Available from Cambridge University Press
Right of Election:
in the burgage-holders
|3 Mar. 1604||SIR JOHN HUNGERFORD|
|SIR HENRY POOLE|
|c. Mar. 1614||SIR THOMAS MONSON|
|SIR JOHN EYRE 1|
|26 Dec. 1620||SIR THOMAS HOWARD|
|SIR CAREW REYNELL|
|24 Jan. 1624||SIR WILLIAM HOWARD|
|SIR NEVILLE POOLE|
|3 May 1625||SIR WILLIAM HOWARD|
|18 Jan. 1626||SIR WILLIAM HOWARD|
|SIR ROBERT HYDE|
|4 Mar. 1628||(SIR) EDWARD HUNGERFORD|
Situated in north Wiltshire, near the border with Gloucestershire, and lying strategically on both the Thames and Ermine Street – the principal road connecting Gloucester and Cirencester with Winchester – Cricklade was originally developed as a Saxon royal borough. It received its first charter in the twelfth century and was represented in Parliament from 1275. However, it was never incorporated and it continued to be governed by the annual manorial court leet.2 The election indentures were made in the name of the bailiff, burgesses and freeholders of the borough and were signed by the former, who presumably supervised the election. The burgesses and freeholders held the burgage plots in the borough, the former as tenants, the latter as owners. The bailiff was appointed by the lord of the manor, who thereby exercised considerable control over parliamentary elections.3
Cricklade belonged to the Crown in the Elizabethan period, when successive Lords Chandos, who controlled the borough elections, exercised the stewardship of the manor.4 However, on the death of William, 4th Lord Chandos, in November 1602, Elizabeth appointed as steward Thomas Howard, Lord Howard de Walden, subsequently 1st earl of Suffolk, who had acquired a substantial property in north Wiltshire by his marriage to the daughter of (Sir) Henry Knyvet†.5 James I, in 1611, sold the borough to two Londoners, who in turn sold it seven years later to Edmund Maskelyne, a Wiltshire barrister who owned it at his death in 1630.6 Nevertheless, Suffolk clearly remained the dominant electoral patron until he died in 1626. When, in January of that year, his countess stated that her sons were ‘all sure of places in the west country which never have denied my lord’, she was presumably principally referring to Cricklade, which had consistently elected her sons since 1620.7
In 1604 the Members chosen were both prominent local men: Sir John Hungerford, who lived at Down Ampney in Gloucestershire, three miles away, and Sir Henry Poole, who lived at Kemble in north Wiltshire. It is possible that Suffolk, who had been steward of the borough for less than two years, was uncertain of the extent of his patronage and agreed to let the two important local men have a free run. Thereafter Hungerford showed no sign of seeking re-election, while in 1614 Poole was returned for the county alongside Sir Thomas Howard. It is possible that Poole came to some form of accommodation with Suffolk, whereby the latter agreed to support the former’s son Sir Neville at Malmesbury in return for control over both seats at Cricklade. Sir Thomas Monson, who took the first place in the return, was a Lincolnshire courtier described in a Chancery suit as someone Suffolk ‘might command and had power over’.8 His colleague, Sir John Eyre, was a Wiltshire man, but probably also owed his election to Suffolk, whose henchmen had aided Eyre in the attempted murder of Sir Edward Herbert* in 1610.9
Monson’s political career was brought to an end by his alleged involvement in the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury, for which he was arrested in 1615, while Eyre was, by 1620, ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. In their room Suffolk nominated his son Sir Thomas Howard and Sir Carew Reynell, who had owed his election at Wallingford in 1614 to the earl’s son in law William, Lord Knollys (William Knollys†). Reynell had married into the Hungerford family and may consequently have had Sir John’s support.
Sir Thomas Howard was raised to the peerage in 1622, and was consequently ineligible to sit in the Commons again, while Reynell may have been in poor health at the time of the 1624 election, as he made his will on 12 Jan. and died in the following September.10 Instead, Suffolk nominated another of his sons, Sir William, who was returned with Sir Neville Poole, the son of Sir Henry. Sir William was re-elected in 1625 and 1626. His colleague in 1625 was Edward Dowse, the former tutor of Algernon, Lord Percy* and a member of the household of Percy’s father, Henry, 9th earl of Northumberland.11 It is possible that Dowse was recommended to Suffolk by Northumberland’s cousin, Sir Edward Cecil*, whose niece had married Sir Thomas Howard. In 1626 the second place was filled by Sir Robert Hyde, a Berkshire gentleman and ranger of the nearby forest of Braydon, where Suffolk was keeper and Sir Thomas Howard, by now earl of Berkshire, was lieutenant.12
Suffolk died during the 1626 Parliament and with him the Howard influence at Cricklade ended. In 1628 the borough returned (Sir) Edward Hungerford, who owned property in the borough and was the nephew of Sir John Hungerford, and Robert Jenner, a wealthy London Goldsmith who had purchased property nearby, including the manor of Widhill, situated just outside the borough.13
Authors: Henry Lancaster / Ben Coates
- 1. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 464.
- 2. T.R. Thomson, ‘Early Hist. and Topography’, Materials for a Hist. of Cricklade ed. T.R. Thomson, 63-80; T.R. Thomson, ‘Manors’, Materials for a Hist. of Cricklade ed. T.R. Thomson, 46; W.B. Crouch, ‘Parlty. Hist.’, in Materials for a Hist. of Cricklade ed. T.R. Thomson, 127.
- 3. C219/37/297; 219/39/227; Thomson, ‘Early Hist. and Topography’, 79; HP Commons, 1508-58, i. 220.
- 4. HP Commons, 1558-1603, i. 270-1.
- 5. CP, iii. 127; E315/309, f. 149.
- 6. C66/1870/3; Thomson, ‘Manors’, 45; ‘Cricklade manor’ (unpublished VCH Wilts. draft); Wilts. IPMs ed. G.S. and A.E. Fry (Brit. Rec. Soc. xxiii), 112.
- 7. C66/1870/3; Thomson, ‘Manors’, 45; King’s Coll. Lib., Camb., ms KCAR/1/2/16, vol. iv. no. 59.
- 8. C78/363/5.
- 9. Life of Edward, 1st Lord Herbert of Cherbury ed. J.M. Shuttleworth, 61-5.
- 10. PROB. 11/144, f. 202.
- 11. Corresp. of John Cosin ed. G. Ornsby (Surtees Soc. lii), 73.
- 12. E315/310, f. 56; SO3/7, unfol., Apr. 1621.
- 13. CP, xii. pt. 1, p. 465; Thompson, ‘Manors’, 55.