perhaps the members of the council. Only one name, that of Francis Harington in 1572, appears to have been inserted in a different hand. The surviving returns are those concerning 1559, 1572, 1597 and 1601 Parliaments.

The grant of the royal manor of Stamford to Sir William Cecil in 1561 emphasized the position his family already enjoyed in the town. Cecil had represented Stamtord in 1547, and after Elizabeth’s accession the borough granted him seats whenever he required them. On 20 Dec. 1562 Cecil’s steward, Peter Kemp, wrote to his master from Burghley House: ‘... I have stayed of the burgess[es] of Stamford till your pleasure be known who you will for that town ... I pray you to know your pleasure for the burgess with speed’. Close relatives of Cecil, afterwards Lord lord Burghley, included: his brother-in-law William Cooke I (1559); his son Thomas Cecil (1563, 1571, 1572); his grandson, William Cecil (1586, 1589); his nephew, Robert Wingfield II (1584, 1586, 1589, 1593, 1597, 1601); and a cousin, Francis Hatington (1572), recorder of Stamford. The remaining Stamford MPs were either townsmen or local country gentlemen, and all dependent on at least Cecil goodwill for their seats at Stamford: Richard Shute (1593), a townsman, was also Burghley’s agent in Stamford and overseer of the works at Burghley House; Thomas Balgey (1597) was recorder of the borough and a tenant of the Cecils on lands nearby; Michael Lewis (1571), George Lynne (1584) and Edward Watson (1601) were all local Northamptonshire landowners; John Houghton (1559) was a leading townsman and borough official; Francis Th