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Patronages et clientélismes 1550-1750 (France, Angleterre, Espagne, Italie)

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Roger Mettam
, 
Charles Giry-Deloison

II. Villes et provinces

Patronage and clientage in Elizabethan London

Ian W. Archer

Texte intégral

  • 1 John E. NEALE, "The Elizabethan Political Scene", in his Essays in Elizabethan History, London, Jo (...)

1This paper deals with the patronage disposed of by the city of London during the Elizabethan period. It concentrates on the corporation's patronage, but also draws upon the livery companies for analogous material. Its purposes are broadly threefold. First, by stressing the considerable volume of patronage available in London and the City's relative autonomy in the management of that patronage, it is intended to modify the Court-centred discussions of patronage in Elizabethan England1. There were foci for patronage outside the Court and influence at Court was not a guarantee of access to that patronage. Political ambitions were not entirely Court-focused although influence at Court might provide a useful lever on other centres. Secondly, in common with a number of recent contributions, this paper plays down the existence of faction in the sense of organized groupings for the division of the spoils of office and the determination of policy. The City and the Court were bound by kinship, by webs of debt and credit, by the sociability of the livery companies of which many courtiers enjoyed honorary freedoms, as well as by the mutual obligations created by the sponsorship of London causes at Court, and by the favour shown by the City towards the clients of courtiers in the disposal of its patronage. But the links were not exclusive: Londoners, in a phrase coined by Dr S.J. Gunn, maintained a "plurality of approaches" towards the Court which discouraged the development of faction. Thirdly, this pattern of relationships will be related to certain structural features of City government. The relative autonomy of the City in matters of patronage can be explained in terms of the distribution of power in City government. The Court's power over London patronage was restricted by the limited power of the crown over the composition of the City élite, and by the lack of serious divisions within the élite which limited the leverage available to courtiers over City patronage. The argument begins with a brief examination of the range of patronage available to the City.

  • 2 Frank F. FOSTER, The Politics of Stability: A Portrait of the Rulers in Elizabethan London, London (...)
  • 3 R.S. MYLNE, "Old Bridewell", Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, 1913 (...)
  • 4 Steven RAPPAPORT, Worlds Within Worlds: Structures of Life in Sixteenth-Century London, Cambridge, (...)
  • 5 Frank F. FOSTER, op. cit., pp. 20-21,148-149; CLRO, Rep. 15, f° 315v°, 316, 501; Rep. 16, f°37, 39 (...)

2The offices through which the capital's economic life was regulated and its law courts staffed constituted a major component of the City's patronage. Some of these like the measurers of corn, sail, sea coals and fruit lay in the discretionary patronage of the lord mayor; others like the weigherships of the five beams and the gaugerships of wines, oils and fish were to be appointed by the lord mayor, four aldermen and four common councillors; but the majority were in the gift of the court of aldermen. The main components of the aldermen's patronage were the 31 officers of the lord mayor's household and the attornies and other staff of the mayor's and sheriffs' courts. A report of 1589 listed no less than 54 different offices manned by 99 men to which the aldermen had the right of appointment2. Also eagerly sought after were leases of the property owned by City institutions. The City's Bridgehouse trust administered 266 units of property in the 1590s, the City Chamber probably another 400, and the City hospitals over 600. These calculations exclude the property owned by livery companies and parish churches which also attracted the attention of patronage seekers3. A third patronage resource lay in the control the aldermen exercised over access to the Citys freedom and the privileges it entailed. Freemen enjoyed political rights such as voting in elections for aldermen and ward officials. Their privileges at law meant that they could be prosecuted for offences committed within the City's walls only in City courts. The economic privileges of the freedom were highly valued because only freemen could engage in retail trade within the capital. The freedom was normally acquired by serving an apprenticeship of at least seven years, and occasionally by virtue of being the son of a freeman. But another route was the purchase of the freedom with the agreement of the court of aldermen. Although the fees for the freedom by redemption were in theory high (as much as £100, and frequently £20, was paid in the 1560s), they could be reduced or waived at the discretion of the court4. There were other patronage resources available to the Citys magistrates. The right to keep a cart in the congested city streets, access to the City's piped water, the custody of the so-called orphanage money of minors: ail these were accounted among the favours the aldermen had in their power to bestow5. But it is with offices, property and the freedom that this paper will primarily be concerned.

  • 6 Ian W. ARCHER, The Pursuit of Stability: Social Relations in Elizabethan London, Cambridge, Cambri (...)
  • 7 McCo, C.M. III, f° 313, 337v°.
  • 8 Guy GRONQUIST, The Relationship Between the City of London and the Crown, 1509-1547, Cambridge Uni (...)

