Appendix II: The 1563 House of Commons

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Effective dates of sessions: 12 Jan.-10 Apr. 1563 30 Sept. 1566-2 Jan. 1567



Thomas Williams (1563) 
 Richard Onslow (1566)
 Clerk:John Seymour


Privy Councillors in the Commons:

Sir Ambrose CaveSir William Petre
Sir William CecilSir Edward Rogers
Sir Francis KnollysRichard Sackville (1563)
Sir John Mason (1563)Sir Ralph Sadler
Sir Walter Mildmay (1566) 


Total number of Members elected 452

for counties 101

for boroughs 351

at general election 420

for counties 90

for boroughs 330

at by-elections 32

for counties 11

for boroughs 21


Number of Members known to have left before end: 30, of whom 11 sat for counties, 19 for boroughs


Residential qualification. Borough Members 

resident in borough 86

resident in county 118

resident in adjacent county etc. 17

strangers 114

no information 16


Electoral qualification.Borough Members returned through 

own or family interest 70

wife’s family interest 11

corporation interest 90

‘natural’ influence 20

influence of a great man 130

duchy of Lancaster 10

no information 20


Number of Members with

central office local office
major 6lord lieutenant 5
minor 94deputy lieutenant 4
legal 11custos rotulorum 20
duchy of Lancaster 13
 j.p. 195
diplomatic/agent abroad 5other county 98
military/naval 14mayor 20
ecclesiastical 8recorder 24
 other municipal 82
 no office in this Parliament 127


Experience. Members who

had sat in previous Parliament 31%

were to sit in next Parliament 27%



very active speakers 2%

very active committeemen 2%

with any recorded activity 23%

with any recorded speeches 7%

with any recorded committees 21%

served on religious committee 2%

spoke on religion 2%

served on subsidy committee 2%

spoke on subsidy 1%

served on a social/economic committee 6%

spoke on a social/economic matter 1%

served on a legal committee 4%

spoke on a legal matter: less than 0.5%

served on a committee concerned with the succession 18%

spoke on the succession 4%

served on a committee outside above five classifications 2%

spoke on a subject other than the above five 3%


The clerk, John Seymour, who died in 1567, deserves the gratitude of posterity for virtually inventing the Commons Journals, but his entries are terse. The journals for the 1563 Parliament still leave 77% of Members without any known activity, and the only known committee meeting place is the Star Chamber, for the subsidy committee 25 Jan. 1563. ‘Such is the imperfect setting down of things in these former times’, as D’Ewes has it, 123.


Sources for the names of Members (unless an individual reference is given)


PRO T/S list of supplementary returns

Bodl. Tanner 234


A list of the 1563 Parliament, corrected for the second session, from the collection of Sir Thomas Phillipps, is in the Folger Library, V. b. 298. It supplied 15 new names for the 1566 session. The corrections include a note of the death of Oliver Hyde, on 9 Feb. 1566.


Sources for the proceedings of the Commons

CJ, i.


Miss Helen Miller’s edited transcripts of parts of Cotton Titus F.i.; Harley 5176; Add. 33593; SP Dom. Eliz. 27/35, 36, 71; Lansdowne 94; Gonville and Caius Coll. ms 392.


Description of the House of Commons

In 1568 John Hooker drew up a description of the Commons’ seating arrangements for the use of the Speaker of the Irish Parliament:

The Lower House, as it is called, is a place distinct from the other: it is more of length than of breadth; it is made like a theatre, having four rows of seats one above another, round about the same. At the higher end, in the middle of the lower row, is a seat made for the Speaker, in which he always sitteth. Before it is a table board, at which sitteth the clerk of the House, and thereupon layeth his books, and writeth his records. Upon the lower row, on both sides the Speaker, sit such personages as be of the ... Privy Council or [the] chief officers, but as for any other, none claimeth, nor can claim any place, but sitteth as he cometh, saving that on the right hand of the Speaker, next beneath the said counsels, the Londoners and the citizens of York do sit, and so in order should sit all the citizens accordingly. Without this House is one other, in which the under clerks do sit, as also as be suitors and attendant to that House. And whensoever the House is divided upon any bill, then the room is voided, and the one part of the House cometh down into this place to be numbered.1

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: P. W. Hasler

End Notes

  • 1. A.I. Dasent, Speakers of the House of Commons, 138. See also under 1593 and 1601.