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

Right of Election:

in the freemen

Number of voters:



3 Mar. 1604SIR JOHN LUKE
 Roger Charnock

Main Article

Newton, a small market town near Wigan, appeared in the Domesday book as one of the townships in the ‘fee of Makerfield’, lying within Winwick parish in West Derby hundred, and was often named Newton-in-Makerfield or Newton le Willows.1 Although it received charters for a market and a fair in 1257 and 1301, it was never incorporated.2 Courts leet were held by the bailiff and steward, both of whom were appointees of the lord of the manor, who was formally known as the ‘baron’ of Newton. The bailiff, and perhaps also the steward, served as returning officers.3 Members had first been sent to Parliament in 1559 as a result of pressure from the duchy of Lancaster. The then steward, William Fleetwood†, a duchy official and later recorder of London, was distantly related to the ‘baron’ of Newton, Sir Thomas Langton (d.1569).4 Langton’s descendants sold the lordship of the manor in 1594 to another branch of the Fleetwood family, and with it the right of ‘nomination, election and appointment of two burgesses to the Parliament’. However, the terms of the sale did not take effect until the death of Thomas Langton† on 20 Feb. 1604.5 Langton’s successor was Sir Richard Fleetwood of Colwich, Staffordshire and Penwortham in Lancashire, who served as lord of Newton throughout this period.6 The franchise was vested in the freemen, around a dozen of whom regularly signed Newton’s election indentures.7 Despite its role in Newton’s early electoral history, the duchy of Lancaster had lost all influence by the middle of Elizabeth’s reign. Between 1604 and 1626 Members were chosen by Fleetwood or his cousin Sir Miles Fleetwood* without apparent reference to the chancellor of the duchy, and in 1628 the ‘baron’ shared his right of nomination with his son. It is unlikely that Newton was wealthy enough to pay wages to its parliamentary representatives during this period.

The election held in March 1604 took place less than three weeks before the opening of the session, and was perhaps delayed by Langton’s death and his replacement by Fleetwood as lord of the manor. Sir John Luke was awarded the first seat but may not have been the first choice, as his name on the indenture appears over an erasure. A Hertfordshire man who later sat for St. Albans, Luke was connected by marriage to both the chancellor of the duchy, Sir John Fortescue*, and to Sir Miles Fleetwood.8 The second seat went to the borough’s steward, Richard Ashton, who had previously sat in 1601. It is not clear whether he returned himself, but if he did his eligibility went unquestioned.

In 1614 one seat was conferred on Ashton’s younger son, William, while the other went to Roger Charnock, a local lawyer whose stepmother was Sir Richard Fleetwood’s aunt. Charnock and his elder brother Thomas, who sat for Newton in 1624, were linked to the Fleetwoods both professionally and financially. They also shared with them many of the same connections, as a result of their marriages into various Lancashire families known for their adherence to Catholicism. Fleetwood himself was one of several crypto-Catholic members of the Lancashire gentry who bought baronetcies in 1611.9

The first seat in 1621 went to Sir George Wright, of Richmond in Surrey, the clerk of the Stables. He was possibly helped by Sir Miles Fleetwood, a client of the marquess of Buckingham, then master of the Horse. Sir Miles, who twice represented the borough himself, wielded considerable influence over his cousin, and was responsible for the selection of at least three of the five outsiders who sat for Newton during the period. The second seat went to Sir Richard Fleetwood’s brother-in-law, Richard Kippax. Both Wright and Kippax spoke in the Commons on bills relating to matters of probate, which suggests that they might have been prompted to do so by their patron; certainly they had no other shared interest. Kippax also spoke on the Irish cattle bill, which was surely of interest to Fleetwood, who owned extensive lands in Munster and Cork.10

In 1624 two local men were elected, both of whom had close ties with Sir Richard Fleetwood and each other: Thomas Charnock of Astley, and Edmund Breres, a Gray’s Inn lawyer and native of Preston. Breres had persuaded Fleetwood and Charnock to act as sureties for loans he could not repay.11 He and Charnock therefore sought entry to Parliament as a means of obtaining protection from Breres’ creditors.

In the first and second Caroline parliaments the patronage of the borough appears to have been entirely dominated by Sir Miles Fleetwood, who allocated the first seat to himself on both occasions. The second seat went twice to Henry Edmondes, son of the privy councillor and treasurer of the Household Sir Thomas Edmondes*. Sir Richard Fleetwood emigrated to Ireland in around 1626, leaving his son Thomas in control of Newton.12 Thomas Fleetwood appeared as joint lord of the manor on the election indenture of 1628 though he was then aged only 19.13 Two officials in the Irish administration were returned, Sir Henry Holcroft and Sir Francis Annesley. Both may have come into contact with Sir Richard Fleetwood in Ireland; Annesley was also a client of Buckingham, and may have had links with Sir Miles Fleetwood, who was also developing his Irish interests at that time.14

Author: Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. J.H. Lane, Newton in Makerfield, i. 3-6.
  • 2. CChR, ii. 1, iii. 2; VCH Lancs. iv. 132-6.
  • 3. Lane, 9, 22; E. Baines, Hist. of Palatinate and Duchy of Lancaster ed. J. Croston, iv. 382-3, 391.
  • 4. R. Somerville, Hist. of Duchy of Lancaster, i. pp. xiv, 319, 505-6.
  • 5. Local Gleanings Relating to Lancs. and Cheshire ed. J.P. Earwaker, ii. 686; Lancs. IPMs ed. J.P. Rylands (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. iii), 105-6.
  • 6. VCH Lancs. i. 374-5; Wills and Inventories ed. G.J. Piccope (Chetham Soc. li), 246-55; Vis. Staffs. ed. H.S. Grazebrook, 129-30; R.W. Buss, Fleetwood Fam. of Colwich, Staffs. 3; Vis. Lancs. (Chetham Soc. lxxxii), 122.
  • 7. C219/35/53; 219/37/138; 219/38/134; 219/39/126.
  • 8. R.C.L. Sgroi, ‘The Electoral Patronage of the Duchy of Lancaster, 1604-28’, PH, xxvi. 322-3.
  • 9. 47th DKR, app. 126; CSP Dom. 1641-43, p. 435.
  • 10. Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 246; CJ, i. 615b, 650b.
  • 11. DL1/285, 290, 291, 297, 299, 300; C2/Chas.I/F35/12; C2/Chas.I/F50/81.
  • 12. M. MacCarthy-Morrogh, Munster Plantation: Eng. Migration to Southern Ire. 1583-1641, p. 195; E.T. Bewley, ‘Fleetwoods of Co. Cork’, Jnl. of Royal Soc. of Antiqs. of Ire. xxxviii. 103-25.
  • 13. C219/41A/31.
  • 14. E.T. Bewley, ‘An Irish Branch of the Fleetwood Fam.’, The Gen. n.s. xxiv. 217-41.