DYOTT, Anthony (c.1560-1622), of Sadler alias Robe Street, Lichfield, Staffs. and Figtree Court, the Inner Temple, London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



May 1614

Family and Education

b. c.1560,1 1st s. of John Dyott of Stychbrook and Lichfield, Staffs. and Catherine, da. of John Weston of Lichfield. educ. Clement’s Inn; I. Temple 1576, called 1587.2 m. (1) 1582,3 Catherine (bur. 24 June 1602), da. of John Harcourt of Ranton Abbey, Staffs., 4s. (1 d.v.p.),4 2da.;5 (2) 24 May 1604, Dorothy (d. bef. 1622), da. of Edward Boughton† of Cawston, Warws., wid. of one Sheffield, a lawyer, 1da.6 suc. fa. 1578.7 bur. 17 Apr. 1622.8 sig. Anth[ony] Dyot.

Offices Held

Commr. i.p.m. John Ferrers, Essex 1587,9 subsidy, Lichfield 1608, aid, Staffs. and Lichfield 1609;10 j.p. Staffs. 1609-d.,11 custos rot., Lichfield 1611-?d.12

Auditor, steward’s acct. (jt.), I. Temple 1597; recorder, Tamworth, Staffs. 1599-at least 1603;13 bencher, I. Temple 1599-d., reader’s attendant (jt.) 1601, Lent reader 1602, auditor to treas. (jt.) 1604-6, auditor to steward (jt.) 1609-10, treas. 1611-12.14

Member, Virg. Co. 1611-d.15


Dyott’s father bought a cottage and close at Stychbrook, a few miles north of Lichfield in 1553.16 Three times bailiff of Lichfield, he may have been a barrister, as he was evidently the ‘little John Doit of Staffordshire’ who kept company with Shakespeare’s justice Shallow.17 Certainly he was granted arms in 1563,18 when he also obtained a small portion of the long-divided manor of Freeford, which lay about a mile south-west of Lichfield. In 1568 he expanded his Stychbrook holdings to around 130 acres.19

The eldest of four sons, Dyott trained at Clement’s Inn and the Inner Temple and was called to the bar in July 1587. On succeeding his father in April 1578, he continued to expand his family’s holdings in and around Lichfield. In 1580 he bought 1,060 acres at Tamhorn and Whittington, while in 1584 he acquired a lease of Bexmore farm, in Streethay, and a further slice of Freeford manor. More of Freeford was sold to him in 1606, but the remaining tranche eluded him for another ten years. In 1610 Dyott purchased two enclosed fields in Lichfield,20 where his holdings also included his residence in Robe Street and a ‘great house and orchard in Stow Street’. Though an active lawyer, Dyott farmed his properties directly, growing wheat and barley, grazing sheep, and keeping cows, pigs and oxen. He approved of new agricultural methods, but may have left it to his eldest son Richard* to introduce them. On relinquishing possession of Freeford sometime after 1616, he advised Richard that the manor might be ‘improved by enclosure and liming and a good stock, so that where now it is very well worth £120 by the year it would be then worth more than thrice so much at the least’.21 By 1616 Dyott was augmenting his income by money-lending.22

Dyott married Catherine Harcourt in 1582, a match which connected him to an important west Staffordshire family and produced four sons. By 1598 he was providing the county’s magistrates with legal advice.23 In the following year he became a bencher of his inn and recorder of Tamworth on the recommendation of the previous incumbent, Richard Broughton†, a fellow Inner Templar. Elected to Parliament for the first time in 1601, Dyott, the senior Member for Lichfield, preferred a bill against monopolies.24 In 1602, the year in which he became a widower, he served as the Inner Temple’s Lent reader. Returned to Parliament as Lichfield’s senior burgess again in 1604, he achieved sufficient prominence to merit inclusion in the notorious ‘Parliament Fart’ poem of 1607, in which he is described as ‘grave Mr. Dyott’.25 In the records of the first session Dyott appears most frequently in connection with the debates concerning the Buckinghamshire election dispute. On 27 Mar. he was named to the committee for drafting the message that the Speaker was to deliver to the king. Three days later, during the debate concerning James’s request that the Commons confer with the judges, Dyott declared that the House should decide the matter itself: ‘First a full resolution of this court, if not then a conference of this House for resolution and then to deliver the resolution to the lords of the Privy Council’. Dyott’s view that the House should not consult the judges initially prevailed, and he was named to the committee for drafting the House’s reasons for wishing to retain Sir Francis Goodwin. However, James, displeased that his request had been ignored, ordered the Commons to confer with the judges and argue the case before him in Council. A committee was duly appointed on 5 Apr., and Dyott was one of its members.26

