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 freemen

Number of voters:



23 Feb. 1604SIR JOHN BOYS , recorder
 JOHN FINCH II , recorder
 Sir William Lovelace
 John Latham
5 Feb. 16242THOMAS DENNE
 Sir William Lovelace
 John Latham
aft. 5 Apr. 1625JOHN FISHER
 Sir Henry Wotton*
 (Sir) George Newman
 Thomas Scott
2 Feb. 1626(SIR) JOHN FINCH II
 Sir John Wilde
 Thomas Scott
13 Mar. 16283(SIR) JOHN FINCH II
 James Palmer
 ?Sir John Wilde
 ?John Fisher

Main Article

Once the heart of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Kent, by the early seventeenth century Canterbury was the unofficial capital of East Kent and a staging post for princes and ambassadors travelling between London and Dover. It also boasted more lawyers than any other part of the county.4 Successive archbishops of Canterbury preferred to reside at Lambeth, and it was five years before Archbishop Abbot even visited the city.5 When its recorder asked Charles I in 1625 to elevate the city to a position ‘in some sort proportionable’ to London’s, he echoed the oligarchy’s frustration at its loss of importance.6

Incorporated under Henry I, Canterbury was granted county status by Edward IV, although its precise boundaries were disputed. In 1609 Canterbury’s commissioners for the aid explained that they had not raised as much money as expected ‘by reason of some differences which rest touching the bounds between the city and county of Kent’.7 The city’s boundaries had been recently eroded by the earl of Salisbury (Robert Cecil†), whose workmen had dismantled part of the city walls to provide stone for his Thames-side residence, Salisbury House, to the dismay of the citizens.8 The lack of an agreed boundary had implications for Canterbury’s parliamentary representation. In 1604 the recorder, Sir John Boys, who lived just outside the north wall in the former priory of St. Gregory’s, assumed he was resident and therefore eligible for election to Parliament. However, uncertainty was expressed at the time, and therefore in about 1611 the corporation paid for an investigation of medieval records at Westminster.9

During the mid-1570s Canterbury’s ailing economy benefited from an influx of Huguenot refugees. Most were clothworkers, but some wove silk, a craft not previously practised locally.10 A brief period of prosperity ensued, when many of the city’s buildings were repaired.11 However, an attempt to restore its ancient river-route to the sea was thwarted in 1594 by flash floods which destroyed the works, forcing the city to sell land, pawn its plate and cut official salaries.12 By the beginning of James’s reign the city’s finances had been restored, but they were dealt another devastating blow in 1608, when a Canterbury lawyer, John Denne, challenged in Star Chamber the right of all 12 of Canterbury’s aldermen to serve as magistrates.13 Denne was aggrieved that, following the indictment of his servant for murder, the corporation, sensitive of its privileges, had prevented local men from serving on a Westminster jury.14 The city was subsequently forced to obtain a fresh charter that clarified the position, but the cost, together with that of the lawsuit, plunged it back into debt.15 The effects of the trade depression of the early 1620s were also felt. More than half Canterbury’s Walloon weavers were decayed in 1622, and by 1623 they had stopped paying ‘loom money’ to the corporation.16 Severe plague outbreaks in 1605, 1608-9 and 1625 further contributed to the city’s economic woes, necessitating the raising of special rates.17 Not surprisingly, Canterbury’s parliamentary representatives were unpaid during this period, although minor costs associated with elections were sometimes met. Ten shillings was paid ‘for the indentures of the election of the burgesses of Parliament’ in 1604, and in 1614 the city’s sheriff, who served as the returning officer, was given 3s. 4d. for the writ of summons.18

Despite its perennial difficulties, the city was expected to provide a warm welcome to important visitors. The hospitality lavished in June 1623 on the extraordinary Spanish ambassador, the marquess of Inojosa, was said by Sir Lewis Lewknor* to have been the best he had ever seen in Kent and earned the city a royal commendation. As well as turning out in their scarlet gowns, members of the corporation greeted Inojosa with a musical band and provided a guard of honour, sweetmeats, a banquet and a guided tour of the cathedral. Such liberality may not have been entirely typical, as the corporation was eager to make amends for having arrested Prince Charles and the marquess of Buckingham four months earlier, when they had passed through the city in disguise en route to Madrid.19 On the other hand, in 1613 the king had thanked the corporation for sparing no expense in entertaining Princess Elizabeth and her new husband, the Elector Palatine.20 In 1625 the city twice played host to Charles I, who travelled to Dover to meet his new bride. According to one observer, Charles found Canterbury to be ‘a very Eden or Paradise where nothing was wanting that might serve joy or delight’.21

