The sixteenth century: Political affairs after 1542

A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 6, the Borough and Liberties of Beverley. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.

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A P Baggs. L M Brown. G C F Forster. I Hall. R E Horrox. G H R Kent. D Neave, 'The sixteenth century: Political affairs after 1542', in A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 6, the Borough and Liberties of Beverley, (London, 1989) pp. 73-75. British History Online [accessed 21 May 2024].

A P Baggs. L M Brown. G C F Forster. I Hall. R E Horrox. G H R Kent. D Neave. "The sixteenth century: Political affairs after 1542", in A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 6, the Borough and Liberties of Beverley, (London, 1989) 73-75. British History Online, accessed May 21, 2024,

Baggs, A P. Brown, L M. Forster, G C F. Hall, I. Horrox, R E. Kent, G H R. Neave, D. "The sixteenth century: Political affairs after 1542", A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 6, the Borough and Liberties of Beverley, (London, 1989). 73-75. British History Online. Web. 21 May 2024,

Political Affairs after 1542

Following the Pilgrimage of Grace the elimination of the influence of the archbishop and the substitution of direct government control were presumably seen as desirable, and in November 1542 the lordship of Beverley was acquired by the Crown. Control of Beverley also facilitated the Crown's development of Hull as the military centre of the region. Plans may have been laid during Henry VIII's visits to the area in 1541, (fn. 1) when the town sought the king's favour with a gift of £10 and rewards to his actors and officers. (fn. 2) Beverley was already involved in the military arrangements at Hull early in 1542. The king's captain of Hull, Sir Richard Long, was authorized to levy men in Beverley in March, and in May the victualling of the garrison caused friction between the royal clerk of the market and the archbishop's officers at Beverley. (fn. 3) The formal transfer of the manor was also anticipated in the Crown grant of a manorial office to Long in March. (fn. 4)

Beverley was later used to provide for royal officers in Hull and the north of England in general. Michael, later Sir Michael, Stanhope, the royal lieutenant in Hull, was granted the chief offices of Beverley in 1544 (fn. 5) and it may have been partly to support him as governor of Hull that he later received much of the property of St. John's college after its suppression. (fn. 6) The manor was granted in 1552 to John Dudley, duke of Northumberland, and in 1553 the chief offices were committed to Sir Thomas Wharton, later Lord Wharton; both men were actively involved against the Scots. (fn. 7) The Elizabethan government's aim of limiting the influence of the northern commanders, together with the lessened threat from Scotland, (fn. 8) presumably accounts for the granting of Beverley in 1561 to a courtier without a military role in the area, Robert Dudley, later earl of Leicester. (fn. 9)

The change of lordship caused some redirection of the town's largesse. Crown officers who were favoured included Sir Michael Stanhope in 1545-6 and Thomas, presumably Sir Thomas, Wharton in 1557-8. The considerable sum of nearly £55, probably involving expenditure on gifts, was spent in 1562-3 on two journeys to London to visit the new lord, Robert Dudley. (fn. 10) The town's expenditure on 'great men' partly continued, however, along traditional lines. Relations with Thomas Percy, earl of Northumberland (d. 1572), may have been especially cordial. The town marked his first visit to Beverley in 1560-1 with gifts and entertained; him and his countess at a shoot on Westwood in 1568-9, when the earl made the customary gift of venison to the governors. (fn. 11) Deference to the archbishop, moreover, survived his surrender of the lordship. Edmund Grindal was consulted by the governors at Cawood (Yorks. W.R.) in 1570-1 and the newly translated Archbishop Sandes was entertained in the town in 1577. (fn. 12)

The Lord President of the Council in the North visited Beverley several times in the mid and late 16th century. The purpose of the visits was apparently often military, in his capacity as Lord Lieutenant of Yorkshire, and they seem usually to have been combined with business in Hull. (fn. 13) In 1556 the Council, was ordered to deal with discord in Beverley between the followers of two royal officers (fn. 14) and in the 1580s and 1590s the town's troubled financial and political affairs were several times referred to it. A dispute between Michael Warton (d. 1590) and the corporation was temporarily settled by the Lord President's commissioner, Sir Christopher Hildyard, but the controversy was revived by Warton's son Michael, and in 1595 the earl of Huntingdon made another award, in Warton's favour. (fn. 15) The Council was also involved in the squabble between the town and its gaoler (fn. 16) and in a suit brought against the town by a former mayor, John Truslove. The Council persuaded the corporation in 1595 to discharge Truslove and at least one other governor. (fn. 17) The Lord President may have guided the corporation's religious policy, and the Council apparently influenced the choice of the town's representatives in parliament.

