Steyning: Parliamentary representation

Pages 240-241

A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 1, Bramber Rape (Southern Part). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1980.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.



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. 1) 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. 2) In 1767 the latter were said to number 102. (fn. 3) Since not all the houses in the town were within the borough (fn. 4) 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. 5) 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. 6) 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. 7) In 1813 there were said to be c. 115 electors. (fn. 8)

The earliest Steyning members belonged to local families. (fn. 9) By 1467 the duke of Norfolk was nominating at least one member. (fn. 10) In 1536 a later duke claimed that he had once been able to nominate both members, but by then his influence had declined. (fn. 11) Norfolk protégés continued to be elected, e.g. in 1554, (fn. 12) 1563, and 1571, (fn. 13) but in the early 17th century two successive double nominations from the earl of Arundel were ignored. (fn. 14) 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. 15) 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. 16) Burgages began to be bought up by rival interests: the Fagg family acquired a large number in the early 18th century, (fn. 17) and the duke of Chandos's purchases in the early 1720s enabled him to nominate one member between 1726 and 1741. (fn. 18) After c. 1740 the Honeywoods gradually acquired most of the burgages, (fn. 19) and a member of the family usually sat for the borough after 1761. (fn. 20) Charles Howard, duke of Norfolk (succ. 1786), attempted to regain the family dominance in the borough after 1788 by buying up property (fn. 21) 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. 22) Thereafter until the borough was disfranchised under the Reform Act, 1832, successive dukes seem to have nominated both members. (fn. 23)


  • 1. S.A.C. xxx-xxxii.
  • 2. C.J. xvi. 505.
  • 3. W.S.R.O., MP 2, f. 14.
  • 4. Fraser, Controverted Elec. Procs. ii. 251-441, passim.
  • 5. Ibid. 345.
  • 6. C.J. xlvi. 267.
  • 7. Ibid. xlvii. 683.
  • 8. Beauties of Eng. and Wales, Suss. 100.
  • 9. W.S.R.O., MP 150, f. 152v.
  • 10. G. H. Ryan and L. J. Redstone, Timperley of Hintlesham (1931), 12.
  • 11. L. & P. Hen. VIII, x, p. 344.
  • 12. D.N.B. s.v. Sir E. Stradling.
  • 13. J. E. Neale, Eliz. H.C. (1949), 195.
  • 14. Dallaway & Cartwright, Hist. W. Suss. ii (2), 164.
  • 15. W.S.R.O., MP 150, f. 152v.
  • 16. C.J. xiii-xx, passim; Horsfield, Hist. Suss. ii, App. pp. 56-7.
  • 17. W.S.R.O., Wiston MS. 2738.
  • 18. Hist. Parl., Commons, 1715-54, i. 338.
  • 19. W.S.R.O., Wiston MSS. 2737-8, 4458.
  • 20. Ibid. MP 150, f. 152v.
  • 21. Ibid. Wiston MS. 2736.
  • 22. Wiston Archives, p. 183; ex inf. Mr. S. Freeth, of W.S.R.O.
  • 23. fe.g. W. Albery, Parl. Hist. Horsham, 255, 269.