PERROT, James (c.1571-1637), of Westmede, Carm. and Haroldston, Pemb.
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Family and Education
b. c. 1571, illegit. s. of Sir John Perrot by Sybil of Radnorshire. educ. Jesus, Oxf. 8 July 1586, aged 14 or 15; I. Temple 9 Jan. 1591. m. Mary, da. of Robert Ashfield of Chesham, Bucks., s.p. Kntd. 1603.
J.p. and custos rot. Pemb. from c.1601; alderman, Haverfordwest 1603, mayor 1605; dep. v.-adm. S. Wales 1611; v.-adm. Pemb. 1626; dep. lt. and commr. piracy Pemb. by 1634.1
In the settlement of his estate which he devised in 1575, Sir John Perrot made his four year-old illegitimate son heir in succession to his two legitimate sons Thomas and William. The contingency then seemed so remote that he prepared him for a profession by sending him to Oxford and the Inner Temple. But soon after James came of age his father died, predeceased by his childless younger son and survived for little over two years by an elder son, who left only daughters. Thus James Perrot was able to invoke the settlement of 1575, and came into Haroldston, the ancestral home, where he resided for the rest of his life. He also secured a 21-year lease of the priory lands in Haverfordwest, which gave him a position in the borough, and a natural claim to represent it in Parliament and to head the list of aldermen when James I conferred a new charter. There is no record of any parliamentary activity by Perrot, except for his membership of the Newport bridge committee (29 Nov. 1597) to which all the Welsh constituency Members were appointed.2
Perrot’s learning brought him considerable prestige in the House of Commons under the Stuarts, to which period his parliamentary biography properly belongs. Setting out under the patronage of the Earl of Essex, he afterwards attached himself to the Earl of Pembroke, whose deputy he became in south-west Wales. To these two patrons he dedicated two of his radically puritan religious works—an attack on the popish emigrés for the Earl of Essex in 1596 and a book of puritan devotions inscribed to Pembroke in 1630. Ruthless in his own constituency in pursuit of stray recusants (though his wife was one), Perrot compiled reports on recusants by counties, was instrumental in the imposition, from 1614, of the sacramental test on Members of Parliament, and supported a preaching and catechising ministry, sabbatarian legislation and measures against drunkenness. As an expert on procedure he was one of the committee of five called on to straighten out the business of the House in May 1628 when it was fumbling its way towards the Petition of Right, but on other occasions, as in the resumed session after Buckingham’s murder, he was one of those who called for moderation.3
Perrot died 4 Feb. 1637, bequeathing Haroldston and his Haverfordwest lands to a distant connexion, Herbert Perrot of Moortown, Herefordshire.4
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
Authors: A.H.D. / P. W. Hasler
- 1. DNB; Al. Ox. i(2), p. 1149; PRO Index 4208; G. Owen, Pemb. i. 159; Arch. Camb. (ser. 3), xi. 127; Warren, Hist. St. Mary’s Haverfordwest, 41-2; CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 93; 1634-5, pp. 169-70.
- 2. Arch. Camb. (ser. 3), xii. 478-81; Warren, loc. cit., HMC Hatfield, vii. 233; E315/309/137; Exchequer, ed. E. G. Jones (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. iv), 308; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 201; D’Ewes, 565.
- 3. Ath. Ox. ii. 605-7; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 123; 1619-23, p. 213; 1627-8, p. 487; A. H. Dodd, ‘Wales’s Parl. Apprenticeship’, Trans. Cymmrod Soc. 1942, pp. 29-30, 39-40, 43-6, 49-53; 1945, pp. 33-4, 39-42, 46.
- 4. DNB; Leach, Civil War in Pemb. 41, 58-9, 89, 129, 140, 220.