3In all these areas the City was bombarded with requests from figures prominent at Court or in central government for favour towards their clients. In the highly competitive market for office, reversions were highly prized, and suits for them regularly sponsored by courtiers, councillors and judges. As these reversions fell due, some of the leading figures of the Elizabethan establishment like Lord Treasurer Burghley were able to build up impressive clientages within the civic bureaucracy6. Where property was concerned courtiers sought leases sometimes for themselves, but more usually for their clients. For whoever's benefit the suits were made, the result was that the terms offered were less than the market would afford. Thus Burghley secured a lease from the Mercers’ Company of their Long Acre site on particularly favourable terms in 1578. Although the assistants had been offered a better deal, "howbeit to have his honour's favour the company were well pleased to grant it"7. Courtiers, councillors and judges also sought the freedom for their dependants, whether household servants or tradesmen with whom they had close dealings who wished to break into lucrative City markets. Those sponsored in such a way normally paid only a fraction of the customary fees. Thus John Porter, a bricklayer for whom Sir William Cecil sought the freedom in 1563, laid down £40 for his admission fee, but had £35 returned. By the later 1580s the fees were often waived altogether. Accompanying this development there was a marked expansion in the number of successful requests from courtiers for the freedom. From 1.52 per annum in the Wolsey era, the number of such admissions rose to 3.34 per annum in the 1540s, 6 per annum in 1562-1563, and 13.5 per annum in 1586-15878.

  • 9 Joan KENNEDY, The City of London and the Crown, c. 1509 - c. 1529, Manchester University MA, 1978, (...)
  • 10 CLRO, Jour. 22, f° 408.
  • 11 CLRO, Rep. 24, f° 138-139v°.

4It is not surprising that the citizenry balked at this pressure on their patronage. Throughout the sixteenth century attempts were made by the aldermen and common council to limit the encroachment on the City's patronage resources by attaching conditions to grants of leases, reversions or the freedom. In 1570 the aldermen ruled that provisos should be included in all grants of reversions to ensure that candidates should be admitted only if they were thought suitable when the office fell vacant, and that their grants should be void if in the meantime they were preferred to a higher office. In 1572 the common council ruled that all offices, except those relating to the practice of the law, were to be granted to freemen by apprenticeship or patrimony only. In the following year another act of common council ruled that leases of hospital property should be made only to freemen9. The growth of Court pressure on the City in the 1580s resulted in still more radical curbs in 1590 when the common council imposed a seven-year ban on grants of office in reversion, and transferred responsibility for the admission of redemptioners from the court of aldermen to the court of common council which was more exacting in its conditions10. On the expiry of the act in 1597, control over reversions and freedoms by redemption returned to the court of aldermen, but it was agreed that the aldermen should not grant more than twenty freedoms in any one year with the proviso that each alderman could nominate one freeman on assuming office11. Such conditions suggest that there was a clearly perceived threat to the City from the Court in the management of its patronage.

  • 12 CLRO, Rep. 18, f° 279, 338v°; Rep. 19, P 251v°; Rep. 20, P 128v°, 131v°; Rep. 21, f° 95, 101v°, 21 (...)
  • 13 CLRO, Rep. 18, f° 446v°, 453,459.
  • 14 CLRO, Rep. 20-21.
  • 15 Betty R. MASTERS, "The Mayor's Household Before 1600", in Studies in London History, ed. Albert E. (...)
  • 16 CLRO, Rep. 21, f° 217v°, 533v°; Rep. 22, f° 111.

5But however embarrassing the Court’s interventions could prove to the aldermen, there is no sense in which we can regard their autonomy in the matter of patronage as having been destroyed. Concentration on the relationship between the City and the Court obscures the variety of routes through which men might achieve promotion. A fuller context for the discussion of patronage reveals that the support of figures within the City élite or bureaucracy was crucial to the success of many aspirants for office. Men usually entered the City bureaucracy through service as underclerks to those enjoying formal positions, so that the support of a bureaucrat was often the first step to promotion. A long-serving officer like William Seabright, townclerk from 1574 to 1613, secured reversions for an army of his servants and underclerks12. Individual aldermen also exercised considerable sway over appointments. It was customary for an outgoing lord mayor to be allowed to promote several suits. Thus in September 1575, as his mayoralty drew to a close, Sir James Hawes obtained reversions to the collectorship of scavage for his son-inlaw, John Smith, to the measurership of cottons for William Astley, and to the beadleship of the court of conscience for Ralph Knighton13. Indeed it is striking that, of the 165 grants of reversions between November 1579 and November 1588, 120 (73%) occurred in the courts held in October, that is at the end of the mayor's term. To the extent that reversions often went to those already in the direct or indirect employ of the City, this was a way of rewarding services performed over the past year and binding those in the lower echelons of the government to the aldermen in general and the outgoing lord mayor in particular14. Some of the most energetic members of the mayor's household were recruited from the households of individual aldermen. Thus both Henry Byrom and Philip Treharne began their careers in the City as servants of Sir Rowland Heyward15. Sometimes members of the City élite were guilty of nepotism. Alderman Richard Martin secured reversions to the keepership of City prisons for his brother and fellow goldsmith William, to the secondaryship, collectorship of wheelage and keepership of the Counter for his son Nathaniel, and to the offices of common sergeant, townclerk, and undersheriff for another son, John, the Inner Templar lawyer16.

