New Shoreham


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)
1539(not known)
1542(not known)
by 23 Jan. 1552SIR HENRY HUSSEY vice Bourchier, deceased1
1553 (Mar.)JOHN FOWLER
1554 (Nov.)SIMON LOWE alias FYFIELD

Main Article

The port, manor and borough of New Shoreham formed part of the barony of Bramber which belonged to the dukes of Norfolk: Old Shoreham was owned by the duchy of Cornwall. On the death of the dowager Duchess of Norfolk in the spring of 1545 New Shoreham passed into the possession of the crown. In 1547 Edward VI granted it to Sir Thomas Seymour II, Baron Seymour of Sudeley, upon whose attainder two years later it reverted to the crown. In 1553 Mary gave it to the 3rd Duke whose grandson the 4th Duke inherited it a year later. The inadequacy of the sea-walls near the town and the silting of the river Adur had led to the decline of the port which became largely dependent upon fishing and the shipping of timber. Small vessels continued to be built there but it was upon its weekly market and annual fair that the town’s prosperity rested. Damage caused by flooding led to the town being excused payments towards the subsidies of 1512, 1513 and 1515. It was repeatedly attacked by the French and during the invasion scare of 1558 Anthony Browne I, Viscount Montagu, had to reassure the townsmen.2

The borough had its own seal and was administered by two constables and various minor officers chosen annually at the court leet of the manor. There are no borough records from the period. Indentures survive for all the Parliaments between 1545 and 1555, the first being written in Latin, the remainder in English. The contracting parties are the sheriff of Surrey and Sussex with the burgesses or the burgesses and freeholders or the burgesses, freeholders and ‘others the inhabitants’, between ten and 14 being named: in 1545 the constables and bailiff head the list of electors and after 1553 Richard Lewknor and John Shelley, two gentlemen resident there. ‘Others of the community’ are said to have agreed to the election. In 1545 the names of those originally chosen have been erased and those of the Gates brothers substituted in a different hand; in October 1554 ‘Simon Lowe of the city of London’ has been inserted as senior Member by another in a ‘blank’ on the indenture; and in 1555 both names are insertions, probably in the same hand as each other. The town or common seal is generally stated to have been affixed, sometimes together with those of individual burgesses.3

In 1539 the 3rd Duke listed Shoreham among the boroughs under his control. Both the Members returned in 1529 were connected with the Howards and all those returned during Mary’s reign were the family’s nominees, William Mody and Leonard West presumably under an arrangement with the 9th Lord la Warr and his heirs. The Gates brothers owed their Membership in 1545 to John’s post in the Queen’s household, their replacement of the men originally chosen presumably occurring after the transfer of the borough from the Howards to the crown. Another of the Queen’s servants, Anthony Bourchier, was returned in 1547 after Shoreham had been granted to her new husband Admiral Seymour: his fellow-Member William Fitzwilliam had Sussex connexions but a post in the privy chamber accounts for the backing given him by Seymour at the election. The return of Sir Henry Hussey, who replaced Bourchier in the Parliament of 1547, and of John Fowler was presumably the work of the 12th Earl of Arundel. Like Fowler, Thomas Harvey had a post in the Household, and thus perhaps the support of the Duke of Northumberland, but more significantly he was a kinsman of Sir Anthony Browne who as sheriff returned him to Parliament. Several of the other Members were related to Browne who owned property in the locality. Shoreham did not comply with Mary’s request for the return of inhabitants, and only Francis Shirley was of local origin although several others lived in Sussex or held land there.4

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. This survey rests on R. J. W. Swales, ‘Local pol. and parlty. rep. of Suss. 1529-58’ (Bristol Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1964) and ‘The Howard interest in Suss. elections 1529-58’, Suss. Arch. Colls. cxiv. 49-60. H. Cheal, Shoreham, 31, 207; Suss. Arch. Colls. xxvii. 77, 80-82, 86, 96-97; VCH Suss. ii. 97, 150, 233; information from G. Haslam.
  • 3. C219/18C/121, 19/106, 20/131, 21/155, 22/84, 23/132, 24/162.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, x. 816 citing Cott. Calig. B6 f. 319.