From the 1590s the corporation usually returned at least one member of its standing counsel to Parliament.22 In 1604 it elected both its recorder, Sir John Boys, and his assistant, Matthew Hadde. Canterbury nevertheless found the absence of its senior legal adviser inconvenient, and at the beginning of the 1604 session it dispatched a messenger to Boys with ‘the letters touching the holding of the Lady Day quarter sessions’.23 Boys, too, was not prepared to remain long at Westminster, returning to sit on the East Kent sewer commission at least three times while Parliament sat.24 By the 1614 election Boys was dead, and Hadde, his successor as recorder, may have been too unwell to stand.25 It was not the recorder but his cousin Edward Hadde who drafted a bill for the city for submission to Parliament, the contents of which remain unknown.26 In the absence of Matthew Hadde, the city’s senior seat was filled by Archbishop Abbot’s commissary-general, Sir George Newman, a resident who presumably enjoyed the support of the cathedral chapter. The junior place was taken by one of the city’s deputy lieutenants, the local landowner Sir William Lovelace, whose deepening financial difficulties perhaps induced him to seek parliamentary privilege as a means of escaping his creditors.

The parliamentary election of December 1620 witnessed the first contest at Canterbury since 1593.27 Newman and Lovelace stood again, and were joined by the city’s recorder, John Finch II, and John Latham, secretary to Kent’s new lord lieutenant, the duke of Lennox. The latter was anxious to defend his unpopular alnage and brass farthing patents in the forthcoming Parliament, and nominated Latham by letter on 9 November. Latham, however, was disqualified by statute from serving, as he was neither resident nor a freeman when the writ of summons was issued. Furthermore, the city itself had ruled in 1581, following the controversial election of the outsider Sir George Carey, that nominees must be ‘dwellers within the city and free of the same by half a year at the least’.28 However, Lennox brushed this aside, pointing to the recent proclamation which stated that if boroughs were unable to find men well-informed about their constituencies to serve, then they were ‘to make choice of other grave and discreet men’.29 Unwilling to disappoint Lennox, the corporation made Latham a freeman three days before the election.30 This outraged the puritan Thomas Scott, recently ejected from the city’s Common Council, who characterized Latham in his diary as ‘a time-server’ and Catholic sympathizer. He also ridiculed Lennox’s letter, as it implied that ‘not a man in Canterbury knows the state of Canterbury half so well as Jack Latham, a man of mean quality’, whose election would further the aims of Lennox, ‘on whom he depends’. Despite the urgings of his supporters, Scott refused to stand himself ‘because as yet God did not call me unto it’,31 but his views were evidently widely shared, as Latham was rejected in favour of Finch and Newman. During the Parliament the corporation sent Newman a letter regarding ‘hospital business at the Parliament’.32 This probably related to a bill that originated in the Lords on 25 May 1621 but was lost in the Commons in December.33 Canterbury had several hospitals, including Jesus Hospital, which had been founded by Sir John Boys in the mid-1590s.

It is unclear whether Canterbury’s refusal to return Latham was the cause or consequence of its loss of control of the city’s militia, which seems to have occurred sometime between September 1620 and September 1621.34 Since Henry VI’s reign, the mayor had been permitted to muster the Canterbury militia, and successive lords lieutenant of Kent had accordingly appointed him one of the city’s deputy lieutenants. However, sometime between September 1620 and September 1621 the mayor was omitted from the city’s lieutenancy commission, despite having been previously regarded as the ‘prime commissioner’. The corporation itself was partly to blame, having neglected to insert a clause in the 1608 charter confirming the mayor’s automatic status as a deputy lieutenant. It appealed to Lennox, who replied, probably disingenuously, that he was powerless to act without royal permission. Thereafter Canterbury petitioned James for redress,35 and dispatched a deputation to the king and Buckingham ‘for the continuance of the mayor’s authority in martial affairs’.36 By September 1623 the issue was among a list of items for the king’s consideration at Windsor.37 A second deputation was sent to Buckingham in 1623 or 1624.38 Canterbury’s difficulties were compounded in 1623 when quo warranto proceedings were initiated in King’s Bench to establish the extent of the city’s limits.39

