Suffolk

County

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Elections

DateCandidate
1558/9OWEN HOPTON
 WILLIAM CAVENDISH I
1562/3WILLIAM WALDEGRAVE
 SIR ROBERT WINGFIELD
Mar. 1571(SIR) OWEN HOPTON
 THOMAS SECKFORD I
1572NICHOLAS BACON
 SIR ROBERT WINGFIELD
2 Nov. 1584SIR WILLIAM DRURY
 SIR ROBERT JERMYN
3 Oct. 1586SIR ROBERT JERMYN
 (SIR) JOHN HEIGHAM
1588/9ANTHONY WINGFIELD I
 ARTHUR HOPTON
1593EDMUND BACON
 SIR CLEMENT HEIGHAM
19 Sept. 1597SIR WILLIAM WALDEGRAVE
 HENRY WARNER
1601SIR HENRY GLEMHAM
 CALTHROP PARKER

Main Article

All the MPs in this period were Suffolk country gentlemen. The only man whose election as knight of the shire may partly have depended upon an official position outside the county was Thomas Seckford I, the master of requests. (Sir) Owen Hopton’s story is a little unusual, in that he was appointed lieutenant of the Tower between his first election for his native Suffolk in 1559 and his second in 1571, and it was no doubt because of his central office that he went on to sit for Middlesex, thus becoming one of the comparatively few men to sit for two counties. No evidence has been found of any actual contest taking place for a Suffolk county seat in the period under review, but there was the usual jockeying for position. Thus, when (Sir) Nicholas Bacon, the lord keeper, heard that his son was a candidate in 1572 he told him ‘the same instant that I received your letter’ that ‘seeing you have gone so far’ he would subsidize his expenses up to £100 ‘and yet you must take great heed that my name be not otherwise used than you have written’. There followed a reflection upon a dilemma facing candidates for county seats throughout the ages:

The difficulty that you shall find will rest in this, that if Sir R. Wingfield and the master of the requests [Seckford] do join together against you, and no other join with you, then perchance the matter will be the harder.1

In the event Bacon and Wingfield were elected, and Seckford was returned at Ipswich. Similarly in the election of 1588, it looks as though Sir Robert Jermyn may have tried for the county, failed, and retreated to East Looe. Jermyn had already been elected for Suffolk twice in succession, which is something no one else achieved in this period. A rather surprising election in a predominantly puritan county is that of Sir Henry Glemham of Glemham Hall in 1601. He was married to a lady who was probably a Catholic (the evidence is lacking; certainly her brother was) and he had only just emerged from a spell in the Fleet for having associated with the English Catholics at Rome. Not surprisingly there was a faction in the county that tried ‘to put out Sir Henry Glemham’ but he was elected with support from (Sir) Anthony Wingfield I.

The actual parliamentary returns for Suffolk are in bad shape. The return for 1584 was signed by members of the Fortescue, Gawdy, Grimston, Jermyn and Wingfield families.2

Author: P. W. Hasler

Notes

  • 1. Bacon (Redgrave Hall) mss, quoted E. R. Sandeen ‘Corresp. Nicholas Bacon’ (Univ. Chicago, MA thesis 1955) pp. 134-5; Univ. Chicago, Bacon mss.
  • 2. C219/29/135.

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