  • 17 GLRO, H1/ST/A1/3, f° 179v°; CLRO, Rep. 20, f° 131.
  • 18 BL, Add. Ms. 12503, f° 218-244; CLRO, Rep. 20, f° 432v°, 436v°, 441; Jour. 21, f° 264v°, 268v°, 26 (...)

6The influence of the City élite over patronage meant that the support of a Court patron was not in itself always sufficient for success in a suit. Many of those promoted at the request of courtiers or privy councillors were also qualified for their offices by virtue of the positions they held in the City. They were not outsiders foisted on an unwilling City but rather qualified men seeking the extra weight in a competitive market that a word from the Court could bring. Thus Lambert Osbolston, haberdasher, already a familiar figure to the aldermen through his service as under-renter and clerk to St Thomas' Hospital since 1577, strengthened his claims on their goodwill by invoking the support of Lord Chancellor Bromley in seeking the reversion of the collectorship of wheelage on London Bridge in 158017. Other suitors, as well as mobilising their Court connections, thought it worthwhile to cultivate their contacts within the City élite. In 1583 the young civil lawyer, Julius Caesar, seeking an appointment as deputy to the ageing common sergeant, Barnard Randolph, used his main patron, Sir Francis Walsingham, to secure a letter from the queen herself in support of his suit. Walsingham also agreed to write on his behalf to his brother-in-law, Alderman George Barne. Caesar drew upon his own family connections, invoking the support of his prospective father-in-law, none other than Alderman Richard Martin. Caesar's offensive also involved the mobilization of his acquaintances in the City bureaucracy, including the remembrancer, Thomas Norton, the Chamberlain, Thomas Wilford, and the active common councillor, Richard Young. Although his campaign was unsuccessful, Caesar's suit, documented in unusual detail, is valuable for the light it sheds on the range of interests involved in the quest for office18.

  • 19 CLRO, Rep. 21, f° 254-508 for freedoms 1586-1587; Rep. 15, f° 31-261v° for freedoms 1562-1563; Rep (...)

7Its message is confirmed by a statistical analysis of the promoters of successful petitions for freedoms by redemption and reversions to offices recorded in the minutes of the court of aldermen. Of the 108 grants of the freedom by redemption in the years 1586-1587, 27 (25%) were made at the suit of members of the central government, among whom I count courtiers, councillors, judges and high ranking ecclesiastical figures. More frequently involved than anyone else was Walsingham with seven successful candidates; his nearest rivals were Lord Hunsdon with three, and Sir Walter Mildmay and the archbishop of Canterbury with two each. Perhaps surprisingly, Burghley, Leicester and Hatton had no candidates. The City élite, that is the aldermen and their wives, promoted 18(16%) suits for the freedom, members of the City bureaucracy 22 (20%) and the livery companies 19(18%). The promoters of 18 men are unknown, but at least 54 % of those made free by redemption in this sample period were sponsored by interests from within the civic community. As for reversions, of the 165 successful suits in the nine-year period 1579-1588, only 21 were promoted by figures in central government. Walsingham was responsible for eight cases, Burghley for six, Hatton for three, Leicester for two. These are more than matched by the 28 men advanced through the patronage of a named alderman, and the 42 promoted by members of the civic bureaucracy. It is unfortunate that in so many cases of reversions (70) no patron is named, but one often suspects the patronage of a City figure because so many of these cases relate to men already in possession of an office in the City who were looking to the reversion for promotion. In the light of these figures it is clear that the expansion in the grants of freedoms by redemption and reversions in the sixteenth century was only partly a response to Court pressures. If one compares the sponsors of the 108 freemen by redemption in 1586-1587 with those of the 26 in 1562-1563, it becomes clear that the growth of pressure from within the City was the most striking development. Only one freeman was sponsored by an alderman in 1562-1563, compared to 18 in 1586-1587; none by City bureaucrats in 1562-1563, compared to 22 in the later period19.

