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|1510||JOHN WELLES 1|
|WILLIAM PURY 2|
|1512||JOHN WELLES 3|
|THOMAS RIDER 4|
|1515||JOHN WELLES 5|
|THOMAS RIDER 6|
|1529||THOMAS WARD I|
|1542||RICHARD WARD I|
|WILLIAM SYMONDS 7|
|1547||RICHARD WARD I|
|by Jan. 1552||THOMAS LITTLE vice Weldon, deceased8|
|1553 (Mar.)||RICHARD WARD I|
|1553 (Oct.)||RICHARD WARD I|
|1554 (Apr.)||RICHARD WARD I|
|THOMAS BUTLER II|
|1554 (Nov.)||RICHARD WARD I|
|1555||RICHARD WARD I|
|WILLIAM NORRIS 9|
New Windsor is so called to distinguish it from an older settlement two miles away, forming part of a manor briefly held by Westminster abbey before the Conquest. The new town grew up in the shadow of the castle and was a royal borough by the reign of Henry I. A charter of 1277 was confirmed in 1316 and later, and in 1466 the mayor, bailiffs, burgesses and inhabitants were incorporated. Municipal offices were monopolized by the brethren of the guild of the Holy Trinity. Every year two bailiffs and two bridge-keepers of the town were appointed from among the brethren, as well as two keepers of the guild itself. A copy of a lost set of rules of the guild shows that there were 28 or 30 brethren, of whom 13 were benchers otherwise called burgesses: the aldermen, to the number of seven, were those burgesses who had served as mayor. The brethren were to be recruited from the most substantial residents but gentlemen and learned men from outside might obtain special admission.10
Windsor returned Members spasmodically from 1302 to 1335, but not thereafter until 1447. Most of those elected in the mid 15th century, although they might have been admitted burgesses, were royal servants or lawyers, holding offices connected with the castle, but since of the nine Parliaments summoned from 1478 the names of the Windsor Members are known only in that of 1491 (when a townsman and a clerk of the castle who had been admitted to the freedom were returned) it cannot be said whether the return of townsmen to the first three Parliaments of Henry VIII marked a break with the recent past, as it did at Reading.
The Members for 1523 are unknown but in 1529 Windsor returned with its mayor William Symonds a royal servant Thomas Ward I; both may have been nominated by the King. Thereafter the town returned either one townsman and one outsider, or two outsiders, as it did in both the Parliaments of Edward VI and the third and fourth Parliaments of Mary and would have done again in 1558 if Richard Ward had not been displaced. Of the 13 Members whose names are known seven were townsmen, while the six outsiders included Richard Ward who sat for the borough at least seven times. All the outsiders were men likely to be known in Windsor, most of them having offices in the castle and lands in the neighbourhood; Richard Ward was even admitted to the guild. The pattern of Membership is probably to be explained less by official intervention than by the fact that Windsor paid parliamentary wages only to townsmen. The extant book of chamberlains’ accounts for 1514-1560, and the notes made by Elias Ashmole from this and other corporation records, now lost, show that of the seven townsmen (John Welles, William Pury, Thomas Rider, William Symonds, Thomas Good, Thomas Butler and William Hanley) all received wages save Pury—and in his case the evidence may simply be lost. In the reign of Mary payment was at the rate of 1s. a day, half the statutory amount, but earlier it seems to have been even less.11
Ashmole’s transcripts also show that in the Parliament of 1510 a proviso to secure an interest in a fee-farm to Windsor was added to the Act for the expenses of the King’s household (I Hen. VIII, c.16) ‘by the labour of Sir Andrew Windsor, knight and high steward of the town of New Windsor’. On 21 Sept. 1545, after Reading had been considered as a possible meeting-place for the Parliament then due to open in October, writs of prorogation were issued summoning it to Windsor, but early in the following month the King finally settled upon Westminster. The election indentures, all in Latin and one or two in poor condition, survive for all the Parliaments from 1542 except those of 1545 and April 1554. In 1547, the autumn of 1554 and (probably) 1558 the contracting parties were the sheriff of Oxfordshire and Berkshire and the mayor, bailiffs and burgesses of New Windsor, but no parties are named in the returns for either of the Parliaments of 1553 or for that of 1555, which record the election by the mayor, bailiffs (these in the spring of 1553 only), burgesses and community. The return for 1558, made on 14 Jan., six days before the Parliament met, notes that William Hanley was elected in place of Richard Ward: no explanation is given for this substitution. The names of the Windsor Members are given on the sheriff’s schedule for Oxfordshire for the Parliament of March 1553, the clerk presumably having confused the schedules for the two counties within the sheriff’s jurisdiction.12
Author: T. F.T. Baker
- 1. R. R. Tighe and J. E. Davis, Windsor Annals, i. 500.
- 2. Ibid.
- 3. Ibid. i. 465; Windsor recs. Wi/FA c.1, f. 6v.
- 4. Ibid.
- 5. Tighe and Davis, i. 474; Windsor recs. Wi/FA c.1, ff. 7v, 9v.
- 6. Ibid.
- 7. The christian name only survives on a torn indenture, C219/18B/7; full name supplied from Windsor recs. Wi/FA c.1, f. 46.
- 8. Hatfield, 207.
- 9. C219/24/6; OR gives 'Merryes'.
- 10. VCH Berks. iii. 56, 59-60; CPR, 1461-7, p. 551.
- 11. Tighe and Davis, i. passim; Windsor recs. Wi/FA c.1, ff. 6v, 7v, 8, 9v, 33, 46, 60, 72.
- 12. Tighe and Davis, i. 500; C219/18B/7, 19/7, 20/8, 94, 21/4v, 7, 23/4, 8, 24/6, 25/9.