Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the burgage-holders

Number of voters:



c. Mar. 1614SIR HENRY SAVILE , (bt.)
 Sir Henry Savile , (bt.)
 William Peaseley
12 Feb. 1628HENRY DARLEY
 ?Richard Aldburghe

Main Article

Aldborough enjoyed its heyday as the residence of Queen Cartimandua of the Brigantes, and then as a Roman town, but declined after the main bridge over the river Ure was re-sited a mile upstream, at Boroughbridge, in the twelfth century. A duchy of Lancaster borough, it was enfranchised in 1558, but with an electorate comprising a mere nine burgage-holders, several of whom could not sign their names on the election indentures, it was hardly a constituency to be proud of; Sir Henry Savile, the only magistrate who represented the borough during the early Stuart period, was outraged at his rejection in December 1620.1

By the second half of Elizabeth’s reign, the most significant electoral force at Aldborough was the Council in the North. A local family, the Aldburghes of Ellenthorpe Hall, who held three of the electoral burgages, also wielded influence, while the duchy of Lancaster retained some modest interest: in 1601 Richard Theakston of nearby Masham was returned at the behest of Sir John Fortescue I*, chancellor of the Duchy.2 The 1604 general election saw the return of Sir Edmund Sheffield, a kinsman of the lord president of the north, and Sir Henry Savile, heir to the Exchequer baron Sir John Savile†. Savile’s father was dead by the time of the 1614 election, but by then Savile had married the step-daughter of Sir Julius Caesar*, chancellor of the Exchequer, whose interest may have helped to secure his return. On this occasion he was paired with lord president Sheffield’s secretary, George Wetherid*.

When the next Parliament was called in November 1620, Savile initially looked to his ally Sir Thomas Wentworth* for a seat, but when the latter advised ‘it were not amiss if you tried your ancient power with them of Aldborough’, he applied to William Aldburghe of Ellenthorpe. To his annoyance, ‘Aldburghe played the knave with me’: after Wetherid found a vacancy at nearby Boroughbridge, Aldborough returned two other Wentworth associates, Christopher Wandesford and John Carvile. Savile sought revenge by promoting a petition to have Aldborough disenfranchised in favour of a more populous borough – his suggestion was Wakefield, which lay close to his own estates, but Wandesford threatened to ‘spend mountains’ to avoid such an eventuality, and Wentworth eventually resolved the situation by leaving Aldborough alone, and securing the enfranchisement of Pontefract, which he was better placed to control.3

Wandesford and Carvile were re-elected at Aldborough in 1624, seeing off a rival nomination from Prince Charles, whose duchy of Cornwall had inherited the duchy of Lancaster estates in Yorkshire in 1617; the prince’s nominee was William Peaseley, a servant of Secretary of State (Sir) George Calvert*.4 In 1625, Aldburghe put forward his grandson Richard, only 18 years of age, which forced Wandesford to find another seat, at Richmond. Curiously, the return was signed by 11 men, including the manorial bailiff and an intruder ‘who lived in part of one of the old burgage houses’. Richard Aldburghe and Carvile were re-elected in 1626, but in 1628, following William Aldburghe’s death, neither Carvile nor Richard Aldburghe was returned; the latter may have been a candidate, but Carvile, who had serious debt problems, is unlikely to have stood. On this occasion the senior seat was taken by Henry Darley, who, having been rejected three times at Scarborough, may have been recommended at Aldborough by Sir William Sheffield*, son of the 1604 MP; while the junior seat went to Robert Stapleton, whose uncle Brian Stapleton† had recently bought the neighbouring manor of Myton-on-Swale, and was engaged in litigation with the Aldburghes.5

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Simon Healy


  • 1. T. Lawson-Tancred, Recs. Yorks. Manor, 10; J.W. Walker, ‘Recs. relating to a Seventeenth Century Parlty. Election’, Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xxxiv. 24-30; J.J. Cartwright, Chapters in Yorks. Hist. 199; A.D.K. Hawkyard, ‘Enfranchisement of Constituencies, 1509-58’, PH, x. 18.
  • 2. Walker, 30-1.
  • 3. Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, i. 8; Beaumont Pprs. ed. W.D. Macray (Roxburghe club cxiii), 43-4; A.J. Fletcher, ‘Sir Thomas Wentworth and the Restoration of Pontefract’, NH, vi. 89-91.
  • 4. DCO, Prince Charles in Spain, f. 34; R.E. Ruigh, Parl. of 1624, p. 62.
  • 5. Wentworth Pprs. ed. J.P. Cooper (Cam. Soc. ser. 4. xii), 230; T. Lawson-Tancred, ‘Ellenthorpe and the Brooke Fam.’ Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xxxiv. 74; xlix. 106, 108.