In the preceding chapters is has been established that the Essex gentry did perform a wide range of functions and duties in local government. Direct relations with the central government were more limited and can be reduced, in principle, to three basic categories. Firstly the knights attended parliament as representatives of their counties. Secondly they were occasionally employed as Assessors and Collectors of the taxes granted in parliament. Thirdly individual knights can be found from time to employed directly by the central government, or by the Household. Only the last of these categories involved the knights in any direct executive or administrative activities within the central government machine. Both Parliamentary representation and the collection of taxes are really on the interface between central and local government, at least so far as the knights were concerned. In one sense they are no different for the other functions performed by knights as justices, sheriffs and all other offices performed locally on behalf of the crown but the protean and emergent nature of parliament in the last quarter of the thirteenth century requires that it be treated as a special case. It is a fine distinction between the centre coming to the counties, and the counties going to the centre. The assessors and collectors of taxation were generally appointed immediately after the tax granting parliament had dispersed, but not, in most cases, from amongst the representatives who had attended that parliament. Their sphere of activities was local by definition, but their responsibility was very definitely to the Exchequer, so that in this respect their position was analogous to the sheriffs, or the itinerant justices who were also direct agents of the central government acting in the localities. However, the appointment of the assessors and collectors was occasional and irregular, the decision on who to appoint appears to have been made by the Exchequer, rather than the County Court, and the duties of the assessors did not involve them in the day to day procedures of local government, except in so far as they might work with the communal juries through which the people of counties could be induced to tax themselves.
The knights who assessed and collected these parliamentary aids generally came from the small group of local administrators and the procedures adopted for conducting assessments were clearly analogous to the customary inquest system with which the buzones were familiar from their wider experience of local government. There was, therefore, nothing intrinsically new about the machinery for collecting taxes granted in parliament, it entailed only a slight mutation of existing procedures
The case of the parliamentary representatives is more clear cut in some respects. At least one function of parliamentary representation was to provide a link between local and central government. There can be little doubt that the knights summoned from the shires were intended to witness, if not actually participate in, the business of the central government as embodied in parliament. The knights who attended parliament were elected ostensibly because of their experience of local administration, and because they were thought to be as the writs say 'apt for work'. Representation in parliament was clearly something apparently quite new and distinct from the normal; activities of the gentry in local government. Like the collection of taxes it was a special occasion, but at the same there was nothing new in the actual procedures adopted to secure representation. Historians have long known that knights had been accustomed to representing the county court in its judicial capacity before the king's justices at Westminster at least since the time of king John, and that representation for the purpose of gathering information was established early in the reign of Henry IIIrd As with taxation, therefore, the methods adopted to implement new developments built on already existing and long standing procedures familiar to those knights who took an active part in local government. In practice the knights who went to parliament were only marginally involved with the machinery of central government, and then more as observers than as operators. Their importance was, by definition, local rather than national, though their very presence in parliament testifies to the collective significance in the ordering of the affairs of the kingdom
Many of the factors which contributed to the development of the late thirteenth century parliament were considered in Chapter I, where it was suggested that the growth of representative institutions was in large part a consequence of the joint pressures of rapid social, legal and economic changes, catalysed by administrative and political necessity. The constitutional history of the early parliaments is, of course, both complex and contentious, and it is not the intention of this presented to further review the broader questions raised by the origins of the medieval English parliaments, or to resurrect the controversies with which they have been encumbered. Are present concern is to try to further refine the criteria which may mark out the parliamentary knights from others present in the same county.
So far as representation of the counties is concerned the history of parliament in the reign of Edward Ist falls into two well defined periods. Between 1272 and 1290 the knights were summoned to five assemblies, but there are no surviving returns and it is not, therefore, possible to determine the names of those who attended. Perhaps they were not even considered sufficiently important to be worthy of note or the business of the parliaments did not require an explicit record of those who attended. In the second half of the reign, between 1290 and 1307, the knights were summoned to twelve assemblies for which records of the knights returned from Essex are available for all but two parliaments, namely those of the 12th November 1294 and the 3rd of November 1296.  The increased frequency of parliaments in the second half of the reign,, twelve in seventeen years compared with the early five in twelve years, reflects both Edward's pressing need for money to finance his wars, and his increasing experience in the administration and organisation of parliaments. The improvement in parliamentary documentation after 1290 may be consistent with increasing stability in the structure and functions of parliament but more probably represents a shift in the functions of parliament from primarily legislative, in which the role of the knights was legally passive, to taxatory in which the role of the knights embodied more precise legal concepts through which their 'constituents' in the counties were 'bound' to the payment of taxes agreed to in parliament. The development of the plena potestasclause in the writs of summons was clearly a legal device to ensure that no one could refuse to pay taxes on the grounds that they had not been present at the act of granting.
