Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

No names known for 1510-23


1536(not known)
1553 (Oct.)ROBERT WEARE alias BROWNE
1554 (Apr.)OWEN GWYN
1554 (Nov.)PETER TAYLOR alias PERCE

Main Article

Marlborough was the second town in Wiltshire and was for a brief period the seat of a suffragan bishopric under the Act for the nomination and consecration of suffragans (26 Hen. VIII, c. 14). The castle, lordship, manor and borough were commonly granted to successive queens in jointure, as they were to all six consorts of Henry VIII. Sir Edward Baynton held the stewardship with that of Devizes from 1526 until his death in 1544 and was succeeded by Sir William Herbert, Queen Catherine Parr’s brother-in-law. In 1547 the lordship of Marlborough was granted in reversion to Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Protector, and that of Devizes to his brother Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour, the Queen’s fourth husband. Somerset was already hereditary warden of Savernake forest, which lay between Marlborough and his ancestral home at Wolf Hall near Great Bedwyn and was also held by the queens: John Berwick and Gabriel Pleydell held forest offices. In the time of Somerset’s father, Sir John Seymour, the mayor of Marlborough admitted that he dared not punish Seymour servants for fear of losing wood from the forest, and in 1550 Edward VI gave the duke and his heirs the right to name the master of the town’s new grammar school. The Darrell family also lived nearby and Sir Edward Darrell, Queen Catherine of Aragon’s vice-chamberlain and knight of the shire in the Parliament to which his son was returned for Marlborough, could have secured the confirmation of the borough’s privileges granted on 22 Nov. 1529.9

Of Saxon foundation, Marlborough was described as a borough in Domesday book, first returned Members in 1295 and was incorporated in 1576. The annual general entry books, of which seven remain for the period, record its administration by the courts of morrow (or morning) speech, piepowder and view of frankpledge and the mayor’s court; accounts surviving from 1572 show that its finances were in the hands of two chamberlains. The court of morrow speech, which normally met four times a year, elected the mayor and admitted burgesses, of whom there are said to have been about 100 in the reign of James I. The parliamentary franchise was limited to the mayor and burgesses. There is no evidence in the period of the earlier practice whereby the sheriff of Wiltshire sent his precept not to the borough but to the Queen’s bailiff in the county, and the contracting parties to the election indentures, which survive for every Parliament from 1545 to 1558 except that of 1547, are the sheriff and the mayor and burgesses: the indentures are all in English. It appears from the indenture of 20 Jan. 1545 that John Thynne and Berwick were the Members originally chosen but that Berwick’s name was afterwards erased and replaced, in a different hand, by Andrew Baynton’s, although left unchanged on its appearance elsewhere in the document. In February 1553 and March 1554 the names of the Members are inserted but apparently in the original hand, and in September 1555 Baynton’s again appears over an erasure but also in the same hand as the document as a whole. The earlier Membership of Berwick and Thynne, as well as that of William Barnes in 1542, rests on statements by a local historian.10

Of the 19 Members (including Berwick and Barnes), those returned in 1529 seem both to have been the nominees of Sir Edward Darrell, and the remaining six returned before 1553 were all linked with the Seymours with the possible exception of Barnes, taken to be the royal auditor who later sat for Taunton and Downton. On 10 Jan. 1553 Humphrey Moseley asked Thynne to secure his reelection at Marlborough, declaring ‘I think Mr Berwick and the burgesses there will not deny your request’; if made, the request was denied, although Thynne may have had a hand in the later election of Pleydell. William Button, the senior Member chosen in the spring of 1553, owned property in Marlborough but was probably beholden either to the sheriff (Sir) William Sharington or to William Herbert, by then Earl of Pembroke. The earl’s influence remains apparent throughout the minority of Somerset’s heir: Owen Gwyn and Thomas Tyndale were almost certainly his nominees and he may also have had a hand in the return of William Daniell. Button’s junior partner Roger Colly may have been a native of Marlborough but he too was probably dependent on patronage, perhaps that of the crown, though four of the Marian Members, Robert Weare alias Browne, Robert Bithway (Daniell’s father-in-law), Peter Taylor alias Perce and John Broke, were townsmen, two of whom had served as mayor and the others as members of the mayor’s council. Daniell and William Fleetwood had both been educated at Eton and Daniell himself may have been responsible for Fleetwood’s election. Moseley sued the borough for his wages after the Parliament of 1547 and offered to serve without payment in 1553, but the only other indication that Members expected or received wages at this period is a bond for £33 from the mayor and burgesses held by Thynne early in March 1544. The earliest chamberlains’ accounts show that at least some Elizabethan Members were paid.11

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. J. Waylen, Marlborough, 521.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid. 521.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Htafield 207.
  • 6. Ibid.
  • 7. C219/282/8.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. CPR, 1547-8, p. 124; 1549-51, p. 226; Wilts. Arch Mag. xix. 78; LP Hen. VIII, iv(3), g. 6072(22).
  • 10. Wilts. Bor. Recs. (Wilts. Arch. Soc. recs. br. v), 36; C219/18C/140, 21/180, 22/99, 23/144, 24/180, 25/132, 282/8.
  • 11. Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 2, f. 176; Marlborough chamberlains’ accts. 1572, f. 4; 1589, f. 21; 1604, f. 37.