PERNE, Ralph.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
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No Ralph Perne, gentleman, has been traced in Dorchester or elsewhere in the mid 16th century, but the variant form Peryn was well known in the town. One Ralph Peryn witnessed a number of Dorchester deeds between 1538 and 1550, and was bailiff in 1549-50 and constable during the following year. By trade a glover he owned houses and land in the town which by his will made ‘in or about’ 12 Aug. 1551 he left to his eldest son, John Peryn. The text of the will has not survived, nor is the date of probate known: if Ralph Peryn was indeed the Member in 1555 he must have lived for some years after making his will and despite his trade and apparently modest circumstances been of gentle birth. There is no reference to him in the town records after 1551 until eight years later when a burgage lately in his tenure is mentioned.1

The election at Dorchester in 1555 of the former household officer, Robert Robotham, and Ralph Perne broke with the practice which was becoming established there of choosing Christopher Hole with another, preferably a townsman, as Members. As Perne took the junior seat which was usually allocated to the townsmen, the Member could be identifiable with the glover or a kinsman of his, but it is more likely that he had no personal ties with Dorchester, and that he was related to one of the 2nd Earl of Bedford’s clients, Christopher Perne. The owner of some property in the town, the earl was to become its parliamentary patron under Elizabeth, and he could well have influenced the election there in 1555. The ‘Mr. Perne’ who joined Robert Robotham in opposing one of the government’s bills may have been the Dorchester Member but is thought to have been Christopher Perne (q.v.).2

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Helen Miller


  • 1. C. H. Mayo, Recs. Dorchester, 322-61 passim; Req.2/61/97.
  • 2. Guildford mus. Loseley 1331/2.