Supplement on Elections in the Reign of Elizabeth I


        The following extracts are excerpted from documents included in Geoffrey Elton, Tudor Constitution, 274-77.


 
       [13 October 1553] . . . It is declared by the commissioners that Alex. Nowell, being prebendary in Westminster, and thereby having voice in the Convocation House, cannot be a member of this House; and so agreed by the House, and the Queen's writ to be directed for another burgess in that place.  ( JHoC, 1: 15, 27)

        [21 January 1581]  Mr Broughton also this forenoon made a motion to know the mind of the House touching his companion or fellow-burgess, who now stood indicted of felony, whether he ought to remain of the House or forbear coming, or that a new one should be elected in his place.  Whereupon after the matter had been a while agitated and disputed of in the House, it was adjudged that he ought to remain of the House till he were convicted: for it may be any man's case who is guiltless to be accused and thereupon indicted of felony or a like crime.  After which judgment given by the House, Mr. Norton, did further inform them that the lord chancellor willed him to signify unto the House that this matter had been moved to him and that a new writ had been desired of him for the election of another in the place of the said burgess; but that his lordship had refused to yield thereunto and had further alleged that he ought first to be removed by the judgment of the House; and that thereupon, the House signifying so much to his lordship, he would thereupon grant a new writ for a second election to be made.  The judgment of the lord chancellor, who was both learned in the laws and had been an ancient Parliament man,  was much commended by the House, and the rather because it so opportunely concurred at this time with the judgment of the House.  Which resolution seemeth cross to that former opinion before-given in the House on Thursday last the 19th day of this instant January, viz. that new burgesses being returned in the place of others living were to be allowed and received in the House.  (D'Ewes, Journals, 283)

        [3 November 156] . . . Mr Speaker shewed unto the House that he received commandment from my lord chancellor from her Majesty to signify unto them, that her Highness was sorry this House was troubled the last sitting thereof with the matter touching the choosing and returning of the knights for the county of Norfolk: a thing in truth impertinent for this House to deal withal, and only belonging to the charge and office of the lord chancellor, from whence the writs for the same elections issued out and are thither returnable again.  And also that her Majesty had appointed the said lord chancellor to confer therein with the judges, and so thereupon examining the said returns, and the sheriff touching the matter and circumstances of his proceedings in the said elections, to set down such course for making the true return as to justice and right shall therein appertain.
         [11 November 1586]  Mr. Cromwell, one of the committees for the examination of writs and the returns for the knights of the county of Norfolk. . . maketh report: . . . . They do find that the first writ and return, both in manner and form, was perfect and also duly executed, and the second writ not so; and that besides it might also be a perilous prececent . . . to the liberty and privilege of this House to admit or pass over any such writ or return in such manner and course as the said second writ carrieth, . . . the lord chancellor and the judges had resolved, that the said first writ should be returned as that which was in all parts duly and rightly executed, and not the second. . . . One of the committees, assenting with the residue in opinion of [the] validity of the said first writ and return and of the invalidity of the second, and also in resolution that the explanation and ordering of the case as it standeth appertaineth only to the censure of this House, moved notwithstanding in the committee that two of the committees might be sent to the said lord chancellor to understand what his lordship had done in the matter; which the residue thought not convenient, first, for that they were sufficiently satisfied therein by divers of themselves, but principally in respect they thought it very prejudicial and injurious to the privilege and liberties of this House to have the said cause decided or dealt in in any sort by any others than only by such as are members of this House; and that albeit they thought very reverently (as becometh them) of the said lord chancellor and judges, and know them to be competent judges in their places, yet in this case they took them not for judges in Parliament in this House; and so further required that (if it were so thought good) Mr. Farmer and Mr. Gresham might take their oaths, and be allowed of and received into this House by force of the said first writ, as so allowed and admitted only by the censure of this House and not as allowed of by the said lord chancellor or judges.  Which was agreed unto accordinly by the whole House, and so ordered also to be set down and entered by the clerk.   (D'Ewes, Journals, 393, 398-99)

        [26 February 1593] Ordered that all the members of this House being of her Majesty's Privy Council [with thirty others] shall, during all this present sessions of Parliament, examine and make report of all such cases touching the elections and returns of any of the knights, citizens, burgesses and barons  of this House, and also all such cases for privilege as in any wise may occur or fall out during all the same sessions of Parliament; to the end this House upon the reports of the same examinations may proceed to such further course in every the same cases as to this House shall be thought meet.  And it is further ordered that the said committees do meet upon Wednesday next in the Exchequer Chamber at three of the clock in the afternoon to examine the manner of the said election of the said Richard Hutton, and also any other case of elections, returns or privileges whatsoever in question, which shall be moved unto them by any member of this House at their pleasure.  And notice was then also given in the House to all the members of the same that in all these case they might from time to time repair to the said committees as occasion shall serve accordingly. (D'Ewes, Journals, 471)


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