Indenture for the election of MPs for King's Lynn, 1624

This indentureGlossary - opens , dated 22 January 1624, contains the names of two MPS elected by the aldermen and burgesses of King's Lynn in Norfolk - all of whom signed and sealed the document.

Boroughs had been represented in Parliament since the 13th century - but many of the returns for them that have survived are in poor condition, and historians are only now beginning to investigate the internal politics of the boroughs and how elections and ideas of representation were worked out in individual towns.

In the 14th century over 95% of the population lived in rural settlements. At that time, an average town probably had only 500 inhabitants - a figure that gradually changed during the 16th century, mirroring London's expansion from the 1530s onwards.

Towns retained a separate governmental structure. This was often based on trade guilds which elected burgesses to run the towns. This meant that towns - especially those that enjoyed formal rights and liberties granted by royal charters - generally had a more organised structure than rural society, which remained dominated by the interests of the gentry and nobility.
Catalogue reference: C 219/38, Part 2, no. 162 (1624)


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