PERNEYS, John (d.1434), of London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1416

Family and Education

s. of John Perneys by his w. Alice. m. Joan (d.1434), at least 2s.1

Offices Held

Alderman of Castle Baynard Ward 18 Dec. 1416-c.1423, Lime Street Ward c.1423-d.; auditor, London 21 Sept. 1417-18; mayor 13 Oct. 1432-3.2

Sheriff, London and Mdx. 12 Oct. 1418-Mich. 1419.3

Tax collector, London Dec. 1421, Oct. 1422, Apr. 1428.4


Perneys first comes to notice in May 1408 when he was one of the jurors summoned from Billingsgate Ward to attend the husting court of London. He had no doubt set up in business by then, although the first specific reference to him as a fishmonger occurs almost two years later. He and the other administrators of the estate of Walter King, a grocer who died intestate, were then suing George Longville* for debt—without much apparent hope of success.5 Shortly afterwards, in April 1410, Perneys shipped a quantity of cloth into the port of London, paying over £4 in customs duties. We know very little about his commercial activities at this time, but if the evidence of later years is any guide, they were diverse. Between April and September 1423 alone, the levies paid by him on cloth to the customs collectors of London came to almost £20. Two years later he took delivery of consignments of oil and soap worth £187, and in June 1426 he obtained a royal licence to export grain overseas. Despite his awareness of the regulations which prohibited aliens from acting as brokers in the City, Perneys employed the services of one Gerard Galganet when, in or before April 1429, he exchanged cloth valued at £80 for a quantity of sweet wine brought to England by a Spanish merchant.6 Like many fishmongers he operated as a general factor and so dealt in a wide range of commodities, spreading the risk and making correspondingly large profits: what we know of his finances certainly confirms this impression. In December 1416, for example, John Kelsham of Kent acknowledged a debt of £200 due jointly to him and two others. Six months later, this time on his own, Perneys made a substantial contribution towards the cost of Henry V’s second French expedition, advancing £50 on the security of the first wool subsidy due after February 1420. In September 1417 he stood surety in 100 marks on behalf of Thomas Reynwell, a fishmonger who had become heavily involved in government finance. He acted as a mainpernor on at least three other occasions—once, in August 1419, for the above-mentioned Gerard (or David) Galganet, who had now been summoned before the court of aldermen because of his suspect dealings.7

Some of Perneys’s income was invested in land. According to the lay subsidy return of 1412, he could expect less than £3 a year from his London property, but it looks as if his major acquisitions in the City were made well after this date. The land and tenements which he settled upon his widow, Joan, lay in the parishes of St. Martin Outwich, St. Benedict Fink and St. Margaret, Bridge Street. He already owned premises in the last of these parishes when, in December 1429, Robert Ramsey of Essex leased him a neighbouring tenement called ‘Le Sunne’ at an annual rent of 11 marks, payable in part to a chantry priest at the fishmongers’ church of St. Magnus the Martyr. Between November 1421 and March 1427 a shop in Bridge Street, a tenement and wharf in St. Stephen’s Lane, and a second tenement in Pudding Lane were all conveyed to the MP jointly with others, so it is by no means clear if his interest was that of owner or trustee. He probably acted in the latter capacity where dwellings elsewhere in London were concerned. By the time of his death Perneys also held the manor of Bensham in Croydon, together with extensive farmland in that part of Surrey.8

The three London fishmongers, John Prophet II*, Robert Hurlebatte and Nicholas James*, each in turn named Perneys among their executors, thereby involving him in at least two lawsuits for the recovery of debts, as well as in a third action brought in the court of Chancery by Joan, the widow of John Rous II*, as a result of alleged extortion on James’s part. The latter’s other executor, Thomas Badby, subsequently claimed that Perneys had withheld over £386 belonging to the deceased, but was awarded less than half of the sum after taking Perneys’s own executors to law in March 1435. On at least two occasions our Member obtained formal custody of the goods and chattels of other tradesmen, holding these in trust for the use of their nominees.9

Perneys rose to become mayor of London at the end of his life, after 16 years’ continuous participation in civic government. His public career really began with his election to the House of Commons, but some months before being returned to Parliament in October 1416 he was appointed to recover a loan of 10,000 marks advanced to the Crown by the people of London on the security of the wool subsidy. He attended at least nine of the parliamentary elections held in the City between 1417 and 1433 (when he was present as mayor); and in 1425 he arbitrated in a property dispute which had come before the court of aldermen.10

Perneys made his will on 25 Mar. 1434 and died within the year. He was buried in the church of St. Margaret, Bridge Street, to which he left £40 for building works and the foundation of a chantry. His bequests to his wife, brother and two surviving sons came to £290, above unspecified sums set aside for charitable purposes. Besides their dispute with Thomas Badby, his executors faced the problem of recovering 100 marks from the Fishmongers’ Company as compensation for obligations entered into on its behalf by Perneys for the purchase of premises in London: they eventually took their case to law, but the outcome is not recorded. Perneys’s feoffees also appear to have created difficulties by failing to release their title to his property in the City, and it was not until after 1442 that his second son, Henry, obtained a secure title to his inheritance.11

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


Variants: Purveys, Purvis.

  • 1. Corporation of London RO, hr 170/51; PCC 21 Luffenham. According to S.L. Thrupp, Mercant Class Med. London, 360, Perneys was the son of John Perneys or Parveis of East Garston, Berks., although the source which she cites for this relationship (Stowe 860, f. 80) appears highly dubious. It is possible, however, that he did come from a Berks. family and that at the time of his death he had a brother, Robert, living at Abingdon in the same county.
  • 2. Beaven, Aldermen, i. 74, 89; Cal. Letter Bk. London, I, 189, 204; K, 147, 172.
  • 3. Perneys was elected on 11 Oct. 1418 after the sudden death of John Bryan*. He took the sheriff's oath one day later (Cal. Letter Bk. London, I, 205).
  • 4. Ibid. 265.
  • 5. Corporation of London RO, hcp 132, Monday bef. feast St. Dunstan, 9 Hen. IV; CCR, 1409-13, p. 86.
  • 6. E122/76/11, 32 m. 6d, 161/1, ff. 5d, 9, 17d, 20-22d; DKR, xlviii. 250; Cal. P. and M. London, 1413-37, p. 226.
  • 7. Cal. Letter Bk. London, I, 128, 203; CCR, 1409-13, p. 346; 1413-19, p. 374; Corporation of London RO, jnl. 1, ff. 34d, 60.
  • 8. CP25(1)232/72/86; Corporation of London RO, hr 149/44, 155/38, 45, 56, 65, 158/38, 161/84, 162/11, 170/51, 195/28; London Rec. Soc. i. no. 253; Cal. P. and M. London, 1413-37, pp. 288, 293; Arch. Jnl. xliv. 66.
  • 9. C1/12/125; PCC 33 Marche; CPR, 1422-9, pp. 154, 312; Cal. P.and M. London, 1413-37, p. 283; CCR, pp. 50-51; 1429-35, p 252.
  • 10. C219/12/2, 4-6, 13/1, 4, 14/3-4; Corporation of London RO, jnl. 1, f. 60; Cal. P. and M. London, 1413-37, p. 179; Cal. Letter Bk. London, I, 158.
  • 11. Corporation of London RO, hr 170/51, 195/28; C1/9/281. Perneys’s widow, Joan, died shortly after her husband, and certainly before 13 Dec. 1434 (Guildhall Lib. London, 9171/3, f. 412d).