Latham was again nominated for election by Lennox in 1624. The corporation, now undoubtedly anxious to recover control over the city’s militia and get the action in Kings Bench lifted, therefore campaigned on Latham’s behalf ‘more than before’.40 This antagonized not only Thomas Scott but also the Canterbury lawyer Thomas Denne, the brother of the barrister who had earlier initiated Star Chamber proceedings against the corporation. Denne, who ironically had been employed by the corporation to oppose the quo warranto, employed ‘strong arguments’ to get Scott to stand, and he in turn persuaded a reluctant Denne to join him. Scott later described as ‘filthy slander’ an accusation that he had originally entered the lists as Latham’s ally.41 The ensuing campaign took place against a backdrop of rising religious tensions in the city. Six days before the election, a Canterbury yeoman named Simon Penny was arraigned before the mayor at the insistence of Sir William Lovelace, whose continuing financial difficulties had led him to stand again. Penny, who had been canvassing on behalf of Scott and Denne, was accused of spreading the story that Lovelace ‘did cross himself before the French or Spanish ambassador’, and of telling one voter ‘that many of the city had popes in their bellies, and he did not know but the Captain [Lovelace] might have one in his belly’. Shortly after the election, a Lovelace supporter told the mayor that Sir Edwin Sandys* had warned Penny against voting for Lovelace because he was ‘a dangerous man’.42

Following the election Scott claimed that he and Denne obtained ‘all the lawful voices and Latham not one’. This was probably an exaggeration, but even the aldermen were not unanimously behind Latham, for according to Scott three or four of them ‘did like honest men’. Those who did support Latham, who seems not to have attended the hustings in person, were evidently outnumbered and not entitled to vote.43 Lovelace, unmentioned by Scott, may have withdrawn. Latham’s supporters among the aldermen put a brave face on their candidate’s defeat, spending 48s. 4d. ‘at Mr. Mayor’s’ immediately after ‘the election of the burgesses’ and giving a further 30s. ‘to Mr. Latham’s man towards the defraying of his charges’.44 Lennox’s reaction to his secretary’s second defeat is unknown, but it was immaterial, as he died 11 days later. The triumphant Scott later complained that his presence at Westminster cost him £100 ‘and gained me much ill will and little thanks, even from them that laboured for me’.45

Lennox’s successor as lord lieutenant was the earl of Montgomery (Sir Philip Herbert*), who in place of Capt. Latham (presumably a kinsman of Lennox’s former secretary) appointed Capt. John Fisher as Canterbury’s muster-master. In September 1624 Fisher was fêted by the mayor and aldermen, who gave him a gratuity of £4 and spent 59s. on entertaining him at the mayor’s house.46 Expectations were clearly high that Fisher would intercede with Montgomery to restore mayoral authority over the militia, and at the general election of 1625 he was the corporation’s candidate for the borough’s senior parliamentary seat. However, although he was a freeman, his lack of a fixed address meant that his residency was questionable. Indeed, Thomas Scott disparaged him as ‘John Fisher the Rover’.47 The corporation’s choice for the second seat was the local landowner Sir Thomas Wilsford. However, Wilsford was clearly a non-resident, and was sworn a freeman only three days after the writ of summons was issued. According to Scott, his nomination infuriated many of the city’s voters, who concluded that if Wilsford were permitted to stand ‘they might elect as well an unfree man as a mock freeman and non-resident’. Consequently, several of them turned to the non-resident and non-freeman Sir Henry Wotton*. The half-brother of Edward, Lord Wotton, high steward of the mayoral court,48 Wotton took his candidacy seriously, spending ‘almost £50 in good drink for his followers’.49 Others turned to the former recorder, (Sir) John Finch II, ‘though not many, because of his non-residence and [Court] dependency’. Sir George Newman also put his name forward again, as did Thomas Scott at his supporters’ behest.50

The corporation’s candidates triumphed at the 1625 election. However, according to Scott, victory was obtained only by ignoring genuine voters:

I myself was not there. If I had [been], many tell me, Sir Thomas Wilsford’s unlawful voices would not have been so many as my lawful voices were. And there were some that in my behalf demanded the poll. The certain truth is, Sir George Newman and myself were lawfully chosen; but Mr. Jack Fisher (for he was the first) and Sir Thomas Wilsford unduly returned.

