Family Lessons 89: MP for Lancashire

Regular readers will know my interest in politics. Indeed, I spent several years teaching the subject at A-level, though I shall confess to feelings of boredom upon hearing political news reports. Nevertheless, I was intrigued to discover that one of my forbears served as Member of Parliament. William de Walton (born 1285), my 23 x great gramps, was one of the two knights of the Shire representing Lancashire (only Clitheroe and Lancaster had their own MPs until 1832, the rest of the county making do with the two shire members). It is possibly one of the most boring of medieval parliaments to which he was summoned. The records state very little. Parliament’s own website merely records that it met at York and arranged for a military muster at Newcastle. There were other parliamentary assemblies that century that helped depose a king, funded the Hundred Years War and even passed legislation against papal interventions and taxations, but the 1319 assembly seems to have been short lived and did fairly little. And this was probably for William de Walton’s good, as civil war was brewing between King Edward II and his more astute cousin, Edmund, Earl of Lancaster. Thomas de Burgh’s Inquest taken at Farneworth, on 7 June 1322, revealed that my William held lands both of the King and the Earl. As one of their tenants in the north-west, either man could have called upon him to provide men, weapons and feudal service to fight the other. This would have been rather awkward to say the least. Indeed, it was already William’s job to be one of the ‘supervisors of the assize of arms and array’ in the county, that is, ensuring sufficient fighting men were made available for combat. Holding land from two royal masters cannot have provided the medieval knight with good nights’ sleep. Dying before subsequent parliaments took sides in this great quarrel probably spared him much grief.

The Bible says that we cannot serve two masters, the example given being God and mammon (wealth). If one be loved, the other will be hated. Although few of us are called to give away all we have to the poor, what we do have we understand to be Christ’s. If we love our houses, our cars, our belongings and our positions more than Christ Jesus, then we are in a state of unholy hatred towards Him. We may not have to choose between two rival landlords, or whether we support an earl over a king, but we must each choose between God and money. There is no neutrality, and the fence you will find most splintered and uncomfortable.

He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. Matthew 12:30