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|1558/9||JOHN TRENDENECK 1|
|FRANCIS GOLDSMITH 2|
|18 Dec. 1562||WILLIAM PORTER|
|JOHN DUDLEY I|
|1571||SIR EDWARD BRAY|
|23 Apr. 1572||JOHN VIVIAN|
|1578/9||[name illegible] vice Vivian, deceased3|
|10 Nov. 1584||HUMPHREY PRIDEAUX|
|14 Nov. 1584||WILLIAM LEWIS I|
|4 Oct. 1586||HANNIBAL VIVIAN|
|31 Oct. 1588||WILLIAM BUGGIN|
|4 Oct. 1597||WILLIAM COOKE II|
|NICHOLAS SAUNDERS I|
|1 Oct. 1601||WILLIAM TWYSDEN|
Helston, a stannary town, was part of the duchy of Cornwall. The borough’s privileges were confirmed in 1559, and it was incorporated as the mayor and aldermen of Helston in 1585. Government was vested in the mayor, four aldermen and a number of burgesses.4
With some variation, parliamentary elections were nominally in the hands of the ‘mayor and burgesses’. In 1563 the ‘free inhabitants’ were also mentioned. From 1584 until the end of the reign, Helston appears to have made a separate return for each of its Members, a practice adopted at various times by other Cornish boroughs. The junior return for 1584 and both returns in 1588 were unusual in that no mention was made of the sheriff. Instead, return was made between the mayor and burgesses, on the one part, and the Member chosen, on the other. The senior return for 1584 is also interesting. Originally made out between the sheriff and the recorder, Sir John Arundell, the words ‘mayor and burgesses’ were squeezed in above the line, possibly as an afterthought. Even if the recorder, as seems likely, was responsible for the choice of the senior Member on this occasion, there is nothing to suggest that he exercised a similar influence at other times.5
Since Helston was a stannary town, it is to be expected that the lord warden’s influence would have been the most important factor in the election of its parliamentary representatives. Until 1585 the 2nd Earl of Bedford was lord warden. His intervention on any one occasion cannot be shown with certainty, but in several cases it seems probable: John Tredeneck and Francis Goldsmith (1559) are two, although Tredeneck had tin mining interests which may have given him some standing in Helston independent of the lord warden. Possibly, also, Bedford was responsible for the election of Sir Edward Bray in 1571. Bray had no connexion with the stannaries, with the borough or apparently with any courtier, but at this time Bedford had been instructed by the Privy Council to supervise Cornish elections, and Bray may well have been his choice. In 1593 Sir Walter Ralegh, Bedford’s successor as lord warden, apparently intervened to secure the return of William Gardiner, from whom he had borrowed money.
Other Members were more directly connected with the stannaries. John Gayer (1571) had interests in Cornish mines, and may have been a stannary official. In 1572 and 1586 all four Members had similar connexions: John Vivian (1572) and his son Hannibal (1586) belonged to a local family prominent in the administration of the duchy and stannaries; William Godolphin (1586) was the brother of Sir Francis Godolphin, a large-scale investor in the industry, responsible for the development of new mines and techniques; and the junior Member in 1572 was William Killigrew, a member of another family of importance in duchy and stannaries, whose brother Henry was bailiff of the manor of Helston. The influence of Henry Killigrew was sufficient to secure the return of Ranulph Knevett and Nicholas Saunders I, both with family connexions, in 1593 and 1597. Stannary influence is again apparent in 1601, when Hannibal Vivian sat for Helston for the second time.
Also dependent upon local, but not stannary influence, were Humphrey Prideaux (1584) and William Buggin (1589), the former a relative of Sir John Arundell, the recorder, the latter probably a relative of the mayor.
The remaining Members seem to have owed their seats to court patronage. In 1563 both were connected with the Earl of Leicester, who may also have been the patron of William Lewis (1584), a London lawyer who is known to have had some slight association with the Earl. Leicester, however, had no personal influence in Cornwall and the direct patron on these occasions must have been either the Earl of Bedford or Henry Killigrew. Lord Burghley and Robert Cecil exercised influence in a similar manner: Christopher Osborne, an Exchequer official (1589) and William Cooke (1597), an official of the court of wards, were dependants of the Cecils, as probably was William Twysden (1601). Since the Cecils and Killigrews were related, these three may have owed their return at Helston to Henry Killigrew.