  • 20 CLRO, Rep. 15, f° 13, 19; Rep. 17, f° 359, 395; Rep. 18, f° 161, 203; Rep. 19, f°306.
  • 21 CLRO, Rep. 16, f° 67r°-V°, 73.

8Moreover the City authorities were quite prepared to reject pressure from the Court. William Cecil, for example, had a candidate turned down for the freedom in 1562; ten years later he failed to secure the reversion of the keepership of one of the City prisons for Richard Hatchman; and in 1574 he was likewise unsuccessful in securing an additional reversion for his servant, John Fludd20. Even when the queen lent her support to a suit it might nevertheless be turned down. In 1566 Elizabeth wrote in favour of William Lovelace for the vacant recordership, but the aldermen, although promising him their "lawful favour", proceeded to promote their own undersheriff, Thomas Bromley21.

  • 22 GLRO, H1/ST/A1/4, f° 69v°-70,71.
  • 23 Id., f° 84v°, 85v°, 98v°, 100v°, 125v°, 132r°-v°.
  • 24 McCo., C.M. IV, f° 7, 8-9v°, 10.

9Pressures from courtiers for leases to their servants were also successfully resisted in many cases. A study of the leasing policy of St Thomas' Hospital suggests that the main criteria used by the governors in assessing bids were the maximization of hospital revenue and favour as far as possible to the sitting tenant. Thus in November 1589 the governors received bids for a lease of the manor of Teversham in Cambridgeshire from a Mr Bankes, servant to the Lord Chancellor, Thomas Gente, baron of the Exchequer, Lord North, lieutenant of the county, Thomas Skevington, doctor of civil laws, and Thomas Wyburgh of Balsham. But in the event the lease went to the sitting tenant, John Wise, who "has no other habitation and makes the best offer"22. Even sustained pressure could be resisted. The earl of Essex pursued a lease of the manor of Helion Bumpstead for his client, Philip Bennet, over a period of five years from March 1591. Initially the governors were able to shelter behind the hospital ordinance, which required that no reversions to leases be granted until within two years of the expiry of the existing lease. Their resistance continued, however, even when Essex's sponsorship was supplemented by that of Sir John Fortescue, chancellor of the Exchequer, and by letters from the privy council in his favour. The lease was eventually given in October 1596 to Robert Allen, the sitting tenant, who had offered a high entry fine and, we are told, "was a man of good demeanour and usage towards them and charged with a wife and eight children"23 The assistants of the livery companies probably found it harder to resist pressures from the Court than did the governors of the hospitals, who could invoke their clearly defined charitable objectives to turn down courtiers looking for an easy bargain. But the companies were by no means supine themselves. In 1596, for example, the Mercers screwed up the courage to reject the petition of Benjamin Kerwyn for a lease in reversion of the Katherine Wheel Alley which had been earmarked for redevelopment by the company. They did this in spite of the backing of the queen for Kerwyn, and a minatory letter from his patron, the countess of Warwick: "I hope my request shall not be oppugned by the frowardness of some few whose evasions to shift me off, I must and will do the best I can to prevent". It was probably for this reason that the Mercers compromised to the extent of promising Kerwyn 100 marks if he gave up his suit24.

  • 25 GLRO, H1/ST/A1/4, f° 27, 29, 34r°-v°, 35v°, 71.
  • 26 CLRO, Rep. 17, f° 395r°-v°.

10This last example is a reminder that requests from the Court could not be resisted with impunity. The City was careful to present its actions in the most favourable light when turning down suits with backing from the Court. Letters would be written or prominent citizens appointed to wait upon the sponsor to explain the reasons for the rebuff, and sometimes the rejection of a suit was made conditional upon the sponsor accepting the City's explanation. Thus in 1584 the governors of St Thomas' Hospital added a proviso to their ruling in favour of a sitting tenant "that it stands with the good liking of the Lord Chancellor who had written on behalf of Richard Webb, his servant", and in 1589 they wrote to Lord North and the Lord Chancellor explaining their action over a lease of Fulbourne manor25. Courtiers were often more sympathetic than one might expect to such rebuffs. When Hatchman's suit was turned down by the City in 1572 the recorder and common sergeant were dispatched to his sponsors, Lord Keeper Bacon and Lord Treasurer Burghley to explain that the City was constrained by the act of common council which required that reversions of offices should be made only to freemen. The privy councillors responded by "commending their good care for poor decayed citizens and wished them to continue the same"26. There was thus a shared value System between citizens and courtiers which could still be invoked by the City to fend off threats to its patronage.

