Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer


1576THOMAS TALLENTYRE vice Mulcaster, deceased
30 Mar. 1579THOMAS BARNE vice Tallentyre, deceased
1587WILLIAM BOWYER (?III) vice Macwilliam, deceased
21 Oct. 1588HENRY SCROPE
27 Sept 1597HENRY SCROPE
20 Oct. 1601HENRY SCROPE

Main Article

According to an ordinance issued by the ‘commons’ of Carlisle in 1445 and confirmed by the charter of 1566, the city government was vested in the mayor and 11 other ‘worshipful persons’, who should choose 24 ‘able persons’ to join them in electing the mayor.

As a garrison town and the administrative centre of the west march, Carlisle had a small complement of wardenry officials, under the authority of the warden of the march, who himself resided in the castle there and exercised considerable influence over the town’s affairs. For all but the first five years of the reign the office of warden was filled by the Scropes of Bolton. Henry, 9th Lord Scrope, replaced William, 3rd Lord Dacre in 1563 and remained warden until his death in 1592, when his son Thomas succeeded him.

The patronage of the wardens is evident in most of the Elizabethan elections. In only two Parliaments, those of 1572 and 1584, were all the Members—including the two chosen at by-elections in 1576 and 1579—of local families and conceivably elected independently of the warden or with no more than nominal reference to him: Thomas Pattenson (1572), Robert Mulcaster (1572), Thomas Tallentyre (1576), Thomas Barne (1579), Edward Aglionby II (1584, also 1593), and Thomas Blennerhassett (1584, also 1586). Other local men who represented Carlisle were William Mulcaster (1563) and his son Richard (1559). Richard was resident in London at the time of his election but his father’s standing as citizen and city official no doubt accounts for his return. John Dalston (1589) lived at Dalston Hall, three miles from Carlisle, and was no doubt acceptable to both the city and the warden as a local gentleman, j.p. and former sheriff of the county.

In all the Parliaments except 1572 and 1584 the senior Member was an outsider. The senior MP in 1559 has not been definitely identified as his first name is unknown, but he was probably Edward Aglionby I of Balsall, Warwickshire, who had represented the city in the previous period. The remaining MPs all owed their returns to the lord wardens. Richard Assheton (1563) was a Lancashire country gentleman and receiver in the northern counties. Robert Bowes I (1571) had served under Lord Scrope during the northern rebellion, and their families were related. Christopher Musgrave (1571) was connected with Lord Scrope through his father, Sir Simon Musgrave. Henry Macwilliam (1586), who had married the widowed Lady Cheke and was a gentleman pensioner, no doubt owed his seat to a court connexion (probably Cecil), who approached Scrope on his behalf. The man who replaced Macwilliam in the second session of the 1586 Parliament has been conjecturally identified as William Bowyer III, the son of a London procer. Like Macwilliam, Bowyer also had connexions with the Cecils and may have owed his return to their influence with the warden. In the last four Parliaments of the reign the senior Member was Henry Scrope, second son of one lord warden and younger brother of the next. John Dudley II (1601) was a lawyer, probably in London at that time, for whose father the warden professed particular friendship.

The identity of Thomas Sandford, the second Member in 1597, has not been established, but the return itself suggests that he was Scrope’s nominee. In 1563 and 1589 (the only other Parliaments of this period for which the returns survive) the knights of the shire and the burgesses for Carlisle were returned separately, but in 1597 they appear together on the same return, with only freeholders as witnesses. A copy of this combined return was made on the dorse of the writ and both documents were delivered at Westminster. Between the actual return and the endorsed copy there is a significant difference: on the return the name of the second Member for Carlisle has been entered in a different hand in a space left blank to receive it, whereas on the endorsed copy a space was also left but his name was never inserted. The explanation almost certainly lies in the absence of Lord Scrope, who set out from Carlisle for the court soon after the sending of the writ and some time before the date of the return. Presumably it was to him that the return was sent for completion. A Scrope connexion would indicate that the 1597 MP was Thomas Sandford of Asken, whose first son had Lady Scrope as godmother.3

Author: B.D.


  • 1. Browne Willis.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. C219/33/15, 16.