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|1571||JOHN BROOKE alias COBHAM|
|JOHN PARKER I|
|3 May 1572||JOHN BROOKE alias COBHAM|
|13 Dec. 1580||SIR HUMPHREY GILBERT 1 vice Butler, deceased|
|11 Nov. 1584||JOHN BROOKE alias COBHAM|
|20 Feb. 1585||(SIR) EDWARD HOBY 2 vice Parry, expelled the House|
|24 Sept. 1586||(SIR) EDWARD HOBY|
|29 [?Oct.] 1588||WILLIAM BOYS|
|1593||JOHN BROOKE alias COBHAM|
|29 Sept. 1597||SIR GEORGE CAREW|
|1601||(SIR) MICHAEL SONDES|
Queenborough was one of the smallest boroughs enfranchised during Elizabeth’s period, its adult male population in 1585 amounting to only 35. By a charter of 1368, confirmed in 1559, the government of the town was in the hands of a mayor and two bailiffs. The mayor had to take an oath before the constable of Queenborough castle. This office was held from 1559 by Sir Robert Constable, who lived in the north and appears not to have involved himself in the borough’s electoral affairs. Constable appointed Thomas Randolph, the diplomat, his deputy in 1567. He was succeeded on 9 July 1597 by (Sir) Edward Hoby. Elections were held at the mayor’s court, attended by most of the burgesses.
Queenborough first sent Members to Parliament in 1571, apparently with no authority, for its right was challenged in the House and referred to the returns committee 6 Apr. 1571. Perhaps William, 10th Lord Cobham, whose principal seat lay only a few miles from the borough, was responsible. In 1571 the Privy Council instructed Lord Cobham and Matthew Parker, archbishop of Canterbury, to ensure that a ‘good choice’ of knights and burgesses was made throughout Kent, and Queenborough’s first Members were their respective kinsmen, John Brooke alias Cobham, and John Parker I. Cobham influence was consistent throughout the reign, securing one seat in each Parliament. The 1571 MP, John Brookealias Cobham, was also returned in 1572, 1584 and 1593, and Michael Sondes, a relative of Lord Cobham by marriage, was returned to the remaining four Parliaments of the reign, 1586, 1589, 1597 and 1601. It is interesting to note that Sondes was also closely acquainted with (Sir) Edward Hoby who was, after Lord Cobham, the most influential man in Queenborough. Hoby leased the royal manor of Shurland nearby, and became constable of the castle in 1597. He was returned for Queenborough twice, at a by-election 20 Feb. 1585, replacing William Parry, who had been expelled the House two days earlier, and in 1586. Hoby had probably known Parry at court and been responsible for his return at Queenborough in 1584. Hoby’s hand may also be seen in the returns of William Boys (1589), a Kent country gentleman to whom Hoby owed £600 at his death, and Sir George Carew (1597), a gentleman pensioner. John Baynham (1593) may have been known to Hoby through the Middle Temple which they both attended, but equally he may have owed his return to a relative, William Baynham of Boxley, Kent, a government official.
William Butler (1572) and Nicholas Troughton (1601) pose problems of identity. Both were outsiders, Butler from Gloucestershire and Troughton from Buckinghamshire, and it is not known how they came to be returned for Queenborough. Sir Humphrey Gilbert, who replaced Butler at a by-election in 1580, was a Devonshire country gentleman whose wife had estates near Queenborough.3