The rise and progress of the town and the history of its institutions & people.

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Powle should have been one of the burgesses returned for the Borough. At the same time William Scroggs com­plained that he ought to have been returned in the place of Edward Sackville. Both petitions were referred to the Committee of Privileges and Elections, and on April 7th following the report of this Committee on the subject was presented to the House. The great question at issue was whether the inhabitants at large or the burgage holders only had the right of election. Records from the reigns of Mary, Elizabeth, James I. and Charles I. were produced, setting forth that the returns of Members were made by " The Bailiff, Burgesses and all other the Inhabitants," or words to that effect, and a number of witnesses were examined to bear out the same contention. Mr. Robert Goodwin, a former M.P. for East Grinstead, who said he had known the Borough for 60 years, averred that he was always elected by the inhabitants as well as the burgage holders. Thomas Cockett said he was never a burgage holder, but he voted for Mr. Goodwin 40 years before. At this actual election it appeared some 60 inhabitants voted for Mr. Powle and no more than 18 for anyone else, but the Bailiff declined to return him. Counsel on both sides agreed that the inhabi­tants as well as burgage holders had a right to elect, but as Mr. Scroggs had not petitioned against the return of Mr. Pelham his petition was practically rejected, and the Committee decided that Mr. Powle should have been returned instead of Mr. Sackville. The House adopted this view and decided to amend the return, which was accordingly done on April 14th, 1679. But Henry Powle " had something up his sleeve." Had the petition gone against him he would still have been an M.P., for he was also elected for Cirencester, and immediately the House had amended the return and he had ousted Mr. Sackville, he declared his intention of sitting for Cirencester, so a new writ had to be issued for East Grinstead, and this was done on the very same day as the Bailiff's return was amended. Henry Powle was a man of high repute. In regard to his subsequent career we need to look a few years ahead. The first and only Parliament of James II.
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