The sixteenth century: Parliamentary Representation

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: Parliamentary Representation', in A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 6, the Borough and Liberties of Beverley, (London, 1989) pp. 75-76. British History Online [accessed 26 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: Parliamentary Representation", in A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 6, the Borough and Liberties of Beverley, (London, 1989) 75-76. British History Online, accessed May 26, 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: Parliamentary Representation", A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 6, the Borough and Liberties of Beverley, (London, 1989). 75-76. British History Online. Web. 26 May 2024,

Parliamentary Representation

Representation in parliament, which the town had enjoyed briefly c. 1300 during the war against Scotland, (fn. 1) was evidently demanded by the insurgents during the Pilgrimage of Grace. (fn. 2) It was eventually resumed in 1563 (fn. 3) and confirmed 10 years later at incorporation, when the election of the two members was vested in the mayor, governors, and burgesses as a whole; (fn. 4) the franchise seems later to have been changed to include the recorder but restrict the burgesses to the selected 13. (fn. 5) Payment of the members' expenses by the town was confirmed by the charter. In 1570-1 they received £10 each and £40 was paid to Thomas Aglionby in 15734. (fn. 6) The renewal of the franchise may have been the work of Robert Dudley, later earl of Leicester, whose influence continued after his tenure of the manor from 1561 to 1566: (fn. 7) as the town's 'most benign lord' Leicester helped to obtain incorporation in 1573 and in 1574-5 the grateful corporation set his arms in the guildhall. (fn. 8)

Unlike Hull, (fn. 9) Beverley showed little independence in its choice of representatives: of the 16 members who sat during the century most were apparently outside nominees. Dudley obtained the election in 1563 of Nicholas Bacon and presumably also that of the second member, Robert Hall, and Richard Topcliffe in 1572 and Robert Wrote in 1584 may also have owed their seats to him. (fn. 10) Two members seem to have been elected through the influence of the Council in the North: George Purefoy in 1586 and John Mansfield in 1593. The locally influential earl of Northumberland presumably nominated Edward Francis, M.P. in 1597 and 1601, who was his steward. Except for Topcliffe, who was a landowner in the 'water towns', none of those men had any connexion with the neighbourhood. (fn. 11) Chief officers in the manor also used their influence: Lord Wharton probably obtained Thomas Aglionby his seat in 1572; (fn. 12) the continuing administrative involvement of the Stanhopes was reflected in John Stanhope's election in 1584; (fn. 13) and Thomas Crompton, elected in 1597, was the steward of the lordship. Both Stanhope and Crompton had, moreover, consolidated their position in the locality by marriage and Crompton had also bought an estate close to the town at Bishop Burton. (fn. 14) Six representatives had closer connexions with Beverley. Thrice the town was represented by local gentlemen, all of whom were involved in its government: in 1571 Edward Ellerker of Risby, who became the first mayor, in 1586 Michael Warton, a governor, and in 1588 another future mayor, Lancelot Alford. Edward Alford, M.P. in 1593, was probably Lancelot's brother. (fn. 15) William Paler, whom a town account names as the other member for Beverley in 1571, (fn. 16) was probably the governors' choice. Then a practising London lawyer, he had already been advising the town and was to serve as its first recorder. (fn. 17) He had, moreover, invested in land in Beverley, buying the former preceptory site from Ralph Constable in 1560. (fn. 18) Paler's connexion with the Constables of Burton Constable was maintained and the influence of that family may also have helped to obtain his seat. (fn. 19) Perhaps the only true townsman was the governor John Truslove, who was returned in 1588, though even he may have had rural origins. (fn. 20)


  • 1. Above, Med. Beverley (Local Govt.).
  • 2. E.H.R. v. 343, 553.
  • 3. For the following and a list of 16th-cent. members see Hist. Parl., Commons, 1558-1603, i. 285; the representation in 1571 is discussed below.
  • 4. Poulson, Beverlac, App. p. 22.
  • 5. Boro. Rec. 102-6.
  • 6. H.R.O., BC/II/6/28, 31.
  • 7. Below, Manors.
  • 8. H.R.O., BC/II/6/30, 32.
  • 9. V.C.H. Yorks. E.R. i. 100.
  • 10. Hist. Parl., Commons, 1558-1603, i. 381; ii. 242; iii. 513-14, 657-8.
  • 11. Ibid. ii. 157; iii. 13, 263; below, Outlying Townships (Eske; Weel).
  • 12. Hist. Parl., Commons, 1558-1603, i. 330.
  • 13. Ibid. iii. 439-40; L. & P. Hen. VIII, xix (1), p. 643; Poulson, Beverlac, 333.
  • 14. Hist. Parl., Commons, 1558-1603, i. 680-1; V.C.H. Yorks. E.R. iv. 4, 6; N. Country Wills, ii (Sur. Soc. cxxi), 203, 205.
  • 15. Hist. Parl., Commons, 1558-1603, i. 334, 339; ii. 85; Mic. Warton was not related to Ld. Wharton: below, Outlying Townships (Beverley Parks, Estates). For the Alfords see Poulson, Holderness, ii. 315-16.
  • 16. H.R.O., BC/II/6/28. Not Thos. Layton as in Hist. Parl., Commons, 1558-1603, i. 285; Paler is given as the member for Hedon: ibid. iii. 166.
  • 17. Above (Town Govt.).
  • 18. Cal. Pat. 1558-60, 331.
  • 19. Hist. Parl., Commons, 1558-1603, i. 641.
  • 20. Ibid. iii. 532; H.R.O., BC/II/7/3, f. 43; B.I.H.R., Prob. Reg. 17A, f. 270.