Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
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1553 (Mar.)?ROBERT HUICK 3

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The borough of Camelford belonged with the manor of Helston-in-Triggshire to the duchy of Cornwall. It had received its first charter in 1260 and several confirmations of its privileges in the 14th and 15th centuries; the charter of 1475 was confirmed in 1553. In the absence of municipal records few details have come to light about its administration, but it had a reeve, whose title was changed to mayor during the financial year beginning at Michaelmas 1552: Richard Cock held the office throughout the 1550s. The fee-farm of £4 paid to the duchy in 1539 bears out Leland’s description of the place as ‘that poor village’.4

Camelford’s enfranchisement was presumably the work of Sir John Russell, Baron Russell, later 1st Earl of Bedford, as high steward of the duchy in 1547. The return made by the borough to the Parliament of 1547 does not survive but the names of its representatives in that Parliament are known from the list of Members for the session of 1552. Four indentures survive, the first three, for both Parliaments of 1553 and November 1554, in English. The contracting parties are given as the sheriff of Cornwall and the mayor, usually named, and burgesses or mayor and community of the borough. In these three indentures, although not in 1555, the first person is used: ‘We the said mayor ... by our mutual assent ... have elected ... our loving friends ...’. The electors were presumably the inhabitant householders, although the term ‘burgesses’ on two indentures might imply a restricted franchise.5

As far as is known, none of the Members in the period lived near Camelford, but of the 13 almost half were of south-western origin, Thomas Arundell, William Cavell, Francis Roscarrock and William St. Aubyn being Cornishmen and Thomas Prideaux and George Stowford Devonians. Roscarrock, who remains unidentified, was the only man re-elected; his return in the autumn of 1554 when the Queen asked for resident Members might suggest that he was one, but his fellow-Member Clement Tusser from Essex was not, while the insertion of their names on the indenture in separate and different hands from the rest of the document may mean that both were nominees. Camelford appears to have been amenable to the influence of local families, the duchy and the court. The Members in 1547 were a rising household official (Sir) Francis Knollys and a lawyer related to the King’s stepmother John Throckmorton, and they were followed in March 1553 by the royal physician Robert Huick and a household official associated with Knollys at Wallingford, Nicholas St. John. Roscarrock was related to the Grenville family with extensive lands nearby, as were Arundell and St. Aubyn: the link between the Arundells and Grenvilles probably also accounts for George Tadlowe’s return. Tusser had relatives in the area in duchy employment and Stowford had neighbours at Ottery St. Mary in Devon on the duchy staff. Only Ambrose Gilberd, a lawyer from Suffolk, was probably beholden for his return to the 1st Earl of Bedford as chief steward of the duchy: he sat for other Cornish boroughs in the period and in 1553 his name was added to the indenture over an erasure. Sir Edward Waldegrave, who lived not far from Tusser in Essex, had a lien on duchy seats as a former receiver-general and it was presumably he who nominated Tusser.

Author: J. J. Goring


  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Except for the final two letters of his surname 'ke', the name of the senior Member is barely legible on the badly defaced indenture, C219/20/27.
  • 4. J. Hatcher, Rural Econ. and Soc. in the Duchy of Cornw. 1300-1500, pp. 5, 22; B. P. Wolffe, The R. Demesne in Eng. Hist. 240; H. Beresford, New Towns in the Middle Ages, 403; CChR. ii. 26; J. Polsue, Paroch. Hist. Cornw. iii. 192; Duchy Cornw. RO, B96, receiver-gen.’s accts. 220; information from G. Haslam; Leland, Itin. ed. Smith, i. 316.
  • 5. C219/20/27, 21/23, 23/20, 24/26.