Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the burgage-holders

Number of voters:

27 in 16281


22 Jan. 1624JOHN BOROUGH
19 Apr. 1625(SIR) JOHN BOROUGH
24 Jan. 1626(SIR) JOHN BOROUGH

Main Article

Situated on the River Arun and the edge of St. Leonard’s forest in the west Sussex rape of Bramber, Horsham prospered in Elizabethan times as a centre of the Wealden iron industry. It was also the seat of the county gaol and sometimes hosted the summer assizes and quarter sessions.2 The manor and borough of Horsham descended with the barony of Bramber in the Howard family until it passed to the Crown on the attainder of the 4th duke of Norfolk in 1572. The duke’s grandson, Thomas Howard, earl of Arundel, was restored in blood in 1604, but had difficulty regaining the family estates. In 1608 a moiety of the barony of Bramber and the attached properties formed part of a grant of former Howard lands to Arundel’s uncles, the 1st earl of Suffolk and Lord William Howard. Three years later a survey of Horsham, conducted by Arundel’s steward, declared that Arundel was the ‘lord paramount’ of the borough. However, it was not until 1619 that the earl bought out Suffolk and Lord William Howard’s claim to the borough.3

Horsham enjoyed borough status by 1235, but was never incorporated. Nevertheless it developed relatively sophisticated institutions of self-government, headed by two bailiffs chosen annually in the manorial court leet by the lord’s steward, who was selected from four candidates presented by the burgesses. Horsham faced quo warranto proceedings in 1614, but its claim to be a borough by prescription was acknowledged by the Crown three years later.4

The borough was represented in Parliament from 1295. The franchise lay with the burgesses, who owned the burgage plots held directly from the lord of the manor. Although there were originally 52 plots, sub-division accounts for the fact that 54 owners are recorded in the 1611 survey. The indentures were made in the name of the two bailiffs, who presumably supervised elections, and up to 25 named burgesses.5

In 1604 the borough was still under Crown control, and lord treasurer Buckhurst (Thomas Sackville†), joint lord lieutenant of the county, probably nominated both Members on the recommendation of Sir Robert Cecil†. Consequently Cecil’s friend Michael Hicks was re-elected, together with the rising Crown lawyer John Doddridge. By 1614 Hicks had died and Doddridge was a judge. The earl of Arundel was in Italy and, whatever his claims to the lordship of Horsham may have been, he was in no position to exercise electoral patronage in the borough. The earl of Suffolk was consequently able to secure the return of his wife’s cousin, Sir Thomas Vavasour, the knight marshal, to the Addled Parliament. The junior Member, John Middleton, was a local ironmaster, and was the first resident known to have been returned for the borough since 1529. He went on to be re-elected to every Parliament in this period.6

Vavasour died in 1620, and it is likely that Arundel, by now returned to England and confirmed in the lordship of the borough, nominated Thomas Cornwallis II to the third Jacobean Parliament. Cornwallis probably owed this nomination to his kinswoman Lady Katherine Cornwallis, a Surrey neighbour of Arundel’s mother.7 There is no evidence that Cornwallis sought re-election in 1624, when (Sir) John Borough, a client of Arundel’s, was returned. Borough was re-elected in 1625 and 1626, but in 1628 was replaced by Sir Dudley North, the young heir of a Cambridgeshire peer. He had spent the previous three years soldiering in the Netherlands, and his only apparent link with Arundel was through his uncle, Capt. Roger North, who had mounted an expedition to Guiana in 1619 with the earl’s backing.8

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. C219/41B/81.
  • 2. VCH Suss. vi. pt. 2, pp. 129-35, 178.
  • 3. Ibid. vi. pt. 2, pp. 156; M.F.S. Hervey, Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, 21-24, 40, 464; M.A. Tierney, Hist. and Antiqs. of Castle and Town of Arundel, 416; W. Albery, Millennium of Facts in Hist. of Horsham and Suss. 50, 53; Arundel, Suss. deeds, D2838, info. from Mrs. Sara Rodger.
  • 4. VCH Suss. vi. pt. 2, p. 180; Albery, 63-71.
  • 5. VCH Suss. vi. pt. 2, 180, 189; Albery, 44; W. Albery Parlty. Hist. of Ancient Bor. of Horsham, 18; C219/41B/81.
  • 6. Oxford DNB sub Howard, Thomas, 14th earl of Arundel; VCH Suss. vi. pt. 2, p. 163.
  • 7. Manning and Bray, Surr. iii. 34; Hervey, 248.
  • 8. J.A. Williamson, English Colonies in Guiana and on the Amazon, 83.