The problems raised by representation likewise fall into three majors categories./ Firstly there is the much debated question of the functions of the representatives in the early parliaments, Secondly, there is the question of the procedures of election, and thirdly the problem of the mechanism of representation in general. In the case of Essex the first problem cannot be addressed on the basis of the evidence available because there is no direct evidence of the activities of individual Essex knights in parliament, and the functions of individuals must therefore be seen as only part and parcel of the wider question of the functions of representatives as whole. In so far as they can be determined the functions of the representatives in the parliaments of Edward Ist were firstly to assent to taxation, and according to the generality of the writs of summons after 1296 to hear and do whatever shall be ordained by common council.  There is little evidence that their assent to taxation was conditional on the redress of their grievances, though it might be conditional on the redress of baronial grievances to which they were also party. Secondly, the representatives acted as propaganda and publicity agents, sounding boards for county and borough opinion which might inform the central government and channels for the transmission and dissemination of central government policy back into the shires and towns. Thirdly, the presence of representatives in [parliament as witnesses, however passive their actual role, might give extra weight and validity to the business enacted in parliament as well and ensuring the its import was carried back to the community of the shire court. Fourthly, it is very probable that the knights and burgesses also conducted other business, both public and private, in time of parliament simply because it was convenient for them., and for others, to find the king and his government assembled in a given place at given time notified at least one month in advance. For a variety of reasons Parliament became the focus for a mass of petitions which, as we shall see, suggest that the knights did not come up to parliament from the counties on their own but could accompanied by a host of individuals with all manner of formal and informal business to do in time of parliament, if not actually in parliament and because of its informality much of the business never found it way onto official records. Fifthly, one of the primary functions of Edward's early parliaments was the issue of statue legislation. There is little evidence that the representative took any part in the actual framing of the great Edwardian statutes, though their covert complaints may have stimulated the formulation of the statute in the first place. Thus the third statute of Westminster, commonly known for the clause Quia Emptores Terrarum, which fundamentally affected the interests of mesne tenants and rural landholders in general, was promulgated in the Easter Parliament of 1290 without the presence or participation of the knights of the shire. Petitions were also presented in parliament which might lead to legislation, especially in the latter part of the reign when the main stream of officially inspired legislation was mostly exhausted and more attention was directed to the redress of grievances brought to the kings attention by initiative from below. Examples of this process would include the Ordinance of Inquests and the Ordinance of the Forests made in 1305 at the instance of individual petitions  However very few of the petitions which did stimulated legislation in the reign of Edward Ist can be identified either with individual representatives, or with the community of representatives of representatives as whole. During the reigns of the next two Edwards the practice of initiating legislation through comprehensive petitions presented to and endorsed by the emergent House of Commons became increasingly frequent and developed into the presentation of grievances drafted into a statutory form of redress which was presented to the King and Council for ratification and promulgation, the ancestor of the modern procedure by Parliamentary Bill. 
The wider issue of the role of petitioning in the origins of Parliament
was first address by Riess in the nineteen forties where he argued that
the primary function of representatives was to present petitions to parliament
informing the King and Council of the malpractices of royal officials.
 Pasquet, the other seminal author of foreign theories about
the early English Parliaments, adopted Riess's views, with certain modifications,
whilst allowing that the knights might well have other functions to perform
in parliament.  With
hindsight Riess's view has little to commend it and does not stand the
test of the evidence, though J.R. Maddicott has recently offered a revision
of the Riess thesis arguing that on two occasions Edward specifically invited
the delivery of complaints as a means of seeking evidence against Adam
de Stratton, Walter Langton and others.
