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|1558/9||LAURENCE NOWELL 1|
|WILLIAM BYRNAND 2|
|1562/3||CHRISTOPHER TAMWORTH 3|
|ROBERT BOWES 4|
|1571||SIR GEORGE BOWES|
|22 Apr. 1572||FRANCIS SLINGSBY|
|1584||EDMUND POLEY 5|
|FRANCIS SLINGSBY 6|
|FRANCIS HARVEY I|
|20 Sept. 1597||HUGH BEESTON|
|15 Oct. 1601||HENRY SLINGSBY|
Knaresborough, ‘no great thing and meanly builded’ and ‘a pretty town, but poor and of no force’ remained part of the duchy of Lancaster throughout the Elizabethan period. The voting right was in the owners of 88 burgage houses. The three surviving Elizabethan returns show between eight and fourteen burgesses. In 1628, 46 votes were cast in a disputed election. As might be expected, the electoral patronage was divided between the duchy of Lancaster and the local gentry families, though as usual in this period, the boundaries of influence and patronage cannot be defined with any precision. Thus in 1559 Laurence Nowell may be presumed to be the nominee of the then chancellor of the duchy, Sir Ambrose Cave, while William Byrnand was a member of a local family soon to decline because of their adherence to the Catholic faith. Members of the Bowes family sat in 1563 and 1571, when the duchy nominees were in all likelihood (the links have not been certainly established) Christopher Tamworth and John Cade respectively. By 1572 the Slingsbys were the predominant local family, ‘the castle ... is in the keeping of Francis Slingsby, esquire, whose living and friends border thereupon’ as a contemporary account put it. Francis Slingsby sat in 1572 and 1584. Among the family papers is a letter from which it is clear that William Slingsby (1597, 1601) thought his father could nominate at will there. In 1601 both seats at Knaresborough were taken by the Slingsby brothers Henry and William. But both Francis and Henry Slingsby held duchy posts, as did their neighbour and friend, Richard Banks, who sat in 1572. In all, 13 of the 18 Elizabethan MPs for Knaresborough had some connexion with the duchy of Lancaster. Sir George Bowes, who sat in 1571, was a friend of Francis Slingsby, and no doubt both his and Slingsby’s return would have been welcome to the council in the north, just after they had given the government active support during the northern rebellion. In fact both Bowes and his brother, who sat in 1563 were, as important protestant landowners in an area of doubtful religious loyalty, well able to find themselves seats. Palmes, who sat in 1586, was living near Knaresborough at the time of his return, though he could hardly be described as a local man. Edmund Poley, a relation of Burghley, no doubt came in for Knaresborough through the influence of the chancellor of the duchy, Sir Ralph Sadler, in 1584, as did Secretary Davison in 1586, and Francis Harvey I through the new chancellor, Walsingham, next time. Harvey’s colleague Thomas Preston, whose father had bought lands at Furness Abbey, Lancashire, had no ascertained claim to a seat at Knaresborough. Both 1593 men appear to have owed their return to the then chancellor of the duchy, (Sir) Thomas Heneage, and the Exchequer official Hugh Beeston (1597) owed his return to (Sir) Robert Cecil.7
Author: P. W. Hasler
- 1. E371/402(1).
- 2. Ibid.
- 3. According to Browne Willis and Atkinson mss at Harrogate, Knaresborough first chose Sir Henry Gates* and William Strickland*, who had already been chosen for, or who elected to sit for Scarborough.
- 4. Ibid.
- 5. Add. 38823; Browne Willis; see also Poley's biog.
- 6. Ibid.
- 7. W. Wheater, Knaresborough and its Rulers; M. Calvert, Knaresborough; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xxxiv. 213 seq; HMC Hatfield, xiv. 99-100; C219/28/51; 33/77; 34/109.