Available from Boydell and Brewer
|9 Jan. 1559||ROBERT BYNG|
|1566||ANTHONY FORSTER 1 vice Hyde, deceased|
|10 Apr. 1572||ANTHONY FORSTER|
|26 Jan. 1576||RICHARD BEAKE 2 vice Forster, deceased|
|16 Nov. 1584||EDWARD NORRIS|
|23 Sept. 1586||GRIFFITH LLOYD|
|1586||MILES SANDYS vice Lloyd, chose to sit for Cardiganshire|
|24 Oct. 1589||(SIR) EDWARD NORRIS|
|4 Oct. 1597||FRANCIS LITTLE|
|21 Sept. 1601||ROBERT RITHE II|
A charter of 1556 made Abingdon ‘a body corporate and politic by the name of the mayor, bailiffs and burgesses’, and granted it the right to return one Member to Parliament. The town was to be governed by a mayor, two bailiffs, 12 principal burgesses and 16 secondary burgesses, and was to have a court leet. ‘The mayor, bailiffs and burgesses’ made the parliamentary returns.
Abingdon had been a monastic borough and the dominant influence in the town passed to Sir John Mason who acquired the largest portions of the abbey’s estates, held the mastership of Christ’s Hospital and was probably high steward of the borough. Both Robert Byng (1559) and Oliver Hyde (1563) owed their returns to Mason. Byng was a Kent country gentleman who had married Mason’s stepdaughter; Hyde was a local man and former mayor and currently deputy master of Christ’s Hospital under Mason. On Mason’s death in 1566, the Earl of Leicester became high steward, and his nominee, Anthony Forster, residing at the manor of Cumnor Place, overlooking Abingdon, replaced Oliver Hyde at a by-election that year. Forster retained his seat in 1571 and 1572, but was dead by 1576. Richard Beake, equerry of the stable and another nominee of Leicester’s, replaced Forster at a by-election.
Forster had left Cumnor Place to his patron Leicester who sold it in 1574 to Sir Henry Norris I, recently created 1st Lord Norris of Rycote. Leicester also appears to have resigned his high stewardship of Abingdon to Norris, perhaps recognizing that the owner of Cumnor had nearly always controlled the borough. In the following Parliament, that of 1584, Norris’s son Edward was returned. Both Griffith Lloyd, principal of the new and distinctively protestant Jesus College, Oxford, who was chosen in 1586 but preferred to sit for Cardiganshire, and the more certainly puritan ‘carpet-bagger’ Miles Sandys, who was returned in Lloyd’s place, may be assumed to have been acceptable to Lord Norris. Edward Norris, recently knighted, sat again in 1589. After this election, however, Norris appears to have lost interest in parliamentary patronage at Abingdon, and townsmen were returned to the next three Parliaments. William Braunche (1593) and Francis Little (1597) were past mayors of the borough, and Little was master of Christ’s Hospital at the time of his election. Robert Rithe II, returned to the last Parliament of the reign, has been identified as the Robert Rithe who was resident in Abingdon, but little else is known about him.3