A History of the County of York: the City of York. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1961.
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Politics and the Civil War
Between 1603 and 1642 the city continued to be represented in Parliament largely by its aldermen, and though three M.P.s did not hold municipal office, one, Christopher Brooke, was of a civic family and the others, Sir Arthur Ingram and Sir Edward Osborne, were closely associated with York through membership of the Council in the North. (fn. 1) A further sign of the importance attached by the city to parliamentary representation can be seen in the lengthy instructions with which its M.P.s were armed and in the parliamentary reports sent by them to the lord mayor and his brethren. (fn. 2) There is very little evidence for the exercise of electoral influence. In 1604 a letter from the archbishop recommending an outside candidate was read publicly but he was not elected. (fn. 3) At the election of 1628, however, there was a disputed return. Sir Arthur Ingram and Sir Thomas Savile were declared elected, but it was said that there had been corruption at the polls and the House of Commons eventually ruled in favour of Alderman Hoyle, the defeated candidate, in place of Savile. (fn. 4) The only other election to arouse excitement was that of November 1640, when it was widely remarked that Aldermen Allanson and Hoyle had been chosen despite Strafford's recommendation of two other candidates. (fn. 5)
The official attitude of York to the political issues of the day is largely unrecorded, as is that of its Members of Parliament, though Ingram's close association with Strafford may be the reason why he did not try to sit for York in 1640. (fn. 6) It is true that the city was involved in disputes with the Council in the North but these were over the exercise of jurisdiction and precedence rather than over the existence of a prerogative court as such, and York showed no desire to see it abolished. (fn. 7) Similarly, the corporation's arguments about the collection of ship-money centred on administrative procedure rather than on principle, (fn. 8) and the only evidence of municipal concern over monopolies is to be found in pleas that the corporation's right to license maltsters should not be infringed (fn. 9) and that soap-boilers should be permitted to work in the city by the patentees. (fn. 10)
With the approach of the Bishops' Wars, York assumed its traditional function as the English headquarters in campaigns against the Scots. From York the vice-president of the Council in the North supervised military preparations, and troops gathered in and around the city. (fn. 11) The king arrived on 30 March 1639, intending to concentrate at York all his power against the Scottish rebels, and he stayed for a month, watching cavalry exercises, making plans, considering reports, and perhaps gaining confidence from the friendly and loyal atmosphere of the city before moving off to defend the northern border against invasion. (fn. 12) Meanwhile, the civic authorities had given orders for the training of the city's militia, had arranged for armourers to work free of guild restric tions, and had set a continuous watch at the gates in an attempt to prevent disorderly conduct by the king's soldiers. (fn. 13)
The crisis recurred in the spring of 1640 when York was again the centre for English warlike preparations. More orders were issued from the city by the vice-president, reports from the countryside poured in, while meetings of deputy lieutenants and royal officers to concert military arrangements took place there. (fn. 14) The city trained bands were exercised and inspected, constant watch was again mounted at the bars and posterns, and the lord mayor arranged for food to be supplied to troops stationed near by. (fn. 15) There is, however, no evidence to suggest that the military activity of 1639-40 seriously disturbed the normal tenor of life in the city. On 23 August the king reached York to head his forces, one of his first acts being to address a gathering there of discontented local gentry whom he persuaded to shoulder a heavier financial burden for the army then being organized. (fn. 16) Four days later the royal army left York, but the Scottish advance into England soon caused the king to fall back on his northern capital. (fn. 17) His troops encamped in Clifton Fields and Bishops Fields for some weeks, and the city had to petition against their continued presence before they were dispersed. (fn. 18) Before York thus ceased to be a military base, however, it was the scene of what proved to be an important series of political discussions. The king remained in York for some weeks, casting round for support and consulting Strafford and other advisers; from 24 September to the end of October, moreover, there took place in the deanery at the royal summons a meeting of the Great Council of Peers which arranged an armistice with the Scots and set on foot preliminaries for the historic meeting of a full Parliament in London. (fn. 19)
