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|12 Mar. 1604||RICHARD CECIL|
|c. Mar. 1614||SIR WILLIAM WALTER|
|c. May 1614||ROGER MANWOOD vice Wymarke, chose to sit for Newcastle-under-Lyme|
|22 Nov. 1620||MILDMAY FANE|
|15 Jan. 1624||SIR FRANCIS FANE|
|18 Jan. 1625||CHRISTOPHER HATTON vice Fane, called to the Upper House|
|23 Apr. 1625||LAURENCE WHITAKER|
|c. Jan. 1626||MILDMAY FANE , (Lord Burghersh)|
|18 Feb. 1628||MILDMAY FANE , (Lord le Despenser)|
Situated near Northamptonshire’s boundary with Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire, Peterborough became enfranchised shortly after its former Benedictine monastery was reconstituted as a cathedral in 1541. The small town had no municipal authorities, and was run by the dean and chapter; it received no charter of incorporation until 1874, until which time the dean served as a quasi-mayor. Accordingly, it was the dean’s bailiff who received the sheriff’s precept for parliamentary elections.3 In theory the cathedral interest in elections should have been strong, but it seems to have been in abeyance during the long episcopate of Thomas Dove (1601-30). One seat was controlled throughout this period by the Apethorpe interest, which passed from Sir Anthony Mildmay† in 1617 to his son-in-law Sir Francis Fane, an ambitious courtier.4 The other seat was claimed by the Cecils of Burghley, who owned the liberty of Peterborough.5
The two Members returned to the first Stuart Parliament were Richard Cecil, the younger son of the 1st earl of Exeter (Sir Thomas Cecil†), and Edward Wymarke, elected on Mildmay’s recommendation although ‘hardly known to the town of Peterborough’.6 In 1614 Exeter nominated an outspoken puritan, Sir William Walter of Wimbledon, whose family had a long-standing connection with the Cecils. Wymarke was re-elected, but chose to sit for Newcastle-under-Lyme. His place was taken by Roger Manwood, the son of Mildmay’s neighbour in London, who, as a Kentish squire, was doubtless recommended by Fane, who was sitting for Maidstone. At the next election in 1620 Fane’s eldest son Mildmay was returned with his cousin, Walter Fitzwilliam, a bankrupt courtier. The fact that Fane seems to have taken control of both seats perhaps indicates a wane in Cecil influence in the borough from this point onwards.
In 1624 Fane himself took the first seat, together with Laurence Whitaker, a government clerk of obscure origins but pronounced puritan views. The latter’s connection with the constituency is unclear; his mother was from Peterborough, and he may have been recommended to the 2nd earl of Exeter (William Cecil†) by his in-laws, the Egerton family. After the prorogation Fane was raised to the peerage as the earl of Westmorland, and at the ensuing by-election it was presumably he who nominated as his replacement Christopher Hatton of Kirby, aged only 19 at the time. Hatton had no opportunity to take up his seat before the death of James I automatically dissolved the Parliament, but he was re-elected to the first Parliament of Charles I, together with Whitaker. The same pair were again elected together in both 1626 and 1628. There is no evidence that the borough paid wages to its Members or pursued any legislation during the period.
Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Rosemary Sgroi
- 1. Bridges, Northants. ii. 539.
- 2. W.T. Mellows and D.H. Gifford, Eliz. Peterborough (Northants. Rec. Soc. xviii), 26.
- 3. W.T. Mellows, Foundation of Peterborough Cathedral (Northants. Rec. Soc. xiii), p. xxiv.
- 4. E.A. Webb, Recs. St. Bartholomew Smithfield, ii. 265-7.
- 5. VCH Northants. ii. 421-3.
- 6. Mellows and Gifford, 33.