Steyning (UK Parliament constituency)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
Number of members Two
Replaced by New Shoreham

Steyning was a parliamentary borough in Sussex, England, which elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons sporadically from 1298 and continuously from 1467 until 1832. It was a notorious rotten borough, and was abolished by the Great Reform Act.


The borough comprised the small market town of Steyning in Sussex, which consisted of little more than a single long street; yet despite its size it not only elected its own two MPs but contained most of the borough of Bramber, which had two of its own. (Between the 13th and 15th centuries, Bramber and Steyning were a single borough returning MPs to most Parliaments, sometimes called by one name and sometimes by the other, but after 1467 both were separately represented. Until 1792 it was theoretically possible for a house to confer on its occupier a vote in both boroughs.) In 1831, the population of the borough was just over 1,000, and the town contained 218 houses.

At the time of the Reform Act, the right to vote was exercised by the constable and all inhabitant householders paying scot and lot and not receiving alms; this was a liberal franchise for the period, though it amounted to only around 118 voters by the time the borough was abolished. The householders seem historically to have had the right to vote, but the question was the subject of litigation through most of the 18th century. Between 1715 and 1792, the right was instead restricted to occupiers of "ancient houses" and of houses built on the site of ancient houses, in effect a burgage franchise; but the restoration of the householders' rights does not seem to have increased the electorate substantially, suggesting that most of the houses significant enough for their tenants to be rated for scot and lot had the status of burgage tenements.

For most of the borough's existence, the majority of the qualified voters were tenants of one or two landowners, who therefore had considerable influence if not total control of the choice of MP. (Indeed, Steyning was cited by Thomas Oldfield, the contemporary historian of electoral abuses in the unreformed House of Commons, as an example of a borough where tenancies were granted for the sole purpose of ensuring that the electorate consisted of pliable voters.)

The state of the borough in the 18th century was described in a local agent's letter to the former Prime Minister, the Duke of Newcastle, in 1767:

"There are 102 in number who claim a right of voting, but not more than 90 whose claim will bear a scrutiny. Out of this number Sir John Honywood has 40 tenants who at present are all disposed to stand by him, and about six or seven others who are full as closely attached to him as any of his tenants. This gives him nearly or quite a majority of the 90 real votes. The rest are all a rope of sand and may be had by anybody." - Letter of Thomas Steele to the Duke of Newcastle, 6 February 1767, quoted by Namier & Brooke

As the letter hints, Honywood's control was not quite absolute and he could not always secure both seats for his candidates. The 1792 ruling on the franchise, moving the vote from the burgage holders to all the householders paying scot and lot, shifted the balance of power over to the Duke of Norfolk (who owned most of the properties that were not classed as ancient houses), and he subsequently bought out Honywood's interest. But he was careful to secure his investment by financing many improvements in the town.

Steyning was abolished as a constituency by the Reform Act, being thereafter included in the borough of New Shoreham (which had earlier been expanded to include the whole of the Rape of Bramber as a remedy for corruption).

Members of Parliament[edit]

MPs 1467–1640[edit]

Parliament First member Second member
1510-1523 No names known [1]
1529 Thomas Shirley John Morris [1]
1536  ?
1539  ?
1542 John Bowyer  ? [1]
1545  ?
1547 Robert Rudston Henry Fauxe [1]
1553 (Mar) Sir Richard Blount William Cordell [1]
1553 (Oct) John Southcote II David Lewis [1]
1554 (Apr) Gilbert Gerard [2] Edward Stradling [1]
1554 (Nov) John Roberts William Pellatt [1]
1555 Robert Byng  ? [1]
1558 Richard Onslow Robert Colshill [1]
1559 Edmund Wright Robert Keilway[3]
1562/3 Richard Onslow Robert Harris [3]
1571 Richard Browne John Farnham [3]
1572 John Cowper Richard Pellatt [3]
1584 Sir Thomas Shirley (1564 - 1633/4) Pexall Brocas [3]
1586 Thomas Bishop Henry Shelley [3]
1588 Thomas Crompton Henry Apsley [3]
1593 Sir Walter Waller Sir Thomas Shirley (1564 - 1633/4) [3]
1597 John Shurley Thomas Shirley III [3]
1601 Sir Thomas Shirley (1542–1612) Robert Bowyer [3]
1604–1611 Sir Thomas Bishopp Sir Thomas Shirley (1542–1612)
1614 Sir Thomas Shirley (1564 - 1633/4) Edward Fraunceys
1621 Sir Thomas Shirley (1564 - 1633/4) Edward Fraunceys
1624 Sir Thomas Farnfold Edward Fraunceys
1625 Sir Thomas Farnfold Edward Fraunceys
1626 Sir Edward Bishopp Edward Fraunceys
1628 Sir Edward Alford[4] Sir Thomas Farnfold
1629–1640 No Parliaments convened

MPs 1640–1832[edit]

