Available from Cambridge University Press
Right of Election:
in the corporation
Number of voters:
|c. Mar. 1604||SIR GODDARD PEMBERTON|
|c. Mar. 1614||ROWLAND ST. JOHN|
|20 Nov. 1620||SIR CHARLES MONTAGU|
|15 Jan. 1624||SIR CHARLES MONTAGU|
|3 May 1625||SIR CHARLES MONTAGU|
|c. Jan. 1626||SIR THOMAS DACRES|
|14 Feb. 1626||SIR GEORGE SONDES vice Dacres, chose to sit for Hertfordshire|
|13 Feb. 1628||SIR GEORGE SONDES|
A small market town on the east bank of the River Nene, Higham Ferrers received a charter in 1556 which vested government of the town in a corporation consisting of a mayor, seven aldermen and 13 ‘capital burgesses’; it also conferred upon the borough the right to send one Member to Parliament.1 Before 1640 the franchise rested exclusively with the corporation.2 The borough was technically part of the duchy of Lancaster, but the duchy showed no interest in its elections during the early Stuart period. Patronage was shared between various local gentry interests, but from 1620 was dominated by the Montagu family of Boughton.
Sir Goddard Pemberton, whose family owned the nearby estate of Rushden, was a kinsman by marriage of the steward of the manor of Higham Ferrers, Sir John Stanhope I*. Following his election to James’s first Parliament, Pemberton may have helped the borough to obtain a new charter, which passed the seal on 6 July 1604.3 This authorized the corporation to hold two weekly markets and four annual fairs, but these additional privileges seem to have done little to increase either the town’s population or its prosperity. Higham Ferrers was represented in the Addled Parliament by Rowland St. John, who lived eight miles away at Bletsoe, in Bedfordshire.
In the next three elections the Northamptonshire magnate, Sir Edward Montagu*, secured the return of his brother and London agent, Sir Charles, ‘by common assent and consent’. Following the latter’s death, in 1626 Lord Montagu (as Sir Edward had now become) requested the seat for his nephew, Sir George Sondes, but he failed to give the corporation sufficient notice.4 Consequently, Sir Thomas Dacres, a Hertfordshire gentleman whose family had owned the college of Higham Ferrers and its appurtenances since1543, was elected with the support of the corporation.5 However, Dacres subsequently chose to sit for Hertfordshire, and was replaced by Sondes, who was re-elected in 1628.
Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Rosemary Sgroi
- 1. VCH Northants. iii. 269-71.
- 2. Northants. RO, FH3467; A.N. Groome, ‘Higham Ferrers Election in 1640’, Northants. P and P (1958), pp. 243-51.
- 3. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 129.
- 4. V. Hodges, ‘The Electoral Influence of the Aristocracy 1604-41’ (Columbia Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1977), p. 311.
- 5. C2/Jas.I/D13/25.