Appendix VI: The 1586 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: 29 Oct.-2 Dec. 1586 15 Feb.-23 Mar. 1587


Speaker:(Sir) John Puckering
Clerk:Fulk Onslow (1586)
Deputy:William Onslow (1587)1


Privy Councillors in the Commons:

Sir James CroftSir Walter Mildmay
William DavisonSir Ralph Sadler
(Sir) Christopher Hatton I(Sir) Francis Walsingham
Sir Francis KnollysJohn Wolley


Total number of Members elected 468

for counties 91

for boroughs 377

at general election 462

for counties 90

for boroughs 372

at by-elections 6

for counties 1

for boroughs 5


Number of Members known to have left before end: 4, of whom 1 sat for a county, 3 for boroughs


Residential qualification. Borough Members

resident in borough 88

resident in county 137

resident in adjacent county etc. 15

strangers 128

no information 9


Electoral qualification. Borough Members returned through

own or family interest 89

wife’s family interest 11

corporation interest 84

‘natural’ influence 52

influence of a great man 113

duchy of Lancaster 7

no information 21


Number of Members with

central office local office
major 8lord lieutenant 4
minor 82deputy lieutenant 23
legal 10custos rotulorum 10
duchy of Lancaster 21j.p. 209
diplomatic/agent abroad 7other county 82
military/naval 17mayor 20
ecclesiastical 14recorder 23
 other municipal 69
 no office in this Parliament 141


Experience. Members who

had sat in previous Parliament 52%

were to sit in next Parliament 41%



very active speakers 2%

very active committeemen 3%

with any recorded activity 31%

with any recorded speeches 10%

with any recorded committees 30%

served on religious committee 8%

spoke on religion 4%

served on subsidy committee 14%

spoke on subsidy 2%

served on a social/economic committee 8%

spoke on a social/economic matter 3%

served on a legal committee 7%

spoke on a legal matter 1%

served on a committee concerning Mary Stuart 12%

spoke on Mary Stuart 5%

served on a committee outside above five classifications 8%

spoke on a subject other than the above five 2%


Committee meeting places

Exchequer chamber 40%

Middle Temple 19%

Serjeants’ Inn, Chancery Lane, 19%

Guildhall 11%

House of Commons committee chamber 7%

Lincoln’s Inn 4%


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

OR, with add. and corr.

PRO T/S list of supplementary returns

Hatfield CP 244/4; and Lansd. 1218, ff. 46 seq. supply some facts on by-elections.


Parliamentary Pawns2

Parliamentary pawns, which were kept in Chancery as a record of those to whom writs of summons were sent, and the form these writs should take, survive at the Public Record Office for the last five Elizabethan Parliaments. A sample writ from each of a number of categories is copied out in full. The following are the categories, with brackets indicating the recipient of the sample writ in 1586.

1.Individual writs to the spiritual peers
(archbishop of Canterbury).
2.Individual writs to the temporal peers
(Marquess of Winchester).
3.Individual writs to judges, legal officers and other named individuals not in the first two categories (Lord Chancellor Bromley). These were the writs of assistance.
4.Writs to the sheriffs of counties (Cornwall). All the English counties are named except Cheshire, Durham and Lancashire.
5.Writs to the boroughs which were counties in their own right, with their own sheriffs (London). These were:
London, York, Norwich, Lincoln, Coventry, Gloucester, Bristol, Canterbury, Exeter, Lichfield, Kingston-upon-Hull, Scarborough, Southampton, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Nottingham, Poole, Haverfordwest. By the end of the reign Scarborough was removed from the list.
6.Writ to the lord warden of the Cinque Ports.
7.Writ to the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster.
8.Writ to the county palatine of Chester.
9.Writs to the sheriffs of the Welsh counties (Anglesey).


Sources for the proceedings of the Commons


A journal, edited by Miss Miller, amounting to 22 quarto pages of typescript, dealing with the proceedings against Mary Stuart during the first session of this Parliament, Camb. Univ. Lib. Cg. iii. 34.

An anonymous journal, amounting to 27 quarto pages of typescript in Miss Miller’s transcription, of part of the proceedings of the second session, 23 Feb.-8 Mar. 1587, Harl. 7188.

Other sources for the proceedings of this Parliament are:

Add. 5758; 48027; Egerton 2124; Sloane 326; Cott. Titus F.i; Ellesmere 1191; Lansd. 94, 103, 105; Stowe 361; Harl. 158, 6845, 6846, 1877; Bodl. Tanner 78, 79; New York, Pierpont Morgan Lib. MA. 276; Herts. RO, 10548; Inner Temple, Petyt 538/10; Queen’s Coll. Oxf. 284; SP Dom. Eliz. 199/1, 2; Fitzwilliam of Milton mss 178, 179; Lambeth Palace Lib. ms 178.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: P. W. Hasler

End Notes

  • 1. D’Ewes, 407. William was Fulk’s cousin.
  • 2. It is not known how the name arose. It was printed within quotation marks when S. R. Scargill-Bird published his guide to the documents in the PRO in 1896.