Salisbury: Parliamentary representation, to 1612

Pages 103-105

A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1962.

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New Salisbury sent burgesses to the Parliament of 1275, and was among the thirteen Wiltshire boroughs summoned to the Model Parliament of 1295. In 1355 it was the only borough in the county to receive a summons. (fn. 1) From 1295 it was always represented by two burgesses, whose names are known for 158 Parliaments held between 1275 and 1612. (fn. 2) It is possible to identify some two-thirds of these.

From information at present collected, Salisbury's representation seems to follow the same pattern as that of the other Wiltshire boroughs. As elsewhere, after the end of the 14th century there was a gradual change in the occupations and interests of the representatives chosen. Originally the qualification for election was burgage tenure and residence, (fn. 3) but this requirement must later have been disregarded, for in 1444–5 it was necessary for the assembly to resolve not to elect anyone who was not a citizen and a resident. (fn. 4)

Only a few of Salisbury's burgesses are known to have been its mayors, or to have held other offices in the city. Some, however, like William of Berwick (mayor, 1327), John Upton (mayor, 1360), Nicholas Tailor (mayor, 1373), and Giles Hutchins (mayor, 1592–3) represented the city in Parliament in the same year as they served as mayor. (fn. 5) The 13th- and 14th-century burgesses included a preponderance of merchants, a few men occupied in local trades, (fn. 6) and some lawyers. (fn. 7) Many of these, especially the merchants, played a leading part in the city's contest with its overlords, the bishops. Philip Aubyn, (fn. 8) Henry Spicer, and John of Brandeston were members of the delegation sent to London at the beginning of the controversy over tallage. (fn. 9) Similarly in 1395 the city's representatives before the Council included Richard Spencer and William Warmwell, its parliamentary burgesses in that year, John Bitterlegh, who had represented it seven times since 1376, and John Levesham (fn. 10) and Richard Jewell, (fn. 11) who were to be elected as burgesses within the next few years. (fn. 12)

Not only men with mercantile interests represented the city in the early Parliaments. Thomas of Harpenden (burgess between 1313 and 1315 and in 1321), (fn. 13) and Thomas Prat (burgess between 1322 and 1348) (fn. 14) were men of law. William Randolf, the elder and the younger, represented the city between them four times from 1331 until 1337, and one of them was bishop's bailiff from c. 1335 until 1351. (fn. 15) William Lord, for many years clerk of the city, was elected in 1384. (fn. 16) Robert le Bont, burgess five times between 1360 and 1372, came of a family holding property in Salisbury and the county for many years. (fn. 17) The interests of most of these early representatives seem to have been centred upon the city and its immediate neighbourhood: but there were exceptions whose numbers might be increased by further research. John Bitterlegh affords an example. He was a draper with business connexions in Devon and London, (fn. 18) who sat on commissions in the county, (fn. 19) and was a collector of the customs and subsidy in Southampton in 1385 and 1390. (fn. 20) Described as 'dwelling continually in Salisbury', he was its mayor only once, but represented the city eight times between 1376 and 1394.

A distinct change can be seen in the class of men representing the city in the 15th and 16th centuries. Although a considerable mercantile element still prevailed, this was gradually superseded by men who were royal officials, lawyers, or local gentry. Leading merchants, such as John a Port, John Hall, and William Swayne, continued to be elected and many of their business contemporaries were returned from time to time. (fn. 21) But in the 16th century the merchant class was represented by fewer names, among which were those of William Webb, Thomas Coke, and Thomas Chaffyn. (fn. 22) Among the royal officials representing the city in the 15th century were Edward Hardgill, Richard Hayne, William Ludlow, and John Musgrove. (fn. 23) Of these, only Richard Hayne lived in Salisbury and was a member of the assembly. (fn. 24) William Ludlow, lord of the manor of Hill Deverill, owned the largest amount of property in Salisbury held of the bishop in 1455, thus drawing rents from the city. (fn. 25) But there is no evidence that he took an active part in local affairs, although he showed a special interest in St. Thomas's Church. (fn. 26) Among the lawyers representing the city in the 15th century, Edmund Penston lived in the city, (fn. 27) and Richard Eliot (Justice of the Common Pleas 1513–22) was born of a local family, and was buried in the cathedral. (fn. 28) Men of law from outside the city included John Hampton of Mere, (fn. 29) Philip Morgan of Chitterne, (fn. 30) and John Whittokesmead, a justice for the county, bailiff of the bishop, who, in the course of his career, represented many different boroughs. (fn. 31) Robert Long, lawyer, of Wraxall, who represented the city in one Parliament, was also the bishop's bailiff. (fn. 32) With outsiders representing the city, some local merchants, like John Willy and Thomas Freeman, sometimes sought election for other boroughs in the county. (fn. 33)

The 16th century saw a further change in the status of the city's representatives, who were mostly gentlemen or esquires from families with county connexions. George Penruddock (burgess, 1552) was the son of Edward Penruddock of Cumberland and Ivychurch. (fn. 34) Giles Estcourt, who bought and lived in St. Edmund's College, (fn. 35) and was clerk of the statute merchant until his death in 1587, represented the city four times; (fn. 36) Christopher Weekes, parliamentary representative in 1584 and 1586, was also clerk of the statute merchant, and was mayor in 1578. (fn. 37) Among these county gentry representing the city there were a number of lawyers: John Hooper, who represented the city three times between 1553 and 1558, is probably the Recorder of Southampton of the same name, who lived first in St. Thomas's parish and later in the Close. (fn. 38) At the turn of the century Giles Tooker, bencher of Lincoln's Inn, first Recorder of Salisbury, and one of its parliamentary representatives between 1601 and 1619, (fn. 39) and John Puxton, Tooker's colleague in Parliament in 1601, (fn. 40) assisted in the negotiations for the charter of incorporation finally obtained in 1612. (fn. 41)

