THE BOROUGH OF EAST GRINSTEAD AND ITS MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT.
For more than 530 years the Borough of East Grinstead was represented by two Members in Parliament and the town has sent many famous men to the House of Commons. The privilege was possibly first conferred in 1295, when the "First Complete and Model Parliament" met, but the earliest record of any return is in the year 1300-1, the 29th of the reign of Edward I. The right of voting, when it came to be exercised by the inhabitants, was almost exclusively confined to the holders of burgages, and the number of this class of tenements seems never to have exceeded 36, of which almost the whole were for many years vested in the Sackville family, so that it was essentially a " nomination borough." The last patrons of the nomination borough were the Earl De la Warr and the Earl of Plymouth, their Lordships having married two sisters, co-heiresses of the Duke of Dorset, a former patron. A burgage holder was a burgess, citizen or townsman who held his land or tenement direct from the King, or other lord, for a certain yearly rent, or who held it under socage—the tenure of one over whom his lord had a certain jurisdiction. There were several kinds of socage, the most common in East Grinstead being "free socage," implying that the service to be rendered was not only certain, but honourable, such as the payment of a merely nominal yearly sum or the declaration of fealty, meaning, "If you need my sword to be drawn on your behalf it shall be at once unsheathed." Thus an independent freeholder or a tenant under any but the King or Lord of the Manor had no vote whatever. Appended are the names of Members, so far as they can be ascertained,