This was Scott’s first defeat, and he may have wanted to convince both himself and others that his opponents had cheated. Had he genuinely believed it he would undoubtedly have complained to Parliament, but instead he shrugged off his defeat, recording in his diary that he had not seriously wished to serve again anyway, but had only intended ‘to lend my name, as it were, unto those honest men that desired to maintain their liberty by this appeal’.51

The corporation’s successful support of Fisher did not resolve the question of the mayor’s authority over the militia, nor were the quo warranto proceedings brought to a successful conclusion. Indeed, as late as March 1627 Thomas Denne was paid £5 to enter a rejoinder in King’s Bench.52 Consequently, when it was announced that a new Parliament would meet in 1626 the corporation continued to cultivate Montgomery. During the election campaign the mayor told one man that he had high hopes of obtaining Montgomery’s favour for the city, of which ‘we have great need’.53 On this occasion Montgomery nominated his servant James Palmer rather than Fisher, who may have stood on his own account. For the second seat the corporation decided to back (Sir) John Finch II, now a rising star at Court. At the previous election many voters had resented Finch’s ‘dependency’, but this had now changed. The son of the puritan Sir Henry Finch*, he undoubtedly appealed to Canterbury’s godly community, and his graceful speeches to the king on behalf of the city in 1625 probably increased his standing.

If the corporation’s support for Finch was uncontroversial, its decision to back Palmer was deeply unpopular. Palmer lived in Buckinghamshire, and was virtually unknown in Canterbury. According to Scott, even some of his supporters were unsure who he was. ‘Some say they did choose the heir of the house, being Sir Thomas Palmer†; others one Mr. Palber, or to that effect, they cannot tell whom’.54 Those opposed to Palmer persuaded Sir John Wilde to stand against him. Wilde was a resident, and had been recommended to the duke of Lennox by two of Kent’s deputy lieutenants as a possible successor to Sir William Lovelace as captain of the Canterbury militia. However, he was ‘greatly hated’ by many on the corporation as a friend or servant of Archbishop Abbot,55 who had evidently been behind a commission to examine the city’s alleged misappropriation of hospital funds in May 1625, to which Wilde had been named.56 The main obstacle to Wilde’s standing was that he was not a freeman. This was also true of Palmer, but whereas he was quickly sworn, Wilde’s application for admission was turned down on the grounds that ‘he sought it out of time, after the writ was come forth’.57 Many of Wilde’s supporters therefore turned to Scott,58 as did Wilde himself, who refused to accept that he was debarred from standing. On 28 Jan. he proposed a pact, but Scott replied that he still hoped that Wilde would ‘take off the burden from my shoulders’. However, on 29 Jan., with just four days remaining, he announced his candidacy ‘if the commons do not fall off’. Although he could not bring himself to break electoral law and vote for his new ally, he urged his followers to support Wilde, who, though not a freeman, was at least concerned for the city’s welfare.59 That same day, a Sunday, Scott spoke to two of the oldest aldermen in church. He had heard that the sheriff, an ally of the aldermen, would attempt to rig the election by refusing a poll, and warned that there would be trouble if this happened. He also remonstrated against the aldermen’s refusal to make Wilde a freeman, and pointed out that Wilde ‘by my l[ord] of Canterbury’s means’ could ‘do us more good than Mr. Palmer can’. Wilde’s rejection, he claimed, was done ‘to affront my lord of Canterbury’. Far from denying these accusations both aldermen nervously agreed, ‘especially Mr. Claggett; and Mr. Watmer blushing, and with a dejected countenance, brake out into these words, “Are we not in a hard case, Mr. Scott, that [we] must do such things?”’.60 The sermon which followed was delivered by St. Andrew’s rector, Edward Aldey, one of Wilde’s supporters, who took as his theme the text: ‘Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead’.61 After the service Scott collared the town clerk, Ralph Groves, ‘who can do much with the most and greatest citizens’, and warned him that one of the city’s freemen, Capt. Parker, had a letter stating that Parliament would punish the sheriff if he transgressed, which ‘troubled Groves not a little’.62 Despite his candidacy, Scott told Groves that he ‘no more desired to be a Parliament citizen than to be a constable or churchwarden’, and in a letter to his cousin Edward Scott* he protested that, ‘if I may honestly avoid it, assuredly I will, for my health and wealth’s sake’. Indeed, he offered to withdraw if two of the aldermen themselves stood, ‘whether they were willing or not’.63 Despite his contempt for the city’s magistrates, Scott considered it a burden of civic office that they should seek election themselves.

