RAILTON, Richard (by 1522-75), of Canterbury, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1522. m. Catherine, 2s. 2da.2

Offices Held

Common councilman, Canterbury 1552-5 or later, alderman by 1557-70, mayor 1562-3.3


Richard Railton was styled yeoman when he was admitted to the freedom of Canterbury by redemption in 1543, but he seems to have had legal training: in 1552 he was referred to as attorney with one Christopher Scott against the city in a land dispute, and in 1569 he was granted a fee of 40s. a year for his ‘pains, travail and counsel’ for the city. His first service to it appears to have been in 1550-1 when he was repaid 3s.4d. by the chamberlain ‘that he laid out when the trial of our custumal was at Westminster’.4

Railton was a common councilman and perhaps already an alderman when he sat in his only Parliament. He did not see it out, for both he and his fellow-Member Nicholas Fish were found absent when the House was called early in 1555 and were consequently informed against in the King’s bench in the following Easter term. As no further process was taken against either of them it is likely that their absence was not regarded as a gesture of opposition. On 15 Jan., the day before the dissolution, Railton was present at a Canterbury burmote which resolved that no future Member for the city should be paid out of its chamber and that any mayor, alderman or councillor attempting to transgress this rule should be fined £10. This resolution confirmed, with the addition of the penal clause, one passed in the previous year, and although neither of them excluded payment by special levy Railton’s decision in 1570 to release the city from what it owed him for his service in Parliament shows that he had not been paid.5

Railton’s civic career under Elizabeth was not unaffected by controversy. His term as mayor followed the disputed mayoral election of 1561 when the two candidates named, as was customary, by the outgoing mayor and his brethren were rejected by the commonalty because they were ‘perversely given to further the order of religion established’; as Railton was one of the two ‘discreet men’ chosen to replace those rejected he may be presumed to have been inoffensive in religion. Eight years later he was himself in trouble for neglect of his aldermanic duties. Warned in December 1569 that this might cost him banishment or a fine, in the following July he was deprived of the aldermanship; after being referred with his consent to two of the city’s counsel, Robert Alcock and William Lovelace, this decision was confirmed by the burmote with the proviso that he should never again be an alderman, although the threat of banishment was lifted and the fine suspended. When in October he remitted the fee of 40s. granted him ten months earlier the burmote declared itself well pleased.6

For all this, Railton styled himself one of the aldermen of Canterbury when he made his will on 6 July 1575. He left his house in the parish of St. Andrew to his wife, with remainder to his sons Robert and Richard and his two daughters. To Robert he left £5 and to Richard £3 on completion of his apprenticeship, and when Robert inherited the house he was to give Richard £30 as a stock. The daughters, both married, were given two silver spoons each, and the wife had the residue of goods and was named executrix. The will was proved on 22 Oct. 1575.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Helen Miller


  • 1. Huntington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from admission as freeman. Canterbury prob. reg. A42, f. 22.
  • 3. Canterbury chamberlains’ accts. 10, 11, passim; burmote bk. 1542-78 passim.
  • 4. Freemen of Canterbury, ed. Cowper, col. 295; Canterbury burmote bk. 1542-78, ff. 68v, 232; chamberlains’ accts. 1550-1.
  • 5. KB29/188, r. 48; Canterbury burmote bk. 1542-78, ff. 83v, 90v, 247.
  • 6. Canterbury burmote bk. 1542-78, ff. 150-1, 163, 240, 245, 247.
  • 7. Canterbury prob. reg. A42, f. 22.