The Buckinghamshire election dispute was not the only issue which attracted Dyott’s attention. He also participated in the debate to decide whether Sir Thomas Shirley I, Member for Steyning, should have privilege (27 March). Shirley had been arrested at the suit of a creditor named Goldsmith even though Shirley had warned Goldsmith and the arresting officer that he was a burgess of Parliament. Dyott argued that the arresting officer had been correct to ignore Shirley’s warning because, being purely verbal in nature, it did not prove Shirley’s status, which could only have been demonstrated satisfactorily by a written record. Nonetheless, Shirley’s continued detention constituted a contempt, as a written record of his election was now available. Dyott ended by observing that Shirley’s case highlighted the existence of a legal loophole, for if Shirley were released Goldsmith would be unable to execute the same arrest warrant again, no matter how justified his grievance.27 Dyott made two further speeches in 1604. On 4 May he participated in the debate concerning a dispute between Sir Robert Vernon* and Sir William Herbert* over their rival claims to the lordship of Powis, Montgomeryshire, while on 15 June he spoke on whether to repeal a statute which made the lands and goods of accountants liable for the payment of their debts. In neither case were Dyott’s words recorded.28 Surprisingly, Dyott took no known part in the wardship debates of 1604, despite the fact that in June 1604 a wardship which he had purchased ten years earlier was the subject of a petition to the master of the Wards (Robert Cecil†).29

Dyott was named to relatively few committees in 1604. Apart from those already noticed, he was nominated to committees to consider Sir Edward Montagu’s motion on religion (23 Mar.); Sir Henry Neville I’s questions regarding treason and the position of the Common Law in respect of royal grants (26 Mar.); and a bill to prevent common recoveries against infants (27 Mar.), a subject which doubtless interested him professionally. On 13 June he was added to the committee for considering alterations to the Tunnage and Poundage bill in respect of Chester. Finally, on 5 July he was appointed to the bill committee for confirming letters patent.30 Dyott remarried during the 1604 session, taking as his second wife Dorothy, ‘a rich widow’ and sister of Elizabeth, dowager Countess of Devonshire, who gave him a daughter.31

During the interval between the first and second sessions, Dyott wrote to the countess of Shrewsbury on behalf of (Sir) William Leighton† who, like Dyott, had married into the Harcourt family and been educated at the Inner Temple. Dyott was counsel for the countess’s husband and Leighton and Dyott were engaged in a business deal together involving property in Derbyshire.32 At the beginning of the second session Dyott was destitute of chambers. He had been presumably forced to vacate his old ones, having many years earlier complained that they were unsafe. The inn responded to his complaint by approaching an absentee bencher for a temporary loan of his chambers,33 but the disruption to his London living arrangements perhaps explains why Dyott took no recorded part in the new session until 20 Feb. 1606. On that day Dyott and his fellow barrister Francis Moore addressed the House, which was then awaiting news of the proceedings of a joint conference with the Lords. They commented that the law required Parliament to meet annually so as to allow the erroneous judgments of other courts to be reversed.34 This appears to have been the first time anyone in the Jacobean Commons mentioned the fourteenth-century legal requirement that parliaments were to meet annually, and it was passed over in silence by the rest of the House. What prompted Dyott and Moore to raise this sensitive issue is unclear. One possibility is that they were voicing a widely held anxiety about the prospects for the continued existence of Parliament, which stemmed in part from repeated prorogations of Parliament since July 1604.35 Another possibility is that they were seeking to pre-empt the judgment which was soon to be given in Bate’s Case regarding the legality of impositions.

