PETT, Peter (1610-c.1672), of Chatham, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 6 Aug. 1610, 5th but 2nd surv. s. of Phineas Pett (d.1647), master shipwright, of Chatham by 1st w. Anne, da. of Richard Nichols of Highwood Hall, Hendon, Mdx. m. (1) 8 Sept. 1633, Katherine (d.1651), da. and coh. of Thomas Cole, merchant, of Woodbridge, Suff., 6s. (2 d.v.p.) 4da.; (2) Mary (d.1664), da. of William Smith of Greenwich, Kent, serjeant-at-arms to Charles I, s.p.; (3) lic. 11 Dec. 1665, Elizabeth, da. of George Pitt of Harrow, Mdx., wid. of Sir Henry Hatton of Mitcham, Surr., s.p.1

Offices Held

Master shipwright, Chatham by 1644-67; commr. for assessment, Kent 1649-52, 1657, Jan. 1660-3; navy commr. Chatham 1648-67; j.p. Kent by 1649-67, Surr. 1652-?59; commr. for scandalous ministers, Kent 1654, sewers, Medway marshes Dec. 1660.2

FRS 1663


Pett’s family had dominated the naval shipyards since Tudor times. He served as his father’s assistant at Deptford and Woolwich and, like his father, supported Parliament during the Civil Wars. In I642 he secured the ships at Chatham against surprise by the King’s forces, and in 1648 he was appointed commissioner of the navy there, assuming control of the yard. He represented Rochester in Richard Cromwell’s Parliament, and was re-elected to the Convention. But on! 5 May 1660 the Council of State ordered him to join the fleet to supervise the removal of republican insignia. He returned with the King, to whom he ‘gave’ an entertainment at Chatham; but according to Sir William Batten all the expenditure of his journey ultimately fell on the public purse. Although doubtless a court supporter, he left no trace on the records of the Convention, and gave way to Batten at the general election. But he continued to hold office, though totally unfitted for the responsibility, till 1667, when ‘the fanatic Pett’ became a convenient scapegoat for the naval disaster in the Medway. ‘It is believed [he] will prove a very great criminal’, wrote John Milward, ‘but much friended by the old gang’. On 31 Oct. he was brought to the bar of the House, and after further examination it was resolved to impeach