In March 1642 Charles I moved his court to York which, during the succeeding six months, served as the royal capital. Foreign ambassadors, and many of the nobility, gentry and officers of State, resorted to the city. This forgathering of royal supporters aroused so much suspicion in the House of Commons that a parliamentary committee was sent to take up residence in the city, ostensibly to provide communications between Court and Parliament, but also to keep watch on the king's proceedings. (fn. 20) The royal printing-press was set up in St. William's College, and this enabled Charles to conduct from York his part of the propaganda campaign which preceded the appeal to arms by constantly issuing declarations, messages, and counter-messages to Parliament and the kingdom in general. (fn. 21) Some of the gentry assembled in the city urged Charles to seek a reconciliation with Parliament, and rival groups 'ran foul of each other in the streets of York with rough words and rough handling'. On the whole, however, the presence of the court brought some elegance and gaiety to the life of the city. (fn. 22) During the spring and summer the king considered petitions from his subjects and the terms for negotiation offered by Parliament. Gradually Charles gathered volunteer troops around him and summoned two great county meetings to York, one in the castle on 12 May, the other on Heworth Moor on 3 June at which he successfully appealed for help in further recruitment, despite some opposition. Offers of aid flowed in thereafter in answer to the royal commissions of array. (fn. 23) From York the king made two unsuccessful expeditions— one to Hull on 23 April, the other to Beverley at the end of July; soon after the latter he announced his intention of raising his standard but left the city before doing so. (fn. 24)
The place of York in national affairs early in 1642 could not fail to be reflected in the work of the mayor and corporation. The obvious steps were taken to protect the city against attack—repairs were undertaken to the bars and walls, sentry boxes were installed, and the trained bands ordered to keep watch over the city's magazine. (fn. 25) The corporation, though it cautiously issued a declaration praying for a peaceful settlement, promised to protect the king. In the same spirit, the lord mayor decided to consult the recorder for legal advice before committing the city to putting the militia—600 strong— at the king's disposal. (fn. 26) At the end of July Charles was petitioned that the militia should not be called away from the city. (fn. 27) The civic authorities persisted a little longer in their non-commital attitude; on 2 September they refused an offer of advice on the safety of the city from a group of royalist gentry on the grounds that it was in no danger. (fn. 28) Even as late as November the aldermen considered the possibility of securing a treaty of neutrality with the parliamentarian leaders. (fn. 29) By that time, at the request of the royal commander in Yorkshire, the citizens had been organized into a strict armed watch, twenty strong by day and 80 by night; the posterns and the ferry at St. Leonard's were locked up at night, and the corporation devoted an increasing amount of time to military matters. (fn. 30)
York had considerable national as well as local strategic importance since it lay near to the main north-to-south route; as a fortified stronghold, valuable also in terms of prestige, it was well fitted to be the centre of royalist activity in the north. After the king's departure the city was held by a succession of royal governors, under the supreme command, after December 1642, of the Marquis of Newcastle. (fn. 31) During the ensuing months York was the royalist base for operations against Hull, in the West Riding, and in the Midlands, but the city itself experienced no fighting at this time. (fn. 32) Although Charles did not again visit his important garrison, the queen was in York in March 1643, bringing arms from abroad, distributing food and money to parliamentarian prisoners, and heartening the royalist soldiers by her presence. (fn. 33)
Relations between the garrison and the city were inevitably not easy, for the burdens involved were heavy for the citizens to bear. Before the end of November 1642 complaints were raised against the great charge for watch-fires and trenches; the corporation asked that soldiers should be forbidden to fell trees and insisted that the city could provide pay only for its own trained bands. (fn. 34) Soon after his arrival Newcastle was asked to institute a satisfactory means of paying his troops in order that they should not have to find free quarter or 'to carve for themselves', (fn. 35) but this question continued to cause ill feeling. In February 1643 the lord mayor organized an assessment to meet not only the pay for the trained bands, but also the cost of food for Newcastle's army, provided on the marquis's orders. (fn. 36) But payments for the soldiers fell into arrears, with the result that the corporation quarrelled with the royalist committee, and flatly refused to provide any more ammunition from the magazine without payment or to support a new loan for military expenses. (fn. 37) On 24 March the city decided to petition the royalist commanders against further taxation or billeting of troops; (fn. 38) a degree of co-operation was re-established by May, however, when the corporation arranged for another assessment to be raised, although this involved more difficulties. (fn. 39)
Throughout 1643 and the first six months of 1644 the city continued to pay for the watch and watch-houses, for the repair of arms and of the walls, and for such incidental military charges as housing wounded soldiers in the Merchant Tailors' Hall, paying surgeons to treat them, burying the dead, and providing treats for Newcastle and the queen. (fn. 40) At the beginning of 1644 the corporation agreed to borrow money or to sell civic plate in order to pay for provisions for 200 soldiers in Clifford's Tower; (fn. 41) but the demand for money persisted up to the fall of the city when it was described as 'being wearied with payments'. (fn. 42) The citizens were affected in other ways by the hostilities and the presence of the royalist headquarters. Everyday administration was to some extent disrupted, for less business was transacted than normally, and military measures absorbed much of the corporation's time. Moreover, the corporation itself was weakened by the absence of some of its members who supported the parliamentarian cause, and it may well have lost some authority among the townspeople when Newcastle interfered with the mayoral elections. (fn. 43)
