PECKHAM, Sir Edmund (by 1495-1564), of the Blackfriars, London and Denham, Bucks.
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Family and Education
b. by 1495, 2nd s. of Peter Peckham of London and Denham by 2nd w. Elizabeth, da. of Henry Eburton of London. m. by 1516, Anne, da. of John Cheyne of Chesham Bois, Bucks., 4s. inc. Henry and Sir Robert 2da. Kntd. 18 May 1542.1
Clerk, counting house by 1520; treasurer, the chamber 1 May 1522-1 Jan. 1524; cofferer, the Household Jan. 1524-31 Mar. 1547; j.p. Bucks. 1525-43, Mdx. 1537-43, q. Bucks., Mdx. 1554-58/59; constable, Scarborough castle, Yorks. 1529-37; high treasurer, all the mints 25 Mar. 1544-d.; PC 6-30 Oct. 1549, 29 July 1553-Nov. 1558; commr. relief, Bucks., Mdx. 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553, subsidy, Bucks. 1558; receiver-gen. of the Exchequer 1 Dec. 1553.2
A younger son of a Londoner who acquired land in Buckinghamshire, Edmund Peckham was a clerk in the counting house when he attended Henry VIII at Gravelines in 1520. He rose by way of financial office in posts of the Household to become in 1544 high treasurer of all the mints in England and Ireland; this office, and the residence at Blackfriars which went with it, he was to hold until his death. Appointed at the beginning of the Great Debasement, he saw that process carried to its conclusion and then reversed by the reforms under Mary and Elizabeth. Through it all he was sustained in office by a combination of integrity in business and neutralism in politics. Henry VIII, whom he accompanied to France in 1544, named him one of the assistant executors of his will and bequeathed him £200. Brought on to the Council at the political crisis of October 1549 but speedily removed from it, he took no other part in the politics of Edward VI’s reign, when as a Catholic and a friend and relation by marriage of Thomas Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, he was estranged from the wielders of power.3
Peckham’s only positive intervention was designed to frustrate the exclusion of Mary: he was one of the men of Buckinghamshire who planned to move by way of William, Lord Paget’s house at Drayton to seize the armoury at Westminster. For his service ‘at Framlingham’ he was given an annuity of £60. By August he had become a Privy Councillor and before the end of 1553 his eldest son Robert Peckham had also joined Mary’s Council. When, late in that year, the revenue courts were re-organized, it was Peckham who became sole receiver of the Queen’s revenue. A contemporary chronicle extolled his devotion to duty and his loyalty to the Queen: if, as is conjectured, that chronicle was written by an officer of the mint, such praise could be expected, but when in July 1554 Mary forwarded to the treasurer his request for a grant of land it was with the comment that he had deserved it and had received no recompense.4
Peckham had little to complain of. Since 1527, when he was assessed in the Household on lands at £126 a year, he had consolidated his position at Denham and bought Biddlesden abbey in north Buckinghamshire from Wriothesley as well as leasing manors in Cheshire; he had also been granted the keepership of Scarborough castle. His stake in Buckinghamshire and his ascendancy at court together qualified him for the knighthood of the shire in Mary’s first Parliament. Unlike his dissentient son Henry, Peckham did not oppose the first steps towards the restoration of Catholicism, and he carried two of the bills passed in the Commons to the Lords. In the Parliament of April 1554 Peckham’s place was taken by his son Robert, but six months later the father again shared the representation of the shire: this time he is predictably missing from the ranks of those who quitted the Parliament early without leave. Protestant influence appears to have prevailed in all the Buckinghamshire elections for the Parliaments of 1555 and 1558, but Peckham’s disappearance from the House may also have reflected Henry Peckham’s complicity in the Dudley conspiracy.