Published1981 by Boydell and Brewer
“An immense accretion to our prosopographical knowledge of the Elizabethan age”
Professor Patrick Collinson, in The Times Higher Education Supplement
“The awesome labours that dug out these mountains of personal detail deserve respect”
Sir Geoffrey Elton, in The London Review of Books
These volumes include 2,668 articles on the members who sat in the House of Commons during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Among them are many of the most powerful political figures of Elizabeth's reign such as Sir William Cecil, Sir Robert Dudley, Sir Amias Paulet, Thomas Sackville and Sir Christopher Hatton; but they also include a range of politicians, and ordinary and extraordinary men: the energetic parliamentarians (or “parliament men”) Thomas Norton and William Fleetwood; a handful of Catholics who managed to retain their seats in the House after the requirements of the oath of supremacy were extended to MPs in 1563; rather more determined Protestant MPs, including the firebrand Peter Wentworth, whose forthright opinions and determination on articulating them in the House made him famous as a defender of the freedom of speech, but incurred the severe displeasure of the Queen and resulted in his imprisonment from 1593 until his death.
There are 241 constituency articles, which include surveys of the new boroughs enfranchised in the period, bringing the total possible number of MPs from 398 in 1558 to 462 by 1586. Many of those which deal with borough constituencies show the relationships between powerful local individuals and a corporation: Exeter, for example, refused to accept the Earl of Bedford’s nominee in 1562; but a smaller town like Denbigh had to back down when faced with the Earl of Leicester’s anger at its failure to appoint his recommended candidate.
The first of the volumes contains an introductory survey to the whole work written by the editor, Mr Peter Hasler, and appendices.