In April 1644, as a result of a heavy defeat at Selby sustained by royalist troops from York, Newcastle returned from Durham with the main body of his forces to guard the city against the attacking parliamentarians. (fn. 44) Within a few days strong parliamentary and Scottish armies under Fairfax and Leven had encamped within a mile of the walls on both sides of the Ouse, but the investment was not complete until Manchester's forces arrived on 3 June and took up quarters on the north-east. (fn. 45) At first the siege operations were not pressed very vigorously, only occasional clashes taking place. Although the garrison had little chance to sally forth, they were able to keep livestock in outlying fields and to bring in provisions, for their outer defences ran well beyond the walls and consisted of an elaborate and recently prepared system of trenches, blockhouses, and bastions. (fn. 46) It is possible that the structure on the Mount marked on Archer's plan straddling the Tadcaster road was part of this system. (fn. 47) Newcastle rationed food for both soldiers and civilians from the outset, although provisions did run low before the siege ended; shortage of money proved to be another difficulty for the besieged, despite the commander's attempt to ensure that his men were regularly paid. (fn. 48)
Manchester's arrival with supplies for the besiegers was the signal for stronger action against the city, especially on the south-east where a battery poured shot into the Walmgate district and the suburbs were captured, the bar itself being attacked by cannon and mines. (fn. 49) As a result of this parliamentarian activity, Newcastle gave up his outer defences on 6 June, withdrew all the troops and inhabitants into the city, and set fire to the suburbs in order that they should not provide shelter for operations against the walls. Outside Bootham Bar this was not completely accomplished, a failure of which the parliamentarian soldiers took advantage. The city was more closely invested, certain churches suffered damage, (fn. 50) another battery was set up to attack Skeldergate, and the besiegers seized horses and cattle. On 16 June the parliamentarians successfully mined St. Mary's Tower, breached the abbey wall, and broke into the King's Manor before the defenders, taken by surprise, could rally and drive them out. Two days previously a parley had taken place at which Newcastle had contemptuously rejected the besiegers' terms for surrender, finding them degrading. Royalist hopes in York were by now centred on the possibility of the city's relief by another royal army, efforts being made to send an appeal to Prince Rupert. (fn. 51) The approach of Rupert's troops on 30 June caused the parliamentarians to break up the siege, a move which caught the defenders by surprise, and Rupert's arrival outside the city on the next day went unchallenged. (fn. 52)
After quartering in the Forest of Galtres, Rupert moved off on 2 July to catch the retiring parliamentarians, being joined at Marston Moor later in the day by the weary troops from York. After the royalists sustained their crushing defeat on that field, York was all confusion. The road up to Micklegate Bar was thronged with soldiers, some of them wounded, and many townspeople flocked out, not wishing to endure another siege. Newcastle had fled, and Rupert stayed only long enough to re-muster the remnants of his forces, leaving the town 'much distracted'. (fn. 53) The surrender of York could only be a matter of days. The siege was resumed, batteries being erected in Bishop's Fields, at Walmgate, and at Layerthorpe Postern where preparations were made to bridge the Foss and storm the defences. (fn. 54) On 7 July a meeting of the corporation and other citizens heard a letter of summons read and referred it to the lord mayor and the governor, Sir Thomas Glemham, who decided not to yield. (fn. 55) On 16 July, however, articles of surrender were agreed. The royalist troops were permitted to march out with the honours of war; the victorious parliamentarians promised to respect the city's liberties, and to safeguard property and the rights of the citizens. The victors gave thanks at a service in the minster. (fn. 56)
Thenceforth, York was guarded by a parliamentary garrison. By 1647, when Thomas Dickinson, lord mayor and a prominent parliamentarian, took over the command in succession to Ferdinando, Lord Fairfax, it was reduced to about 100 men. (fn. 57) Defensive measures continued, even to the extent of an emergency food store for fear of another siege; the citizens were still burdened with providing quarters for the soldiers; and alarms in 1645, 1648-9, and 1651 resulted in the temporary reinforcement of the garrison and the keeping of a strict watch. But the city was not again involved in hostilities. (fn. 58)
The corporation, purged of leading royalist aldermen, took up its task of repairing the damage sustained by the city and bringing life back to normal. (fn. 59) Between 1645 and 1652, moreover, a committee of the Northern Association, chiefly composed of aldermen, exercised a special responsibility in the city for assessing and collecting parliamentary taxes, paying troops, and generally supervising military arrangements. (fn. 60) The same committee was involved in appropriating for religious purposes the confiscated revenues of the chapter, in examining suspects, in seeking out superstitious images, and in sequestering the property of the small number of York royalists punished for their delinquency. (fn. 61) Further, from 1645 the city's link with the government of the county as a whole, broken when the Council in the North was abolished, was restored by the successive parliamentary county committees which used York as their administrative and tax-gathering centre. (fn. 62) The Cromwellian major-general for the county, Colonel Lilburne, also set up his headquarters in the city, apparently at the King's Manor. (fn. 63) To the govern ments of the Interregnum, therefore, York remained an important administrative centre.