Tuesday 1 February witnessed a flurry of activity, as both sides feverishly tried to gauge their strength. Wilde wrote to Scott: ‘You may soon see what is like to be the success; and I desire you to be plain and real unto me in your opinion therein – George shall attend your commands, by whom be pleased to advertise me what likelihood will be of my prevailing’. Scott, however, was as much in the dark as Wilde, and told his cousin ‘how it will go I cannot divine’.64 He arranged instead to meet Wilde and several key supporters at 11 am to cement their alliance and plan tactics. On the way he encountered the city chamberlain and alderman Watson, from whom he learned that Finch, who had recently been elected dean of the Chapel at Gray’s Inn, was unlikely to attend in person. Scott thereupon expressed his regret, saying that Finch’s presence would have prevented the sheriff from refusing the poll. The chamberlain and Watson accused Scott of spreading the rumour that Finch had withdrawn, a charge dismissed by Scott in his diary as ‘needless here to be rehearsed’. After this heated exchange, Scott met Wilde, who pledged his supporters to Scott for the first seat. In return Scott promised that his side would back Wilde in the second round.65

When news of this agreement reached the aldermen they were thrown into a panic. According to Scott, they laboured until nearly midnight, ‘entreating, persuading, threatening’ anyone suspected of supporting Scott and Wilde. Richard White, who pretended to be out when the mayor called at his house, was summoned to the White Hart and told that had it not been for the aldermen he would have been pressed for military service, ‘and they may again do you the like friendship’.66 Thomas Curle, victualler of the Black Boy, was warned that he risked losing his licence or his supply of beer (six of the aldermen were brewers). Other victuallers were instructed to use their power to give credit to put pressure on their customers. Control over the drink trade may have provided the aldermen with their most potent weapon.67 Smear tactics were also employed, as Scott was accused of switching his support from Latham to Denne in 1624, and of not paying his taxes. This latter charge was not entirely without foundation, as Scott had not fully paid his contribution to the sick rate levied in 1625, but as Thomas Harrison, the former churchwarden of St. Alphege and a Scott supporter, pointed out, this was because he had yet been asked to pay.68 Some of Scott’s supporters, like Harrison stood firm against the aldermen, but others, such as Robert Brett, succumbed to pressure. The hatter John Lee was among those who resisted the aldermen. Summoned to the mayor’s house, Lee declared that Wilde was as eligible as Palmer, as neither were freemen when the writs of summons were issued. ‘Oh, I know from whom you had this’, interjected the town clerk, ‘you had it from Mr. Scott’. Lee responded that this was partly true, but he had heard the same claim maintained by ‘others which have often times been Parliament-men’, meaning, according to Scott, Sir Edwin Sandys.69 Many of Scott’s and Wilde’s supporters may have been long-standing opponents of the aldermen, for an exasperated mayor told Lee that ‘there is a company of you that do always oppose the government of the city and the magistrates’.70 An essential feature of this group of malcontents may have been a common religious outlook. Among the most active members of the Scott/Wilde faction in 1626 was Edward Aldey, rector of St. Andrew’s, who owed his benefice to Archbishop Abbot.71 Another was Richard Inge, the puritan curate of Wingham, while Scott was a self-confessed puritan.72

When the election was held on 2 Feb., the sheriff commenced proceedings by reading out Montgomery’s letter nominating Palmer. It was not unusual for sheriffs to nominate a corporation’s preferred candidates on the hustings, but the sheriff’s decision to read the earl’s letter before the writ was described by Scott as ‘a strange and a vile insolency’.73 The sheriff then refused to allow a poll, but instead declared Palmer and Finch elected by acclamation. Scott and his supporters were outraged, and subsequently petitioned the Commons to order a fresh election.74 However, the committee for privileges failed to make a ruling before Parliament was dissolved. Ironically, the sheriff’s refusal to permit a poll was probably unnecessary. As Scott’s supporter Richard White observed, ‘many that gave a softly voice for us, so as the aldermen did not perceive them’, would not have dared oppose Palmer and Finch had they been required to vote openly, ‘though they had formerly whispered, as it were, a Scott’.75

