PELHAM, John (1537-80), of Laughton, nr. Lewes, Suss.

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. 1537, 1st s. of Sir Nicholas Pelham of Laughton by Anne, da. of John Sackville of Withyham, sis. of Sir Richard Sackville, and aunt of Thomas Sackville, Baron Buckhurst; bro. of Thomas. educ. ?Queens’, Camb. 1549. m. Judith (d.1607), da. of Oliver St. John, 1st Baron St. John, of Bletsoe, Beds., 1s. suc. fa. 1560. Kntd. 1573.

Offices Held

Commr. sewers, Suss. 1564, j.p. from c. Mar. 1565; sheriff, Surr. and Suss. 1571-2; commr. musters, Suss.; commr piracy, Suss. and Cinque Ports.


Pelham was a Marian exile with his cousin William Morley at Padua and Geneva. Soon after the accession of Elizabeth his father left him the manors of Bevilham, Burwash, Crowhurst and Laughton, with other Sussex property. His subsidy assessment at £40 in lands was only half that of his father, and he had difficulties about the title to some of his estates. A suit, which involved a crown tenant at Laughton, was begun about 1569 in the duchy of Lancaster court, was later brought before the Star Chamber, and was still unsettled at Pelham’s death, by which time he had been sent to the Fleet prison at least twice and possibly four times. Pelham owned two forges and an iron furnace in Sussex.1

Classified by the bishop of Chichester as a ‘favourer of godly proceedings’, he was on the Sussex commission of the peace by March 1565. Both he and Morley were in the 1571 Parliament, when, as senior knight of the shire for a maritime county, Pelham was appointed to the committee for the navigation bill, 8 May, his only recorded activity.

While still in office as sheriff in 1572, Pelham took the part of George Goring I against Lord Buckhurst in a dispute over excessive felling of timber at Balneath, near Lewes. In 1579 he joined Henry Bowyer and others in attacking Edmund Curteys, vicar of Cuckfield and brother of the bishop of Chichester. On another occasion he was ordered by the Privy Council to help to settle a local dispute between Lord Dacre and Herbert Pelham. He investigated seditious speeches at Winchelsea in November 1574. He died 12 Oct. 1580, and was buried ‘by torchlight’ in Holy Trinity church in the Minories, London. His will, dated July 1580, was proved 15 Nov. following.2

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Suss. Rec. Soc. xiv. 181-2; W. Berry, Co. Genealogies, Suss. 314; CPR, 1563-6, p. 40; APC, vii. 203; PRO Assizes, 35 S. E. Circuit, Suss. 7-23; Lansd. 56, ff. 168 seq.; Mousley thesis, 649 seq.; E179/190/225, 283, 298; C3/1/105; 195/11; Add. 33187, ff. 134 seq.; Suss. Arch. Colls. xiv. 234-5; Stowe 570, f. 104.
  • 2. Cam. Misc. ix(3), pp. 10-11; CJ, i. 88; Add. 33084, ff. 12, 14, 17 seq.; Suss. Arch. Colls. xliv. 16; APC, viii. 316; x. 190, 293, 330; Lansd. 146, f. 19; C142/195/119; Rylands Eng. ms 315; PCC 46 Arundel.