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 corporation

Number of voters:



6 Feb. 1624SIR JOHN PAKINGTON , bt.
27 Jan. 1625SIR ROBERT KERR vice Sir John Packington, deceased
c. Jan. 1626CLEMENT COKE

Main Article

Described by Camden as ‘a very fair market town, large and pretty populous, surrounded with a great number of pleasant meadows and pastures’,1 Aylesbury, by the later Middle Ages, had usurped Buckingham as the centre of county administration in Buckinghamshire; the assizes, gaol, and county elections were all relocated to the town, which was conveniently situated in the middle of the county.2 A charter of incorporation in 1554 appointed as the governing body a ‘common council’, comprising a bailiff, ten aldermen and 12 capital burgesses.3 In the same year Members were first sent to Parliament. The franchise was limited to the corporation, and the borough’s patronage was entirely dominated by the Pakington family as lords of the manor of Aylesbury. Indeed, during the Elizabethan period the sheriff sent his precept not to the borough but directly to the Pakingtons; the recently widowed Dame Dorothy Pakington therefore completed the return herself in 1572. This somewhat irregular practice had been discontinued by the 1600s, as early Stuart returns were drawn up between the sheriff of Buckinghamshire and the mayor of Aylesbury in the usual way.4 It is doubtful whether many of the privileges conferred in the borough’s charter were ever exercised: the townsmen quarrelled with the Pakingtons over such things as rights of common, and protested that although they were entitled to hold a weekly market they ‘durst not make use of their charter’.5 They finally managed to break the Pakingtons’ stranglehold during the Civil War, when the town become a parliamentarian garrison, and the royalist Sir John Pakington, 2nd bt. suffered heavy losses.6 In the absence of surviving borough records it is impossible to say whether Aylesbury’s corporation contributed towards the expenses of its Members during the early Stuart period, but it seems improbable that it did so.7

In June 1603 Sir John Pakington, a former favourite of Elizabeth I, entertained the new king and queen at Aylesbury with ‘unusual magnificence’.8 On this occasion Lady Pakington’s brother, William Smith, was knighted.9 Pakington subsequently nominated him for the junior seat at Aylesbury at the general election the following year, and he was returned together with Pakington’s distant kinsman, Sir William Borlase of Little Marlow, who took the senior seat. In 1614 a Buckinghamshire gentleman, Sir John Dormer of Dorton, took the first seat, while the second went to Borlase’s brother-in-law, Samuel Backhouse; both presumably had Pakington’s support. Dormer sat again in 1621, together with Borlase’s third son, Henry. Pakington reserved the first seat in 1624 for his son and heir, Sir John, for whom he had purchased a baronetcy in 1620. He was also responsible for ensuring the unopposed return of Thomas Crewe, the prospective Speaker of the Commons, who was obliged to take second place.

A writ was issued for a by-election following the tragic early death in October 1624 of the younger Pakington who, in the parish register, was styled ‘the hopes of Aylesbury’.10 The elder Pakington himself died the following January, leaving his four year-old grandson and heir, John, to the care of trustees including Sir William Borlase and attorney-general Sir Thomas Coventry*. On 27 Jan. 1625 Sir Robert Kerr, a Scottish courtier only recently naturalized, was returned, indicating that Coventry had assumed control of the borough’s electoral patronage.11 Kerr had no opportunity to take up his place before the session was automatically terminated by the death of James I, but he was re-elected at the next general election, at which time the second seat went to Coventry’s son-in-law, Sir John Hare, of Stow Bardolph in Norfolk. In 1626, however, Coventry seems not to have intervened in the election, in which both seats were taken by the offspring of leading Buckinghamshire families: Clement Coke, son of Sir Edward*, and Arthur Goodwin, son of Sir Francis*. Coke went on to be re-elected in 1628, but was obliged to concede the first seat to Sir Edmund Verney, whose seat at Middle Claydon lay about ten miles north-west of the town.

Author: Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. Bucks. Misc. ed. R. Gibbs, 145-6.
  • 2. Lipscomb, Bucks. ii. 27-8; VCH Bucks. iii. 1-11; iv. 528-30.
  • 3. M. Weinbaum, Brit. Bor. Charters, 7; Cal. Deeds at Aylesbury comp. J.G. Jenkins (Bucks. Arch. Soc. v), 5.
  • 4. J.E. Neale, Eliz. House of Commons, 174-6; C219/38/5-7.
  • 5. VCH Bucks. iii. 9-10; R. Gibbs, Hist. Aylesbury, 171.
  • 6. VCH Bucks. iii. 7, 10; G. Lamb, ‘Aylesbury in the Civil War’, in Bucks. Recs. xli. 183-9.
  • 7. J. Parker, ‘Notes on the Hist. of Aylesbury’, in Bucks. Recs. v. 432-3.
  • 8. J. Nichols, Progs. of Jas. I, i. 192-3.
  • 9. Vis. Leics. (Harl. Soc. ii), 66-7.
  • 10. C219/38/6; Gibbs, 142.
  • 11. Gibbs, 139-43.