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|WILLIAM ST. JOHN|
|1571||WILLIAM ST. JOHN|
|3 May 1572||HENRY GIFFORD|
|9 Nov. 1584||GEORGE KINGSMILL|
|9 Oct. 1586||GEORGE KINGSMILL|
|JOHN FISHER II|
|10 Nov. 1588||CHIDIOCK WARDOUR|
|HENRY ST. JOHN|
|1593||JOHN AUDLEY II|
|HENRY ST. JOHN|
|1 Oct. 1597||MILES SANDYS|
The borough of Stockbridge formed part of the duchy of Lancaster honour of King’s Soreborne, which was ‘farmed’ throughout Elizabeth’s reign by the Gifford family. The borough officials (a bailiff, serjeant and constable) were elected annually at a court leet held before the steward. This officer was formerly chosen by the bailiff but in Elizabethan times was appointed by the duchy at the nomination of the farmer. George Kingsmill, a relation of the Giffords, became steward in 1579. William, 3rd Lord Sandys, held the manor of Stockbridge on a long lease from the duchy.
The borough first sent Members to Parliament in 1563 and was the last of many duchy boroughs to be enfranchised in the Tudor period. At the beginning of the 1563 Parliament, the borough’s right to return was challenged along with that of all other newly enfranchised boroughs. Return was made by the bailiff, burgesses and inhabitants. The first return, 1563, mentions that the borough had received a precept from the sheriff.
Although probably responsible for the enfranchisement of the borough, the duchy of Lancaster only made one half-hearted attempt to nominate there. In October 1597 Sir Robert Cecil, appointed chancellor of the duchy on the 8th of the month, asked lot ‘the nominating of the burgesses of our borough in the Parliament’. However, Lord Sandys had written to the borough on 1 Sept. requesting ‘the nominating of Mr. Miles Sandys ... a very sufficient man for the place’, but at the same time advising the borough ‘to have good regard for the choice of the other with the consent of the duchy court’. Stockbridge ‘made stay’ of the election for a month, then elected a local man, Mark Steward. In reply to Cecil’s request the borough promised that ‘hereafter you shall not onlyrequest but shall command anything which we may do’. Thomas Grymes, returned in 1601, may have been a duchy nominee, being a Surrey gentleman with no known connexion with Stockbridge, who held some of his Leicestershire property from the duchy.
The same lack of interest in Stockbridge representation is apparent in the three other possible parliamentary patrons. The Gifford family was in a position to exercise considerable influence on elections, but was seemingly satisfied to return Henry Gifford in 1572. George Kingsmill had himself returned to the two Parliaments following his appointment as steward, and had a hand in the return of Chidiock Wardour in 1589. The 3rd Lord Sandys nominated his neighbour, Edward Savage, in 1601, as well as Miles Sandys in 1597.
All the remaining identified MPs for Stockbridge during this period were Hampshire country gentlemen returned for the borough on the strength of their own local standing.
John Audley II (1593) poses a problem both in terms of his identity and why he was returned for Stockbridge. It is not even known whether he made a choice between Lancaster and Stockbridge, having been returned for both boroughs.