When Dyott next addressed the chamber it was on the subject of purveyance. Speaking on 6 Mar. he enthusiastically endorsed John Hare’s reform bill of January 1606, which maintained that the king’s prerogative extended only to pre-emption and not to price. He reportedly ‘ripped up again the point of prerogative, saying that in buying and matter of that kind it was nothing but pre-emption’. During the course of his ‘long, learned speech’, Dyott drew attention to the implications of Hare’s radical bill, which effectively destroyed the government’s case for composition. If the king had no right to demand goods at lower than the market price then there was no need for the House to buy out purveyance. Dyott therefore not only opposed composition but demanded that the existing laws against purveyance be enforced.36 He spoke again four days later, when he opposed the addition of a proviso at the third reading of a bill concerning the government of Wales.37 On 14 Mar., during the debate on whether to increase the number of subsidies on offer to the king, Dyott concurred with Sir Thomas Holcroft, who argued, quite erroneously, that high taxation in the reign of Henry VI had been the cause of civil war.38 Dyott participated in a second subsidy debate on 25 Mar., when Sir Hugh Beeston offered to pay his constituents’ subsidy himself if they failed to do so by 1 August. Speaking immediately after Beeston, Dyott acidly remarked that ‘I will offer as the last gentleman did ... for perhaps he serveth for one of the Cinque Ports, who pay nothing’.39 His comment was ill judged, for Beeston was sitting for New Shoreham, which was not one of the Cinque Ports. Dyott was granted leave of absence by the House on 26 Mar., but had returned to Westminster by 1 Apr., when he helped debate the inmates’ bill.40 This speech, his final one of the session, went unrecorded.

Over the course of the second session Dyott was appointed to relatively few legislative committees. Those to which he was named concerned George Ognell’s title to a Warwickshire manor (20 Feb. 1606); impositions (19 Mar.); the lands of Thomas Mompesson (1 Apr.); the letters patent of the Pinners’ Company (1 Apr.); the restitution of Roland Meyrick (Apr.); and copyhold (2 April).41 During the 1606-7 session Dyott contributed to several debates, most notably on 19 Feb. 1607, when he supported the proposed Union, averring that ‘the true perfection of glory and honour is either occasioned by Union or found in it’, and adding that unification with the Scots would be ‘the bond of peace and prosperity’. His views are unlikely to have found much sympathy in a House dominated by anti-Scottish feeling. Two of Dyott’s other contributions to debate were procedural in nature: on 29 Nov. 1606 he failed to persuade the House to appoint a committee to consider the Instrument of the Union after the latter was read, while on the morning of 26 June 1607 he opposed Sir William Strode’s suggestion that the House turn itself into a committee, arguing that committees were not permitted to sit until the afternoon.42 Of Dyott’s two remaining speeches, one concerned a bill to confirm a ruling in the Court of Requests against William Cardinall, deceased (6 May 1607), which he opposed, and the other dealt with the jurisdiction of the Marshalsea Court (11 May 1607). His words on this last subject went unrecorded.43 Dyott was named to just two committees during the third session. The first dealt with a bill which sought to explain and enlarge the Henrician statute concerning Southwark’s churchwardens (25 Feb. 1607), while the second dealt with a measure to sell the lands of William Waller. This latter bill may have attracted Dyott’s attention because it touched upon a Holborn inn, which lay close to his chambers.44

Dyott was appointed to the Staffordshire bench in April 1609. He resumed his seat at Westminster in the following year, taking up residence in the parish of St. Clement Danes, where he briefly became a ratepayer.45 He made his first appearance in the fourth session’s records as a participant in the 6 Mar. debate on the third reading of the land bill concerning William Essex of Lambourne, Berkshire, on which occasion he spoke against Mr. Essex.46 On 1 May he was required to help scour the Tower for records which would support the Commons’ claim that impositions were illegal, for he himself regarded these duties as unjust. Though he failed to attend the search, he was one of three Members who were subsequently assigned to look up an Act of 1532 (10 July).47

Dyott played a minor role in the debates on the Great Contract. On 1 May, when Sir Julius Caesar asked the House to vote on whether to debate the Contract in committee, Dyott opined that a division was unnecessary, as it was appropriate to discuss the ‘matter’ in the House, leaving the ‘manner’ to a committee. He again discussed the Contract on 14 June, when he condemned purveyance, impositions and the straining of the royal prerogative, and urged the House to consider supply and support together or not at all. He said nothing more until 11 July, when the House debated the king’s demand for supply. The House had hitherto been unprepared to consider supply until it received assurances that its grievances would be redressed. James had given only a partial answer to the House’s petition for redress of grievances on the previous day, but Dyott, though he still hoped for a fuller answer, thought that this was sufficient to merit granting at least a token sum by way of gratitude. The House shared his view, and accordingly voted James one subsidy and one fifteenth. Nine days later Dyott returned to the question of the remaining grievances when he called on the king to give a full answer to the House’s earlier petition.48 He made only one other recorded speech that session, on 5 July, when he proposed that all unpublished statutes should be printed, especially those older statutes ‘that be for the good of the king or subject’.49

