Winchelsea

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
13 Jan. 1559GODDARD WHITE
 HENRY FANE I
1562/3RICHARD CHAMBERS
 HENRY FANE I
1566HENRY BROOKE alias COBHAM I1, vice ?Chambers, ?deceased
1571THOMAS WILFORD
 ROBERT EYRE II
1572THOMAS WILFORD
 RICHARD BARREY
[?14] Nov. 1584GILES FLETCHER
 HERBERT PELHAM
1586ADAM MOYLE
 THOMAS EGLESTON
1588/9ADAM MOYLE
 HERBERT MORLEY
1593ADAM ASHBURNHAM
 ASHBURNHAM PECKE
22 Oct. 1597RALPH EWENS
 THOMAS COLEPEPER
1601(SIR) MOYLE FINCH
 HUGH BEESTON

Main Article

By the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign Winchelsea had ceased to be of any maritime importance, for the sea had receded. The government of the town, nominally in the hands of the corporation, was increasingly influenced during this period by the neighbouring gentry families. This shift of power was reflected in the parliamentary elections, when Winchelsea returned local gentlemen rather than townsmen and merchants. These were held by the mayor, jurats and common assembly. At the time of the elections for the 1559 Parliament, the wardenship of the Cinque Ports was vacant. The mayor, Goddard White, and his deputy, John Pecke, were elected, but for some reason Henry Fane I, a Kent gentleman, was substituted for the latter. It seems likely that Pecke stood down in favour of Fane, whose family had a little property in Winchelsea. Had this happened at a later election, it could have been attributed to the influence of the 10th Lord Cobham, a close friend of Fane. Cobham was not yet lord warden, but it may be that he was already sufficiently influential to secure Fane’s return. In 1563 Fane was reelected, together with an unidentified Member, Richard Chambers, who may have been a Sussex gentleman. It is not known why Chambers did not take his place in the 1566 session. In all probability, he died. He was replaced by Henry Brooke alias Cobham I, the lord warden’s brother.

In 1571 Winchelsea readily allowed the lord warden to choose one Member, Robert Eyre II. The other MP, Wilford, was a jurat of the town who lived at Heding over the border in Kent. Wilford was re-elected in 1572, when he was mayor, and was joined by Richard Barrey, the lord warden’s deputy and lieutenant of Dover castle.

Before the 1584 election, the lord warden wrote to the Ports that he had received letters from the Privy Council, requiring him to ens