FRETCHVILE, Peter (c.1571-1634), of Staveley, Derbys.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1571, s. and h. of Peter Fretchvile of Staveley by his 2nd w. Margaret, da. of Arthur Kaye of Woodsome, Yorks., wid. of Francis Woodrowe of Woolley, Derbys. educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1587; M. Temple 1591. m. (1) Joyce, da. of Thomas Fleetwood of The Vache, Bucks., wid. of Sir Hewett Osborne, at least 1s. 1da.; (2) Isabel, da. of Percy Neville of Grove, Notts., wid. of Sir Richard Hastner. Kntd 19 Apr. 1603.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Derbys. 1601-2, j.p. by 1604, collector of the loan 1604, 1625, commr. musters by 1618, dep. lt. by 1624.1


Fretchvile owned several estates in Derbyshire, and in 1596 his county commitments caused him to petition his inn of court ‘in regard of his great affairs in the county, and far dwelling, to have his chamber ... without forfeiture ... for not being eight weeks in commons every year’. In the following year he served as steward of the reader’s feast, finally surrendering his chamber in 1609.2

On 1 Oct. 1601 Fretchvile was returned as knight of the shire for Derbyshire and unsuccessfully petitioned to evade being sheriff for the ensuing year, suggesting in his place ‘sufficient gentlemen’, such as Sir Humphrey Ferrers and John Stanhope. His position as knight of the shire made him eligible to attend the committees concerning the order of business (3 Nov.) and monopolies (23 Nov.). On 27 Nov. he was named to the committee on a bill for ‘the true payment of tithes within the walls of the city of Norwich’. The day before, he had introduced a bill ‘to reform the abuses in weights and measures’, speaking on the second reading, 2 Dec.:

I have learned it for a rule in this House it is better to venture credit than conscience. There are three things to be considered in this bill: the inconveniency, the necessity of the remedy, and the conveniency of the punishment. For the inconveniency, no man but knows it who knows the state of his country. In mine there is nothing more generally complained of than the inequality of measures, for the rich have two measures. With the one he buys, and ingrosseth corn in the country, that is the greater. With the other he retails it at home to his poor neighbours, that’s by the lesser. This is to the great and just complaint of all.

Later that day ‘for that he is chosen sheriff of the county and other his necessary affairs’ he was ‘licensed by Mr. Speaker to depart home’, D’Ewes commenting:

Peter Fretchvile esquire being a member of the House and elected sheriff of the county of Derby did notwithstanding continue his place in the same, by which it is apparent that the said places are not incompatible, but may stand and be together simul et semel in one and the same person.

Quite. The point is that Fretchvile was not sheriff at the time he was elected, and so did not return himself, as did (Sir) Andrew Noel in Rutland. This was what was illegal.3

Fretchvile was knighted by James I at Sir Edward Stanhope’s house at Grimston, on the King’s journey from Scotland to London in April 1603. He died on 9 Apr. 1634, leaving his estates to his son Sir John, the executor of his will. He wished to be buried in Staveley parish church, ‘after the manner of Christian burial, but without any funeral pomp or solemnity.’ He left ‘a new house, adjoining the chapel’ at Staveley Woodthorpe, where eight persons were to receive £4 a year each. An ‘honest deacon’ was to be paid for ‘duly and decently reading morning and evening prayer according to the book of divine service and common prayer, by law now established ... every day in the week to the above eight poor in the chapel’.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Authors: G.M.C. / P. W. Hasler


  • 1. Mort thesis; CP, v. 578; Vis. Derbys. 1662, p. 14; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 154; Coll. of Arms, Talbot mss vol. M, f. 275; APC, 1618-19, pp. 116, 145; HMC 9th Rep. pt. 2, 389.
  • 2. C142/530/160; M.T. Recs. i. 317, 360, 374; ii. 513.
  • 3. HMC Hatfield, xi. 583; D’Ewes, 624, 649, 654, 662-3, 665.
  • 4. Lansd. 94, f. 139; C142/530/160; PCC 42 Seager.