Appendix IV: The 1572 House of Commons
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Effective dates of sessions: 8 May-30 June 1572 8 Feb.-15 Mar. 1576 16 Jan.-18 Mar. 1581
|Speakers:||(Sir) Robert Bell (1572, 1576)|
|(Sir) John Popham (1581)|
Privy Councillors in the Commons:
Sir James Croft
(Sir) Christopher Hatton I (1581)
Sir Francis Knollys
Sir Walter Mildmay
Sir Ralph Sadler
Sir Henry Sidney (1581)1
Sir Thomas Smith (1572, 1576)
Francis Walsingham (1576, 1581)
Thomas Wilson (1581)
Total number of Members elected 531
for counties 109
for boroughs 422
at general election 440
for counties 90
for boroughs 350
at by-elections 91
for counties 19
for boroughs 72
Number of Members known to have left before end: 98, of whom 24 sat for counties, 74 for boroughs
Residential qualification. Borough Members
resident in borough 108
resident in county 137
resident in adjacent county etc. 23
no information 16
Electoral qualification. Borough Members returned through
own or family interest 90
wife’s family interest 7
corporation interest 109
‘natural’ influence 34
influence of a great man 139
duchy of Lancaster 10
no information 33
Number of Members with
|central office||local office|
|major 14||lord lieutenant 3|
|minor 122||deputy lieutenant 12|
|legal 18||custos rotulorum 12|
|duchy of Lancaster 24||j.p. 262|
|diplomatic/agent abroad 13||other county 171|
|military/naval 20||mayor 31|
|ecclesiastical 12||recorder 30|
|other municipal 97|
|no office in this Parliament 120|
Experience. Members who
had sat in previous Parliament 40%
were to sit in next Parliament 24%
very active speakers 6%
very active committeemen 16%
with any recorded activity 51%
with any recorded speeches 18%
with any recorded committees 50%
served on religious committee 15%
spoke on religion 6%
served on subsidy committee 11%
spoke on subsidy 1%
served on a social/economic committee 38%
spoke on a social/economic matter 8%
served on a legal committee 25%
spoke on a legal matter 5%
served on a committee concerning Mary Stuart 14%
spoke on Mary Stuart 7%
served on a committee outside above five classifications 16%
spoke on a subject other than the above five 7%
It will be seen that the percentage of members with any recorded activity rises from 32% in the previous Parliament to 51%. Not only does Fulk Onslow’s journal give more information about the proceedings of the House, but there is an excellent private journal for the first two sessions of the 1572 Parliament in Trinity College, Dublin, transcribed by Miss Miller.
The 1572 session was unusual in that no subsidy was under discussion. As D’Ewes put it (p. 204) ‘and the reason of it is plain, because this session of Parliament ... was convocated ... for that great business touching the Scottish Queen’. No less than 14% of Members served on a committee on this subject, and 7% spoke, the highest recorded for any subject so far in the history of the Commons.
The favoured committee meeting places also become clear. They were, in the first session:
Middle Temple 29%
Star Chamber 24%
‘In this House’ 6%.
Committees also met in Sir William More’s house, the court house at Southwark, the Marshalsea, and Mr. Chancellor’s [of the duchy of Lancaster] at the Savoy.
In the second session:
Exchequer chamber 32%
Star Chamber 14%
Middle Temple 11%
Mr. Treasurer’s chamber at the Savoy 11%
‘In the committee chamber of this House’ 7%2
‘At this House’ 4%3
Westminster Hall 4%
Committees also met in Serjeants’ Inn, and in the chambers of Mr. Lovelace and Mr. Wilson.
In the third session:
Exchequer chamber 48%
Middle Temple 18%
House of Commons committee chamber 10%
Council chamber at court 5%
Star Chamber 3%
Committees also met in Serjeants’ Inn, the Inner Temple, Mr. Secretary’s chamber at court (no doubt Lord Burghley’s) and Mr. Chancellor’s chamber (probably at the Savoy).
Two developments in committee procedure may be noted, both mentioned in Thomas Cromwell’s journal. On 22 May 1572 the House ordered that in matters concerning private individuals, if bills
shall by order of this House be thought good to be committed, the committees shall make their report thereof unto this House in the presence of both the parties and of their learned counsel.
And on 8 Feb. 1576, at the opening of a new session, Speaker Bell moved for a kind of screening committee, suggesting that
for expedition sake upon every motion made, certain might be appointed to consider whether the matter moved were fit to be committed to bill before any argument should be used of the matter.
Sources for the names of Members (unless an individual reference is given)
OR with add. and corr.
PRO T/S list of supplementary returns
Bodl. Tanner 234
Three lists at PRO, C193/32/8, 9, 10. The first of these has been heavily amended to the end of the first session. The second included by-elections to late February 1576. The third is an unamended list for the first session.
Sources for the proceedings of the Commons
HMC Lords, xi. 8.
The following, transcribed and edited by Miss Helen Miller: Fulk Onslow’s journal 24-31 May, 25 June, House of Lords, Main Papers, Braye, 1572-1636; anonymous journal 8 May-25 June 1572, Bodl. Tanner 393. This amounts to 39 quarto pages of typescript and relates a number of incidents not to be found elsewhere. For example on 6 June 1572, on the bill about Mary Stuart: ‘It seemed hereupon good that certain of the ripest wits within the house should be appointed to have conference upon every point in the bill, and after upon the reading of it by articles, they should utter their opinions as in showing what they thought amiss ... and so leave it to the House to judge upon’.
Thomas Cromwell’s journal, to which reference has already been made, covers 8 May-30 June 1572, 8 Feb.-15 Mar. 1576, 16 Jan.-18 Mar. 1581. Trinity, Dublin N.2.12. This is a substantial journal which makes a major contribution to knowledge of the 1572 Parliament in particular and to the mid-Elizabethan parliamentary machine in general. It amounts to 163 quarto pages of typescript for the 1572 session, 36 for 1576, 45 for 1581, and contains many items of constitutional interest not to be found elsewhere. For example, reporting a speech of Robert Snagge, 11 June 1572: ‘... the Queen and the noblemen represented their own voices only, the knights and burgesses of the Lower House represented all the commonalty of the realm’. Once this alert, inquiring diarist comments on the difficult circumstances under which his journal was written: ‘... her Majesty made an oration, but I could not hear the same, scant one word of twenty, no one perfect sentence’.
Other sources for this Parliament include extracts from BL Hargrave 249; Add. 5758, 48049, 48023, 33271, 32379; Cott. Titus F.i, Cott. Caligula B. viii; Sloane 326; Lansd. 30; SP Dom. Eliz. 147/52, 86/52; Inner Temple Petyt ms 538/17, 54; Exeter Coll. Oxford, 92; Corpus Christi Coll. Cambridge 543; Northants. RO, Fitzwilliam of Milton mss 148.