Between 1295 and 1399 the boroughs of Steyning and
Bramber were represented at roughly two parliaments in three. Generally they sent two members
jointly, but sometimes one or other borough sent
both. From 1399 to 1453 they were not represented,
but after 1453 each sent two members (fn. 98) until 1832.
The electors were said in 1711 to be the constable
and those householders, residing within the borough,
who paid scot and lot and did not receive alms. (fn. 99)
In 1767 the latter were said to number 102. (fn. 1) Since
not all the houses in the town were within the
borough (fn. 2) there were frequent disputes about the
franchise. In 1789 and 1790, in an attempt to
counter the predominant influence of Sir John
Honeywood, the duke of Norfolk's steward added
all the inhabitants of the town to the borough
rental, (fn. 3) and both the ducal candidates were elected
in 1790. The election was reversed by a judgement
which restricted the franchise to inhabitants of
ancient houses and houses built on ancient foundations. (fn. 4) On a second appeal the franchise was
re-defined as in 1711, explicitly excluding tenants
of Bramber borough, Bidlington tithing, and
Charlton and King's Barns manors. (fn. 5) In 1813 there
were said to be c. 115 electors. (fn. 6)
The earliest Steyning members belonged to
local families. (fn. 7) By 1467 the duke of Norfolk was
nominating at least one member. (fn. 8) In 1536 a later
duke claimed that he had once been able to nominate
both members, but by then his influence had
declined. (fn. 9) Norfolk protégés continued to be
elected, e.g. in 1554, (fn. 10) 1563, and 1571, (fn. 11) but in the
early 17th century two successive double nominations from the earl of Arundel were ignored. (fn. 12)
From the late 16th century local gentry became
dominant, members including representatives of
the Shirleys of Wiston in the late 16th and early
17th centuries, the Leedses of Wappingthorn and
the Farnfolds of Gatewick in the 17th century, and
the Gorings of Highden and the Faggs of Wiston in
the late 17th and early 18th centuries. (fn. 13) Contests
between the different interests became frequent,
the result of almost every election in the early 18th
century being disputed, often on a charge of
bribery. (fn. 14) Burgages began to be bought up by
rival interests: the Fagg family acquired a large
number in the early 18th century, (fn. 15) and the duke
of Chandos's purchases in the early 1720s enabled
him to nominate one member between 1726 and
1741. (fn. 16) After c. 1740 the Honeywoods gradually
acquired most of the burgages, (fn. 17) and a member of
the family usually sat for the borough after 1761. (fn. 18)
Charles Howard, duke of Norfolk (succ. 1786),
attempted to regain the family dominance in the
borough after 1788 by buying up property (fn. 19) and by
manipulating the rental of burgage-holders, but
the ducal triumph in the 1790 election was shortlived. In 1794, however, the rival interests apparently
came to a compromise, and a few years later the
duke acquired all the Honeywood property in the
borough. (fn. 20) Thereafter until the borough was disfranchised under the Reform Act, 1832, successive dukes seem to have nominated both members. (fn. 21)
C.J. xvi. 505.
||W.S.R.O., MP 2, f. 14.
||Fraser, Controverted Elec. Procs. ii. 251-441, passim.
||C.J. xlvi. 267.
||Ibid. xlvii. 683.
Beauties of Eng. and Wales, Suss. 100.
||W.S.R.O., MP 150, f. 152v.
||G. H. Ryan and L. J. Redstone, Timperley of Hintlesham (1931), 12.
L. & P. Hen. VIII, x, p. 344.
D.N.B. s.v. Sir E. Stradling.
||J. E. Neale, Eliz. H.C. (1949), 195.
||Dallaway & Cartwright, Hist. W. Suss. ii (2), 164.
||W.S.R.O., MP 150, f. 152v.
C.J. xiii-xx, passim; Horsfield, Hist. Suss. ii, App.
||W.S.R.O., Wiston MS. 2738.
Hist. Parl., Commons, 1715-54, i. 338.
||W.S.R.O., Wiston MSS. 2737-8, 4458.
||Ibid. MP 150, f. 152v.
||Ibid. Wiston MS. 2736.
Wiston Archives, p. 183; ex inf. Mr. S. Freeth, of
||fe.g. W. Albery, Parl. Hist. Horsham, 255, 269.