Before 1298, the area was represented as part of the county constituency of Middlesex. The City formed part of the geographic county, even though from early times it was not administered as part of Middlesex.
London is first known to have been enfranchised and represented in Parliament in 1298. It was the most important city in England and was administered as a county of itself from before boroughs were first represented in Parliament. It received four seats in Parliament instead of the normal two for an English constituency. The extra two seats (whose holders were known as Knights, like the representatives of a county) were supposed to represent the county like status of London. No such extra seats were awarded to other cities or boroughs which received the status of being counties of themselves in later times.
By the sixteenth century it was the practice for the Court of Aldermen to summon a meeting at the Guildhall. The Aldermen met and selected two candidates to sit as the City's Knights in Parliament. One was normally an Alderman (probably a former Lord Mayor of the City of London). The other was normally the Recorder of London, whose legal expertise was essential to the City which had a lot of legislation it wanted drafted and passed by Parliament. On one occasion in the sixteenth century the Recorder was already a burgess representing another borough in Parliament, so two Aldermen were chosen.
The Aldermen also prepared a list of twelve prominent Londoners, who were not themselves Aldermen. The nominees for Knight were then put to the liverymen, who had been waiting whilst the Aldermen met, for approval and an election was held to select two Citizens from the list of twelve nominees to fill the other two seats in the House of Commons. The London election thus took place in a single day.
If the Recorder resigned during a Parliament or a Citizen was elected an Alderman, he was disqualified and the new Recorder or another Citizen (as the case might require) was elected.
At some point after 1603 the City adopted a more normal system for nominations and elections. The two London Sheriffs appointed a day for candidates nominations to be submitted, at a meeting in the Guildhall. If there were more than four candidates a poll was held at a later date which usually extended for several weeks. Although it was no longer a legal requirement, there was a custom that two City seats were filled by Aldermen and two by non-Aldermen.
The City of London was a densely populated area in the period up to 1707. The composition of the City electorate was not as democratic as that of some other borough constituencies, such as neighbouring Westminster. The right of election was held by members of the Livery Companies. However the size and wealth of the community meant that it had more voters than most other borough constituencies. Only Westminster had a larger borough electorate. Duke Henning estimated the City liverymen at about 4,000 in 1661 and about 6,000 by 1680.
Some of the members elected during this period have been identified. The Roman numerals in brackets, following some names, are those used to distinguish different politicians of the same name in 'The House of Commons' 1509-1558 and 1558-1603. As there are considerable gaps between some of the Parliaments in this period, each members career is sub-divided by Parliament in the tables, even if he served in successive Parliaments.
The elected date is for the City constituency. When an exact general election date is unavailable, the year or years between the dates of the Parliament being summoned and assembling, are used.
(a) More was elected at a by-election, held on an unknown date in 1510, before the Parliament assembled. He replaced James Yarford, who was disqualified from serving as a Citizen in Parliament when he was elected an Alderman of the City (see explanation above about who was eligible for which of the seats).
(b) Calley ceased to be an MP on 6 September 1515. It is unknown who replaced him.
(d) Seymour resigned his seat, because of ill health, in December 1535. It is unknown who replaced him.
(e) Petyt died and was replaced by William Bowyer (see note f). The by-election was held by 18 February 1533.
(f) Bowyer was disqualified upon election as an Alderman. Robert Pakington was elected to fill the vacancy, at a by-election on 27 October 1534.
(g) Baker was disqualified upon his resignation as Recorder of London. Sir Roger Cholmley known as Sir Roger Cholmeley was appointed Recorder on 17 June 1534 and by April 1536 he had been elected to Parliament at a by-election.
(h) Cholmley is known to have been a member of this Parliament as he is mentioned in the Parliamentary records. His colleagues are unknown however.
(i) Fermor has been inferred to have been the member, but this is not fully confirmed so the relevant volume of the House of Commons prefixed the name with a question mark.
(j) Gresham was elected at a by-election. Sir William Roche had originally been re-elected, but in January 1545 the King ordered that he be replaced. Sir William Forman was elected at a by-election in February 1545, but due to ill-health he was replaced by Gresham.
(k) Broke was elected at a by-election on 17 November 1545, following Sir Roger Cholmeley (who was originally elected) becoming disqualified when he resigned as Recorder of London on his appointment to the senior judicial office of Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer.
The Long Parliament or the selection of members from it known as the Rump Parliament functioned de facto during part of the Commonwealth of England period. It existed (in a sense) de jure 1640-1660, as under a pre-English Civil War law, the Long Parliament could not be lawfully dissolved without its own consent which it did not give until 1660. As it was a Parliament originally summoned by King Charles I, the overall dates of the Long Parliament are given in the previous section.
The Barebones Parliament was an appointed body, so the City was not an electoral constituency represented as such in it. That body was summoned on 20 June 1653, first met on 4 July 1653 and was dissolved on 12 December 1653.