Until the 16th century Salisbury was represented in Parliament by men from divers walks of life, who averaged attendance at three or four Parliaments. A number served once only: others attended many times, as, for example, Elias Homes, merchant, (fn. 42) thirteen times between 1327 and 1340, Thomas Prat, (fn. 43) nine times between 1322 and 1348, and Walter Shirle, merchant, (fn. 44) almost continuously from 1411 to 1422. At least by the beginning of the 15th century the parliamentary burgesses were elected directly by the mayor and assembly on receipt of a parliamentary writ. (fn. 45) In 1450 the assembly recorded its right to nominate freely whomsoever they would, (fn. 46) and they frequently decreed that the choice should be restricted to members of the assembly and the recorder. (fn. 47) In 1572 they reluctantly accepted Henry Tucker, nominee of the Earl of Pembroke, who was not a member of the assembly, but they were careful to put on record again that in future only their own body might elect, and only from among their own number. (fn. 48)


  • 1. V.C.H. Wilts. v. 72.
  • 2. Official Returns, 1213–1702, i, and corrigenda in Index Vol. with additions for 16 Parliaments in M. McKisack, Parl. Rep. of English Boroughs in the Middle Ages.
  • 3. McKisack, op. cit. 61.
  • 4. Sar. Corp. MSS. Ledger A. f. 140. The date for this resolution given by Hatcher, Salisbury, 122, and quoted by Miss McKisack, is wrong.
  • 5. Hatcher, Salisbury, 695–8. Out of 24 benefactors listed c. 1451–2, 9 were parliamentary burgesses, and 8 of the 9 had served as mayors: ibid. 133.
  • 6. e.g. Ric. le Hatter (see p. 135), Thos. Boyton, bowyer, for whose will see Sar. Corp. MSS. Domesday Bk. 1396–1413, f. 30d.
  • 7. See p. 104.
  • 8. City coroner in 1303: W.A.M. xxxix. 197.
  • 9. Hatcher, Salisbury, 73; see above p. 101.
  • 10. One of the city reeves in 1396–7: Cat. Anct. D. v. A 12038.
  • 11. A city coroner in 1396–7: ibid.
  • 12. Cal. Close, 1392–6, 355; see p. 101.
  • 13. He acted as attorney in transfers of land: Feet of F. Wilts. 1272–1327 (W.A.S. Rec. Brch.), 101, 105, and was son of Stephen and Galiena of Harpenden who owned property in Salisbury: ibid. 56.
  • 14. Feet of F. Wilts. 1272–1327 (W.A.S. Rec. Brch.), 111, 113.
  • 15. Sar. Corp. MSS. Deeds B. 3 v, 1335; 10. ix. 1337; 16. i, 1342; Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1327–77 (Index Libr.), 224.
  • 16. V.C.H. Wilts. v. 77; Sar. Corp. MSS. Domesday Bk. 1396–1413 is endorsed temp. Wm. Lord, the younger.
  • 17. See p. 85.
  • 18. V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 127; Cal. Pat. 1370–4, 368; 1374–7, 201.
  • 19. Cal. Pat. 1381–5, 141; 1385–9, 468.
  • 20. E 122/138/18; Cal. Close, 1381–5, 538.
  • 21. e.g. Wm. Warwick, below, p. 125, in 1427 and 1433: Wm. Hore, below, p. 125, in 1445, 1452–3, and Roger Holes in 1470, 1472 and 1485: J. C. Wedgwood, Hist. of Parl. Biogs. 1439–1509, 483.
  • 22. For Wm. Webb see p. 127.
  • 23. Wedgwood, Hist. of Parl. Biogs. 1439–1509, 422, 439, 561, 620.
  • 24. Sar. Corp. MSS. Domesday Bk. 1458–78, ff. 35–6. A member of the 24 in 1456: Sar. Corp. MSS. Ledger B. f. 18.
  • 25. See p. 127.
  • 26. See p. 150.
  • 27. Wedgwood, Hist. of Parl. Biogs. 1439–1509, 678.
  • 28. Ibid. 295.
  • 29. Ibid. 417.
  • 30. Ibid. 611.
  • 31. Ibid. 944–5; V.C.H. Wilts. v. 78.
  • 32. Wedgwood, op. cit. 551.
  • 33. Roskell, Commons in Parl. of 1422, 128–9; see also p. 27.
  • 34. Father of Sir Edw. Penruddock of Compton Chamberlayne: C 142/197/82.
  • 35. See p. 84.
  • 36. C 142/215/270; C. Haskirs, Salisbury Charters and Hist. St. Edmund's Coll., 36; Sar. Corp. MSS. Box II, no. 6, 139.
  • 37. Ibid.
  • 38. Third Bk. of Remembrance of Southampton, 1514– 1602, ed. A. L. Merson (Southampton Rec. Ser. iii), ii. 98, n. 3, 137, n. 3.
  • 39. Haskins, Salisbury Charters, 36–7.
  • 40. Ibid.
  • 41. See below.
  • 42. For his will see Sar. Corp. MSS. Domesday Bk. 1351–68, f. 46.
  • 43. See p. 104.
  • 44. V.C.H. Wilts. v. 77, 78.
  • 45. McKisack, Representation of Eng. Boroughs in Middle Ages, 36, 59.
  • 46. Ibid. 61.
  • 47. J. E. Neale, Elizabethan House of Commons, 164–5.
  • 48. Hist. MSS. Com. Var. Coll. iv. 226, 230, 232; Hatcher, Salisbury, 285.