Appendix VII: the 1589 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 session: 4 Feb.-29 Mar. 1589.


Speaker:Thomas Snagge I
Clerk:Fulk Onslow ‘and his sufficient deputy or deputies’.1 


Privy Councillors in the Commons:

Sir James CroftSir Walter Mildmay
John Fortescue ISir John Perrot
(Sir) Thomas Heneage(Sir) Francis Walsingham
Sir Francis KnollysJohn Wolley


Total number of Members elected 467

for counties 91

for boroughs 376

at general election 462

for counties 90

for boroughs 372

at by-elections 5

for counties 1

for boroughs 4


Number of Members known to have left before end: 4, all of whom sat for boroughs


Residential qualification. Borough Members

resident in borough 89

resident in county 127

resident in adjacent county etc. 9

strangers 141

no information 10


Electoral qualification. Borough Members returned through

own or family interest 82

wife’s family interest 11

corporation interest 83

‘natural’ influence 38

influence of a great man 129

duchy of Lancaster 8

no information 25


Number of Members with

central office local office
major 8lord lieutenant 2
minor 85deputy lieutenant 20
legal 10custos rotulorum 9
duchy of Lancaster 12j.p. 182
diplomatic/agent abroad 9other county 71
military/naval 18mayor 8
ecclesiastical 9recorder 22
 other municipal 82
 no office in this Parliament 152


Experience. Members who

had sat in previous Parliament 42%

were to sit in next Parliament 37%



very active speakers 2%

very active committeemen 4%

with any recorded activity 32%

with any recorded speeches 10%

with any recorded committees 30%

served on religious committee 3%

spoke on religion 2%

served on subsidy committee 16%

spoke on subsidy 1%

served on a social/economic committee 15%

spoke on a social/economic matter 3%

served on a legal committee 10%

spoke on a legal matter 3%

served on a committee concerned with the Exchequer or purveyors 3%

spoke on these matters 2%

served on a committee outside above five classifications 10%

spoke on a subject other than the above five 5%


Notes on Procedure

The lack of private journals for this Parliament has caused the committee work of the Members to be understated, and has obscured some interesting advances in procedure, still just visible through D’Ewes’s account compiled from the clerk’s rough notes. On 7 Feb. a standing committee on privileges was appointed, and next day another committee was set up to consider ‘sundry abuses’ in the returns.2 The two together just fall short of the standing committee for privileges and returns, that most significant advance in the independence of the Commons, which was to make its appearance in 1593. The passage of the subsidy bill was delayed until the grievances should be dealt with, and there is a hint that Members had found a new delaying tactic, for on 17 Feb. the chancellor of the Exchequer complained that ‘divers’ of the subsidy committee ‘did not give that attendance therein which so great and weighty a cause doth require’. The tactics of the men handling the grievances were carefully prepared, the grievances being reduced to two clear cut and widespread abuses, the procedure of the Exchequer and the behaviour of purveyors; the necessary bills to rectify these evils were introduced on the same day, 14 Feb. 1589, by Edward Hoby and John Hare respectively. Of great interest, using hindsight, is that the committee on the purveyors bill was authorised to take account of the views of the officers of the green cloth, who had a vested interest in the system. A new general category of committee members appears, ‘all those that have spoken to the bill’. Proposals for tightening the discipline of the committees were put forward: fewer should be named, but those named should give ‘better attendance’. A committee should not proceed unless at least half of those named were present.3


Favoured committee meeting places

Exchequer chamber 63%

Serjeants’ Inn 17%

Star Chamber 10%

House of Commons committee chamber 7%

Guildhall 2%


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

OR with add. and corr.

PRO T/S list of supplementary returns.

C193/32/11, a list drawn up by amending a list for the previous Parliament, perhaps for the use of the serjeant-at-arms, supplies some lacunae.


Sources for the proceedings of the Commons


Henry Jackman’s journal 7-19 Feb., Lansd. 55. Transcribed and edited by Miss Miller, this amounts to only 6 quarto pages of typescript. Jackman was a cloth merchant, and 1589 was the first of four Parliaments he attended. He was a friend of Michael Hickes*, which accounts for the inclusion of his journal among the Lansdowne mss, the source for a number of notes and speeches in this Parliament, viz; Lansd. 55, 56, 58, 86, 104. Other sources are: St. Paul’s Cathedral Add. iv. 137; Lambeth Palace mss 178; Northants. RO, Fitzwilliam of Milton mss 147; Longleat, Bath Thynne mss 76; Inner Temple, Petyt 538/36; Add. 48101; SP Dom. Eliz. 223/34.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: P. W. Hasler

End Notes

  • 1. D’Ewes, 431.
  • 2. D’Ewes, 429, 430.
  • 3. Ibid. 436.