Available from Cambridge University Press
Right of Election:
in the burgage-holders
Number of voters:
|25 Feb. 1604||JOHN FERNE|
|SIR HENRY JENKINS|
|14 Dec. 1609||SIR THOMAS VAVASOUR vice Ferne, deceased|
|?Sir Ferdinando Fairfax|
|c. Mar. 1614||SIR FERDINANDO FAIRFAX|
|18 Dec. 1620||SIR FERDINANDO FAIRFAX|
|16 Jan. 1624||SIR FERDINANDO FAIRFAX|
|?Sir Edmund Verney*|
|19 Apr. 1625||SIR FERDINANDO FAIRFAX|
|16 Jan. 1626||SIR FERDINANDO FAIRFAX|
|26 Feb. 1628||SIR FERDINANDO FAIRFAX|
|FRANCIS NEVILLE II|
Established in the eleventh century when the bridge at Aldborough was re-sited upstream, Boroughbridge returned two Members to Parliament in 1300, and was re-enfranchised in 1553. The town was part of the duchy of Lancaster honour of Knaresborough, which was granted to Anne of Denmark and later Prince Charles, though the government interest was usually exercised by the Council in the North.1 The dominant local family, the Tankards, were Catholics who were implicated in the 1569 rebellion, but in 1598 Thomas Tankard, the new head of the family, conformed to escape recusancy fines. He filled one of the parliamentary seats with a succession of his relatives, while from 1614 the other was monopolized by Sir Ferdinando Fairfax, whose main estates lay some miles to the south. As the only gentry family among the electorate, the Tankards took precedence in the seven surviving indentures, in which almost half of the 20 voters could sign or at least initial their names, suggesting a better educated electorate than at Aldborough.2
In 1604 the borough returned John Ferne, deputy secretary to the Council in the North, and Sir Henry Jenkins, whose wife was a Tankard. Following Ferne’s death, a by-election was ordered on 8 Sept. 1609. Lord Treasurer Salisbury (Robert Cecil†) nominated the knight marshal, Sir Thomas Vavasour, who was a Yorkshireman by birth. Although Salisbury was rebuffed elsewhere, Tankard and four other electors acceded to his request in extraordinarily obsequious terms:
thinking ourselves more than twice happy to be moved by your favourable letters for the grant of a burgess-ship, the refusal whereof (even in our simplest judgments) were worse to us than death itself: since the never dying fame of your renowned virtues do of right claim in us no denial. And since we know your godly care of the commonwealth both in public and private to be so singular as the world doth justly admire your prudence and wisdom in the uniform settling of the same, the consideration of which your worthiness hath won us (most unworthy your love) to grant you your request, which otherwise (but that it was your honour’s pleasure) you might have commanded.
Vavasour was returned ‘of our free and general consent’, but his name was entered over an erasure. Ferne, the original nominee, had been backed by the Council in the North, and thus lord president Sheffield may have nominated a replacement before hearing of Salisbury’s request; if so, the candidate was presumably his new son-in-law, Sir Ferdinando Fairfax. The misunderstanding clearly created some confusion, as the indenture had not reached Chancery by the eve of the next session.3
In 1614 Vavasour found a seat at Horsham, Sussex, on the earl of Arundel’s interest. He was replaced at Boroughbridge by the Yorkshire-born equerry George Marshall, whose wife’s Catholic sympathies may have recommended him to Tankard; the other Member was Sir Ferdinando Fairfax. By the time of the next election in December 1620 Fairfax’s wife was dead and Sheffield out of office, but Sir Ferdinando retained his seat for the rest of the decade, accompanied in 1621 by George Wetherid, lord president Scrope’s secretary. Tankard’s interest was not eliminated, however, as his wife’s nephew Philip Mainwaring, a royal cupbearer and another Arundel client, was returned in 1624, despite a challenge from Sir Edmund Verney*, nominee of the duchy of Cornwall, which had acquired the honour of Knaresborough in 1619. Fairfax and Mainwaring were returned to the next two parliaments, though in 1626 Bulstrode Whitelocke* was nominated by his father’s friend, (Sir) Humphrey May*, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster. Whitelocke later insisted he had been returned, a plausible claim, as there were only 11 signatures on the surviving return for Fairfax and Mainwaring. A petition came before the committee for privileges, but was never reported. Mainwaring may have felt his tenure threatened, particularly after the death of his cousin Tankard in 1627, as he transferred to Derby at the next election. His seat at Boroughbridge was taken by Francis Neville II, brother-in-law of Tankard’s heir.4
Author: Simon Healy
- 1. Sir T. Lawson-Tancred, Recs. Yorks. Manor 3-14, 141, 174-5; A.D.K. Hawkyard, ‘Enfranchisement of constituencies, 1508-1558’, PH, x. 14-19.
- 2. Misc. (Cath. Rec. Soc. liii), 97, 346-7, 377-8; E368/493, recorda rot.185; C142/600/124.
- 3. SP14/49/10; Surrey Hist. Cent. LM 1331/15.
- 4. J.P. Earwaker, East Cheshire, ii. 566; DCO, Prince Charles in Spain, f. 34; Whitelocke Diary ed. R. Spalding, 53; Procs. 1626, ii. 55.