  • 27 Ian W. ARCHER, op. cit., pp. 32-34, 50-51; Calendar of State Papers Venetian, vol. XVII, ed. Allen (...)

11The explanation for the relative independence of the City in matters of patronage lies partly in the nature of its constitution. The crown enjoyed remarkably little control over the composition of the London élite. The aldermen controlled recruitment to their own ranks, selecting the men who were to fill vacancies from among nominations presented by ffreemen in their ward assemblies over which the aldermen enjoyed the right of ultimate veto. By the later sixteenth century the office of lord mayor was almost invariably filled by the senior alderman beneath the chair, who was always included among the two names presented by the liverymen from which the aldermen selected the incumbent for the ensuing year. Authority was broadly diffused within the élite: no mayor held office for more than one year and all mayors were required to take policy decisions with the advice of their colleagues, avoiding the concentration of power in the hands of individuals. Foreign visitors were impressed by the autonomy of the City: the Venetian ambassador noted in the early seventeenth century that the City resembled a "republic of Wholesale merchants". Although he was exaggerating, the power structure of London government was different from that of many continental cities. Venality, hereditary office-holding and the domination of the City by a wealthy landowning patriciate were not features of London's government as they were of so many continental cities. Nor was the power of the aldermen challenged by corporate bodies of lawyers in the way that the parlements often undermined the authority of French municipal governments. The direct role of the nobility and gentry in City government was non-existent: only freemen were eligible to sit as aldermen and common councillors. The autonomy of the London élite contrasts not only with continental cities but also with the position of many English provincial élites over which the Crown exercised greater control through the moulding of the commissions of the peace. But in London the commission of the peace was confined by custom to the recorder and aldermen who had passed the chair. Only very rarely did Elizabeth attempt to influence the outcome of City elections and then her actions were motivated by the desire to spare her servants from the burdens of office rather than being politically or ideologically inspired27.

  • 28 Ian W. ARCHER, op. cit., pp. 39-42.
  • 29 Ibid., pp. 45-47.
  • 30 Ibid., pp. 47-49.

12In resisting the pressure of outside patrons, the City élite emphazised its primary responsibilities to the citizen body. Such a communitarian rhetoric was the more successfully deployed in London because of a further characteristic of the élite, namely its relative homogeneity. There were strong forces making for consensus within the élite: the recognition that failure to submit to the will of the majority would give a horrendous example of disobedience to the lower orders, and the awareness that ultimately the City's privileges depended on the crown's goodwill and that they could be forfeited if disorder in the capital became threatening. Moreover the forces making for division within the élite were less marked than in earlier or later periods28. There were differences in religious outlook within the élite but they became more muted as the reign progressed and the grip of the godly on City government tightened. Puritanism was not as divisive a force in London as in many provincial towns, because any popular hostility to the godly that there may have been lacked an answering echo among the rulers29. Nor were the aldermen divided in their business interests. Early in the reign a common outlook on commercial matters was ensured by the fact that the court of aldermen was dominated by members of the Merchant Adventurers' Company. By 1600 the court was more variegated in composition as an increasing number were members of the new trading companies like the East India and Levant Companies or owed their fortunes to domestic wholesaling. Conflicts between these interests occurred, but they were generally arbitrated by the crown or by brokers in the City's mercantile community with multiple trading interests30.

  • 31 Simon ADAMS, "Eliza Enthroned? The Court and its Politics”, in The Reign of Elizabeth I, ed. Chris (...)
  • 32 Michael A. R. GRAVES, "The Management of the Elizabethan House of Commons: the Council's Men of Bu (...)
  • 33 The House of Commons, 1558-1603, ed. P.W. HASLER, London, HMSO, 1981, 3 vol., t. I, pp. 604-605; CL (...)
  • 34 CLRO, Rep. 16.f°510v°
  • 35 GLRO, H1/ST/A1/4, f° 109v°.