The Members of Parliament for York between 1640 and 1660 were men closely associated with the city, five of the seven being aldermen, and one other, Sir Thomas Widdrington, serving as recorder. All were sympathetic to the parliamentarian cause, and some were closely associated with the revolutionary governments. (fn. 64) Sir William Allanson and Alderman Hoyle, who were elected in 1640, remained to serve in the Rump, and before his death in 1650 Hoyle was a remembrancer in the Exchequer. Aldermen Geldart (M.P. in 1656 when Widdrington chose to serve elsewhere) and Dickinson (M.P. in 1654, 1656, and 1659) were both raised to the aldermanic bench when the royalists were displaced in 1645. Dickinson served on committees in the Commons and in the county, being knighted by the Protector in 1656; he was displaced from his aldermanship in 1662. Geldart had died in 1659. (fn. 65) Although Christopher Topham (M.P. in 1659) was not elected an alderman until after the execution of the king, he was able to remain in office after the purge of 1662. Finally, Sir Thomas Widdrington, who served as Speaker of the House of Commons and as Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, was elected in 1654 and 1660. In 1656 he chose to serve for Northumberland, arguing that if he did so the city would benefit by having three representatives in Parliament. (fn. 66) Outside this civic circle stood Sir Metcalfe Robinson (M.P. in 1660) who was nevertheless a descendant of an aldermanic family of the same name. There is no evidence to suggest that any of the elections in this period aroused excitement or controversy, despite the troubled times.
During most of the Interregnum, York played little part in English politics. It was intended to be the object of a royalist attack in the risings of 1655 and the summer of 1659, but nothing happened in the city save the incarceration and punishment at the castle of plotters captured in the county. (fn. 67) In the closing weeks of 1659, however, the city figured prominently in the confused political situation. (fn. 68) The parliamentary hold on the city, despite some military precautions, was precarious, and sympathy with the demands for change was strong both in the garrison and among the citizens. By 11 January Monck had brought his regiments to York on his march south. He departed five days later leaving a strong detachment of troops under Colonel Charles Fairfax to garrison the city. Once more the citizens had to provide quarters, (fn. 69) and again propaganda was printed in and distributed from the city as the political crisis deepened. (fn. 70)
As early as June 1659 the corporation had declared its recognition of the Rump, and at first it showed no sign of shifting from that standpoint. (fn. 71) On 10 February 1660 Lord Fairfax held a great meeting in York to promote a petition for a free Parliament, in order to support Monck's own declaration to the same effect. (fn. 72) A group of officers informed the corporation of these moves and asked for support. A majority of the common council-men present at the meeting were anxious to promise immediate compliance, but the aldermen and 'twenty-four', no doubt mindful of the momentous implications, asked for time to consider the question. However, the next day the mayor, six aldermen, and seven of the 'twenty-four' agreed to subscribe to the declaration for a free Parliament. (fn. 73) A few weeks later there was one last alarm when, during Lambert's final desperate challenge, a detachment of his troops arrived at York on 16 April in order to sieze the city, but there was no disturbance. (fn. 74) On 11 May the lord mayor proclaimed Charles II with the traditional ceremonial and celebration. (fn. 75)
The government retained a small garrison, usually of a single company, at York until 1689 under the command of various officers, among whom Sir John Reresby, governor from 1682, was perhaps the most notable. (fn. 76) The presence of even a small military detachment tended to cause strained relations with the city over such issues as the custody of the magazine, the conduct of the soldiers, billeting, the watch, and, more significantly, over the governor's carefully enforced claim to hold the keys of the bars and posterns. Reresby, at least, strove for greater harmony. In 1686, however, during his governorship, there was a notable clash between the citizens and the military at a funeral; the investigation of the incident aroused political differences. (fn. 77) In the tense political conditions of much of Charles II's reign, the garrison at York, reinforced when occasion demanded, (fn. 78) proved to be a useful instrument for the government. It was more than once involved in seeking out seditious meetings and securing suspects; (fn. 79) it guarded the city against the rumoured threat of attack by plotting rebels in 1662 and 1663; (fn. 80) and it served as a centre for enforcing military security in Yorkshire generally. (fn. 81) Despite the manifest importance of the garrison its withdrawal was considered during the 1680's; Reresby stoutly and successfully resisted the suggestion, arguing that it would be highly dangerous to remove the soldiers and surrender control of the gates to the corporation in a city as ill-affected as York was in those troubled years. (fn. 82)
The parliamentary representation of York between 1661 and 1702 was undertaken by twelve men; seven of them served in more than one Parliament and during this period re-election is a feature of the city's electoral history. (fn. 83) Aldermen Jenkins and Sir Henry Thompson of Escrick sat in four Parliaments, Alderman Sir William Robinson and Sir John Hewley in three, while Sir Metcalfe Robinson represented York from 1660 to 1678 and again in 1685. Before 1689 the seats were largely in the hands of county gentry who had associations with the city, a fact which was possibly due as much to the state of political feeling in the country and the organization of political connexions as to the preoccupations of the aldermen, who after 1689 reasserted their traditional hold on the city's representation.
