Available from Cambridge University Press
Right of Election:
in the freemen
Number of voters:
|c. Feb. 1604||SIR THOMAS GRANTHAM|
|SIR EDWARD TYRWHITT|
|c. Mar. 1614||SIR THOMAS GRANTHAM|
|?Sir Robert Monson|
|8 Jan. 1621||SIR LEWIS WATSON|
|SIR EDWARD AYSCOUGH|
|2 Feb. 1624||SIR LEWIS WATSON , (bt.)|
|25 Apr. 1625||SIR THOMAS GRANTHAM|
|30 Jan. 1626||SIR THOMAS GRANTHAM|
|SIR ROBERT MONSON|
|25 Feb. 1628||SIR THOMAS GRANTHAM|
|SIR EDWARD AYSCOUGH|
Lincoln’s first extant charter dates back to 1157, and the town first returned MPs to Parliament in 1265. The borough was governed by a mayor, 12 aldermen, and a common council varying in size from about 30 to 48.1 By the early seventeenth century the decay of the wool trade had left the city in economic decline despite its role as the county’s administrative centre.2 Religious issues were particularly divisive among the corporation: in 1600 a furious quarrel erupted over the election by one vote of the puritan John Smith as preacher of the city. Two years later Smith’s supporters obtained a life patent for him, but the incoming mayor rallied the opposition to dismiss him, cancel the grant and remove two of his supporters from the aldermanic bench. Smith began legal proceedings and by the summer of 1603 the corporation was in such confusion that the dispute was referred to Sir William Wray*, Sir Philip Tyrwhitt, Edward King, and the dean of Lincoln. No agreement could be reached, until Edmund, 3rd Baron Sheffield was called in as arbitrator.3 The dispute forms the backdrop to the parliamentary election of 1604, in which a leading local puritan, Sir Thomas Grantham, and Tyrwhitt’s son Sir Edward were returned. Although it had previously been traditional for at least one of the Members to be the town’s recorder, this practice seems to have been discontinued by 1604, from which point onwards seats were generally shared out between members of the local gentry who were willing to serve without wages; there is no evidence of a cathedral influence in the borough. The dispute in the corporation flared up again in 1608, and had to be resolved by the Privy Council.4
In 1614 Grantham was re-elected in first place. On 9 Mar. two strangers bought the freedom of the borough, namely Sir Robert Monson, who owned property in north Lincolnshire but resided mainly in Yorkshire, and Edward Baeshe, the under-age stepson of the local magnate, Sir George Manners*.5 Monson may have been dissuaded from standing once he became aware of Baeshe’s candidacy; the latter was returned and we have no evidence that a contest actually occurred. James I visited Lincoln in March 1617, and appointed it a staple town, in a bid to reverse the dislocation of the cloth trade caused by the Cockayne Project.6 The more enterprising members of the corporation, desirous to re-establish the city’s position as a principal outlet for the West Riding of Yorkshire, put together proposals to clean and improve the Fosse Dyke, which joined Lincoln to the Trent.7 Manners’ elder brother, the 6th earl of Rutland, promised £100 towards the expenses, and after some misgivings the local gentry offered £300 if the city could raise a like sum, which was achieved by deducting £50 a year for six years from the mayor’s allowance.8 At the next election Sir Lewis Watson of Rockingham in Northamptonshire, who had recently married into the Manners family, was presented to the borough, presumably either by Rutland or Sir George Manners. The second seat went to Grantham’s protégé, Sir Edward Ayscough.
By the early 1620s the English cloth trade remained in recession. The Fosse Dyke project was abandoned, and its promoters fell into dispute with the Merchant Staplers over Lincoln’s position as a staple town. However, none of this is reflected in the town’s elections, which continued to be dominated by the gentry. In 1624 Watson, having failed to obtain a seat in his native county was re-elected for Lincoln, together with Ayscough’s brother-in-law Thomas Hatcher, of Careby. Sir Thomas Grantham was re-elected as the senior Member in 1625, while the second seat went to John Monson, who lived just outside the town. The following year Grantham was returned again, with Monson’s uncle Sir Robert, who continued to reside in Yorkshire. In April 1626 a writ of quo warranto obliged the corporation to seek either a confirmation or a renewal of their charter, and they mortgaged various property to raise £200 for the purpose.9 Lincolnshire as a whole was much opposed to the Forced Loan, and at the general election of 1628 Lincoln returned Grantham and Ayscough, both of whom were prominent Loan refusers.10 During the recess the new charter was issued, under which the common council was to consist of between 40 and 45 members, of whom 13 would be styled aldermen.11
Authors: Paula Watson / Rosemary Sgroi
- 1. W. de Gray Birch, Royal Charters of Lincoln, 1-2, 74; Lincs. AO, L1/1/1/4, f. 214.
- 2. J.W.F. Hill, Tudor and Stuart Lincoln, 18-22, 69-73.
- 3. HMC 14th Rep. VIII, 76-9.
- 4. Ibid. 82; Lincs. AO, Cor/B/2, 6, 7, 8.
- 5. Hill, 117; Lincs. AO, L1/1/1/4, f. 114.
- 6. APC, 1616-17, pp. 178-81; HMC 14th Rep. VIII, 91-5.
- 7. Hill, 128-34.
- 8. HMC 14th Rep. VIII, 97.
- 9. Ibid. 98; Hill, 120.
- 10. R. Cust, Forced Loan, 117-8, 286-8, 298-9.
- 11. Birch, 200; HMC 14th Rep. VIII, 13, 99.