13The relative lack of division within the City élite encouraged citizens to maintain contacts with a broad range of Court interests and therefore made the ties of patronage non-exclusive. Conflict between patrons in early modem England was often the product of conflicts in local society as aggrieved clients turned to their patrons for support. If patrons were unable to arbitrate, the conflict and division persisted, and then clients with multiple ties might find themselves compromised and forced into difficult choices between patrons, and the process of political polarisation would be reinforced. To the extent that conflicts in London were highly particularised, and not reflective of fundamental clashes of religious outlook or business interest, they were the more easily arbitrated. Thus the non-polarised nature of London politics encouraged the use by Londoners of a "plurality of approaches" in their quest for support at Court. This was further encouraged by the homogeneity of the national élite. In recent years a reaction has set in against the traditional accounts of Elizabethan politics which stressed the conflict between moderate politiques around Burghley and the godly ideologues purportedly enjoying Leicester's support. Although there were undoubtedly personal rivalries at Elizabeth's Court, Burghley and Leicester shared a similar outlook on religion and agreed on the objectives of foreign policy, if not always on the means to achieve them. Even Leicester and Sussex who clashed bitterly in the 1560s and 1580s were able to co-operate in the intervening years31. Citizens therefore did not find their own solidarity compromised by the Court ties that they enjoyed. The conventional language of the petitions through which the support of a patron was invoked might suggest exclusive ties, but the reality was otherwise. The City1 s men of business, the crucial intermediaries between City and Court, maintained contacts with a spectrum of opinion within the Elizabethan establishment. Thus the patrons of Thomas Norton, the City remembrancer, included men as diverse in outlook as Burghley, Walsingham and Hatton32. It was so at the lower levels of the City bureaucracy also. Jasper Cholmeley, clerksitter in the Poultry Counter from 1567, enjoyed the support of Sir William Cecil and Sir William Cordell in his petition for a reversion of the office of renter of the Bridgehouse estates in 1569, but in 1581 he is described as being "employed in the weighty affairs of the earl of Leicester", when seeking to appoint Thomas Hutton as his deputy. Hutton himself enjoyed Burghleys patronage six years later33. Perhaps these multiple contacts reflect individual changes of allegiance, but it is also possible to find Burghley and Leicester co-operating in the promotion of suits. Thus in 1569 they both wrote in support of the petition of Philip Gunter, the queen's upholsterer, to be discharged from the office of alderman34 Even Burghley and Essex were capable of cooperation, writing in support of Anthony Goodyere's petition for a lease of a tenement in the Old Bailey from St Thomas' Hospital in 159435.

  • 36 The Letters and Papers of Nathaniel Bacon of Stiffkey, ed A. Hassell SMITH, t. H, Norfolk Record So (...)
  • 37 PRO, PROB 11/49, f 70v°; CwCo., C.M H, F 33; A Calendar of the Shrewsbury and Talbot Papers, t. I, (...)
  • 38 Lawrence STONE, The Crisis of the Aristocracy, 1558-1641, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1965, p (...)
  • 39 CLRO, Rep. 16, f° 461-462.

14The realities of business life also ensured the maintenance of a wide range of contacts between tradesmen and the Court. It is true that for some the ties to particular courtiers were especially strong. This was obviously the case when citizens enjoyed membership of the households of those in government. Lord Keeper Nicholas Bacon's household included the prominent barber-surgeon, Richard Wistowe, keeper of Leadenhall market from 1562, and Hugh Mantell, his man of affairs for whom Bacon secured the freedom of the City and the reversion to the office of underclerk of the Chamber in 157936. Although such close links between City men and Court interests were probably fairly common at the middle levels of London society, they were much less prevalent among the élite. Of the aldermen's wills I have examined, only one acknowledges a relationship to an aristocratic figure sufficiently close for it to be articulated in terms of patronage and clientage. Sir William Hewett, clothworker and lord mayor in 1559-1560, left a gold ring worth £4 to "the right honourable and my singular good lord the earl of Shrewsbury". It was through Hewett that Shrewsbury obtained his honorary freedom in the Clothworkers' Company in 1562. Hewett raised money for the earl and disposed of the lead produced by the Talbots' mines in the Peak District. His role in the earl's affairs was taken over by Edward Osborne, his apprentice, son-inlaw and inheritor of the bulk of his fortune, himself elected aldermen in 1576. Osborne's services for Shrewsbury were reciprocated by the earl's lending an ear to the merchant's recommendations for promotions in his household. Osborne's loyalty to the Talbots weakened, however, as his own fortunes advanced: in 1585 he refused to lend the earl money37 Probably his relationship with the family became typical of the élite's plural and therefore perhaps more conditional loyalties. The nobility borrowed where they could and thus cultivated relationships with many of the élite. In 1600, for example, the earl of Northumberland owed £11,090 of which £4,400 was due to Peter van Lore and the rest to 21 other creditors. The corollary was that the leading London money lenders had many clients: James Anton, silkman, for example, lent to the earls of Northumberland, Cumberland, Essex, Oxford, Huntingdon, and Derby in the 1580s and 1590s. Likewise those tradesmen who served the Court had a diffuse clientele38 Among the customers of the brewer, Henry Campion, were Lord Keeper Bacon, Lord Treasurer Winchester, and Secretary Cecil, all of whom intervened on his behalf when he refused to be bound to observe the prices fixed by the lord mayor in 156939.