A second feature of York's parliamentary history after 1660 are the electoral contests and disputes, again probably a local reflection of political excitement in the country as a whole. It is true that in 1661 the corporation took pains to arrange the election beforehand by inviting Sir Metcalfe Robinson and Sir Thomas Widdrington to stand again, but instead of the latter an old royal servant, Colonel John Scott, was returned. (fn. 84) On Scott's death in the autumn of 1664, however, there is evidence of a contest for the seat between Alderman Sir Roger Langley, supported by Clarendon's administration, and Sir Thomas Osborne, later Earl of Danby, backed by Buckingham, Lord High Steward of York. Langley made some attempt to deny his opponent the freedom of the city, but Osborne was comfortably elected. (fn. 85) Osborne resigned as M.P. in 1673 on be coming a royal minister and accepting a peerage, but he sought, with Buckingham's aid, to retain the seat for the court party by asking the lord mayor to facilitate the return of his son. To his annoyance this was refused. When he discovered that it had already been agreed that Alderman Sir Henry Thompson of Escrick should stand, he tried unsuccessfully to keep Thompson out by appealing to the freemen at large. (fn. 86) This by-election also gave rise to a dispute between Thompson and Sir John Hewley, who was defeated. Hewley petitioned against Thompson's return, accusing him of using bribery and menaces, but the corporation rallied to defend Thompson before the committee of privileges, which eventually found in his favour. (fn. 87) The evidence of their later sympathies suggests that their dispute was probably more a matter of personal than of political rivalry, for both were elected to the three 'Exclusion' Parliaments, Sir Henry being one of Shaftesbury's 'worthy men' and Sir John voting for the Exclusion Bill in May 1679. (fn. 88)
The political temper of the majority of influential citizens in York by the 1680's was faithfully reflected in the association of the M.P.s with Shaftesbury's cause between 1679 and 1681. Soon afterwards there is evidence that the city was not 'well affected' to royal policy, the 'factious party', led by Thompson, Hewley, and several aldermen, outweighing in influence the 'loyal party' which had only two aldermen in its ranks. Both whigs and tories had clubs in York, the former being apparently the more active. The city had given offence to the king by the activities of this 'anti-monarchical' group, by its recent choice of M.P.s, by its cold reception of the Duke of York in 1679, and by its petition for a Parliament; one of Reresby's correspondents, indeed, referred to 'the formerly loyal city of York'. (fn. 89) It was at this point that its chartered liberties became the sport of contending political factions. The pro-government element in the city was supported by a group of interested county gentry, in a situation complicated by personal antagonism and, in 1683, by an unsuccessful allegation of seditious language against the lord mayor, Edward Thompson, who was a leading opponent of the king. (fn. 90)
At this threat to the city's charter a moderate group had emerged to urge a more cautious political attitude, to canvass, unsuccessfully, the possibility of keeping Edward Thompson from the mayoral chair, and to secure the substitution of the Duke of Richmond for Buckingham as lord high steward. (fn. 91) It was probably through the efforts of this group that Reresby was invited to stand at the election of 1685, for he was a supporter of the court, albeit a moderate one, who could exercise his influence with the king in the matter of the charter, as he later vainly did. (fn. 92)
This election provoked further contention. At a meeting with the lord mayor and aldermen, Reresby agreed to stand, his interest being joined with that of Sir Metcalfe Robinson, with the support of Halifax and Burlington, the recorder. Two other candidates appeared in the field, James Moyser and Colonel Jenkins, backed by supporters of James II, of whom some were Reresby's personal enemies. (fn. 93) Reresby sought at first to dispose of his rivals by denying them civic freedom but this attempt ultimately failed. There was much canvassing and treating at the election and it ended in a victory for Reresby and Robinson, though an unsuccessful petition was lodged against the return of the latter. (fn. 94) The corporation's invitation to Reresby resulted in this election's taking its place in the train of municipal, political, and personal disputes which led to the forfeiture of the charter and the remodelling of the corporation later in 1685, when Sir John's sponsors were displaced partly through the machinations of his personal antagonists. (fn. 95)
By the summer of 1688 there were signs that the members of the new corporation had been alienated by James's policy. In 1687, though still reputed to be loyal, they failed to make an address in favour of the king's ecclesiastical policy, and their answers to the notorious 'three questions' in 1688 were so evasive that they could hardly offer comfort to the king. (fn. 96) While they ordered a civic celebration at the birth of the prince, it was noted that they failed to suppress the disorderly scenes of popular rejoicing at the acquittal of the seven bishops. (fn. 97) More important, in August 1688 the lord mayor and aldermen refused to promote the candidature of royal sympathizers for the proposed Parliament, with the result that James took the first steps towards a new purge of the corporation in order to secure its political acquiescence. (fn. 98) Before civic opposition to this move could be overcome, the king, having embarked on a desperate attempt at national reconciliation, restored the old charter and the office-holders displaced in 1685. (fn. 99)