In the late 16th century the town's incorporation and relative freedom from supervision by distant lords may be reflected in its alliances, which seem increasingly to have been with its more influential neighbours. Local patrons included Sir Marmaduke Constable of Everingham, the Ellerkers of Risby, and Sir Christopher Hildyard of Winestead. Constable exchanged gifts with the town in the 1560s and was consulted by it in 1573. (fn. 18) In the 1560s the town spent money on Lady Ellerker and on Edward Ellerker, (fn. 19) who served as its M.P. and first mayor. In the 1580s the town favoured Sir Christopher Hildyard with gifts, to which he and his wife responded with presents to the governors and their wives. In 1585-6 a firework display was put on for Sir Christopher and Mr. Willoughby, presumably his sonin-law William Willoughby of Little Coates (Lines.), and the same year Willoughby and other gentlemen were entertained when they were cock-fighting in the town. (fn. 20)

The town was again much occupied with clothing and equipping soldiers between 1557 and 1560, following the outbreak of war with France, and in 1557-8 the town force, clothed in white coats with red crosses, was apparently sent to the Scottish borders. (fn. 21) Beverley had no part in the Northern Rebellion of 1569, but soldiers were evidently raised there for the royal army by the commissioners of the Admiral, Lord Clinton. (fn. 22) Later contingents from the town included two soldiers equipped for the Netherlands in 1587, during the war with Spain. The cost could be high: in 1584-5, for instance, military spending consumed nearly £14, and another £8 paid for cloth may also have been for the soldiers. The contribution of the wealthier inhabitants of each ward to the charges was mentioned in 1563-4, and in 1572-3 the townships in the liberties were charged with nearly £5 towards the provision of seven soldiers; in 1595-6 another assessment produced £8 from the town and nearly £2 from the liberties. (fn. 23)

Musters were frequently held on Westwood and on at least one occasion in the guildhall. (fn. 24) The military obligations of the town were reassessed by the Lord President and his fellow commissioner, the earl of Northumberland, probably in 1570 (fn. 25) and the town and liberties were later charged with providing 20 footmen, the number viewed in 1595. (fn. 26) A smaller number was, however, usually provided (fn. 27) and in 1595-6 a light horse was supplied, presumably instead of the footmen. (fn. 28) At a general muster of footmen in 1584 there were 394 equipped men liable for service, 13 of them with private arms, besides 77 labourers, 17 surgeons, and 2 wrights, and a further 86 men from the liberties. (fn. 29) The town bought gunpowder for the soldiers on Westwood in 1565-6 and again in 1584-5, when payment was also made to a viewer of artillery. (fn. 30)


  • 1. V.C.H. Yorks. E.R. i. 92-3.
  • 2. H.R.O., BC/II/6/20.
  • 3. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xvii, pp. 62-3, 208-9.
  • 4. Ibid. xvii, p. 708.
  • 5. Ibid. xix (1), pp. 83, 643.
  • 6. Below, Relig. Hos.; V.C.H. Yorks. E.R. i. 93.
  • 7. D.N.B.; below, Manors; below, Outlying Townships (Beverley Parks, Estates).
  • 8. Tudor Studies presented to A. F. Pollard, ed. R. W. Seton-Watson, 217-18.
  • 9. Below, Manors.
  • 10. H.R.O., BC/II/6/21 (Mr. Governor), 23, 25.
  • 11. Ibid. BC/II/6/26 (Ld. Percy); BC/II/7/3, ff. 6v.-7.
  • 12. Ibid. BC/II/6/28, 34; cf. BC/II/6/39; BC/II/7/2, f. 40; BC/II/7/3, f. 36.
  • 13. Ibid. BC/II/6/21-2, 30-1, 35, 37; BC/II/7/2, f. 40 (earl of Rutland); Reid, King's Council in North, 193.
  • 14. Above (Achievement of Self-govt.).
  • 15. P.R.O., E 112/64, no. 618; Boro. Rec. 99; Poulson, Beverlac, 333-5; Acts of P.C. 1587-8, 394.
  • 16. Above (Town Govt.).
  • 17. P.R.O., C 2/Eliz. I/T 3/46; Boro. Rec. 100-101, which records the restoration of the second governor in 1598.
  • 18. H.R.O., BC/II/6/30; BC/II/7/2, ff. 65, 75.
  • 19. Ibid. BC/II/6/25, 29; BC/II/7/2, f. 93v.
  • 20. Ibid. BC/II/6/37-8; Foster, Pedigrees of Yorks. iii.
  • 21. H.R.O., BC/II/6/23-4; BC/II/7/2, ff. 11 and v., 20v., 21, 22v.
  • 22. Ibid. BC/II/6/28; BC/II/7/3, f. 6v.
  • 23. Ibid. BC/II/6/27, 29, 37, 39, 40, 42.
  • 24. Ibid. BC/II/6/41.
  • 25. Ibid. BC/II/7/3, f. 16; Cal. S.P. Dom. 1566-79, 574-5.
  • 26. H.R.O., BC/II/6/41; Cal. S.P. Dom. 1595-7, 166.
  • 27. H.R.O., BC/II/6/24, 29-30, 39; BC/II/7/2, f. 11 and v. The number of soldiers' coats recorded in 1557-8 was given as 100, evidently in error: ibid. BC/II/6/23; cf. BC/II/6/19; Corp. MSS. 180 (where it was mistakenly given as 10). For the town's armour and weapons see H.R.O., BC/II/6/28, 31.
  • 28. H.R.O., BC/II/6/42.
  • 29. Miscellanea, v (Y.A.S. Rec. Ser. cxvi), 103-5.
  • 30. H.R.O., BC/II/6/37; BC/II/7/2, f. 75.