Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

No names known for 1510


 (aft. 10 Oct. 1532 not known)
1536(not known)
1542(not known)
1553 (Mar.)(SIR) THOMAS BELL
1553 (Oct.)THOMAS PAYNE 9
1554 (Nov.)(SIR) THOMAS BELL

Main Article

Possessing charters from the reign of John, the royal borough of Gloucester was created a county of itself in 1483 and became a city in 1541 with the establishment of the bishopric, the former monastic church of St. Peter becoming the cathedral. The charter of 1483 incorporating Gloucester as the mayor and burgesses was confirmed six years later when the fee-farm was fixed at £60, and again in 1510 and 1553. The mayor was assisted by a town clerk, two sheriffs, 12 aldermen, a common council and, among minor officials, a chamberlain, constable, coroner and steward. The city appointed a recorder and retained lawyers of local origin. No evidence has been found to support the statement by a local antiquary that Sir William Paulet, 1st Marquess of Winchester, became high steward in Mary’s reign. A minute book kept by the town clerk survives for the period, as do chamberlains’ accounts from 1549.11

On the receipt of a writ from Chancery the two sheriffs of Gloucester held an election ‘in full county court’ and recorded the result in a Latin indenture. Five such indentures survive, for the Parliaments of 1545, March 1553, April and November 1554 and 1555; the contracting parties are the sheriffs and the mayor, about 20 named electors and many other burgesses. The election held on 1 Oct. 1555 was disorderly. After ‘great business among the burgesses’ and ‘long debating’, an attempt by the mayor ‘to remove the place to the intent to try the poll ... according to the due order of law’ was obstructed by ‘divers of the said burgesses’ headed by 16 ringleaders, all but four of whom are named on the indenture. At its next meeting the common council fined the offenders and banned the nomination and canvassing of candidates on pain of forfeiture of the freedom. The extension of this threat to the recorder bears out the supposition that it was the holder of that office, Sir John Pollard, who had provoked the episode by demanding the seat customarily allotted to it; as a spokesman for the Marian regime he was evidently unacceptable as a Member, and both of those elected were to support the opposition in the House headed by Sir Anthony Kingston. This constituted a rejection of the letter for ‘the election of burgesses’ received by the city in 1554-5 from Bishop Heath, the president of the council in the marches, which had doubtless echoed the Queen’s own request for the election of resident Members loyal to her faith. It is not clear whether Gloucester’s failure to comply with Henry VIII’s request of 1515 for the re-election of the previous Members had reflected a similar disregard of royal wishes, and when the King repeated the request in 1536 the loss of the names obscures a possible analogy. Besides holding its own elections the city also accommodated at the castle those for the shire: in the autumn of 1553 it provided six gallons of wine for the gentlemen attending the shire election.12

Of the 14 Members sitting on 24 occasions only John Pakington is not known to have lived in the city or the county, and even he was a member of the Gloucestershire bench. Of the eight townsmen returned all held municipal office, Thomas Bell, Thomas Loveday, Thomas Payne and Thomas Porter being ex-mayors and William Massinger a future one. The other six were either practising lawyers or had received a legal education, usually at Lincoln’s Inn: they included Thomas Lane, Richard Morgan and Richard Pate, who held the office of recorder. Robert Cole of Tewkesbury perhaps had relatives in the town but his Membership was probably the work of Walter Rowdon who had sat for Gloucester earlier; Lane began his career as Rowdon’s clerk and Pate married Lane’s widow. The clothier Bell was repeatedly re-elected, Pate three times, Massinger, Morgan and Payne twice and Thomas Loveday once. Only Arthur Porter had any previous parliamentary experience, having been a knight for the shire, and only he and Pakington were to sit elsewhere after representing the borough.

Gloucester paid its Members at the statutory rate and allowed them three days’ journey to and from Parliament. The money was raised by special levy, the contribution of each townsman being assessed according to his means. The town was listed in the Act (27 Hen. VIII, c.1) requiring the owners of derelict property to put it in order within three years or else to forfeit it to the municipal authorities. In 1542 Gloucester obtained an Act (33 Hen. VIII, c.35) to erect new conduits, and it co-operated successfully with Bristol over measures in 1543 forbidding ships to discharge ballast near the mouth of the Severn, and in 1554 to repair the highway between the two places. Under an Act of 1553 (7 Edw. VI, c.5) Gloucester was permitted four taverns, two less than Bristol.

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. E179/279/2, m.7.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. E179/279/3, m.23.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. E159/319, brev. ret. Mich. r. [1-2].
  • 6. Ibid.
  • 7. Gloucester Guildhall 1375, ff. 124v-7; Hatfield 207.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. Gloucester Guildhall 1394, f. 42; Bodl. e Museo 17.
  • 10. Ibid.
  • 11. H. P. R. Finberg, Glos. Studies, 79, 133, 135; Rudder, Glos. 117, 122, 132-5; HMC 12th Rep. IX, 400-4; W. H. Stevenson, Cal. Recs. Gloucester, 27; Gloucester Guildhall 1375, 1394. Gloucester was designated the seat of a suffragan bishop under an Act of 1534 (26 Hen. VIII, c.14) but no appointment was made before the decision to make it the seat of a bishop.
  • 12. C219/18C/48, 20/55, 22/21, 23/164, 24/205.