Available from Boydell and Brewer
No names known for 1510
|1512||ROBERT HARYDANCE 1|
|(aft. 2 Feb. 1514 not known)|
|JOHN CLERKE I 2|
|1536||?JOHN CORBET II 3|
|1539||AUGUSTINE STEWARD 4|
|JOHN GODSALVE 5|
|1547||AUGUSTINE STEWARD 6|
|RICHARD CATLYN 7|
|1553 (Mar.)||THOMAS MARSHAM|
|1553 (Oct.)||THOMAS GAWDY I|
|1554 (Apr.)||HENRY WARD|
|1554 (Nov.)||JOHN CORBET II 8|
|1558||THOMAS GAWDY II|
The constitution of Tudor Norwich was based on two early 15th-century charters, one of 1404 incorporating it as a county under the name of the citizens and community, and another of 1417 setting out the arrangements for civic elections. The mayor and two sheriffs were assisted by 24 aldermen and by a common council of 60, chosen annually by the city’s four wards. There were a town clerk, a recorder and several lesser officials, and a number of lawyers of local birth were retained as counsel. The civic records for the period survive almost intact.9
Elections followed the form laid down in the Liber Albus of Norwich:
that burgesses, that shall be chosen for knights of the shire of the city, shall be chosen by the common assembly, and the persons so chosen their names shall be presented and published in plain shire and within the city to the mayor [and] sheriffs and to the council there being in the guildhall.
When in 1539 Cromwell nominated John Godsalve the city reminded the minister of its statute requiring the Members to be residents; having already held its elections before the receipt of Cromwell’s letter it also insisted upon ‘some lawful discharge’ for the second election necessary for compliance with the minister’s demand. This is the only known instance during the period of its yielding to such pressure. Neither the successive bishops nor the dukes of Norfolk exercised any discernible influence on its Membership; it is true that Robert Rugge was a half-brother of Bishop Rugge, but the relationship is likely to have been more of a hindrance than a help. Seven indentures survive for the years between 1542 and 1555; they are in Latin and the contracting parties are the sheriffs on the one part and the aldermen and electors to the number of between 20 and 35 on the other.10
The 19 Members sitting in this period included 13 aldermen, who were often related by descent or marriage. Apart from the physician Robert Harydance, the public notary Alexander Mather and the merchant Robert Rugge, all the resident Members were by trade grocers or mercers. Several of the others were lawyers: the two Thomas Gawdys were recorders at the time of their return, Richard Catlyn and John Corbet were fee’d counsellors, and Henry Ward had been the city’s common clerk. All except John Godsalve owned or leased property in the city when returned. As a clerk of the signet Godsalve was domiciled in London but he was of Norwich birth and constable of the castle and gaoler there. Only two of the Members, John Clerke and Robert Harydance, are known to have been paid, when in 1513 they were assigned £10 between them to be collected from debts due to the city.
Norwich successfully promoted a number of measures throughout the period for the protection of the worsted industry in the city and the county, but a bill for the dying of coloured worsted, in which it had an interest, failed after a first reading in November 1555. During the Parliament of 1529 the city obtained an Act (26 Hen. VIII, c.8) for the reconstruction of property damaged by fire, in 1552 an Act (5 and 6 Edw. VI, c.24) for the making of hats, dornicks and coverlets and in 1554, after two abortive attempts in earlier Parliaments, an Act (1 and 2 Phil. and Mary, c.14) establishing a russell makers company there. The city was one of eight places given the right of sanctuary by the Act of 1540 (32 Hen. VIII, c.12) and it was allowed four taverns under an Act of 1553 (7 Edw. VI, c.5).11
Author: N. M. Fuidge
- 1. Norwich ass. procs. 2, f. 82.
- 2. Ibid.
- 3. House of Lords RO, Original Acts, 28 Hen. VIII, no. 6.
- 4. E159/319, brev. ret. Mich. r. [1-2].
- 5. Ibid.
- 6. Hatfield 207.
- 7. Ibid.
- 8. Huntington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs.
- 9. Recs. Norwich, ed. Hudson and Tingey, i. 31-36; Norwich ass. procs. 2, 3; mayors’ ct. bks.; claviours or treasurers’ acct. bks.; chamberlains’ rolls and accts.; old free bk.; Liber Albus.
- 10. C219/18B/52, 18C/79, 20/161, 21/205, 22/127, 23/176, 24/17.
- 11. CJ, i. 30, 33, 34, 43.