 This, however, is not the same as inviting the county representatives
to deliver such complaints to the Receivers and Triers appointed in time
of Parliament and may be just another example of Edward's special skill
in adapting established procedures to exceptional circumstances. Such techniques
were, after all, familiar to him from the reign of his father and the methods
of complaint against royal officials embodied in the first clause of the
Provisions of Oxford in 1258. To argue that Edward invited similar complaints
to be articulated through the generality of petitioning in time of parliament
is less easy to sustain. In the first place the knights who attended parliament
were, as we have seen, often amongst the most active operators of local
government and were therefore intrinsically unlikely to present petitions
against themselves or their friends and colleagues. Secondly, other, and
more systematic checks on local officials were already operating by the
end of the thirteenth century, through the articles of Eyre, the periodic
Hundredal Inquests, and the office of the coroner. Thirdly,
Haskins has shown fairly conclusively that the representatives in general
presented very few petitions in time of parliament, and even fewer of those
presented by them were concerned with complaints against royal officials,
though there were, without doubt many complaints against royal officials,
amongst other things, from the broad spectrum of petitions presented by
individuals other than the parliamentary representatives.
Edward Ist clearly regarded petitions as something of a nuisance which
might obstruct the essentially political business of parliaments. As early
as 1280 he took steps to remove petitions from parliament to be dealt with
instead by subsidiary committees of auditors, receivers and triers of petitions,
whose function was to intercept all the petitions flowing towards parliament
and redirect them to the most appropriate court or department so that,
in the words of the 1280 ordinance
The results of this survey are not encouraging. Out of a sample of forty two knights in Essex only eight are known to have presented petitions in their own name, but four of these were, at some stage, representatives in Parliament. In the Parliamentary A Group John de Beauchamp presented a petition in the Parliament of July 1290 over disputed rents in Weston and Foxearth in Essex. A John de Beauchamp certainly attended this parliament as a representative, but, on the other hand Beauchamp is a common name, so it cannot be assumed that the petitioner and the representative are necessarily the same person. Moreover there is no direct evidence to connect either the representative John de Beauchamp or his immediate family with tenements in Foxearth. John's father Roger de Beauchamp of Fyfield, did hold lands in Beauchamp William, in the parish adjacent to Foxearth, and other Beauchamps were involved in pleas of warranty of charter over tenements in Weston, possibly Westend Hall which is in the parish of Foxearth, so a connection is possible. If this is so Beauchamp is the only knight in the sample to present a petition on his own behalf in a parliament which he also attended as a representative. Since he did not attend any previous, or subsequent, parliaments it is just conceivable that her had himself returned specifically, though it is more likely that he seized the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. The outcome of the petition was an order for an inquest which does not survive.
Secondly, John de Sutton, knight of the shire for Essex in May 1306 petitioned twice in 1305 for redress of damages arising out his term as subsescheator in Essex. The substance of his petition was that the king should order the restitution of his goods and chattels which had been distrained by the executors of Queen Eleanor from the manor of Birdbrook, which John claimed to hold rightfully by virtue of his office of subescheator, as a result of the death of Gilbert de Peche, the previous holder. In this case, therefore, a royal official petitioned for redress of grievances caused by other royal officials, a common phenomenon in the Rotuli Parliamentorum which have many examples of royal servants from Barons of the Exchequer downwards resorting to petitions in order the recover wages or expenses due to them. So far as is known John de Sutton did not attend the 1305 parliament in any official capacity, and certainly not as a representative, but the presentation of the petition in itself suggests that he was present in the vicinity of that parliament. In 1325 his daughters, or nieces, petitioned the king for the lands which John had alienated to the Earl of Gloucester in 1312, and which had returned to the king through the forfeiture of Hugh Audley. This petition, perhaps more characteristic of the kinds of problems emerging from the disorder of Edward IInd's reign, was followed by a writ of certiorari ordering an inquest. .
Thirdly, John de Tany was involved in a petition initiated by William de Goldington in August 1312 over lands in Terling, Essex, but he did not bring the petition. John had represented Essex in the preceding parliament of 1311, but there is no reason to connect this with Goldington's petition of the following year. As in the case of Sutton this dispute continued into the next generation by which time the lands had come into the hands of Richard de Messing, who held them peacefully until the king distrained them on account of the trespasses of John son of William Goldington.  .