Dyott was named to just four legislative committees during the session. Their subjects included recusants (8 May); the lands of Reginald Rous of Badingham, Suffolk (24 May) and Chelsea College (22 June). They also included a measure to prohibit the export of iron ordnance, which Dyott was ordered to help draft after another bill on this same subject had been rejected (30 May). On 5 July Dyott was named to the joint conference for the bill to restrain canons not confirmed by Parliament. Two days before the end of the session, he and Nicholas Fuller were ordered to draft a bill in Star Chamber against a Catholic priest named Preston and the gaoler who had released him without warrant.50

During the fifth and final session of the Parliament, Dyott participated in discussions on whether to accept the Great Contract. He asked the House to consider ‘what to have, whether to have it, how to have it, [and] how to levy the money’ (3 November).51 Although the Commons rejected the Contract on 9 Nov., negotiations with the aim of salvaging something from the wreckage continued until the adjournment of 24 November. Dyott spoke during this period, advocating a further vote of supply if, in return, the king would refrain from introducing additional impositions as he had promised and leave existing impositions to the judgment of the courts. He also called for ‘some ease in purveyance’, the abolition of wardship and a limit to be placed on the king’s debts.52

In 1611 Dyott invested in the Virginia Company, but like many members of that body he paid only part of his subscription, which amounted to £37 10s.53 He was treasurer of the Inner Temple from November 1611 until November 1612, during which period he and one Edward Blount were granted half of all the sums owed to the Crown from lands formerly belonging to William, Viscount Beaumont (d.1507).54 In April 1613 Dyott was temporarily expelled from the Inner Temple for having ignored an order to prevent a butcher from selling flesh in a cellar under his chambers.55 At the general election of 1614 Dyott was passed over for a seat at Lichfield, but the death on 28 Apr. of the town’s senior burgess, Sir John Egerton, enabled him to come in at a by-election. There appears to have been some controversy surrounding this election, as Dyott subsequently sent a letter to Speaker Crewe, which was read on 31 May to the Commons. The House thereupon voted that Dyott’s election ‘shall stand and no new writ to go forth’.56 That same day the Commons appointed a committee to consider a bill submitted by the London Brewers’ Company, which Dyott had helped to draft.57 However, as Dyott had still to take his seat he was not named as one of its members, nor did he play any recorded part in the remainder of the Parliament, which was dissolved on 7 June.

Dyott was not a Member of the 1621 Parliament, but was named in the committee of grievances for having drafted Dr. Eglesham’s patent for gold and silver leaf, which allegedly destroyed bullion.58 He evidently suffered from gout, as he devised a remedy for the condition which ‘will ease the pain in three hours’.59 He died intestate in Apr. 1622, presumably at his chambers as he was buried at St. Dunstan-in-the-West. Letters of administration were granted to his second son Robert on 26 Apr.60 rather than to his heir Richard, who sat for Lichfield in the 1620s and 1640s. Following his death the Inner Temple ordered Dyott’s chambers in Figtree Court to be demolished and a new building erected in their stead.61

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


Staffs. RO, D661/1/44; S. Erdeswick, Survey of Staffs. ed. T. Harwood (1844 edn.), 306.

