PURVEY, John (by 1525-83), of Wormley, Herts.

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



Oct. 1553
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1525. m. (1) lic. ?July 1547, Anne, da. and coh. of William Woodleaf of London, 1s.; (2) by 1564, Magdalen, da. of Peter Cheke of Cambridge, Cambs., wid. of Lawrence Earsby or Eresby (d.?1564), of Louth, Lincs., s.p.1

Offices Held

Auditor, duchy of Lancaster, south parts 1546-d.; commr. relief, Herts. 1550; other commissions 1554-d.; j.p. Herts. 1554, q. by 1558/59-d., Lincs. (Lindsey) 1569-d.; feodary, Herts. by 1562; warden of Louth 1568, 1573, 1582.2


John Purvey’s parentage has not been discovered. No connexion has been found between him and the Buckinghamshire family of Purefoy, but his marriage to the daughter of a London mercer, himself possibly of Buckinghamshire origin, suggests he may have been related to another London merchant, John Purvey of Southwark, who died in 1554.

Purvey began his career as a clerk to Robert Heneage of Lincoln, auditor for the south parts of the duchy of Lancaster. This office, surrendered to Purvey in 1546, was held by him for life and afterwards came to his son William. By his first marriage Purvey acquired the manor of Wormley in Hertfordshire and some lands in Norfolk. He already owned six houses in Paternoster Row and Warwick Lane in London, but added little to his estates before Elizabeth’s reign. Put on the Hertfordshire bench in 1554, he also sat on several inquisitions post mortem with William Tooke, whose son married the second of William Woodleaf’s daughters. The Tooke and Purvey families were patrons of Wormley church, and the wardship which Purvey acquired in 1554 he probably owed to William Tooke as auditor of the court of wards and liveries.3

Purvey sat in Parliament three times during Mary’s reign. He owed his election at Huntingdon to his position in the duchy, to which the borough belonged, and his return for Horsham, if not attributable to his fellow-Member, William Tooke, may also have been due to this connexion. His patron there could have been either the 12th Earl of Arundel, steward of duchy lands in Sussex, or John Caryll, a prominent Sussex Catholic living very close to Horsham and attorney-general to the duchy. In June 1555 Purvey was to receive, jointly with Caryll, a lease of the duchy greenwax. Firmly established in Hertfordshire, Purvey was returned a knight of the shire there in 1558. He did not oppose the initial measures towards reconciliation with Rome in 1553, and he was to be noted by his bishop in 1564 as ‘a hinderer of religion’.4

Re-elected to Parliament twice under Elizabeth, Purvey became an ally by marriage of Secretary Cecil in the early 1560s. He remained active in duchy and local administration until his death on 21 Apr. 1583.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: R. J.W. Swales


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. VCH Herts. iii. 488; Mar. Lic. Fac. Off. (Harl. Soc. xxiv), 10; CPR, 1553, p. 370; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 177; C142/201/71; PCC 19 Butts.
  • 2. CPR, 1553, p. 354; 1553-4, p. 20; 1560-3, pp. 400, 438; 1563-6, pp. 43, 123; SP11/5, f. 36; Somerville, Duchy, i. 443; Louth Old Corp. Recs. ed. Goulding, 19.
  • 3. Clutterbuck, Herts. ii. 235, 237; CPR, 1553-4, pp. 7, 303; 1563-6, p. 308; VCH Herts. iii. 488.
  • 4. Somerville, i. 408; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 30.
  • 5. C142/201/71.