Available from Boydell and Brewer
No names known for 1510-23
|JOHN THOMAS I|
|1536||?ROGER CORBET 1|
|1547||ROBERT TRENCREKE 2|
|NICHOLAS RANDALL 3|
|1553 (Mar.)||NICHOLAS RANDALL|
|1553 (Oct.)||JOHN MELHUISH|
|1554 (Apr.)||WILLIAM ISHAM|
|1554 (Nov.)||JOHN MELHUISH|
|THOMAS ROYDON 4|
By the early 16th century Truro had lost much of its seaborne trade to other ports on the Fal estuary and its place as the commercial centre of the peninsula had been taken by Lostwithiel; in 1540 it was included in the Act for the re-edification of towns westward (32 Hen. VIII, c.19). Alone among coinage towns in Cornwall, Truro did not belong to the duchy. In the 1150s Richard de Lucy had granted its inhabitants certain privileges, which shortly afterwards were amplified by Reginald, Earl of Cornwall. Of successive confirmations of these grants the most recent was made in 1516. In the absence of records little is known about borough administration, which was headed by a mayor assisted by aldermen, capital burgesses and common councilmen; there was also a recorder, and other lawyers were retained as counsel.5
Truro returned Members continuously from the reign of Edward I. Six election indentures survive for the period. The first, for the Parliament of 1545, and the only one in Latin, is between the sheriff of Cornwall and the mayor, who is said to have elected the Members with the community or commonalty of the borough. In February 1553 there is no reference to the sheriff, but the simple statement
that I ... mayor ... with the consent and assent of the whole commonalty of the same borough town hath elected and chosen our loving friends ... In witness hereof I the said mayor on the behalf of the said commonalty have set my hand and seal.
The remaining indentures revert to the earlier and more usual form, but with the mayor and commonalty, or in 1555 the mayor and burgesses, as the first named party.6
Representation was largely by townsmen and local gentlemen, only Roger Corbet, Thomas Duport and Francis Smith coming from beyond Cornwall. Corbet, a Salopian, was the son-in-law of Sir Andrew Windsor, but unlike the other two he had property near Truro as heir-general of the Arcedekne family. Duport and Smith both had homes in Leicestershire: the first was an ex-servant of a kinsman of the Arundells of Lanherne, the second was the son of a baron of the Exchequer. Nicholas Randall, who sat in six of the eight Parliaments which met between 1547 and 1559, was a townsman in the service of the duchy, and Thomas Roydon, who partnered him on three occasions and John Melhuish on another, was peiser (weigher) of tin at the coinage. Melhuish, a tin merchant, and Robert Trencreke, a lawyer with a home three miles outside the town, were both returned twice: Melhuish is the only Member known to have been mayor during the period and Trencreke was to become the town’s recorder under Elizabeth. John Thomas and William Isham were familiar there. Thomas held several posts in the duchy which later passed to Randall; if he was still havener in 1529 he could have procured his own election, but he was also a serjeant-at-arms in the Household. Isham was the lessee of a stannary from the lord warden and a client of the Arundells.
Truro appears on the list of vacancies for the Parliament of 1529, where it is marked for ‘the King’s pleasure’. This must have been an error, for the two Members survived the Parliament; Lostwithiel, which precedes Truro on the list of Members, was almost certainly intended.7
Author: J. J. Goring
- 1. House of Lords RO, Original Acts, 28 Hen. VIII, no. 6.
- 2. Hatfield 207.
- 3. Ibid.
- 4. Only 'Thomas RO ...' is legible on the indenture, C219/24/21; OR gives Thomas [Randall?].
- 5. Leland, Itin. ed. Smith, i. 198, 322.
- 6. P. Jennings, ‘Notes on parlty. hist. Truro’, Jnl. R. Inst. Cornw. xiv. 210-15; C219/18C/22. 20/32, 21/20, 23/33, 24/21, 25/21.
- 7. LP Hen. VIII, vii. 56 citing SP1/82, f. 59v.