PERNE, Christopher (b. by 1530), of London.

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. by 1530, prob. yr. s. of John Perne of East Bilney, Norf. educ. Queens’, Camb. 1544. ?m., at least 3s.

Offices Held


The sixteenth-century pedigree of the Perne family gives two names only—Andrew Perne, who was a fellow of Queens’, Cambridge and afterwards master of Peterhouse, and John Perne of Bilney, Norfolk, Andrew’s father. This was probably the John whose widow Cecily and sons Gregory, William and John are mentioned in the Betely court rolls (1557-8). There seem to have been several branches of the family in East Anglia: a Christopher Perne of Little Walsingham, Norfolk, died about 1535, and Bridget, daughter of Christopher Perne of West Barsham, Norfolk, married into a Pensthorpe family in the same county. The Christopher Perne who matriculated at Queens’ soon after Andrew became a fellow there, was presumably a relative, probably a younger brother rather than a nephew, as his nephews were much younger and attended Peterhouse after he had become master. Perne’s parliamentary constituencies suggest a connexion with the 2nd Earl of Bedford, who would have been his contemporary at Cambridge. It is likely that he is to be identified with the Mr. Perne who opposed a government bill in the Parliament of 1555, as, two days after the dissolution, he was committed to the Fleet. Otherwise only scattered references to Perne have been found, all concerned with the period 1553-66. The pardon roll at the beginning of Mary’s reign described him simply as ‘of London, gent.’ As well as the episode already mentioned, he was implicated in the Henry Dudley plot, being committed to ward on 30 May 1556. His membership of the 1558 Parliament was challenged on the ground that he had no warrant for his return, and he was put in the custody of the serjeant-at-arms. Obviously the authorities wanted him out of the way. The Privy Council banished him seven miles from the court ten days after the end of the first session of that Parliament.2

Things were no better after Elizabeth’s accession. On 26 Feb. 1563 a correspondent wrote to Sir Thomas Smith ‘your old scholar Perne hath lit into a great mishap, taken with a lewd manner in picking of gold buttons, and ... other briberies found in his chamber; it shall be hard to recover his name’. A parliamentary precedent book, founded on the treatise by William Lambarde, provides a sequel: ‘Perne was committed to the Marshalsea for pickery, without any notice given to the House’. A new writ was issued for Grampound 29 Oct. 1566, Perne being ‘reported to be lunatic’.3

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Vis. Cambs. (Harl. Soc. xli), 93; G. A. Carthew, Hundred of Launditch, ii. 639-40; Norwich consistory ct. wills 1535, 40, 41 Puntyng; Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. xxxii), 149; Guildford Mus. Loseley 1331/2; CPR, 1555-7, p. 453; APC, v. 203, 275; vi. 287; CJ, i. 51.
  • 3. N. and Q. (ser.. 6), ii. 185. No reference is given for this letter, which is ascribed in error to Robert Cecil; Add. 5123, f. 16v; CJ, i. 75; D’Ewes, 126.