St. Mawes


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


20 Apr. 1572ROLAND HYNDE
3 Nov. 1588JOHN POTTS
19 Sept. 1597RICHARD SAYER
1 Oct. 1601RALPH HARE

Main Article

It is not known how St. Mawes came to return Members for the 1563 Parliament. Oliver Carminowe and Edmund Sexton, along with MPs from five other boroughs, were requested (22 Jan. 1563) to produce letters patent justifying their presence in the House. Whether they did or not is unknown.1 Possibly the 2nd Earl of Bedford had a hand in the matter. He was certainly behind the return of Oliver Carminowe, one of his servants, to the 1563 Parliament. This is the only clear example of Bedford influence, although it is possible that the junior 1584 MP, Christopher Southouse, about whom little is known, owed his return to Bedford. It is interesting to note that only three local men sat for St. Mawes during this period: Oliver Carminowe (already seen to be a Bedford nominee), and the two returned in 1597, Richard Sayer and Michael Vivian. Court connexions were responsible for the majority of the rest. Edmund Sexton (1563) was evidently at a later date known to Sir Walter Mildmay, who might have intervened on his behalf with his associate, the Earl of Bedford. Israel Amyce (1571), son of a radical protestant and later known to Burghley, Roland Hynde (1572), a relative of Bedford’s friends the Drurys, and Geoffrey Gates (1572), a nephew of Francis Walsingham and known to Burghley, would all have been acceptable to Bedford. William Fleetwood I (1571), recorder of London, and his son-in-law Thomas Chaloner (1586), a Buckinghamshire county landowner, were reliant on Burghley for their returns. William Onslow (1584), a minor legal official in London, was a close neighbour and brother-in-law of William Killigrew, whose direct influence or intervention with Burghley probably brought about his return. Sampson Lennard (1586) no doubt was returned by Burghley as he had been for his other parliamentary constituencies. John Potts (1589) and Nicholas Fuller (1593), a London lawyer, have no obvious patrons at St. Mawes. Henry Vincent (1593) has not been positively identified, but if he is assumed to be the Henry Vincent of Barnack, Northamptonshire, his return for St. Mawes may be explained by his father’s connexion with Burghley. Walter Cope (1589), who held an office in the court of wards, and Ralph Hare (1601), an Inner Temple lawyer, were dependent on Cecil influence for their returns. Robert Killigrew no doubt relied on his family’s local influence when he obtained the junior seat in 1601.

In 1584 the return was made out at Lostwithiel, the administrative centre of the duchy of Cornwall. This had not been an uncommon practice in the second half of the fifteenth century. In 1478 for example, all the returns for the Cornish boroughs were made out in Lostwithiel. The returns for 1586 and 1598 are missing but it would seem probable that, at least from 1589 onwards, St. Mawes conformed to the current Cornish practice of making a separate return for each of its Members. Furthermore in 1589, as at Helston, the returns are unusual, in that they are made out between the ‘mayor’ and inhabitants on the one part and the Member chosen on the other part; the sheriff is not mentioned. The 1601 election produced a different irregularity: the return, which mentions only the burgesses, but not the ‘mayor’ or portreeve, is endorsed by the sheriff with the remark ‘I have sealed the counterpart of this indenture and have allowed of this’.2

Author: W.J.J.


  • 1. SP 12/27 no. 23; CJ, i. 63.
  • 2. C219/17/3, nos. 15-20; 29/19; 31/30, 31; 34/243.