  • 40 Thomas BIRCH, Memoirs of the Reign of Elizabeth from the Year 1581 till her Death, London, 1754, 2 (...)

15This picture of a City whose leading inhabitants could maintain connections across a broad spectrum of opinion at Court begs a question about what happened to City politics during the 1590s when the rivalry between the earl of Essex and Sir Robert Cecil took on a bitterness hitherto unmatched in Elizabethan politics. Essex certainly counted upon the support of the City in 1601 but whether there was anything approaching an Essex faction in London is more doubtful. The earl had a few clients in prominent positions in the City like Giles Fletcher, the remembrancer. These connections he exploited in 1596, using Fletcher to communicate to the aldermen his scheme for the recovery of Calais using troops just returned from the Cadiz expedition, together with the reinforcements he hoped for from the City. But support for the goals of a forward Protestant policy by no means implied a full identification with the earl's interests. Such support as Essex obtained within the capital was limited and conditional. As Mervyn James has put it: "For the City, the Essexian role, however glamorously heroic, was firmly contained within the ordered and religious framework of the realm; outside that Framework he could have no status or standing except that of a traitor"40.

16The findings of this paper have broader implications for the nature of the patron-client relationship in sixteenth-century England. The sponsorship of suits had more to do with the validation of honour than with the creation of distinctive political interest groups. Whereas clients can regularly be seen invoking the support of their patrons and sponsors, it is harder to find patrons mobilising their connections for the fulfilment of political objectives. Patrons turned to their clients to provide services such as credit and the marketing of their produce, as Shrewsbury used Hewett and Osborne, but the obligations of clients in these respects were limited by their assessment of commercial risk. Patrons might use clients as conduits for the promotion of a particular viewpoint in the way that Essex used Fletcher in 1596. But in these cases the client’s presentation might be refracted through his own value System and possibly through other loyalties which cut across his obligation to his patron. Relationships of patronage and clientage were thus not the only factor governing the political behaviour of individuals. Although the building up of a clientele within the City would serve a patron's objectives by making it easier for him to promote further suits and offer more effective protection, the range of services a client might be called upon to perform was in fact quite limited, and in a political culture as sophisticated as that of Elizabethan London a client of whom unreasonable demands were made might well choose to vote with his feet, as many of Essex's followers did on the occasion of his revolt in 1601.

Notes

1 John E. NEALE, "The Elizabethan Political Scene", in his Essays in Elizabethan History, London, Jonathan Cape, 1958, pp. 59-84; Wallace T. MacCAFFREY, "Place and Patronage in Elizabethan Politics", in Elizabethan Government and Society, ed. Stanley T. BINDOFF et al., London, The Athlone Press, 1961, pp. 95-126.

2 Frank F. FOSTER, The Politics of Stability: A Portrait of the Rulers in Elizabethan London, London, Royal Historical Society, 1977, pp. 173-179; CLRO, Rep. 22, f° 89v°, 90, 98.

3 R.S. MYLNE, "Old Bridewell", Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, 1913, t. VIII, pp. 86-110; BL, Ms. 12819/2; GLRO, E 29/2; SBH, Hb 1/3; CLRO, Bridgehouse Accounts, t. XI. The Bridewell rental dates from 1604; the others from 1593-1594. Unfortunately the only extant sixteenth-century Chamber rental (for 1585) is damaged and incomplete; the figure of 400 tenants is an estimate based on the volume of rent receipts: CLRO, Chamber Accounts, 16th cent. H, f° 156-195.

4 Steven RAPPAPORT, Worlds Within Worlds: Structures of Life in Sixteenth-Century London, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1989, pp. 24, 29-36, 291-294.

5 Frank F. FOSTER, op. cit., pp. 20-21,148-149; CLRO, Rep. 15, f° 315v°, 316, 501; Rep. 16, f°37, 39, 241.

6 Ian W. ARCHER, The Pursuit of Stability: Social Relations in Elizabethan London, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991, p. 34.

7 McCo, C.M. III, f° 313, 337v°.

8 Guy GRONQUIST, The Relationship Between the City of London and the Crown, 1509-1547, Cambridge University. Ph. D., 1986, p. 112; CLRO, Rep 15. Rep. 21.

9 Joan KENNEDY, The City of London and the Crown, c. 1509 - c. 1529, Manchester University MA, 1978, chap. II-III; Guy GRONQUIST, op. cit., pp. 62-112; CLRO, Rep. 17, f° 22v°; Jour. 19, f° 427v°, 428; Jour. 20, f° 67, 78r°.-v°.