In the last weeks of 1688 York was again deeply involved in a national crisis. As tension developed, Reresby, having surrendered the keys of the gates to the lord mayor, anxiously regained them and made arrangements for the garrison to be reinforced. (fn. 100) On 1 October a great gathering in York of gentry and freeholders resulted in a petition for a free Parliament being signed at the precentor's house. (fn. 101) Danby and his associates resolved to seize York, and it was decided to summon a county meeting in the city on 22 November. (fn. 102) On that day York was full of militia troops. After the meeting began Danby and his friends raised a false alarm that the papists had risen; they then took command of the militia regiments, overpowered the main guard in the garrison, and forced Reresby to surrender himself to their custody. They subsequently secured the magazine and the gates and looked to the walls, intending to use the city as a centre for organized revolution in other parts of the country, though this proved to be unnecessary. (fn. 103)
In December the corporation signalled its support for Danby by naming him lord high steward and inviting him to a civic dinner; they admitted one of his associates, Sir Henry Goodrick, and Viscount Dunblaine, his son, to the freedom of York; and they sent an address to William of Orange, (fn. 104) which was followed two months later by a message of congratulation on his acceptance of the throne. (fn. 105)
Thereafter politics in York were less exciting. Although Reresby made a tentative inquiry about the election, Dunblaine and Alderman Edward Thompson were returned to the Convention without opposition. (fn. 106) There were disputed returns in 1690 and 1698, turning on illegal practices and inadmissible votes rather than on political attitudes, (fn. 107) and York's representatives in Parliament from 1689 to 1702, chiefly aldermen, demonstrated their loyalty to the new régime. (fn. 108)
Except on political matters (fn. 109) contact between York and the central government was sporadic throughout the century, for the city's rulers were not eager to draw the attention of privy councillors to municipal affairs. Intervention could not, however, always be avoided. In 1623, for example, the Privy Council exhorted the lord mayor to continue a scheme begun by his predecessor for setting the poor to work. (fn. 110) Shortly before this the lords of the council had tried to settle a dispute between the corporation and the bakers' company about an allowance on the price of bread in excess of the assize, though it is impossible to say what the outcome was. (fn. 111) On another occasion the lord mayor and aldermen were called upon to mediate between a York haberdasher and his creditors, (fn. 112) while in 1677 the lord mayor was himself summoned to the council board to be corrected on his interpretation of liability to the hearth tax. (fn. 113) Two years later the Secretary of State administered a severe rebuke to the corporation for its cold reception of the Duke of York. (fn. 114) When the city's interests were threatened the Privy Council's intervention was indeed invited. The levying of ship-money in 1626-7 caused the corporation to support Hull in an appeal to the Privy Council complaining both against the size of the burden and the distribution of the assessment, but after several letters had been exchanged the complaint failed. (fn. 115) On the renewed issue of writs for ship-money in the 1630's, the corporation again complained, probably successfully, about the apportionment of the tax, and its petition to the Privy Council asking that the villages then annexed to the city should bear part of York's contribution was upheld. (fn. 116) Nevertheless, the most significant aspect of the Privy Council's relations with York was its role as an arbitrator in the city's disputes with the Council in the North and with the chapter concerning privileges and jurisdiction. And the corporation was careful to keep a friend at court by appointing as lord high steward a succession of men prominent in public life—Salisbury, Coventry, Lambert, and Buckingham among them—who could be asked to plead the city's cause in time of trouble. (fn. 117)
The city's link with Parliament was, of course, maintained by the two M.P.s who were elected in the sheriff's county court by 'a competent number' of citizens. Lists of the electors were prepared at least in the early part of the century and were scrutinized by the lord mayor. (fn. 118) On two occasions, in 1641 and 1659, the corporation resisted petitions from The Ainsty for a voice in the elections. (fn. 119) The members received instructions from the corporation, as in the 16th century, (fn. 120) and they were expected to send reports at appropriate times about parliamentary business. These instructions, which are not recorded in the House Books after 1628, express not the corporation's attitude to political problems but its assessment of the city's needs and interests. (fn. 121) Many of the subjects appeared more