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|1558/9||SIR JOHN YORK 1|
|RICHARD BUNNY I 2|
|18 Apr. 1572||THOMAS EYNNS 3|
|27 Oct. 1584||HENRY CHEKE|
|30 Sept. 1586||GEORGE SAVILE I|
|1588/9||(SIR) EDWARD FITTON|
|5 Sept. 1597||HENRY FANSHAWE II|
|THOMAS CROMPTON I|
|THOMAS FAIRFAX II|
Boroughbridge, on the main road to the north, was quite prosperous in the Elizabethan period, but, with a large Catholic element in the population, suffered as a result of the collapse of the northern rebellion in 1569. Lying within the boundaries of the parish and manor of Aldborough, it was not a chartered borough. When it outgrew Aldborough, however, it was created a separate bailiwick with certain specified privileges. The honour of Knaresborough, of which it formed a part, had been granted to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and remained within the duchy until after the Tudor period. As at Aldborough, the franchise was settled, by the middle of the seventeenth century at least and perhaps earlier, on the owners of certain burgage tenements. The four surviving returns for the Elizabethan period contain the names of no more than eight burgesses. Elections were conducted by a bailiff appointed annually by the duchy or by the lessee to whom the bailiwick had been leased.4
The hand of successive chancellors of the duchy of Lancaster can be seen in many of the elections at Boroughbridge. Sir Ambrose Cave, anxious for the return of protestants to the first Parliament of the reign, evidently secured the nominations of Sir John York and Richard Bunny I in 1559. John Astley, returned in 1563, was probably elected in the same way: a close friend of the Queen, he held the duchy post of steward of Enfield. Two leading duchy officials were given seats later in the reign: John Brograve in 1593 and Henry Fanshawe II in 1597. (Sir) Edward Fitton, who had been returned for the duchy borough of Wigan in 1572, was presumably nominated by the chancellor, (Sir) Francis Walsingham, in 1589, though no clear link with Walsingham has been traced. Several other Members may have been duchy nominees: Nicholas Faunt (1584), one of Walsingham’s agents, may have been chosen by the then chancellor, Sir Ralph Sadler, at the secretary’s request; Vincent Skinner, who had held duchy office, was probably elected in 1593 through a similar arrangement between his master, Lord Burghley, and (Sir) Thomas Heneage; and Thomas Crompton I, the civil lawyer, was nominated presumably by (Sir) Robert Cecil, chancellor of the duchy at the time of the 1597 elections.
Another important factor in elections at Boroughbridge was the presence of the council in the north only a few miles away at York. The council was especially important after the 1569 rebellion, and probably secured the return of both Members in 1571 and 1572. Cotton Gargrave’s father, Sir Thomas, was vice-president of the council, Thomas Eynns was its secretary and Thomas Boynton, a Yorkshire landowner, was known to several members of the council and joined it himself in 1577. Other council nominees were Thomas Disney (1563), a servant of Henry, 2nd Earl of Rutland, lord president at the time, and Henry Cheke (1584) who, like Eynns, was secretary to the council at the time of his election.
Of the remaining Members, George Savile I (1586) and Thomas Fairfax II (1601) were leading Yorkshire landowners and probably secured their own election. The same may also have been true of Robert Briggs, Savile’s colleague in 1586, though he might have done legal work for the council. Francis Moore (1589) was another lawyer but no evidence has been found to link his name with either the duchy of Lancaster or the council in the north. It is possible, however, that his connexions with the Catholic Englefield family may provide a clue to his return for Boroughbridge, as the Englefields were relatives of Moore’s fellow MP in 1589, (Sir) Edward Fitton. Doubt also surrounds the patron of Richard Whalley (1601), especially as he seems to have been in the circle of the 5th Earl of Rutland who was then in disgrace after the Essex rebellion.
The 1572 MP, Thomas Eynns, died in 1578, and no record has been found of a replacement for the 1581 session.