Lastly, William de Wauton, one of the most active of the Essex knights, petitioned in 1290, but the substance of the petition has been partially obliterated so that it reads, William de Wauton petitit quod Rex concedat....super inquisiitions capta coram Justiciis de banco de quodam terra in Thaxted comite Essex. Response, concessum est. Nothing much can be learned from this except that William presented a petition which was successful. He was not present at this parliament as a representative, but he did have lands in Thaxted.
The remaining petitions were presented by knights from groups C and D. In Group C, Hugh de Crepping was involved in 1293 in a plea in parliament, one step up from a petition, arising out of his claim to the lands of Nicholas de Tregoz in Tolleshunt Tregoz and Blunt's Hall, in Essex.  These lands had been given to Eva de Valoynes, wife of Nicholas de Tregoz, by Robert Burnell, Edward's Chancellor and late Bishop of Bath and Wells, to hold for life. But, after the death of Nicholas in 1279, Hugh de Crepping was appointed keeper of these manors and later claimed that he held them of the gift of Nicholas. The justice of Hugh's claim was not established in the plea, but in 1274 he made a fine with Nicholas Tregoz to Hugh Fitz Otho, Steward of the Household, in return for a recognizance by which Crepping restored to Nicholas his manor of Tolleshunt Tregoz and acquitted him of his ransom thereof.  When Nicholas died in 1279 Hugh Crepping bound himself to Robert Burnell in the sum of £21.4s.8d, which rather suggests that he may have bought the reversion of the manor after the death of Eva , having himself appointed keeper through the very good offices of Burnell. If nothing else this tells us something about Crepping's friends in high places
John de Rochford, also in Group C, petitioned in 1290 for an interim respite on on a fine of fifty two marks, imposed on him for illegally exercising rights of wreck, and pending the completion of a plea of Quo Warranto.  This case first arose in 1289, when he was fined fifty two marks due to the king for wreck, and it arose again in 1290 when it was respited to parliament where it appeared, as has been seen, in the form of a petition.  Here the petition clearly followed for previous legal proceedings, and it was equally clearly unsuccessful since John was still trying to get his fifty two marks back in 1285. 
John de la Mare of Bradwell petitioned twice, in 1304 and 1305 for a grace of one hundred marks in respect of his good service in Gascony and was rewarded with an allowance made to him in March 1305.  Lastly John de Merk, in Group D, petitioned the king in 1290 for relief from the service due from his fee in Essex and Huntingdonshire, the sheriff of Huntingdon having been ordered in 1276 to have the heirs of John de Merk to account for the services due. In 1289 Walter, son of John de Merk [sic] had been distrained for £4. in scutage. John's petition was apparently successful for he was released from his father's debts in 1291. 
Very little can be learned from these few petitions. Most of them were concerned with land, or with requests for grace, and the petitioners were all in some way exceptional, either as members of the Buzone caucus, like Sutton, Tany and Wauton and the enigmatic Crepping, or else sub baronial knights like Rochford and Mare, or special tenants, like Merk, the king's Falconer. All of these were men who might have some special access to the king and might expected a sympathetic response from him. Crepping's relationship with Burnell raises other interesting possibilities. We have already seen that he was one of the most substantial landholders in the sample and also especially active in judicial commissions. His association with Burnell raises the possibility that he may have been more formally involved in the central government than at first sight appears. Whilst this might make him more likely to have the confidence and experience to petition the king in parliament the fact is that he, like Tany, was drawn into a parliamentary petition through the actions of others. Moreover most of the eight petitions considered here were actively associated with the king's own interests, either through royal interference in allegedly private franchisal rights, an attempt by individuals to challenge the Quo Warranto inquests, or for redress of grievances caused by the action of royal officials, or pleas for gracious relief from royal impositions. In relation to the wider issue of the function of petitions in time of parliament the evidence of this handful of Essex petitions does not advance any case other than that these petitions were presented by those most likely to present them; the most substantial and active men of the county, perhaps using their knowledge of central government for their own purposes. They are, however, vastly outnumbered by the great mass of diverse petitions presented to the receivers by all manner of persons. So far as Essex is concerned the representatives in Edward's parliaments, with the exception of Beauchamp, do not appear to have presented petitions on their own behalf in a parliament which they attended as representatives, nor is there any explicit evidence that they presented petitions on behalf of others. Nevertheless petitions were presented from individuals in Essex,  which raises the possibility that they were delivered by the Essex representatives. There is nothing in the writs of summons to suggest that the knights of the shire were expected to bring petitions with them on behalf of their 'constituents' in the counties, but it would be entirely logical for them to do so. This was certainly implicit in the complaint in 1309 mentioned above, though it is clear that the authorities expected petitions to be presented at random by all and sundry. It is also possible that those who wished to present petitions thought that they might stand a better chance if presented to the Receivers by their county representatives whom they might accompany to the parliament, to press their case and hear the result, as anxious litigants might attend any court in which their interests were involved. We may imagine, therefore, that when the knights of the shire went up to parliament from their counties they did not necessarily go alone
