Available from Boydell and Brewer
|1386||Henry Boteler I|
|[William Rydel] 1ERE I|
|1388 (Feb.)||Roger Wyldegose|
|William Rydelere I|
|1388 (Sept.)||John Baker I|
|1390 (Jan.)||Henry Boteler I 2|
|1391||Henry Boteler I|
|William Rydelere II|
|1395||Henry Boteler I|
|Roger Eylove I|
|1397 (Jan.)||William Rydelere I|
|1397 (Sept.)||Henry Boteler I|
|Robert atte Lynde|
|1413 (May)||Henry Boteler II|
|1414 (Nov.)||Thomas Chode|
|1416 (Mar.)||Henry Boteler II|
|1421 (May)||Thomas Chode|
|1421 (Dec.)||Henry Boteler II|
Probably founded as a ‘new town’ by the de Braose family soon after the Norman Conquest, Horsham grew up in a heavily wooded area which regularly supplied timber, firewood and charcoal to manorial estates in the south of the county. Called a ‘borough’ from the early 13th century, it nevertheless remained one of little economic or administrative significance until long after our period. In 1334 it had the lowest taxation assessment of any Sussex borough except Bramber, and although the county court had met there on a handful of occasions in the past, it did not do so again after that date. Horsham descended with the rape of Bramber to the Mowbrays; and holders of the 52 burgages, established very early on in the town’s history, each paid the lord 1s. a year rent. Originally a manorial borough firmly under the lord’s jurisdiction, from the late 14th century (perhaps because the Mowbrays did not reside in Sussex), Horsham began to enjoy a greater degree of independence than hitherto. Probably by 1368 and certainly by 1398 the portreeves and burgesses, described collectively as the community of the vill, leased the tolls of the weekly market and July fair from the lord at a fixed rate of two marks a year. Besides this payment and the burgage rents, amounting to £2 12s., the Mowbrays also received the profits of the local courts, notably of the views of frankpledge held biannually at Michaelmas and Easter. In 1399 Horsham was said to be worth £5 a year to Thomas Mowbray, duke of Norfolk, but this was something of an under-estimation, given that perquisites of the courts held in that and the previous year had averaged £1 15s. p.a. Since the middle of the century, if not long before, Horsham had been governed by two portreeves (later called bailiffs), but whether these officials were appointed by the lord or freely elected by the townspeople themselves does not appear.3
Horsham had been represented in roughly two out of every three of the Parliaments summoned since 1295, although returns were made with increasing frequency as the 14th century progressed. The names of 22 of its Members for the period under review are supplied by the 21 surviving returns, but gaps remain for a further 11 Parliaments. Ten parliamentary burgesses are only ever recorded as being elected once, and in perhaps as many as four Parliaments—those of 1402, 1406, May 1413 and 1417—the borough was represented wholly by men with no previous experience of the workings of the Commons. However, the two Henry Botelers and Roger Wyldegose each sat at least five times, and William Rydelere I six; and at no fewer than seven elections the borough returned two individuals comparatively well versed in parliamentary procedure. On a further ten occasions an experienced Member accompanied an apparent newcomer. Certain MPs evidently proved satisfactory as a pair: Wyldegose and Rydelere were elected together to the Parliaments of 1381, February 1388 and January 1397. Re-election to consecutive Parliaments of a single Member is known to have taken place in February 1388, 1399, 1407 and 1420. Walter Urry was very much out of the ordinary, not only in being the only one of Horsham’s representatives also to be chosen by another borough (that of Reigate in Surrey), but also because his improved standing in Sussex later in his career was to lead to his election as a knight of the shire.
Urry, like all but two of his fellow parliamentary burgesses for Horsham, lived locally, and it is likely that the exceptions (Thomas Chode and Peter Hent, who remain unidentified) did so too. Thomas, indeed, may well have been the son of William Chode, who had sat for the borough earlier in our period. The Chodes accounted for seven of the seats available between 1385 and 1421; the two William Rydeleres occupied the same number between 1381 and January 1397; and the two Henry Botelers sat no fewer than ten times between 1386 and 1427. The Stoutes and Hynekeres also produced more than one MP in medieval times, but no single family could be said to have completely dominated the borough’s representation. The names of the portreeves are only known for the year 1398-9, when Robert atte Lynde was one of those occupying the post, so there is no way of ascertaining whether the borough regularly returned one of its officials to Parliament. In atte Lynde’s case service as portreeve preceded his entry to the Commons.
Save that Roger Elyot was a chapman and John Haselhurst a skinner, nothing is recorded about the occupations of the parliamentary burgesses. It may be inferred, however, that most of them made a living from similar trades, or else from the sale of the products of Horsham’s woods. The most substantial landowner among them was Walter Urry, with an estate in the neighbourhood of Horsham extending to 1,400 acres. He, who may well have been a lawyer by training, owed much of his local standing to his position as steward of the castles and lordships of Lewes and Reigate on behalf of the widow of Thomas, earl of Arundel—a post he was probably holding at the time of his elections for Horsham in 1416 and 1419. Subsequently, Urry was appointed to several royal commissions. Of the rest, three (William Hynekere, Thomas Pylfold and Roger Wyldegose) were named as collectors of parliamentary subsidies in Sussex as a whole, but only Hynekere was authorized to do so before he sat in the Commons.