than once without apparent result but the following exemplify the diversity of business which the M.P.s were asked to pursue when in London: the renewal of the charter; the corporation's right to license vintners; a licence for York butchers to slaughter calves in Lent; the prevention of moves to make privy tithes payable in the city; the inclusion of more aldermen in commissions for subsidies; the exclusion of Londoners from northern fairs; inclosure of parts of the strays; and the removal of certain restrictions on merchants. Above all, the M.P.s were repeatedly urged to secure the promotion of a Bill on a matter of supreme importance to the city, namely the navigability of the River Ouse, concerning which there were discussions both inside and outside Parliament on several occasions though nothing substantial was accomplished until the Act of 1727. (fn. 122)
The members seem to have been paid out of the city chamber during the first quarter of the century. In 1608 Christopher Brooke claimed £144 12s. 8d. but he accepted £60 and an appointment as assistant to the recorder, while three years later his claim for £72 as wages was met in full. (fn. 123) In 1620 Alderman Askwith was allowed travelling expenses, 10s. daily and £20, although the corporation resolved that this abnormally high payment should not serve as a precedent. (fn. 124) It did not. In 1630 Alderman Hoyle had the utmost difficulty in securing any reimbursement, his charges being met in the end not by the chamber but by a special rate on the city. (fn. 125) This practice was followed in 1641-2, (fn. 126) but from 1645 it seems that the M.P.s received not wages and expenses as such, but a round sum 'for their pains' which, by 1658, was again being raised by a special assessment. (fn. 127) From this time York ceased to pay its parliamentary representatives. (fn. 128)
During the 17th century there were no bitter quarrels with other municipal corporations. There were occasional wrangles when officials at Hull levied tolls on York merchants or interfered with their trade but these were merely faint echoes of the clashes of the Tudor period, (fn. 129) and the corporations of both places were able to co-operate usefully when, for example, their interests were threatened by the assessments for shipmoney. (fn. 130)
The corporation had few contacts with administrative authorities in the county at large except in relation to taxation and the lieutenancy. Before 1642 aldermen served as commissioners for subsidies in charge of tax-collecting in York and The Ainsty, (fn. 131) while during the Civil War and Interregnum, members of the aldermanic bench formed special committees for the same purpose, working closely with the county committees and occasionally relying on military help to collect the money. (fn. 132) The most fruitful sources of dispute were, first, ship-money in which, as already mentioned, the corporation challenged the high sheriff's administration, (fn. 133) and, secondly, the proportion of the West Riding's tax burden payable by The Ainsty; after the usual display of indignation by the corporation, an accommodation was always made. (fn. 134) Otherwise, financial contact with the county justices was confined to those occasions when a rate had to be agreed for the repair of those bridges, like that at Tadcaster, which were the joint responsibility of city and county. (fn. 135)
With the quietening of the northern border, military affairs did not bulk so large in the administration of Stuart York as they had done in the 16th century, except when the city was involved in the national emergencies of the period. (fn. 136) The city and The Ainsty were charged with 600 foot soldiers for the Yorkshire trained bands, in addition to which small bands of pressed levies had to be provided occasionally at the request of the lord lieutenant of the county (who was also lord president of the Council in the North). (fn. 137) There was a small magazine in the storehouse at the Guildhall, which the corporation restocked only with difficulty in 1627: the existence of this stock of arms and ammuni tion enabled the city to avoid contributing to the county magazine. These military commitments were paid for partly by the chamber and partly out of parish rates. (fn. 138) During the first quarter of the century, apart from an isolated dispute about the appointment of gentry as deputy lieutenants for York, (fn. 139) there is evidence of co-operation with the lord lieutenant. At his orders the militia was promptly mustered by the lord mayor, who, as a deputy lieutenant, tried to fill vacancies in the companies with able men, to nominate adequate officers, to train the soldiers with the help of the muster master, and to repair defects in the weapons available. His efforts were not always successful, despite the exhortations of the lord lieutenant. (fn. 140) In 1631, however, as a result of an attempt by Slingsby, the vice-president of the Council, to act as a deputy lieutenant within the city, there was a dispute between himself and the lord mayor over precedence. Intransigent attitudes were adopted, the corporation resolving to postpone the musters, and the vicepresident threatening to take the review by himself; eventually the lord lieutenant intervened to find a solution but its nature is not recorded. (fn. 141)
