Available from Cambridge University Press
Right of Election:
in the burgage-holders
Number of voters:
|c. Feb. 1604||SIR JOHN BENNET|
|SIR JOHN MALLORY|
|c. Mar. 1614||SIR THOMAS POSTHUMOUS HOBY|
|c. Dec. 1620||SIR THOMAS POSTHUMOUS HOBY|
|20 Jan. 1624||SIR THOMAS POSTHUMOUS HOBY|
|3 May 1625||SIR THOMAS POSTHUMOUS HOBY|
|c. Jan. 1626||SIR THOMAS POSTHUMOUS HOBY|
|1 Mar. 1628||SIR THOMAS POSTHUMOUS HOBY|
An ecclesiastical peculiar founded by St. Wilfrid in the seventh century, Ripon returned MPs to three Parliaments under Edward I. The Crown offered representation to Ripon and five other northern boroughs in negotiations with the Pilgrims of Grace in 1536, but Ripon was only re-enfranchised in 1553, by which time the Minster estates had passed to the duchy of Lancaster; control of the liberty returned to the archbishop of York in 1556. Borough government, under a prescriptive charter only codified in 1598, was consigned to a wakeman [mayor] and around 30 aldermen. The franchise was technically vested in the burgage-holders, who numbered well over 100. There were no contested elections during the early Stuart period, and surviving election returns were signed by up to three dozen corporation members and burgesses.2
Under Elizabeth, electoral influence at Ripon was managed by the archbishops of York: the diocesan chancellor (Sir) John Bennet was returned in 1597; the 7th earl of Shrewsbury applied to Archbishop Piers on behalf of one of his wife’s relatives in 1593; while in 1597 and 1601 Sir Robert Cecil† obtained a seat for the diplomat (Sir) Christopher Parkins*. Other intermediaries within the diocesan administration also obtained seats: in 1588 Sir William Mallory†, steward of the liberty, nominated his wife’s relative Peter Yorke; chancellor Bennet obtained a seat for his brother in 1593; and dean Thornborough of York secured the election of one of his relatives in 1601.3 In 1604 chancellor Bennet, defeated in a contest at York, found a seat at Ripon, while the second place went to Sir John Mallory, who had succeeded to his father’s estates at nearby Studley Royal a year earlier. The wakeman subsequently accompanied the two men to London in search of a charter of incorporation, which passed the great seal on 24 June, at a cost of £64: this may explain why on 18 May Mallory moved the Commons for legislation to confirm all letters patent granted since the start of the reign. The resulting bill was reported by Sir Thomas Hoby on 11 June, but set aside at the Speaker’s request ‘upon some special exception’, while a similar bill, initiated in the Lords on 21 June, failed for lack of time. The new charter replaced the old governing body with a mayor (still habitually called the wakeman), 12 aldermen and 24 assistants, but made no mention of parliamentary representation or the franchise. The balance of power changed little, as the corporation felt obliged to ask Archbishop Matthew for permission to hold the borough court granted by the new charter.4
By the 1614 general election Bennet had moved to London. In his stead the archbishop nominated his friend Sir Thomas Hoby, who came from the other end of the shire but had recently lost his interest at Scarborough. Sir John Mallory, in the midst of an unsuccessful bid for a knighthood of the shire, secured the return of his son William at Ripon. Hoby was appointed steward of Ripon in 1617, and along with William Mallory he was returned at the next three elections. In 1621 the two men combined to attack Sir John Townshend*, whose concealed lands patent had been used to question the title of Ripon’s hospital lands: Mallory drew attention to the town’s plight on 23 Mar., while on 24 Apr. Hoby secured a first reading for a bill to confirm the exemption of hospital lands from seizure under the 1547 Chantries’ Act. This measure was dropped after the king revoked Townshend’s patent by proclamation on 10 July.5
There may have been some dissension at Ripon during the general election of 1625, as the corporation sent two letters to Archbishop Matthew, although the indenture recorded the ‘unanimous assent’ of the electors to the return of Hoby and Mallory. At the next election Mallory, perhaps unwilling to get involved in attacks on the duke of Buckingham, resigned his interest at Ripon to his brother-in-law, Thomas Best of Middleton Quernhow, although he resumed the junior seat with no apparent difficulty in 1628.6
Author: Simon Healy
- 1. Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xxxii. 78-80; Hist. of Ripon (1801), p. 45; C219/41B/34.
- 2. A.D.K. Hawkyard, ‘Enfranchisement of Constituencies’, PH, x. 13-17, 25; Borthwick, Rev. RGA 1628; Ripon (1839), p. 42; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xxxii. 82; W. Yorks AS (Leeds), box 35, bdle. 245/1; C219/39/95.
- 3. LPL, ms 3200, f. 158; HMC Hatfield, vii. 404; ix. 409, 442.
- 4. CJ, i. 237a, 974; LJ, ii. 325b; N. Yorks. RO, DC/RIC/1/1/2, ff. 4, 20.
- 5. YORKSHIRE; N. Yorks. RO, DC/RIC/1/1/2, f. 78; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 218-19; CD1621, v. 346; vi. 83; CJ, i. 588a; SIR JOHN TOWNSHEND; Stuart Royal Procs. ed. J.F. Larkin and P.L. Hughes, i. 514-15.
- 6. N. Yorks. RO, DC/RIC/1/1/2, f. 219; C219/39/95.