Appendix V: The 1584 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: 23 Nov.-21 Dec. 1584 4 Feb.-29 Mar. 1585


Speaker:(Sir) John Puckering 
Clerk:Fulk Onslow


Privy Councillors in the Commons:

Sir James Croft

(Sir) Christopher Hatton I

Sir Francis Knollys

Sir Walter Mildmay

Sir Ralph Sadler:

(Sir) Francis Walsingham


Total number of Members elected 468

for counties 91

for boroughs 377

at general election 460

for counties 90

for boroughs 370

at by-elections

8 for counties

for boroughs 7


Number of Members known to have left before end: 3, of whom 1 sat for a county, 2 for boroughs


Residential qualification. Borough Members

resident in borough 93

resident in county 120

strangers 134

no information 15


Electoral qualification. Borough Members returned through

own or family interest 78

wife’s family interest 7

corporation interest 84

‘natural’ influence 46

influence of a great man 131

duchy of Lancaster 7

no information 24


Number of Members with

central office local office
major 9lord lieutenant 5
minor 80deputy lieutenant 13
legal 6custos rotulorum 10
duchy of Lancaster 16j.p. 205
diplomatic/agent abroad 10other county 79
military/naval 12mayor 12
ecclesiastical 13recorder 16
 other municipal 63
 no office in this Parliament 138


Experience. Members who

had sat in previous Parliament 28%

were to sit in next Parliament 52%



very active speakers 3%

very active committeemen 6%

with any recorded activity 38%

with any recorded speeches 11%

with any recorded committees 36%

served on religious committee 15%

spoke on religion 4%

served on subsidy committee 15%

spoke on subsidy 1%

served on a social/economic committee 17%

spoke on a social/economic matter 4%

served on a legal committee 14%

spoke on a legal matter 3%

served on a committee concerned with the Queen’s safety 3%

spoke on the Queen’s safety 2%

served on a committee outside above five classifications 9%

spoke on a subject other than the above five 3%


Favoured committee meeting places

Exchequer chamber 53%

Middle Temple 24%

Lincoln’s Inn 11%

House of Commons committee chamber 3%

Committees also met in Guildhall, Inner Temple, Star Chamber and Ely Place.


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

OR, with add. and corr.

PRO T/S list of supplementary returns

Bodl Tanner 234

Bodl. Willis 9 (see under 1571)

Add. 38823, Sir Edward Hoby’s commonplace book, post 20 Feb. 1585.


Sources for the proceedings of the Commons

Between August 1611 and November 1613 the finished journals for 1584-1601 were lost,1 though there remains the compilation D’Ewes made from the clerk’s rough notes. Thomas Cromwell kept a journal of this Parliament, Trinity Coll. Dublin N.2.12, which, edited and transcribed by Miss Miller amounts to 74 quarto pages of typescript. As Cromwell says at the outset ‘my first coming to the House this Parliament was the first day of December’, so he missed the first week, and at the end there is the note ‘my books of the proceedings in all the sessions [of] Parliament in which I had any intermeddling. I cannot find my book of the 23rd year of the Queen’. Evidently Cromwell was successful in tracing his 1581 journal, but, if the statement is to be taken literally, that for 1571 must be lost.

There is also an anonymous journal, Lansd. 43, ff. 164-75, containing many amusing stories, but amounting in Miss Miller’s edition to only 50 quarto pages of typescript. ‘The Recorder [Fleetwood] did ask leave of the House to go to the assizes, but was denied of the House. He did ask of glory, knowing they would not spare him’. But another time he reported Fleetwood as saying ‘"Our seal of London ... will fetch £100,000 upon it at Antwerp, but you cannot borrow five groats there upon all your seals in Wales ... For mine own part I care not for I have never foot of land in Wales, nor never intend to have", and so he went out of the House presently to the indictment of [William] Parry in the King’s bench’. Fleetwood kept his own record of the opening days of this Parliament 23-28 Nov., Lansd. 41. Another journal was kept by William Fitzwilliam, Northants. RO, Fitzwilliam of Milton mss 2, amounting to 137 quarto pages of typescript. It is a major contribution to knowledge of the proceedings of this Parliament, concentrating as it does on the speeches of Fitzwilliam’s Northamptonshire neighbour, father-in-law and fellow puritan, Sir Walter Mildmay and the major issues of the Parliament, the Queen’s safety, the bill against Jesuits, the petition to the Lords on religious grievances, the linking of the subsidy bill with religion, and the bill for the reformation of disorders touching ministers of the Church. Fitzwilliam followed Bell and other radical religious reformers in using a device later adopted by opponents of the Crown in the early seventeenth century, that of extracting precedents from medieval and Tudor records to support his argument with little regard for historical accuracy.

Other sources for the proceedings of this Parliament are: Add. 5758, 48064; Lansd. 43, 98, 104, 115; Harl. 6853, 540; SP Dom. Eliz. 176/51, 55, 73; Petyt 538/38; Fitzwilliam of Milton mss 192.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: P. W. Hasler

End Notes

  • 1. Trans. R. Hist. Soc. (ser. 4), iii. 159.