PAYNE, Griffith (-d. aft.1641), of Wallingford, Berks.

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



Family and Education

3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Nicholas Payne (d. by 1597) of Wallingford, clerk-comptroller of the Green Cloth by 1588, and Anne, da. of Thomas Read of Dorton, Bucks. m. (1) Margaret, da. of Peter Cotterell of Wallingford, 2da.; (2) by 1612, Elizabeth, da. of Richard Lybbe of Hardwick, Oxon., 2s.1 d. aft. 28 Apr. 1641.2

Offices Held

Escheator, Berks and Oxon. 1593-4;3 freeman and alderman, Wallingford 1599, mayor 1599-1601, 1602-4, 1609-11, 1614-15, 1616-17, 1624-5, 1634-5.4

Yeoman purveyor of the bakehouse by 1599-at least 1603.5


Payne’s father, a Household officer of Staffordshire origin, settled in Wallingford. Payne himself attracted the patronage of the chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir John Fortescue*, who secured the escheatorship of Berkshire and Oxfordshire for him in 1593.6 By 1599 he was one of the four yeomen of the queen’s bakehouse, responsible for receiving grain purchased for the royal Household under the much-resented system of purveyance.7 He took a greater part in the life of Wallingford than his father, where he was admitted a freeman and chosen alderman and mayor in September 1599. During this first term of office he presided over the election of Fortescue as high steward of the borough.8

Payne was returned to the first Parliament of the new reign during his fourth mayoralty, despite the fact that mayors, being returning officers, were technically incapable of sitting. At the second reading, on 3 Apr. 1604, of the bill ‘for the better execution of sundry statutes touching purveyors and car-takers’ he launched into a bitter attack, stating that the bill would grant purveyors fewer rights than common thieves, who at least would have the benefit of clergy, and he accused the House of ‘go[ing] about to hang some of his [the king’s] servants’ by making purveyance a felony. He concluded by asserting that this was symptomatic of a general disrespect for proper authority in the proceedings of the Commons, instancing the Buckinghamshire election dispute, where, in denying Fortescue the seat, he argued, his colleagues’ had impugned the Privy Council, the judges and the king himself.

The Commons proceeded to commit the bill and then turned its attention to Payne, who was called to the bar. According to an account of the case in the papers of Sir John Holles*, Payne was taken out of the chamber while the Commons debated his eligibility to sit before being brought back to answer for his speech. However, other accounts indicate that it was only after Payne was examined for his words that the legitimacy of his election was raised. All the sources agree, however, that Payne confessed to being at fault in accusing the House of dishonouring the Privy Council and the judges. He nevertheless denied having accused the Commons of dishonouring the king, insisting that he had merely said ‘that the king’s pleasure was somewhat touched’ by its proceedings. Ostensibly he received a full pardon for his speech, but until the question of his eligibility was decided it was agreed to sequester him from the House and refer the matter to the committee for privileges.9

On 25 May Francis Moore, one of the Members for Reading, moved ‘touching the case of mayors’, but the question was ‘deferred till the House were fuller’. On 25 June the House ruled that ‘from and after the end of this present Parliament’ any mayors who were elected would be barred from sitting.10 As this order referred only to future Parliaments, this left open the possibility that Payne would be allowed to resume his seat. However, it was not until the fourth session that his case was raised again. Richard Martin reported from the committee for privileges on 19 Feb. 1610 that Payne ‘did never seek to be restored’, and ought to be displaced, but on being sent for by letter Payne preferred a petition for his restoration (24 February). This was referred to the committee, and on 6 Mar. it was agreed that he should be restored, but that ‘no mayor should serve after the end of the Parliament’. He took his place ‘without further examination’, and without anyone apparently noticing or remarking that he was again mayor.11 He left no further trace on the parliamentary records and is not known to have stood again.

Payne served five further terms as mayor, and was still active as an alderman on the eve of the Civil War. His date of death is unknown, but he does not appear on a list of the corporation dated 25 May 1648.12 No will or grant of administration has been found.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Ben Coates


  • 1. Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lv), 118; Index to Wills Proved and Admons. Granted in the Ct. of the Adn. of Berks. ed. W.P.W. Phillimore (Brit. Rec. Soc. viii), 129; CSP Dom. Addenda, 1580-1625, p. 250.
  • 2. Berks. RO, W/AC1/1/1, f. 133.
  • 3. List of Escheators comp. A.C. Wood (L. and I. Soc. lxxii), 124.
  • 4. Berks. RO, W/AC1/1/1, ff. 86v, 90, 91, 91v, 94v, 95, 98, 100, 108, 121.
  • 5. C231/1, ff. 74v, 94; LC2/4/4, f. 37.
  • 6. Lansd. 75, f. 138.
  • 7. A. Woodworth, ‘Purveyance for the Royal Household in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth’, Trans. Am. Phil. Soc. n.s. xxxv. 55.
  • 8. Berks. RO, W/AC1/1/1, f. 88.
  • 9. CJ, i. 162b; CD 1604-7, pp. 38-9, 51-2, 63; Letters of John Holles ed. P.R. Seddon (Thoroton Rec. Soc. xxxvi), 523-4.
  • 10. CJ, i. 226, 245b-6a.
  • 11. Ibid. 396b, 399b, 406b.
  • 12. Berks. RO, W/AC1/1/1, ff. 133, 135v.