Available from Boydell and Brewer
|THOMAS POOLE I|
|1572||THOMAS POOLE I|
|17 Nov. 1584||THOMAS POOLE II|
|10 Oct. 1586||CHARLES DANVERS|
|30 Dec. 1588||CHARLES DANVERS|
|1593||OLIVER ST. JOHN III|
|8 Oct. 1597||JAMES WROUGHTON|
|19 Oct. 1601||RICHARD BROWNE II|
The borough of Cirencester was the property of the abbey there until the dissolution of the monasteries. By the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign the borough had been acquired by John Danvers, whose son Charles represented the town in the 1586 and 1589 Parliaments. Charles Danvers succeeded his father in 1594 but was executed in 1601 for his part in the Essex rebellion. His property escheated to the Crown and was not restored to the family until July 1603.
The town, a centre of the woollen industry, was not incorporated. A charter establishing a guild merchant had been granted by Henry IV but was annulled in the succeeding reign at the suit of the abbot of Cirencester. In 1582 a townsman, Giles Selwyn, attempted to revive this charter, but was frustrated first by (Sir) John Danvers, lord of the borough, and later, in 1595, by his son Charles Danvers.
In 1571 Cirencester sent Members to Parliament for the first time during this period, having returned MPs apparently only once before in the sixteenth century, in 1547. It is possible that the Earl of Leicester had something to do with Cirencester’s decision in 1571. Certainly the senior 1571 burgess, Gabriel Blike, was one of Leicester’s followers. Whatever the story behind it, the borough’s action did not escape notice. On 6 Apr. 1571 the House referred the matter to the returns committee. Blike’s fellow MP, Thomas Poole I, has not been identified, but it is likely that he was related to the influential county family, the Pooles of Sapperton. If this is the case, the 1571 MP would also have had a connexion with Leicester through Sir Giles Poole of Sapperton, another of the Earl’s followers. Thomas Poole I sat again in 1572, but the 1584 MP has been identified as his son, Thomas Poole II, in accordance with the return which describes him as ‘junior’.
No further sign of any intervention by Leicester at Cirencester is apparent. Neither Thomas Strange (1572) nor William Estcourt (1584) has been definitely identified. Thomas Strange was probably related to the local Strange family, who feature regularly as bailiffs on the Cirencester returns and who appear to have been supporters of the Danvers’ interests in the borough. The Estcourt family was an important Gloucestershire family, but no member of it can be identified with the 1584 Cirencester MP. In 1586 Charles Danvers took the senior seat after William Brydges, the original candidate, chose to sit for the county. Danvers’ fellow-Member in 1586 and 1589 was George Master, whose father, the Queen’s physician, had been granted Cirencester abbey. Oliver St. John III of Battersea no doubt owed his return in 1593 to Charles Danvers, with whom he had fought in the Netherlands. Henry Ferrers, the other 1593 MP, probably of Baddesley Clinton in Warwickshire, has no known connexion with either Cirencester or the Danvers family. By the time of the 1597 election, however, Charles Danvers had fled the realm as an outlaw, leaving the way open for the Poole family to nominate at Cirencester. James Wroughton (1597) was the brother-in-law of Sir Henry Poole of Sapperton, a close friend of the Danvers family. Henry Poole (also 1597) was from another branch of the family at Oaksey, Wiltshire, whose father originally came from Cirencester and who still owned property in the borough.
By 1601 the borough had reverted to the Crown, and Richard Browne II, a Household official and courtier, was elected. The second Member was Richard George of Bawnton, Gloucestershire, who owned property in the borough and was returned through his own local influence.
Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. ix. 339; E112/15 Glos. 46; E178/884; CJ, i. 83.