Canterbury’s rulers had now returned Montgomery’s candidates twice running, and consequently it was not long before the city reaped the benefit. Writing in February 1628, Scott lamented that Canterbury was now ‘monstrously beholden’ to John Fisher for having ‘delivered us from the quo warranto, the commission of charitable uses, Sir John Wilde his being our captain, and the like dangers’.76 The announcement of fresh parliamentary elections early in 1628 presented the city’s aldermen with an opportunity to show their gratitude for these favours. Although Fisher had now left Montgomery’s employment, they lost no time in campaigning for him with ‘might and main’.77 Few shared their enthusiasm. Popularly regarded as a ‘tobacconist, swearer, scoffer, cheater and lecher’,78 Fisher offended Canterbury’s puritans, who described him to his face as ‘a great blasphemer’.79 The aldermen therefore resorted to coercion again, ‘so as many, for very fear, promise for him, though they mutter at it’. However, as in 1626, several freemen refused to be intimidated and spoke their mind plainly before the mayor, ‘so as his ears glow at it and his breech twattles’.80 One blunt speaker was the turner John Drought, ‘an honest and stout fellow’ to Scott but a puritan schismatic to the aldermen. Summoned for a dressing down, Drought accused the mayor of exceeding his authority: ‘You ought not thus to send for freemen, except for the king’s service’. When the mayor denied trying to force him to change his vote, Drought, being neither an alehousekeeper nor a borrower of civic funds, agreed, ‘for you cannot, because I fear you not, nor look for any benefit from you’.81

The aldermen’s enthusiasm for Fisher contrasted with their response to James Palmer’s candidacy. Many of them, including the chamberlain, Avery Sabine, were disappointed with Palmer’s performance in the 1626 Parliament, perceiving that he had been more interested in Court politics than the city’s affairs. However, on receiving a letter from Montgomery urging them to support Palmer they reluctantly began canvassing for him.82 Sir John Wilde also announced his intention to stand, as did (Sir) John Finch II. Since the last election, Finch had become the queen’s attorney-general and an associate of the duke of Buckingham. However, Henrietta Maria was Catholic and the duke was now regarded as ‘the greatest enemy to the puritans in the world’.83 Consequently news of Finch’s candidacy was widely greeted with distaste, not merely among ordinary freemen but also among the aldermen. The aldermanic leader of the anti-puritan faction, Avery Sabine, was Finch’s implacable opponent and may still have suspected Finch on religious grounds. As mayor of Canterbury in 1619, Sabine had engineered Finch’s brief dismissal from the city’s recordership.84 However, as Finch had been chosen to serve as Speaker of the Commons by Buckingham and the king, and Montgomery was the duke’s ally, the aldermen dared not openly oppose Finch, realizing that they might soon receive a letter from Montgomery requiring them to support him.85

Thomas Scott shared the general dislike of Finch, considering him an ‘arrant timeserver’, but he also regarded him as the least unattractive of all the candidates. Fisher, though a freeman, was non-resident, while Wilde, though resident, remained a non-freeman. Scott now regretted his previous alliance with Wilde, and when asked whether he had forged a new pact with him answered that he had not and denied that he ‘ever would’.86 The least acceptable candidate to Scott was Palmer, who was not only non-resident but had taken his oath as a freeman outside the city, rendering it void in his eyes. Only Finch, a freeman since 1617 whose principal dwelling during vacations was his house in Christ Church, Canterbury, could claim to fulfil the legal requirements of a parliamentary candidate. Finch’s religious views were also agreeable, for not long since Finch had spoken ‘very earnestly against the Arminians at the dean’s own table’. As Scott considered anti-Arminianism ‘the right strike of a rank puritan, as now puritans everywhere are defined’, it followed that Finch was a puritan. Scott seems to have been crucial in persuading many of his fellow voters of Finch’s continued godly leanings. When the mayor derided Finch’s puritan credentials, the Scott-supporter John Drought retorted that several of Finch’s family had been called puritans, including one who had written a ‘puritannical book’ which had been condemned by Archbishop Bancroft as ‘that scurrilous libel’.87

