Available from Boydell and Brewer
|1545||SIR LAWRENCE SMITH|
|SIR HUGH CALVERLEY|
|1547||SIR WILLIAM BRERETON 1|
|SIR HUGH CHOLMLEY 2|
|1553 (Mar.)||SIR THOMAS HOLCROFT|
|SIR THOMAS VENABLES|
|1553 (Oct.)||SIR THOMAS HOLCROFT|
|1554 (Apr.)||SIR HENRY DELVES|
|1554 (Nov.)||SIR RICHARD COTTON|
|1555||SIR LAWRENCE SMITH|
|SIR JOHN DONE 3|
The petition of the inhabitants of the county palatine of Chester for its own and the city’s representation in Parliament was granted by the Act (34 and 35 Hen. VIII, c.13) passed during the second session of the Parliament of 1542. The petition had been occasioned by the abolition of the parliamentum of the county court at Chester castle, without the approval of which no laws and taxes had been imposed in the county palatine, but the claim was probably influenced by the recent enfranchisement of Wales. The Act provided for the election of two knights of the shire and two citizens ‘from the end of this present session’. The writs of summons were to be sent from Chancery to the chamberlain of Chester’s lieutenant or deputy, who was to deliver them to the sheriffs of the county and the city, and elections were to be held in the same way as within the county palatine of Lancaster or elsewhere. The sheriffs had to make their return directly to Chancery, not through the lieutenant, and they were put under the standard constraints to ensure their good conduct. On one construction of the Act both Cheshire and Chester could have been represented in the third and final session of the Parliament which passed it, but the term ’the end of this present session’ probably meant the dissolution. The names of the knights are known only from 1545 and those for Chester from 1547.4
Unlike his successors in the chamberlainship of Chester, Sir Rhys Mansell of Margam, Glamorganshire, who held it until his death in 1559, is not known to have intervened in elections, and his lieutenants seem merely to have performed their duties under the Act. Several sheriffs of Cheshire probably worked to secure seats either for official nominees or for relatives and friends. The elections were held at Chester castle. All but two of the election indentures for Parliaments between 1545 and 1558 survive; they are in Latin. The fact that the earliest of them lists the names of over 70 knights, esquires and freeholders at the election in December 1544, a number not attained by the remaining five, supports the inference that this was the first election held.5
Twelve men filled the 16 seats available during this period, one of them sitting three times and two others twice. Five of the 12 were related to the influential Brereton family; outside this group Sir Hugh Calverley, Richard Hough and Richard Wilbraham were connected by marriage with one another, while Sir Richard Cotton, Sir John Done and probably Sir Thomas Venables formed another related group, with Sir Thomas Holcroft, an associate of Cotton in the Household, attached to them. There were links between the Brereton and other groups, and the picture of representation is of a small number of prominent county families, interconnected and often with places at court or in government. Only Cotton, Holcroft and Wilbraham are known to have had any parliamentary experience before being returned for Cheshire, and only Holcroft and Smith were elected elsewhere after having sat for the county.
The production of cloth in Cheshire was regulated by the Act (5 and 6 Edw. VI, c.6) of 1552.
Author: N. M. Fuidge
- 1. Hatfield 207.
- 2. Ibid.
- 3. OR gives 'Jacobus Downe armiger' as do the two lists of Members, C193/32/2 and Wm. Salt. Lib. SMS 264, but the indenture gives 'Johannem Downe militem', C219/25/16.
- 4. J. Beck, Tudor Cheshire, 2-6; J. S. Morrill, Cheshire 1630-60; Co. Govt. and Soc. during the Eng. Rev. 1.
- 5. C219/18C/10, 20/18, 21/16, 23/18, 24/19, 25/16.