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|13 Jan. 1559||JOHN FRANKE|
|1562/3||SIR WILLIAM DAMSELL|
|THOMAS LAKE I|
|[?14] Nov. 1584||THOMAS LAKE I|
|THOMAS PHILLIPS 1|
|1586||THOMAS LAKE I|
|JOHN PARKER II|
|22 Oct. 1597||RICHARD LYFFE|
|1601||(SIR) THOMAS SHIRLEY II|
Until the charter of 1588 or 9, Hastings was governed by a bailiff and 12 jurats chosen by him. This new charter raised the status of bailiff to that of mayor and vested the government of the town in the mayor, jurats and commonalty. There was a town clerk, chosen by the mayor, and a legal counsel, whose appointment was renewed annually. Parliamentary elections were held at a general assembly of the bailiff or mayor, jurats and freemen in the ‘hundred place’.
For the first Parliament of the reign, before the appointment of the 10th Lord Cobham as warden of the Cinque Ports, the borough chose two townsmen. In 1563 the warden brought in his neighbour Sir William Damsell, and the other Member, in this and six later Elizabethan Parliaments, was the Hastings and Cinque Ports jurat, Richard Lyffe. Lyffe took the senior seat each time, and had as colleagues another jurat, James Bryan, and Thomas Lake I, a member of the corporation who was legal counsel to the Ports.
In 1584 Cobham obtained some Privy Council support, and managed to obtain a nomination at Hastings for Thomas Phillips, a government agent who had earlier been assigned to his brother’s service in France. The senior seat was filled by Thomas Lake I, he and Phillips being re-elected in 1586, in accordance with the Privy Council’s request that boroughs should return the same men as in the preceding House of Commons.
It is not clear how John Parker II came in for the 1589 Parliament. His relative Lord Buckhurst owned property in Hastings, and he may have asked either Cobham or the town authorities for a seat. In 1593 and 1597 Hastings returned, with Lyffe, two local lawyers, Henry Apsley and Edmund Pelham.
In 1601 it appears that Hastings first intended to choose Thomas Palmer II, who in the event sat for Arundel. He was replaced at Hastings by the Sussex gentleman (Sir) Thomas Shirley II of Wiston, Sussex, who had no known connexion with the 11th Lord Cobham who had succeeded his father as lord warden in 1597. Shirley may have been another Buckhurst nominee, perhaps by arrangement with the lord warden. He had previously represented Steyning, which at the 1601 election returned his father and Buckhurst’s secretary. Shirley himself was returned at both Bramber and Hastings in 1601, choosing the latter. His social position entitled him to take the senior seat.
Though Hastings had declined in this period to the point where it had to suspend payment of the mayor’s salary, it managed to pay wages to its Members on at least two occasions. In 1597 both Members were voted 2 s. a day by the assembly, while in 1601 Lyffe was paid a total of £6 for his services in Parliament.2