Scott would have preferred not to stand himself, and tried to persuade alderman James Master, captain of the city’s militia, to put his name forward instead. However, he was induced to do so by ‘divers preachers and citizens’.88 Among them, perhaps, was the puritan lecturer of St. Alphege, Herbert Palmer, whom Scott had helped to install in 1625.89 Herbert was the nephew of Scott’s rival, James Palmer, but he was also distantly related to Scott. On receiving a letter from his uncle seeking his support, Herbert advised him to seek election elsewhere as the ordinary freemen were ‘much against him’.90 Sabine, Masters and their supporters were determined to ensure the return of their champion Fisher and at first planned to hold the election at the ‘county’ court on 14 February. However, when they realized they would lose Sabine announced that they had always intended to hold the election the following week. In fact the proceedings were postponed until 13 Mar. when, despite refusing a poll, the Sabinists were defeated by Scott and Finch.91

The aldermen exacted a swift revenge for their defeat. A few weeks after the election, four companies of Sir Pierce Crosby’s Irish regiment were billeted on the city’s inhabitants until further notice.92 According to Scott, who received a stream of visitors from Canterbury at Westminster, his supporters suffered most from billeting, whereas ‘others that were of my lord of Montgomery’s faction were gently dealt with, or not at all’. Among those who joined Scott in London was his wife, Mary, who had fled after ‘two lusty popish Irish soldiers’ forced entry to their home. Outraged at her treatment, Scott wrote to the aldermen that billeting was ‘against the liberty of a free Englishman and gentleman and of a Parliament-man’.93 Scott subsequently spearheaded the opposition to billeting in Canterbury, encouraging others to follow his example in refusing to contribute towards its cost, but the soldiers were not withdrawn until the end of July.94

