Totnes

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
1558/9LEONARD YEO 1
 SIR NICHOLAS POYNTZ 2
1562/3SIR ARTHUR CHAMPERNOWN
 RICHARD EDGECOMBE I
1571RICHARD HURLESTON
 JOHN STANHOPE
1572ROBERT MONSON
 EDWARD BUGGIN
1576ROBERT BEALE vice Monson, made a judge
7 Nov. 1584CHRISTOPHER SAVERY
 NICHOLAS BALL
1586JOHN GILES
 NICHOLAS HAYMAN
20 Oct. 1588RICHARD EDGECOMBE II
 SIMON KELWAY
1593RICHARD SPARRY
 CHRISTOPHER SAVERY
10 Oct. 1597EDWARD GILES
 CHRISTOPHER BUGGIN
12 Oct. 1601LEONARD DARR
 PHILIP HOLDITCH

Main Article

Totnes was incorporated in 1505, and received confirmations of charters in 1547, 1554 and 1559 showing the usual arrangement of a mayor (who acted as returning officer at parliamentary elections), recorder, and council of burgesses. However, in the last quarter of the sixteenth century the more prosperous merchants embarked upon a campaign to restrict effective power to themselves, and, after a struggle which rent the town, they succeeded in reconstituting the corporation in the hands of 14 of the ‘more substantial burgesses’ and a wider body of lesser burgesses. The 14 were to choose the mayor from among themselves and the numbers were to be maintained by co-opting. These provisions were set out in the charter of 1596.3

Until 1578 when Peter Edgecombe sold his last interest in Totnes, his family, once owners of the borough, had, or thought they had, some sort of residual right to choose its MPs. Edgecombes sat in 1563 and 1589 but the family were in low water financially, so much so that in 1565 Richard Edgecombe complained that his expenses in the 1563 session had been 20 marks above his allowance of 40s. He asked that in the next session he should be paid his ‘bare fee’ of 2s. a day. Very likely the Edgecombes co-operated with the 2nd Earl of Bedford, who certainly exercised influence at Totnes in the 1570s, being responsible for Richard Hurleston (1571) and, probably, John Stanhope (1571), Robert Monson (1572) and Robert Beale (1576). Sir Nicholas Poyntz (1559) was a Gloucestershire gentlema