Available from Boydell and Brewer
|3 Jan. 1559||RICHARD BULLINGHAM|
|1562/3||WILLIAM GIBBES II|
|JOHN MORE I|
|1572||CHRISTOPHER DIGHTON I|
|THOMAS WALSGROVE alias FLEET|
|7 Nov. 1584||RICHARD NASH|
|26 Sept. 1586||RALPH WYAT|
|1 Nov. 1588||WALTER JONES|
|JOHN WALSGROVE alias FLEET|
|14 Oct. 1597||ROLAND BERKELEY|
|CHRISTOPHER DIGHTON II|
The government of Worcester was vested in two bailiffs, a recorder, a town clerk, a council of 24 and a council of 48. The method of election, according to the chamber order book, was that the city council would meet (probably to make the actual choice of MP), then the bellman would summon ‘the rest of the commons ... as many as would come’ to ‘give their voices thereunto’. Then the ‘bailiffs and the whole council together went up to the council chamber and ... proceeded to their election’. In the event of disagreement a poll would be taken of all those present, including the 24 and the 48.
Worcester had a record of complete electoral independence. All the MPs were townsmen and all except John Walsgrovealias Fleet (1589) held office in the corporation. John Walsgrove alias Fleet was a lawyer, son of Thomas Walsgrove alias Fleet (1572). Also father and son were the two Christopher Dightons (1572, 1601). Walter Jones (1584, 1586, 1589, 1583) was the town clerk.
The more independent the borough, the more scrupulous it was about paying its MPs. The going rate at Worcester up to 1572 for each session was 2s. per day per Member plus 1s. per day ‘in consideration of finding of a man betwixt them’. The accounts for 1584 and 1597 work out at 3s. per day per Member, but there is no mention of provision for a servant. In 1563 each of the 24 paid 3s.2d., of the 48 2s.1d. The contribution of the commons was collected by wards, and the wages for the servant came from the ‘common treasure of this city’. The chamber order book, from which these figures are taken, has also an account of special expenses incurred in 1572 ‘upon a bill touching a water course out of [the river] Severn’:
|Mr. Newton for drawing the bill||10s.|
|Mr. Richardson’s clerk for engrossing the bill||3s.4d.|
|Mr. Newton for drawing the proviso||5s.|
|Mr. Speaker, two cheeses bestowed about the same matter||4s.|
|Clerk of the Parliament for engrossing the bill after the second reading||10s.|
|Sheriff for returning his writ||4s.|
|The serjeant’s fee of the parliament house|
This 'bill for the town of Worcester, that it should be lawful for them to make a cut from the River Severn to the town', as Thomas Cromwell called it in his journal, 'compounding with the owners of the ground through which it should be brought for the same' had its first reading 19 May, its second (probably) 23 May, and its third 5 June. But the effort, money and cheeses were bestowed in vain. One landowner (Robert Newdigate I*) 'liketh not that commissions should set price of other men's lands'; another (Sir Nicholas Arnold) 'thinketh their meaning is to make mills there'. In the end the doubt whether Worcester would 'be at so great a charge for so small a commodity as water', as Thomas Atkins put it, prevailed, and the bill 'was rejected upon the division of the House with the difference of six persons'.
The extracts from the chamber order book were transcribed by Miss N. M. Fuidge.