Available from Cambridge University Press
Right of Election:
in the freeholders
|c. Mar. 1604||SIR EDWARD HOWARD I|
|c. Mar. 1614||SIR EDWARD HOWARD I|
|12 Dec. 1620||SIR THOMAS GLEMHAM|
|16 Jan. 1624||SIR THOMAS BLUDDER|
|13 Apr. 1625||SIR THOMAS BLUDDER|
|SIR ROGER JAMES|
|20 Jan. 1626||SIR THOMAS BLUDDER|
|SIR WILLIAM MONSON|
|11 Feb. 1628||SIR THOMAS BLUDDER|
Reigate first returned Members to the Model Parliament of 1295,1 but received no charter until 1863. Consequently it remained under the jurisdiction of the lord of the manor and all public officers were chosen by the court leet, including the bailiff, who acted as returning officer. It was nonetheless a reasonably prosperous market town, particularly noted for the manufacture of oatmeal. The franchise was vested in the freeholders, returns usually being made in the name of the ‘burgesses’, although in 1620 the term ‘inhabitants’ of the borough was used. Between a dozen and 25 freeholders were normally parties to the indentures.2
In the late Elizabethan period Charles Howard†, 2nd Baron Howard of Effingham and, from 1597, 1st earl of Nottingham, owned half the manor of Reigate, plus the former Augustinian priory, which had been converted into a more desirable residence than the decaying castle. Up until 1600, when it was sold to Thomas Sackville†, 1st Lord Buckhurst, created 1st earl of Dorset in 1604, the other part of the manor was owned by the earls of Derby.3
In the first three elections of this period the seats were divided between the Howard and Sackville interests. In 1604 Sir Edward Howard, a nephew of Nottingham’s was returned for the senior seat, while the junior place was taken by Herbert Pelham, a Sussex kinsman of the Sackvilles. Howard was re-elected to the Addled Parliament, his partner being John Suckling, a rising official who had begun his career as secretary to the 1st earl of Dorset. Although the latter was by now dead, Suckling probably owed his seat to the influence of Dorset’s grandson, Richard, 3rd earl of Dorset.
Sir Edward Howard’s death in 1620 resulted in the senior seat going to the Sackville candidate, Sir Thomas Glemham, another grandson of the 1st earl of Dorset and a close associate of the 3rd earl. The junior seat went to Robert Lewis, a Welsh lawyer who acted as steward of the manor and may have been the Howard candidate. Glemham was the last Sackville nominee at Reigate, probably due to the 3rd earl of Dorset’s financial problems. The earl died in March 1624, his share of the manor and was sold four years later to help clear his debts.4
In 1624 Robert Lewis was re-elected, this time with Sir Thomas Bludder. The latter lived at Flanchford, a sub-manor of Reigate purchased by his father in 1601. However, it is not clear whether this gave him sufficient influence in the borough to secure his election on his own interest and consequently he may have owed his return to Nottingham. Bludder’s father had been victualler of the Navy when Nottingham had been lord admiral, and had served on the earl’s embassy to Spain in 1605.5
Nottingham died in December 1624 having settled his share in Reigate manor on his second wife Margaret, daughter of James Stewart, earl of Moray, as part of her jointure. It was therefore presumably the countess of Nottingham who nominated Bludder for re-election in April 1625, together with Sir Roger James, her tenant at Reigate Castle.6 Bludder was again chosen in 1626, when his partner was the countess’ new husband and former page, Sir William Monson. Bludder seems to have been on good terms with the countess and Monson; his widowed sister-in-law subsequently alleged that in the late 1620s he had persuaded the couple to allow him to enter property at Flanchford that rightfully belonged to her.7 Bludder was elected for a fourth time in 1628, when he was paired with Charles Cockayne, whose sister had married the countess’ stepson, the 2nd earl of Nottingham (Sir Charles Howard*).8
Authors: Alan Davidson / Ben Coates
- 1. OR.
- 2. VCH Surr. iii. 229, 233; C219/37/245; 219/39/186; 219/41A/15.
- 3. W. Hooper, Reigate, 29-30, 46, 71, 131; VCH Surr. iii. 236
- 4. CP, iv. 422-4; VCH Surr. iii. 236; Hooper, 30; Manning and Bray, Surr. i. 280.
- 5. VCH Surr. iii. 237.
- 6. CP, ix. 786; Hooper, 29; VCH Surr. 232.
- 7. C78/435/3.
- 8. CP, ix. 789.