Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer


12 Oct. 1601GEORGE ANTON

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The city of Lincoln, with a population of more than 2,000 in the middle of the sixteenth century, was a county in itself. It was governed by a mayor and 12 aldermen, constituting a self-perpetuating body usually known as the ‘inner chamber’: most of its members were merchants. There was also a common council of ‘discreet and honest persons’, chosen by the aldermen. The city had a recorder, usually elected from the local gentry, and two sheriffs.

Parliamentary elections, for which writs were sent direct to the sheriffs, were held at meetings of the county court in the guildhall. The return for the 1601 Parliament is made out between the sheriffs on the one hand and, on the other hand, the mayor, five aldermen, ten named persons—presumably common councilmen—and ‘other citizens of the said city’. As lessees from the Crown of the fee-farm rent of the city, the Manners family, earls of Rutland, had considerable influence in Lincoln’s affairs, including parliamentary elections. In 1573 the 3rd Earl asked to be made steward of the city, an office apparently unknown hitherto; but the aldermen seem to have refused.

The election for the first Parliament of Elizabeth’s reign coincided with negotiations between the authorities and 2nd Earl for the outright purchase of the fee-farm. In December 1558, therefore, even before the writ had arrived, Rutland’s nominee, Robert Farrar, who had sat for Lincoln several times already, was elected again. The common practice of electing the recorder as the other Member would probably have followed and the decision been confirmed at the next meeting of the county court. By that date, however, he had died and it seems evident that the inner chamber intended to choose Robert Monson, not only as recorder but also also as MP. But the common council book shows Anthony Thorold, a friend of the Earl of Rutland, was hastily elected as recorder and it was he who acquired the other seat in Parliament. How this this occurred is not clear, but it seems to have been the only occasion during the reign when Manners influence prevailed in the nomination for both. At any rate, Lincoln Liner retained Monson as an additional legal adviser, and in 1563 he was elected to Parliament with Farrar.

In 1571 Thomas Wilson, master of requests and future principal secretary was elected ‘for divers good considerations’. He lived at Washingborough, within the county of the city of Lincoln, and may have been suggested to the council by Monson. His colleague in 1572 was John Welcome, the only alderman to sit in Parliament during the reign. Both these Members died before the Parliament was dissolved, though Wilson’s death occurred after its final session. That the 3rd Earl of was anxious to interest in the borough is suggested by a letter of June Julie by urging him to support Bullport the candidature of Robert Dymoke for the seat Wilson had left vacant. However, no evidence of a by-election to replace either Wilson or Welcome been found. Rutland nominated to the next two Parliaments. John Joye (1584) was one of Rutland’s legal advisers, and Thomas Fairfax (1586) was a relative from Yorkshire whose father for that county at the same time. Stephen Thymbleby (1584), the recorder, came from a county family, and probably helped to secure the return his half-brother John Savile II in 1586. Savile bought a large estate near the town in the same year.

In 1589 George Anton became the fourth recorder to represent the city during the reign. A faction the council had halt elected him to that office in 1587 in the face of a Rutland candidate, but in 1589 the earldom was held by a minor and Rutland influence disappeared. Anton sat from 1589 until the end of the reign. His fellow-Members were local gentlemen, willing presumably to serve without fee: Peter Eure (1589) a lawyer, lived just outside the city; Charles Dymoke, chosen in 1593 following a request from his nephew, Sir Edward Dymoke, a deputy lieutenant of Lincolnshire, promised to attempt in Parliament anything that might be beneficial to the corporation; Thomas Grantham II of Goltho, Anton’s colleague in 1597, owned property in Lincoln; Francis Bullingham, the son of a former bishop of Lincoln and himself an ecclesiastical official who lived in the cathedral close of Lincoln, was elected in 1601: he received freedom ‘having made suit ... to be one of the burgesses for the city for the next Parliament, wherewith they are well pleased’.

Records of the payments made to Lincoln MPs are deficient but in 1572 ‘burgess money’ was collected from each parish for an alderman and for the other Member, ‘if he will have it’. In 1559 the city employed at a fee of 5 s. weekly ‘solicitor’ to the burgesses, who accompanied them to London. A similar appointment in 1571 carried a fee of 4s. a day.9

Author: M.R.P.


  • 1. E371/402(1).
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Add. 38823; Browne Willis.
  • 6. Ibid.
  • 7. Folger V. b. 298.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. W. de G. Birch, Lincoln Charters, passim; J. Hill, Tudor and Stuart Lincoln, passim; HMC 14th Rep. VIII, passim; C219/34/59; 28/178; 31/226; Lincoln common council bk. 1541-64, f. 107; APC, vii. 41; HMC Rutland, i. 126.