  • 1. Age calculated from date of admiss. to I. Temple.
  • 2. I. Temple Admiss.; CITR, i. 346.
  • 3. Staffs. RO, D661/2/791, transcript of letter from Edgar Harcourt to R.A. Dyott, 1935.
  • 4. Vis. Staffs. ed. H.S. Grazebrook (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. 1884), pp. 117-19.
  • 5. Staffs. RO, D661/1/44. This document mentions three daughters - Anne, Mary and Katherine - but Anne seems to have been Dyott’s da. by his 2nd wife.
  • 6. J. Hunter, Hallamshire, 121; C2/Chas.I/D39/24; Vis. Warws. (Harl. Soc. xii), 83.
  • 7. Vis. Staffs. 119.
  • 8. Coll. Top. et Gen. v. 208.
  • 9. Draft CPR, 1585-7 (L. and I. Soc. ccxliii), 90.
  • 10. SP14/31/1; 14/43/107.
  • 11. Staffs. Q. Sess. Rolls, vi. 1608-9 ed. D.H.G. Salt (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. 1950), p. 116; C193/13/1.
  • 12. C181/2, f. 151; 181/3, ff. 52, 59.
  • 13. Add. 28175, f. 57; C.F. Palmer, Hist. Tamworth, app. p. xxiv; HMC Hatfield, xv. 51.
  • 14. CITR, i. 419, 427, 440, 443; ii. 3, 12, 44, 52, 62-9.
  • 15. A. Brown, Genesis of US, 467, 546; Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, iii. 323.
  • 16. VCH Staffs. xiv. 235.
  • 17. Henry IV, Pt. 2, Act 3, scene 2.
  • 18. E. Ashmole, Cat. of Ashmole Mss, 659. The date given in Grantees of Arms ed. W.H. Rylands (Harl. Soc. lxvi), 79, is incorrect.
  • 19. VCH Staffs. xiv. 235, 254.
  • 20. Ibid. 111, 254; Staffs. Hist. Colls. (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc.), xiv. 212-13.
  • 21. Staffs. RO, D661/1/44.
  • 22. C2/Chas.I/D62/81.
  • 23. Staffs. Q. Sess. Rolls, iv. 1598-1602 ed. S.A.H. Burne (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc.), 15.
  • 24. D. Dean, Law-Making and Society in Late Elizabethan Eng. 87.
  • 25. Add. 34218, f. 21.
  • 26. CJ, i. 156b, 160a, 166b; CD 1604-7, p. 37.
  • 27. CD 1604-7, p. 28.
  • 28. CJ, i. 198b, 240a.
  • 29. HMC Hatfield, xxiii. 156; WARD 9/158, ff. 123v-4.
  • 30. CJ, i. 151b, 154a-b, 238a, 252b.
  • 31. Hunter, 121.
  • 32. Cal. Shrewsbury Pprs ed. E.G.W. Bill (Derbys. Arch. Soc. Rec. Ser.), 96, 99, 147, 162; W.R. Prest, Rise of the Barristers, 357.
  • 33. CITR, i. 3501-1; ii. 13.
  • 34. CJ, i. 271a.
  • 35. P. Croft, ‘The Debate on Annual Parliaments in the Early Seventeenth Century’, PER, xvi. 169. Croft dates the first calls for annual parliaments to 1610.
  • 36. HMC Hatfield, xviii. 69; CJ, i. 278b; Bowyer Diary, 62-3.
  • 37. CJ, i. 284b.
  • 38. Ibid. 284b. For pungent comment on the speeches made by Dyott and others who thought like him, see C. Russell, ‘English Parliaments, 1593-1606: One Epoch or Two?’, Parls. of Elizabethan Eng. ed. D.M. Dean and N.L. Jones, 197-8.
  • 39. Bowyer Diary, 92.
  • 40. CJ, i. 290a, 292a.
  • 41. Ibid. 271a, 287a, 291b, 292a.
  • 42. Ibid. 1006a; Bowyer Diary, 351.
  • 43. CJ, i. 372b, 1041a.
  • 44. Ibid. 340b, 349b. For the Waller bill, which was enacted, see HLRO, O.A. 4 Jas.I, c. 28.
  • 45. WCA, B19, overseers’ accts. for 1609-11.
  • 46. CJ, i. 406b.
  • 47. Ibid. 423a, 435a, 439a; Procs. 1610 ed. E.R. Foster, ii. 273.
  • 48. CJ, i. 423b, 439a, 448a, 453a.
  • 49. Ibid. 446a.
  • 50. Ibid. 426a, 432a, 434a, 442b, 446b, 453a-b.
  • 51. Procs. 1610, ii. 399.
  • 52. Parl. Debates, 1610 ed. S.R. Gardiner, 142.
  • 53. Recs. Virg. Co. ii. 508.
  • 54. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 116 (and also 112).
  • 55. CITR, ii. 72-3.
  • 56. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 391.
  • 57. GL, ms 5442/5, unfol., 1613-14 acct.
  • 58. CD 1621, v. 105.
  • 59. Harl. 306, f. 100v.
  • 60. PCC Admons. 1620-30 comp. J.H. Morrison, 34.
  • 61. CITR, ii. 131, 133.