PIGOTT, Christopher (c.1558-1613), of Doddershall, nr. Quainton, Bucks.
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Family and Education
b. c.1558,1 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Thomas Pigott of Doddershall and Mary, da. of Sir Ralph Lane of Hogshaw, Bucks. and Horton, Northants.; bro. of Thomas†.2 educ. Oxf. Univ., BA 1573, G. Inn 1577.3 m. (1) Ursula, da. and coh. of Valentine Pigott of Loughton, Bucks., 1da.; (2) 28 May 1602, Dorothy, da. of Richard Ingoldsby, 1da.4 kntd. 6 Aug. 1604.5suc. fa. 1606.6 d. 24 Oct. 1613.7 sig. Christoph[er] Pygott.
Regarder, Bernwood Forest, Bucks. 1608.8
Originally from Yorkshire, the Pigotts owed their rise to Thomas Pigott (d.1520),9 serjeant-at-law, who established his family and estates at Doddershall, seven or eight miles north-west of Aylesbury. Serjeant Pigott’s son, also named Thomas, built a timber and plaster house at Doddershall around a quadrangle in Henry VIII’s reign.10 His son, this Member’s father, attained a senior position in Buckinghamshire society, becoming a magistrate and serving as sheriff in 1571-2.11 An abrasive, confrontational figure, he engaged in quarrels over property and elections with his neighbour, Sir John Goodwin of Upper Winchendon, and over the militia with the lord lieutenant, the 14th Lord Grey.12
Pigott’s elder brother Thomas represented Aylesbury in the 1589 Parliament before serving as county sheriff in 1593-4. Thomas evidently predeceased his father, and his only son followed him to the grave in 1602. Consequently, by the time of his entry into Parliament in May 1604, Pigott was his father’s heir apparent. Returned as senior knight of the shire for Buckinghamshire following the decision to unseat both Sir Francis Goodwin and Sir John Fortescue, his selection may have been intended as a gesture of goodwill towards both former candidates, as Pigott’s first wife was the daughter of Eleanor Fortescue and Pigott himself had signed Goodwin’s indenture three months earlier.13
Though he was brother-in-law to the Speaker, Sir Edward Phelips, Pigott made very little impact on the Commons’ proceedings in 1604. He was named to just two committees, one (three days after his election) for a bill aimed at the relief of London’s artisan skinners (19 May) and the other for a bill to ensure the execution of statutes against the decay of towns and farmhouses and to maintain husbandry and tillage (25 May).14 Following the prorogation, in August 1604, Pigott was knighted at Theobalds. During the 1605-6 session he was mentioned only once in the parliamentary records, on 21 Mar., when he was granted permission to leave the House due to sickness.15 The following month he inherited the Doddershall estate.
Pigott continued to maintain a low profile in the third session until 13 Feb. 1607, when the House came to consider Sir Henry Montagu’s report on a recent conference with the Lords on the proposed Union with Scotland. Discussion ensued over whether the items in Montagu’s report should be considered one by one or all together, whereupon Pigott urged the latter course from his seat. Urged to stand up and speak, he then delivered ‘by-matter of invective against the Scots and the Scottish Nation, using many words of scandal and obloquy’. The entry in the Journal records that other Members were affronted at this outburst but that they passed over Pigott’s offence ‘without Tax or Censure’.16
Three days later, the king signified his displeasure at the House’s failure to silence Pigott or to punish him. Many in the Commons clearly sympathized with the views expressed by Pigott, and initially attempted to brush aside James’s complaint by claiming that the silence which had greeted his remarks had been sufficient to show the House’s disapproval. However, in view of James’s protest the Commons had no choice but to act. After being fetched by the serjeant-at-arms, Pigott was brought to the bar of the House, where he denied having intended any disloyalty or malice. In the ensuing debate many Members argued that Pigott should be sent to the Tower, but others urged that he should also lose his seat, a course of action that was not unprecedented, for in 1581 Arthur Hall had been stripped of his Commons’ seat. In view of the severity of Pigott’s offence, it was decided to inflict both punishments.17 Ten days later, a chastened Pigott petitioned for his release from the Tower on grounds of sickness. The matter was debated on 27 Feb., but it was not until the next day, after the king indicated that he would raise no objection, that the request was granted.18
Pigott seems to have spent the last years of his life in enlarging and remodelling his house at Doddershall.19 His will, made in January 1610, provided for his chattels, cattle and goods to go to his daughter, Anne, with his second wife receiving his best gelding and such gold as might be found in his silk purse. Presumably, they had both been provided for in earlier settlements. His armour and weapons were to go to his younger brother, Richard, and two silver tankards to his brother-in-law, Sir Thomas Pope Blount of Tittenhanger, in Hertfordshire. There were five bequests of money to men resident in Grendon Underwood, Buckinghamshire.20 Pigott died in October 1613, and was buried at Hogshaw, the seat of his maternal grandfather. An inventory valued his household goods at just under £864,21 suggesting that he had been a man of some wealth. As he died leaving only daughters, part of his estates passed to his brother Richard.22
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Christopher Thompson
- 1. Date of birth calculated from likely age at graduation.
- 2. Pprs. from an Iron Chest at Doddershall, Bucks. ed. G. Eland, 5-6, 25; Vis. Bucks. (Harl. Soc. lviii), 101.
- 3. Al. Ox.; GI Admiss.
- 4. Lipscomb, Bucks. i. 406.
- 5. Shaw, Knight of Eng. ii. 135.
- 6. Eland, 5-6; VCH Bucks. iv. 96.
- 7. Lipscomb, i. 406.
- 8. Eland, 6-14, 54-7.
- 9. Lipscomb, i. 255-6, 404-6; A.M. Johnson, ‘Bucks. 1640-60. A Study in County Pols.’ (Univ. of Wales MA thesis, 1963), p. 10.
- 10. Lipscomb, i. 411.
- 11. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 3; C66/1620, m. 7.
- 12. Eland, 14-29. Cf. Linda Levy Peck, Ct. Patronage and Corruption in Early Stuart Eng. 79-80.
- 13. VCH Bucks. iv. 398; Vis. Bucks. (Harl. Soc. lviii), 195-6; C219/35/1/204, 211.
- 14. CJ, i. 214b, 225b.
- 15. Ibid. 288a.
- 16. Ibid. 333b, 334a. It is likely that this entry was retrospective.
- 17. Ibid. 333b, 335b, 336a.
- 18. Ibid. 343b, 344b; HMC Downshire, ii. 23.
- 19. N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, Bucks. 280-1.
- 20. Cent. Bucks. Stud., D/A Wf 20 and D/A We 25, f. 28.
- 21. E154/4/3.
- 22. VCH Bucks. iv. 96.