Old Sarum


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 1510-23


1536(not known)
1539(not known)
1542(not known)
 (not known)
by 23 Jan. 1552WILLIAM THOMAS 2
1553 (Mar.)JAMES BRANDE 3
1554 (Nov.)JOHN TULL

Main Article

Old Sarum, alias Old Salisbury, once the site of a castle and the seat of the bishopric of Salisbury, never recovered from the removal in the early 13th century of the cathedral from its hilltop position to one some three miles away on the banks of the Avon. Leland reported that there had been residents ‘in time of mind ... but now there is not one house neither within Old Salisbury or without inhabited’. In 1531 Sir Edward Baynton was appointed keeper of the town or borough of Old Sarum and in 1549 the bishop of Salisbury’s adjoining manor of Milford was leased to (Sir) William Herbert I, later 1st Earl of Pembroke.5

Old Sarum had enjoyed various privileges as a royal borough and still maintained the fiction of borough government. It first returned Members in 1295 and elections continued to be held in response to a precept directed by the sheriff of Wiltshire to the bailiff and burgesses. Election indentures, all in Latin, survive for the last Parliament of Henry VIII, the second of Edward VI and all those of Mary. In 1545 the contracting parties are the sheriff and two burgesses, John Marshall and John Andrewes; in February 1553 the sheriff, William Farley, described as bailiff of the borough, and the burgesses; in September 1553 the sheriff and the Members themselves, described as burgesses of the castle; in March and October 1554 the sheriff and the burgesses; and in 1555 the sheriff, John Hooper and the other burgesses. The indenture for the Parliament of 1558 is damaged but the names of John Hooper and William Moggeridge appear at the foot. The names of several Members seem to have been inserted in hands different from those of the indentures concerned and sometimes over erasures. An early 17th-century list based on ‘the rolls of them that have the election of the burgesses of Old Sarum’ confirms the evidence of three of the indentures but gives the missing name of the junior Member in 1558 as John Bateman and not, as in the two known copies of the Crown Office list for this Parliament, Thomas Bateman.6

Only one of the known Members, William Chamber, is at all likely to have owed his return to the bishop of Salisbury. Thomas Hilton and William Lambert were probably both Household officials, perhaps indebted to Baynton for their nomination. William Hulcote’s uncle Sir William Essex was a friend of the sheriff Sir Anthony Hungerford, and he could also have enjoyed the support of Archbishop Cranmer, an overseer of the will of Baynton who had died two months before the election. Hulcote’s partner John Bassett was a colleague of Herbert in Glamorganshire and a servant of Herbert’s sister-in-law Queen Catherine Parr, an important patron in Wiltshire; John Young was a servant of the Protector Somerset. William Thomas was in Italy when the Parliament of 1547 was summoned and the date of his by-election is unknown, but it could have followed his dedication of one of his books to Herbert’s wife in the year in which Herbert obtained the lease of Milford and with it virtual control of the borough.

Most of those returned later seem to have been Herbert’s nominees: Sir Nicholas and John Throckmorton were his cousins and the (Sir) Henry Jones thought to have been returned in 1558 was married to his great-niece. In the spring of 1554 both Members were servants of William, Lord Paget, and in the autumn Francis Killinghall was a client of William, 13th Lord Grey of Wilton, but Pembroke could still have nominated them as he probably did John Bateman (thought to have been the secretary to the and Earl of Rutland) to oblige his colleagues. Bateman and Jones had both served with Pembroke in the St. Quentin campaign, and it was probably their absence abroad which caused Bateman to lose his customary seat for Nottingham and Jones to fear that he would not find one in Wales. If these suggested identifications are correct, the error as to Bateman’s Christian name and Jones’s style in the indenture—‘armiger’ instead of ‘miles’—could have arisen from their unfamiliarity in the neighbourhood. In the event, Jones was re-elected for Cardiganshire and doubtless chose to sit as a knight, leaving the borough seat vacant, but no trace of a by-election has been found.

Author: Elizabeth McIntyre


  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. C219/282/9; HMC Hatfield, xv. 386.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. VCH Wilts. vi. 62-63; Leland, Itin. ed. Smith, i. 260-1; LP Hen. VIII, v, g. 80(17); Hoare, Wilts. Salisbury, 41, 194, 574.
  • 6. C219/18C/145, 21/168, 22/91, 23/153, 24/186, 25/134, 282/9; HMC Hatfield, xv. 386.