General functions of the Representatives
The general functions of the representatives in parliament may be seen only in terms of the objectives of the parliaments to which they had been summoned. The parliaments of Edward Ist were still in a novel and protean stage, constitutional shape shifters whose functions were not yet clearly defined and whose purposes might not be apparent to the representatives until they actually arrived at the assembly to hear the opening address. Of the ten parliaments for which Essex returns are available only five made any kind of financial grant, taxation being assumed by most historians to be one of the principal functions of parliament. Three of these tax granting parliaments were in the period 1290 to 1297. Subsidies were also granted in the parliaments of 1294 and 1296, for which there are no returns of representatives. The reasons for summoning representatives to these assemblies were clearly contingent on Edward's urgent need for cash to finance his wars, though the special conditions of the internal political crisis from 1297 to 1301 may have added another dimension to the activities of the knights attending the parliaments of 1297, 1300 and especially 1301.  The parliaments which included representatives but at which no grants of subsidies were made were those of York in 1298, Westminster on the 28th February 1305, and Carlisle in 1307, together with the London parliament of March 1300 at which an offer a 1/20th was offered and refused, and the Westminster parliament of October 1302 in which the mandatory feudal aid pur fille marier granted in the 1290 parliament was finally implemented. 
The purpose of representation in some of these latter parliaments is harder to determine. The York parliament of 1298 was particularly shadowy, though otherwise apparently routine both in procedure of summons and in apparent functions. The assembly was described a colloquium called for the discussion of the business of the realm and representatives were ordered to come with full powers on behalf of their communities, consistent with the normal pattern of Edward's parliamentary writs of summons. The main and ostensible business of the assembly was apparently the taking of a decision to prosecute the Scottish war, but there is no evidence that the representatives participated in this decision, except possibly, as channels of communication to the counties, or perhaps by providing information to the king on the military disposition of their counties.  By contrast the functions of the representatives in the Lent Parliament of 1300 were relatively clear cut. The business of this assembly was to be the publication of the Articuli super Cartas, which were to reported back to the county courts through the medium of the county representatives. In addition, three honest men, knights and others, were to be elected in the county court to hear and determine complaints about the breaking of the charters, so in this case the mechanism for reporting offences committed by royal officials was clearly rooted in the county court and not through any organised invitation to submit petitions to parliament. Those elected to investigate complaints in Essex were the A Group knights John le Breton and Jollan de Duresme, who did not attend the 1300 parliament, together with Peter de Suthchurch, not in the sample. The procedure here is very similar to that proposed in the Provisions of Oxford. The confirmation of the Articuli was accompanied by a grant of 1/20 which was not in fact collected, perhaps because it was thought to be insufficient. The intensely political business of this Parliament was carried over into the Lincoln Parliament into the Lincoln parliament of January 1301, where the 1/20th was superseded and replaced with a 1/15th, granted in return for further concessions, and consequent on the famous 'bill' framed by the prelates and magnates and presented to the king by the Lancastrian knight Henry de Keighly. The political character of this parliament was unsolicited and incidental to kings's intended purpose which continued to be the planning and implementation of the Scottish war, now further exacerbated by papal intervention.  The linked parliaments of 1300-1301 are crucially important in the history of the English Parliament because they are the first evidence of a Parliament acting collectively against the king and indicate the extent to which Parliament as an institution was acquiring its own identity and momentum independent of the purposes conceived for it by the king. They are also important, as we shall see, in helping to understand the mechanism by which knights were elected in the first place
By contrast the parliament of the 29th September 1302, prorogued to the 14th of October, followed the conventional pattern of summons and structure first seen in the so called model parliament of 1295, and the business envisaged, though indeterminate, was to be the great business of the king and kingdom. No subsidy was granted, but an order went out in November 1302 for the collection of the feudal aid for the marriage of the king's daughter, held over since 1290. This fell at the rate of forty shillings per knight's fee and was collected in Essex by the Cambridgeshire knight John de Bassingbourne, who had also been one of the collectors of the 1/5th of the prevous year, and was to be a commissioner enquiring into knights's fees in Essex and Hertfordshire in 1305. 
