Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press

Background Information

Number of voters:

at least 65 in 1604


6 Apr. 1610SIR VALENTINE BROWNE vice Clinton called to the Upper House
 Sir Thomas Monson , (bt.)*
18 Apr. 1625SIR JOHN WRAY , (bt.)
c. Jan. 1626SIR WILLIAM ARMYNE , bt.
18 Feb. 1628SIR JOHN WRAY , (bt.)

Main Article

For administrative purposes Lincolnshire was parcelled into three sub-divisions; Lindsey to the north, Kesteven to the south-west, and Holland, the area of coastal marshlands surrounding the Wash, in the south-east. Although each had separate commissions of the peace, this does not appear to have produced any regular pattern in the geographical distribution of knights of the shire during the early Stuart period. Elections were held at Lincoln Castle. By the beginning of the seventeenth century the wool trade, which had dominated the local economy during the Middle Ages, was in decline, and the county frequently complained of poverty.1 Many of the leading landed families sought to increase their income by undertaking ambitious drainage schemes, resulting in considerable loss of common land, which at times provoked serious rioting, notably in the Isle of Ancholme, to the north-west of the Lindsey area.2 The reclamation of extensive Holland fenlands proved less controversial, except in so far as the activities of the notorious patentees for concealed lands, Robert and William Tipper, aroused hostility to the Crown.3 Another threat to the peace of the county was a long running feud between the 2nd earl of Lincoln (Sir Henry Clinton†) and his cousin Sir Edward Dymoke†.4 Their rivalry found expression in the early elections of the period, but was later superseded, most notably by the influence of the Manners family, earls of Rutland, based at Belvoir Castle. James I stayed at Belvoir on his way south in 1603, and appointed the crypto-Catholic 5th and 6th earls successively to the lord lieutenancy.

In 1604, at the first general election of the new reign, the county’s two previous knights of the shire, Lincoln’s son Thomas, styled Lord Clinton during his father’s lifetime, and John Sheffield, son of the 3rd Lord Sheffield, were returned at a well-attended county court, with some 65 freeholders named on the indenture.5 It may have been through the agency of the Dymoke faction that Clinton, somewhat unwillingly, was summoned to the House of Lords ahead of the fourth session in 1610. If so, the vacancy seems to have been created for the benefit of Dymoke’s nephew Sir Valentine Browne, who was in need of parliamentary privilege. A writ was issued on 23 Feb. 1610, but it was not until 6 Apr. that Browne was returned at what was probably a snap by-election, with only a dozen voters in attendance.6 Despite the protests of Lord Clinton, who remained in the Commons until early June, the privileges committee eventually ordered Browne to take his seat.7

In 1614 the county election was contested by the 6th earl of Rutland’s younger brother, Sir George Manners, the courtier Sir Thomas Monson, who had represented the county in 1597, and Sir Peregrine Bertie, a younger son of Lord Willoughby.8 It is not clear whether a single contest or separate polls were held for the first and second seats; the outcome was that Manners and Bertie were returned. Monson was Dymoke’s brother-in-law, and his failure signals the decline of the latter faction’s influence. Ahead of the next election, on 3 Dec. 1620, Manners wrote to instruct one of his servants to notify ‘all my neighbours at Knaith, Bardney, Tupholme and Fulbeck that I shall desire their companies at Lincoln [on New Year’s day], being the county day for choosing knights of the shire’.9 He may have anticipated another contest, since he took the precaution of writing to Grantham’s corporation in case he needed to resort to a borough seat. These preparations paid off, and he was re-elected as the senior county Member, while the second place, for the first time in the period was taken by a ‘mere gentleman’, Sir Thomas Grantham, a leading local puritan who had already represented Lincoln in three Parliaments. In 1624 first place in the county election was taken by Bertie’s nephew, Sir Montagu, with the support of Clinton’s son Theophilus, 4th earl of Lincoln. Grantham was re-elected as the junior knight of the shire.

For the first Caroline Parliament in 1625 another wealthy puritan gentleman, Sir John Wray, 2nd bt., took the senior county seat, while the second went to Sir Nicholas Saunderson, 1st bt., a social climber who had connected himself by marriage with both the Manners and Bertie families. The following year, Sir William Armyne, 1st bt., a puritan who probably enjoyed Lincoln’s support, was returned in first place, together with Monson’s son, John. The earl of Lincoln led widespread opposition to the Forced Loan in the county; indeed the newsmonger Sir John Scudamore, 1st bt.*, received reports that ‘Lincolnshire refuseth in general, some two only excepted, and with such a fury, that my lord of Rutland was in danger to have the house where he was pulled over his ears’.10 Unsurprisingly two prominent Loan refusers, Wray and Armyne, were returned in 1628. On 4 May complaints were presented to the Commons against one of the Lincolnshire deputy lieutenants, Sir William Welby, who was accused of imprisoning landowners for refusing to pay the rate for musters and of forcing soldiers to pay 6d. apiece at each training session. Welby was examined at the bar on 10 May, but was defended by Sir Thomas Grantham.11 No direct action appears to have been taken against him, but in 1629 Rutland was replaced as lord lieutenant by Lord Willoughby, now 1st earl of Lindsey.

Authors: Paula Watson / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. VCH Lincs. ii. 279, 332; J.D. Gould, ‘The Depopulation Inquisition of 1607 in Lincs’, EHR, lxvii. 392-6.
  • 2. K. Lindley, Fenland Riots, 44-6, passim; C. Holmes, ‘Drainers and Fenmen’, in Order and Disorder in Early Modern Eng. ed. A. Fletcher and J. Stevenson, 166-95.
  • 3. HMC Hatfield, xii. 98; C. Holmes, Seventeenth-Cent. Lincs. 101-2.
  • 4. STAC 8/91/18; HMC Hatfield, xii. 234, 344-5, 410-12; J. O’Connor, God’s Peace and the Queen’s, 108-26; HMC 3rd Rep. 57; Holmes, Seventeenth-Cent. Lincs. 98-9, 102-3.
  • 5. C219/35/1/31-2.
  • 6. Ibid. 36, 39.
  • 7. CJ, i. 424b, 429a; Procs. 1610 ed. E.R. Foster, i. 94-5; ii. 5-6.
  • 8. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 518.
  • 9. HMC Rutland, i. 457.
  • 10. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 138; C115/107/8541.
  • 11. CD 1628, iii. 355-60.