Available from Boydell and Brewer
|1558/9||SIR JOHN MORE 1|
|WILLIAM POLE I 2|
|14 Dec. 1562||JOHN FOWLER|
|JOHN YOUNG I|
|21 Apr. 1572||WILLIAM HAMMOND|
|JOHN AUDLEY I|
|4 Nov. 1584||THOMAS LANCASTER|
|6 Nov. 1588||MATTHEW PATTESON|
|1593||JOHN SHELBERY vice Crosse, chose to sit for Yarmouth I.o.W.|
|27 Sept. 1597||ROBERT HITCHAM|
|SIR HENRY LENNARD|
|29 Sept. 1601||RICHARD VERNEY|
West Looe, also known as Port Looe and Portpighan, by the beginning of this period was part of the duchy of Cornwall. In 1574 it received a charter of incorporation which describes the governing body as a mayor, 12 principal burgesses and a steward. Membership of this council, a self-perpetuating body, was for life, but the rest of the inhabitants helped choose a new mayor each year from two nominated principal burgesses. The charter mayor was to take his oath of office before John Bevill, a leading local gentleman, while the latter’s son William was named as steward. Another prominent local family provided William’s successor, Sir Jonathan Trelawny in 1600.3
The borough probably first sent Members to Parliament in 1547. The Elizabethan charter confirms the authority of the ‘mayor and burgesses’ to elect two MPs ‘as heretofore hath been accustomed’. Early election returns suggest that the ‘mayor and burgesses’ or ‘mayor and commonalty’ made the election, while the return for 1584, the first after the charter, states that the mayor chose the Members ‘with the assent and consent of the principal burgesses and commonalty’. All the surviving returns for the reign are ‘blanks’, one or both of the names in 1563 and 1572 being written over erasures. For the last two Parliaments a separate return was made out for each Member.
Court patrons seem to have been almost in complete control of nominations at West Looe. All the MPs were outsiders and none represented the borough more than once. The 2nd Earl of Bedford, lord lieutenant of Cornwall and lord warden of the stannaries, probably chose all the Members for the first four Parliaments, acting on occasion, perhaps, at the request of friends. Several of these men were noted protestants who had moved in radical circles at Edward VI’s court and had actively opposed Marian rule: between them they had accumulated much parliamentary experience. They included Sir John More (1559), a Devon gentleman who had fought with Bedford in the St. Quentin campaign in 1557, and later served as one of his deputy lieutenants; John Fowler (1568), also at St. Quentin, and gentleman of the privy chamber; John Young I (1563), a servant of William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke; and Clement Throckmorton (1571), the puritan elder brother of Sir Nicholas. William Pole I of Shute, Devon (1559), was well connected in the county and knew Bedford. Two Kent gentlemen of moderate means, John Fyneux (1571) and William Hammond (1572), may have been brought to Bedford’s notice by an intermediate patron, though no clear court connexion for either of them has been found. Hammond seems to have been an active plotter against Mary. Some doubt attaches to the identity of John Audley (1572), though he was probably the nephew of the first Lord Audley, in which case he would have been connected with Bedford through his father and his cousin Margaret.
Bedford was perhaps not so active a patron in 1584, the last year of his life. Geoffrey Gates, an Essex puritan, may have been nominated by him, but the fact that Gates was able to find a Cornish constituency after the Earl’s death, suggests that he had another patron, probably his relative Francis Walsingham, or Lord Burghley. Thomas Lancaster (1584) went to the same inn of court as West Looe’s steward, William Bevill. Richard Champernown (1586), from south Devon, was probably helped to his seat by Cecil influence. The same may have been true of his colleague John Hammond, though as a civil lawyer working in London Hammond must have known many potential patrons.
With the exception of John Shelbery (1593), a servant of (Sir) Walter Ralegh, all the West Looe Members for the later Elizabethan Parliaments owed their return to the Cecils.