The Lent parliament of 1305, famous for the constitutional, and historiographical, problems supposedly raised by the dismissal of the representatives and those 'not of the king's council' before the actual end of the parliament, met during a lull in the Scottish war, and was specifically summoned to deal with the reimposition of royal government in Scotland, stabilimentum terre nostre Scoie specialiter tangentibus as it says in the writs. The writs for the representatives however depart from the now conventional pattern because they do not require them to have full powers, plena potestas, and no financial grant was made. On the other hand this was another political assembly and business was conducted in this assembly in which county and borough representatives might have an interest, not least the framing of the enactment de asportatis religiosis, later issued against the dying Edward's wishes in 1307 as the Statute of Carlise, and the Ordinance of Trailbaston which had very local implications and necessarily affected the operation of local government by thrusting new duties onto the local knights and gentry. The presence of the knights as representatives in this parliament may thus be explained in terms of propaganda, liaison and administrative convenience. Finally the 1307 Parliament of Carlisle was again intended to deal with the pacification of Scotland, but its work was impeded by the failing health of the old king, who was unable to attend. Because of this the clergy and laity there present took the opportunity to thrash out the apparently urgent question, to them, of papal exactions in England, and obliged the king, much against his will, to issue as a statute the ordinance of 1305 prohibiting the exportation of specie by the church. 
There is, then, some evidence that, in the latter part of Edward's reign, the political and administrative functions of the knights in parliament became increasingly important, especially in the period 1298 to 1307 when the barons began to use parliament against the old king, albeit with only limited success since Edward was rather good at getting money from other sources without recourse to potentially recalcitrant parliaments. In particular he attempted to raise cash by exacting feudal aids to which he had an absolute right, as for example in 1302, 1304 and especially in 1306  when the aid raised for knighting Prince Edward was levied as a lay subsidy at the rate of 1/30th and 1/20th agreed in Parliament and therefore falling on the whole of the tax paying community, and not just the feudal classes. The only genuine lay subsidy requiring assent granted after 1298 was the 1/5th of 1301 which was itself conditional on the observation and enforcement of the charters by the king, the first time that Parliament was able to grant a tax with the proviso that it was not to be collected until the king had demonstrated his good faith. The presence of the county representatives in these 'political' must have raised their own perception of their potential role in future parliaments preparing expectations which were to be fought over in the reign of the second Edward. This change in the character and potential independence of parliament at the end of the reign of Edward Ist was accompanied by other changes in the crown's relationship with the local communities. It has already been shown that there was a sharp increase in judicial and peace keeping commissions in Essex in the period after 1290, an inevitable response to the ebb and flow of disbanded soldiers into local communities in the phases between hostilities in Wales, Scotland and France. The exigencies of war forced more duties onto the local gentry, especially, as we shall seem in mobilising resources of men and materiel in the counties. In particular he relied on them to supervise local levies of troops, men at arms and other, and to take measures to preserve the peace and good order of the counties in the face of rising unrest and disturbance. The presence of county representatives in parliaments which did not grant subsidies may thus have more to do with this aspect of government together with the increasing important functions of publicity, liaison and propaganda which increased in proportion to the growing hostility of the country at large at the costs of the Scottish war
Neither the evidence of the petitions, not the more general functions
which might have been performed by knights in the parliaments of Edward
Ist serve to shed much light on the activities of individual knights, Henry
de Keighley, excepted. For the most part we know nothing about what the
knights actually did in parliament, other than the bald testimony of their
presence recorded on the election returns and certified by the enrolment
of their expenses writs. In default of information about what happened
to the Essex knights when the got to parliament it is necessary now to
look at the county community and examine the mechanisms of representation
through the procedures which may have been adopted for the election of
the knights of the shire in the county court.