The muster of trained bands continued, the lord mayor ordering parish constables to repair the common arms and enrol able-bodied men; in 1639 the corporation tried to prevent York's companies from being marched out of the county. (fn. 142) After the fall of the city in 1644 the militia was reorganized to augment the garrison, (fn. 143) and following the Restoration it was placed under the command of the lord lieutenant of the West Riding, (fn. 144) the corporation then ensuring that the number of men required for the service was not increased. (fn. 145) Although the trained bands were again embodied to reinforce the garrison in emergencies, it was perhaps because of their ceremonial functions that the city's soldiers were henceforth to be clothed in red coats fringed with green. (fn. 146)
Conflicts of jurisdiction with the Council in the North continued and eventually provoked York to an onslaught on the powers of that court. By 1613 relations were strained, partly because of the insistence by Sheffield, the lord president, that the city's sword should be lowered in his presence, though the earl marshal's court had sustained the lord mayor's objections in 1609. (fn. 147) But more was at stake than civic dignity, for the Council in the North had intervened in cases proceeding before the city's courts, on one occasion gaoling one of the sheriffs for his refusal to release a debtor. (fn. 148) When new instructions for the Council in the North were being discussed in 1613, therefore, the corporation, having resolved that the city's liberties had been 'much interrupted by the same council', sought the opinion of the recorder about possible safeguards which could be requested by petition. (fn. 149) Five articles complaining against the exercise of legal powers by the Council in the North were submitted to the Privy Council. These were, first, that York citizens were encouraged to enter bonds before that court which then discharged them from proceedings in the city's courts by a supersedeas; second, that citizens were sued before the Council in the North by informers in cases which the city's Quarter Sessions should hear; third, that the sheriffs' exclusive right to execute writs in York was ignored; fourth, that cases had been removed from the court of pleas to the Council in the North; and fifth, that the lord president and councillors had set at liberty men committed by the sheriffs in civil actions. The Privy Council heard the arguments of the lord president and the city's counsel before the lord chancellor gave his opinion; the lord president maintained that all the actions complained of in the articles were warranted by the commission and instructions on which the authority of the Council in the North was based, and the lord chancellor substantially upheld that view, while urging restraint in the exercise of these powers. (fn. 150)
The corporation had not made good its claim to exclusive jurisdiction within the city. But apart from the suggestion, in 1621, of discussions among M.P.s about the removal of cases to the Council in the North (fn. 151) and the quarrel in the 1630's over the precedence and military powers of the vice-president, (fn. 152) there are no signs of serious dissensions. It is probable that the city's legal privileges were more carefully respected as a result of the lord chancellor's ruling. Moreover, there is evidence of solid co-operation. The Council in the North was concerned in the solution of the disputes about ship-money and in the defensive preparations of 1639 and 1640, (fn. 153) and it arbitrated between York and Hull in 1623 in connexion with the latter's right of 'foreign bought and foreign sold'. (fn. 154) When Wentworth was actually in York as lord president, he and the corporation worked together to improve arrangements for poor relief and, above all, to take adequate precautions and to relieve distress during the plague of 1631. (fn. 155) The corporation seems to have welcomed the participation of the Council in the North in the attempt to settle difficulties caused by the charter granted in 1632. (fn. 156)
In the light of this evidence and of the corporation's subsequent actions, it is improbable that York played any part in the attack on the Council in the North that led to its downfall. Indeed, in the autumn of 1641 a committee of the corporation drew up a petition for the re-establishment of 'a court at York' which was presented to the king when he stayed in the city in November. (fn. 157) At the beginning of the following year a subscription was raised by the lord mayor and aldermen for the promotion of a Bill to reestablish the Council in the North in the hope that its presence would improve trade in the city, but nothing could be accomplished before the war began. (fn. 158) In October 1654, however, the corporation petitioned for a court of justice at York without immediate result, though a Bill for that purpose made some progress in Parliament two years later. (fn. 159) The corporation decided to present a further petition for reviving the Council in the North in July 1660, money was again raised to meet the expenses involved in pursuing the matter, Buckingham was asked to lend his support, and the question was discussed in Parliament, albeit inconclusively. (fn. 160) In 1663, therefore, the corporation petitioned again, but though a Bill to meet its request was introduced in 1664 it was not enacted, and York made no further attempts to resuscitate the Council which had brought so much material benefit to the city. (fn. 161)