Winchester

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
7 Jan. 1559WILLIAM LAWRENCE
 ROBERT BETHELL
Dec. 1562WILLIAM LAWRENCE
 THOMAS MICHELBORNE
1571THOMAS MICHELBORNE
 RICHARD BIRDE I
25 May 1572THOMAS MICHELBORNE
 JOHN CAPLYN II
14 Jan. 1583WILLIAM BETHELL vice Michelborne, deceased
11 Nov. 1584JOHN WOLLEY
 THOMAS FLEMING I
10 Oct. 1586JOHN WOLLEY
 THOMAS FLEMING I
9 Oct. 1588THOMAS FLEMING I
 FRANCIS MYLLES
1593(Sir) Edward Stafford II
 Thomas Fleming I
7 Oct. 1597WILLIAM BADGER
 JOHN MOORE III
7 Oct. 1601EDWARD COLE
 THOMAS FLEMING II

Main Article

Winchester’s principal officials in this period were a mayor, recorder, aldermen, two bailiffs, two coroners, two constables and the major’s ‘assistants’, known as the ‘24’ although their number varied. Sir Francis Walsingham, high steward of Winchester since 1588, procured a new charter for the city in 1588. On Walsingham’s death Thomas Sackville, Lord Buckhurst, was appointed to the office, but resigned in October 1591 in favour of (Sir) Thomas Heneage. When Heneage died in 1595, (Sir) Charles Blount, 8th Lord Mountjoy, succeeded him.

Parliamentary elections were made by the common assembly, held either at the guildhall or in the House of the Hospital of St. John. The number eligible to vote varied: 43 in 1559, 66 in 1586, 55 in 1593 and 63 in 1601. It appears from the minute books that the numbers actually present were somewhat lower: 30 in 1559 and about 40 at most other elections. There was only one known contest during Elizabeth’s reign; that was at the by-election in January 1583 occasioned by the death of Thomas Michelborne. The candidates were William Bethell and Richard Cooke, both local men. The former was elected, but did not take his seat as the Parliament, which had last sat in 1581, was dissolved in April 1583.

In all except the first and last Parliaments of the reign, Winchester returned its recorder or legal counsel: Thomas Michelborne (1563, 1571, 1572), Thomas Fleming I (1584, 1586, 1589, 1593), and John Moore 111 (1597). In 1559 two ex-mayors were elected: Robert Bethell and William Lawrence, the latter sitting again in 1563. In 1601 the senior burgess, Edward Cole, was also an ex-mayor and the other, Thomas Fleming II, was the son of Thomas Fleming I, the former recorder, and himself a minor Hampshire landowner. Two other MPs, Richard Birde I (157I) and William Badger (1597) were sometime mayors of Winchester.

Four outsiders represented the borough during this period. The first was John Caplyn II, from Southampton, in 1572. He was nominated by the bishop of Winchester, though the borough was careful to make him a freeman first. The Privy Council had instructed various noblemen to supervise elections in their counties, and in the case of Hampshire the duty was divided between the Marquess of Winchester and the bishop. Bishop Horne wrote to the mayor and his brethren asking them to ‘nominate and elect’ his friend John Caplyn of Southampton who would ‘ease you of such trouble and charges as usually you have been at in that behalf, so that therein you shall further yourselves and also pleasure me’.

John Wolley (1584, 1586), Latin secretary, and Francis Mylles (1589) both owed their returns at Winchester to the then high steward, Walsingham, in whose service Mylles was. (Sir) Edward Stafford II (1593), a gentleman pensioner, was the nominee of (Sir) Thomas Heneage, high steward from 1592.

In 1559 the MPs received wages of 1s.6d. a day, and in 1571 payments totalling £8 4s.

VCH Hants, v. 25-30; Winchester recs., 1st and 3rd bk. of ordinances, burgh mote bk., misc. corresp.; Winchester Public Lib., transcripts of acct. rolls; HMC 6th Rep. 605.

Authors: R.C.G. / A. B. Rosen

Notes

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