10 CLRO, Jour. 22, f° 408.

11 CLRO, Rep. 24, f° 138-139v°.

12 CLRO, Rep. 18, f° 279, 338v°; Rep. 19, P 251v°; Rep. 20, P 128v°, 131v°; Rep. 21, f° 95, 101v°, 218v°, 488, 492, 528; Rep. 22, f° 232; Rep. 23, f° 81v°, 530; Rep. 24, f° 464v°.

13 CLRO, Rep. 18, f° 446v°, 453,459.

14 CLRO, Rep. 20-21.

15 Betty R. MASTERS, "The Mayor's Household Before 1600", in Studies in London History, ed. Albert E. J. HOLLAENDER and William KELLAWAY, London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1969, pp. 95-114; CLRO, Rep. 18, f° 446v°; Rep. 19, f° 15v°; Rep. 21, f° 81, 218, 596.

16 CLRO, Rep. 21, f° 217v°, 533v°; Rep. 22, f° 111.

17 GLRO, H1/ST/A1/3, f° 179v°; CLRO, Rep. 20, f° 131.

18 BL, Add. Ms. 12503, f° 218-244; CLRO, Rep. 20, f° 432v°, 436v°, 441; Jour. 21, f° 264v°, 268v°, 269.

19 CLRO, Rep. 21, f° 254-508 for freedoms 1586-1587; Rep. 15, f° 31-261v° for freedoms 1562-1563; Rep. 20-21 for reversions 1579-1588.

20 CLRO, Rep. 15, f° 13, 19; Rep. 17, f° 359, 395; Rep. 18, f° 161, 203; Rep. 19, f°306.

21 CLRO, Rep. 16, f° 67r°-V°, 73.

22 GLRO, H1/ST/A1/4, f° 69v°-70,71.

23 Id., f° 84v°, 85v°, 98v°, 100v°, 125v°, 132r°-v°.

24 McCo., C.M. IV, f° 7, 8-9v°, 10.

25 GLRO, H1/ST/A1/4, f° 27, 29, 34r°-v°, 35v°, 71.

26 CLRO, Rep. 17, f° 395r°-v°.

27 Ian W. ARCHER, op. cit., pp. 32-34, 50-51; Calendar of State Papers Venetian, vol. XVII, ed. Allen B. HINDS, London, 1909, p. 58.

28 Ian W. ARCHER, op. cit., pp. 39-42.

29 Ibid., pp. 45-47.

30 Ibid., pp. 47-49.

31 Simon ADAMS, "Eliza Enthroned? The Court and its Politics”, in The Reign of Elizabeth I, ed. Christopher A. HAIG, Basingstoke, Macmillan, 1984, pp. 55-77.

32 Michael A. R. GRAVES, "The Management of the Elizabethan House of Commons: the Council's Men of Business'", Parliamentary History, 1983, t. II, p. 18.

33 The House of Commons, 1558-1603, ed. P.W. HASLER, London, HMSO, 1981, 3 vol., t. I, pp. 604-605; CLRO, Rep. 16, f° 158v°, 453; Rep. 20, f° 193; Rep. 21, f° 498v°.

34 CLRO, Rep. 16.f°510v°

35 GLRO, H1/ST/A1/4, f° 109v°.

36 The Letters and Papers of Nathaniel Bacon of Stiffkey, ed A. Hassell SMITH, t. H, Norfolk Record Society, 1983,t. XLIX, pp. 53, 57; CLRO, Rep. 15, f° 72; Rep. 17, f° 211; Rep. 19, f° 425v°-426.

37 PRO, PROB 11/49, f 70v°; CwCo., C.M H, F 33; A Calendar of the Shrewsbury and Talbot Papers, t. I, Shrewsbury MSS in Lameth Palace Library, ed. Catherine JAMISON and Edward G.W. BILL, London, HMSO, 1966, pp. 13-14, 55, 158.

38 Lawrence STONE, The Crisis of the Aristocracy, 1558-1641, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1965, pp. 532-534; Idem, Family and Fortune: Studies in Aristocratic Finance in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, Oxford, 1973, pp. 25-27.

39 CLRO, Rep. 16, f° 461-462.

40 Thomas BIRCH, Memoirs of the Reign of Elizabeth from the Year 1581 till her Death, London, 1754, 2 vol., t. II, pp. 77, 100-101; Mervyn JAMES, "At a Crossroads of the Political Culture: the Essex Revolt of 1601", in his Society, Politics and Culture: Studies in Early Modem England, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1986, pp. 448-452; Ian W. ARCHER, op. cit., pp. 43-15.

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Keble College, Oxford

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