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|THOMAS LAYTON I|
|1584||JOHN STANHOPE 1|
|ROBERT WROTE 2|
|20 Oct. 1588||LANCELOT ALFORD|
|10 Oct. 1597||THOMAS CROMPTON II|
|EDWARD FRAUNCEYS 3|
Beverley, which had returned MPs to Parliament in the 14th century and subsequently allowed the franchise to lapse, first returned burgesses in this period in 1563. The borough’s right to parliamentary representation was confirmed by the charter of incorporation granted in 1573, which vested the government of the borough in the mayor, who was elected annually, 12 governors, holding office for life, and the burgesses. The town was also allowed its own j.p.s; the mayor and recorder held that office, together with two of the ‘governors’. Returns were made by the mayor and burgesses, and the town was made responsible by the charter of 1573 for its Members’ ‘costs and charges’.
In March 1561 Sir Robert Dudley was granted the manor, park and borough of Beverley by the Crown. Both the 1563 MPs, Nicholas Bacon, eldest son of the lord keeper, and Robert Hall, a member of the Queen’s household, were probably Dudley’s nominees, and it is most likely that it was Dudley himself who was behind the borough’s resumption of the franchise that year. In 1566 Dudley (now Earl of Leicester) sold the property back to the Crown, apparently, at the same time, securing its lease to his financial agent Robert Christmas. The lease was later transferred to two other London merchants, Sir George and John Barne, and its subsequent history is confusing, the 1586 MP, Michael Wharton, claiming that the lease had been conveyed to his father in 1584. Possibly because of the frequent changes in ownership, Beverley had no one patron dominating parliamentary elections there. After Leicester returned the borough to the Crown, he lost some of his influence and the freemen gained a measure of independence. In 1571 the senior Member was Edward Ellerker, the town’s first mayor under the charter of incorporation. His fellow-Member, Thomas Layton I, was a Yorkshire country gentleman returned for Beverley by the council in the north. In 1572, however, both MPs were outsiders and both had connexions with Leicester though Thomas Aglionby probably owed his seat to the second Lord Wharton, who was high steward of Beverley manor from October 1553 to his death soon after the 1572 election. Lord Wharton’s relationship, if any, to the 1586 MP of that surname has not been ascertained. John Stanhope, senior burgess in 1584, was a courtier and royal bailiff of church lands at Beverley. In 1601 Stanhope had his servant Ralph Ewens, a Gray’s Inn lawyer, returned for the borough. Robert Wrote, the other 1584 MP, had some close but unspecified connexion with the Earl of Leicester.
After 1584 the patronage was widely dispersed. George Purefoy (1586) was probably returned through the good offices of his elder brother, Humphrey, a lawyer with the council in the north. Another nominee of that body was John Mansfield (1593), a follower of the 3rd Earl of Huntingdon, then president of the council, and a marriage relation of the 2nd Lord Eure, a member of the council. Thomas Crompton II (1597) was returned for both Leominster and Beverley that year, and it is not known which borough he chose to represent. In either case it is likely that he was encouraged by his master Essex, who was anxious to have his supporters in Parliament at that time. Crompton could have had little trouble in securing either seat, as he himself was steward at Beverley while Essex was high steward at Leominster. Edward Fraunceys (1597, 1601) was the servant of the Earl of Northumberland, whose family had once owned the borough.
However, none of these patrons was sufficiently influential to control both seats at any particular election and the borough enjoyed some independence. In 1586 Wharton, who claimed to hold the borough lease, gained the junior seat, while in the following Parliament both Members were local burgesses. The senior Member, Lancelot Alford, of Meaux, Yorkshire, presumably secured the nomination of his relative, Edward Alford, in 1593.4