Year First member First party Second member Second party
April 1640 Thomas Leedes Royalist Sir Thomas Farnefold [5] Royalist
Nov 1640 Sir Thomas Farnefold Royalist
November 1642 Leedes disabled from sitting - seat vacant
March 1643 Farnefold died - seat vacant
1645 Edward Apsley Herbert Board
1648 Board died - seat vacant
1653 Steyning was unrepresented in the Barebones Parliament and the First and Second Parliaments of the Protectorate
January 1659 Anthony Shirley Sir John Trevor
May 1659 Steyning was not represented in the restored Rump
April 1660 Henry Goring Sir John Fagg
July 1660 John Eversfield
1661 Sir Henry Goring
1679 John Tufton
January 1681 Philip Gell
February 1681 Sir James Morton
March 1685 Sir Henry Goring
June 1685 Sir James Morton
1690 Robert Fagg
1695 Sir Edward Hungerford
March 1701 Sir Robert Fagg [6]
April 1701 Charles Goring
November 1701 Sir Robert Fagg
1702 Sir Edward Hungerford
1705 William Wallis
1708 Robert Fagg Viscount Tunbridge Whig
1709 Sir Henry Goring
1710 William Wallis [7]
1712 The Lord Bellew of Duleek [8]
April 1713 Robert Leeves
September 1713 William Wallis
1715 Major General John Pepper Robert Leeves[9]
1717 William Wallis
1722 John Gumley
1726 Marquess of Carnarvon
April 1727 William Stanhope
August 1727 The Viscount Vane Thomas Bladen
1734 Sir Robert Fagg, Bt Marquess of Carnarvon
1740 Hitch Younge
1741 Charles Eversfield
1747 Abraham Hume
1759 Frazer Honywood
1761 John Thomlinson
1764 Richard Fuller
1767 Sir John Filmer
1768 Thomas Edwards-Freeman
1774 Filmer Honywood [10]
September 1780 Sir Thomas Skipwith
November 1780 Colonel John Bullock
1784 Sir John Honywood Hon. Richard Howard
1785 Thomas Edwards-Freeman
1788 Sir John Honywood
1790 [11] James Lloyd Whig Henry Thomas Howard Whig
7 March 1791 Sir John Honywood [12] Tory John Curtis Tory
24 March 1791 James Lloyd [13] Whig
1792 Samuel Whitbread Tory
1794 John Henniker-Major Whig
1796 James Lloyd Whig
1802 Robert Hurst [14] Whig
1803 Lord Ossulston Whig
February 1806 Sir Arthur Leary Piggott Whig
October 1806 James Lloyd Whig Robert Hurst Whig
1812 Sir John Aubrey Whig
1818 George Philips Whig
1820 George Richard Philips Whig Lord Henry Howard-Molyneux-Howard Whig
1824 Henry Howard Whig
1826 Peter du Cane Whig
1830 Edward Blount Whig
1832 Constituency abolished


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "History of Parliament". History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  2. ^ "History of Parliament". Retrieved October 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help); |chapter= ignored (help)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "History of Parliament". History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  4. ^ Sources confuse father and son. Father was elected for Colchester and unseated, but by the manner of his speeches was present in the 1628 parliament
  5. ^ Lord Buckhurst was initially elected but was also elected for East Grinstead, which he chose to represent, and did not sit for Steyning
  6. ^ On petition Fagg's election was declared void
  7. ^ On petition, Wallis was adjudged not to have been duly elected. Bribery having been proved on both sides, the election was declared void and a by-election was held, but delayed until the next session of Parliament
  8. ^ On petition, Bellew's election was declared void (on a technicality, his title having been mis-stated in the return, although there were again allegations of bribery) and another by-election was held
  9. ^ On petition, Leeves was adjudged not to have been duly elected, bribery having been proved against him, and his opponent Wallis was declared elected in his place
  10. ^ Honywood was re-elected in 1780, but had also been elected for Kent, which he chose to represent, and did not sit again for Steyning
  11. ^ On petition, Lloyd and Howard were adjudged not to have been duly elected and their opponents, Honywood and Curtis were declared elected in their place
  12. ^ Honywood was also elected for Canterbury, which he chose to represent, and did not sit again for Steyning
  13. ^ On petition, Lloyd was adjudged not to have been duly elected and his opponent, Whitbread, was declared elected in his place
  14. ^ Hurst had also been a candidate at Shaftesbury, where the result of the election was disputed; once the dispute had been settled in his favour he chose to represent Shaftesbury, and did not sit for Steyning in the remainder of the Parliament


  • Robert Beatson, A Chronological Register of Both Houses of Parliament (London: Longman, Hurst, Res & Orme, 1807) [1]
  • D Brunton & D H Pennington, Members of the Long Parliament (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1954)
  • Cobbett's Parliamentary history of England, from the Norman Conquest in 1066 to the year 1803 (London: Thomas Hansard, 1808) [2]
  • Lewis Namier & John Brooke, The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1754-1790 (London: HMSO, 1964)
  • J. E. Neale, The Elizabethan House of Commons (London: Jonathan Cape, 1949)
  • T. H. B. Oldfield, The Representative History of Great Britain and Ireland (London: Baldwin, Cradock & Joy, 1816)
  • J Holladay Philbin, Parliamentary Representation 1832 - England and Wales (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965)
  • Edward Porritt and Annie G Porritt, The Unreformed House of Commons (Cambridge University Press, 1903)
  • Henry Stooks Smith, "The Parliaments of England from 1715 to 1847" (2nd edition, edited by FWS Craig - Chichester: Parliamentary Reference Publications, 1973)
  • Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "S" (part 5)