Author: Andrew Thrush


  • 1. P. Clark, ‘Thomas Scott and the Growth of Urban Opposition to the Early Stuart regime’, HJ, xxi. 14.
  • 2. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/FA/23, f. 200v.
  • 3. Procs. 1628, vi. 133.
  • 4. P. Clark, Eng. Prov. Soc. 275, 287.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 301.
  • 6. Sloane 1455, f. 3v.
  • 7. SP14/45/117.
  • 8. CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 375, 450-2, 456, 458; C54/1869.
  • 9. K.M.E. Murray, Const. Hist. of Cinque Ports, 99; CC/FA/22(1), f. 70.
  • 10. F.W. Cross, Hist. of Walloon Church at Canterbury, 184.
  • 11. STAC 8/115/14.
  • 12. C21/C25/8; C3/265/51; Clark, Eng. Prov. Soc. 246-7.
  • 13. STAC 8/115/14.
  • 14. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/FA/21, ff. 240v, 253; HMC Hatfield, xviii. 300.
  • 15. C.R. Bunce, A Translation of Several Charters of Canterbury (1791), p. 171; Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/FA/21, f. 244v. The charter cost £379 13s. 4d.; ibid. ff. 241v-2.
  • 16. F.W. Cross, Hist. of Walloon and Huguenot Church at Canterbury, 89, 187; STAC 8/115/14.
  • 17. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/B/A/Q/1, 16; U66, ff. 23v-4.
  • 18. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/FA/21, f. 78v; CC/FA/22(1), f. 153.
  • 19. CSP Dom. 1619-23, pp. 495-6, 597 609, 614; Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/FA/23, f. 150v.
  • 20. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/Woodruff/LII/25.
  • 21. Clark, ‘Thomas Scott’, 12.
  • 22. HP Commons, 1558-1603, sub CANTERBURY.
  • 23. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/FA/21, f. 78v.
  • 24. Cent. Kent. Stud. S/EK/SO2, unfol. entries of 13 Apr. and 31 May 1604, and 27 May 1607.
  • 25. Cal. of Assize Recs. Kent Indictments, Jas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 121-2; LI Black Bks. ii. 178.
  • 26. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/FA/22(1), f. 153. Edward Hadde’s clerk was paid an additional 3s. 4d. for making a copy: ibid. f. 153v.
  • 27. Clark, Eng. Prov. Soc. 253-4.
  • 28. HP Commons, 1558-1603, sub CANTERBURY.
  • 29. Cent. Kent. Stud. U951/Z17/2, unfol. item 14.
  • 30. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/FA/23, f. 7v.
  • 31. Cent. Kent. Stud. U951/Z17/2, unfol. item 14.
  • 32. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/FA/23, f. 34.
  • 33. HLRO, main pprs. (parchment collection), box 2B; CJ, i. 658b.
  • 34. A payment of £5 was made to Latham and his servant on the city’s account for that period ‘for procuring and bringing down the commission for the muster’: Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/FA/23, f. 34v.
  • 35. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/Woodruff/LII/21.
  • 36. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/FA/23, f. 151v.
  • 37. HMC Cowper, i. 148.
  • 38. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/FA/23, f. 199.
  • 39. Ibid. ff. 150r-v, 200v, 250v; Reps. of Henry Rolle in K.B.
  • 40. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, U66, f. 32r-v.
  • 41. Ibid. f. 25r-v.
  • 42. SP14/158/67.
  • 43. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, U66, ff. 3v-4.
  • 44. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/FA/23, f. 200v.
  • 45. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, U66, f. 22.
  • 46. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/FA/23, f. 204.
  • 47. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, U66, f. 51.
  • 48. Ibid. f. 4v. For Lord Wotton’s position as steward of the Mayor’s Ct. see C2/Chas.I/H63/60.
  • 49. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 615.
  • 50. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, U66, f. 4r-v.
  • 51. Ibid. f. 4v.
  • 52. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/FA/23, f. 337v.
  • 53. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, U66, f. 26v.
  • 54. Ibid. f. 33.
  • 55. Add. 34176, f. 48; Canterbury Cathedral Archives, U66, ff. 5, 19v-20.
  • 56. C93/10/18; Clark, ‘Thomas Scott’, 13.
  • 57. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, U66, ff. 13, 14r-v.
  • 58. Ibid. f. 13v.
  • 59. Ibid. ff. 19v, 21r-v.
  • 60. Ibid. f. 18r-v.
  • 61. Clark, ‘Thomas Scott’, 14.
  • 62. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, U66, ff. 16r-v, 17v.
  • 63. Ibid. ff. 21v-2.
  • 64. Ibid. f. 22r-v.
  • 65. Ibid. ff. 22v-3v.
  • 66. Ibid. ff. 23v, 26v-7.
  • 67. Clark, ‘Thomas Scott’, 15.
  • 68. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, U66, ff. 23v-4.
  • 69. Ibid. ff. 26r-v, 28.
  • 70. Ibid. f. 26.
  • 71. PRO, Institution Bks. ser. A, v. f. 6.
  • 72. Clark, ‘Thomas Scott’, 14.
  • 73. Procs. 1628, vi. 130.
  • 74. Clark, ‘Thomas Scott’, 15.
  • 75. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, U66, f. 28.
  • 76. Procs. 1628, vi. 130, 135.
  • 77. Ibid. 129.
  • 78. Ibid. 135.
  • 79. Cent. Kent. Stud. U951/Z17/2.
  • 80. Procs. 1628, vi. 129-30.
  • 81. Cent. Kent. Stud. U951/Z17/2.
  • 82. Procs. 1628, vi. 135.
  • 83. Ibid. 136.
  • 84. Clark, ‘Thomas Scott’, 20; Eg. 2584, f. 100.
  • 85. Ibid. 129-30.
  • 86. Procs. 1628, vi. 129, 131.
  • 87. Ibid. 136. The dean was probably the anti-puritan Isaac Bargrave, dean of Canterbury: Clark, Eng. Prov. Soc. 326.
  • 88. Ibid. 129, 132.
  • 89. Ibid. 136; Clark, ‘Thomas Scott’, 5.
  • 90. Ibid. 134-5.
  • 91. Procs. 1628, vi. 133, 136.
  • 92. APC, 1627-8, p. 370.
  • 93. Clark, ‘Thomas Scott’, 21.
  • 94. CSP Dom. 1628-9, pp. 78, 86, 93, 117-18, 145, 166, 197, 21, 279; APC, 1627-8, pp. 439-40; 1628-9, pp. 16, 29, 38-9, 57.