PEPPER, Christopher (1566/7-1635), of St. Martin's, Richmond, Yorks.

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

b. 1566/7,1 1st s. of John Pepper† of St. Martin’s, Richmond and 1st w. Ann, da. of Michael Hall of Leventhorpe, Yorks.2 educ. Trin., Camb. 1583; Barnard’s Inn; G. Inn 1587, called 1593.3 m. settlement 27 Jan. 1595 (with £250), Margaret (bur. 16 July 1619), da. of John Smith of Easby, Yorks. 4s. (2 d.v.p.), 6da. (3 d.v.p.), 1 unident. ch. d.v.p.4 suc. fa. 1603.5 d. 28 Mar. 1635.6

Offices Held

Recorder, Richmond 1603-27;7 commr. aid, Yorks. (N. Riding) 1609, sewers 1623;8 j.p. N. Riding 1616-28.9


Pepper’s ancestry is obscure, though he was clearly related to the surveyor of the Court of Wards, Sir Cuthbert Pepper†, whose lands at Long Cowton lay seven miles east of Richmond.10 In 1550 the MP’s grandfather William Pepper purchased a share in St. Martin’s Priory, situated opposite Richmond on the south bank of the river Swale, which included the manor house, 550 acres of land and 1,000 acres of moorland. At his death William owned further property in Richmond itself. It was upon this interest that Pepper’s father was returned as MP for Richmond for the first two parliaments held after its enfranchisement in 1577. However, he encountered financial problems, sold some of his father’s lands, and ran up debts of £300 with a neighbour, John Smith of Easby, which were waived in lieu of a dowry when his son married the latter’s daughter.11

Pepper was called to the bar in 1583, but left no subsequent trace on the records of Gray’s Inn. He doubtless practised locally within Richmondshire, as well as at York, at the assizes and before the Council in the North. He was an adviser to the Huttons of Marske, who gave him a modest standing fee, and worked for the Richmond Mercers’ Company.12 In 1603, Sir Cuthbert Pepper resigned the recordership of Richmond in his favour. As the latter had represented Richmond in both of the Parliaments during his tenure as recorder, Christopher could legitimately have expected the offer of a seat in 1604. However, the family apparently waived their claim in favour of Richard Percival*, wardship secretary to (Sir) Robert Cecil†. Sir Cuthbert’s death in 1608 left Pepper with little electoral influence of his own, and in 1614 the seat went to (Sir) Richard Williamson, one of the justices at York, undoubtedly a nominee of the Council in the North.13

Pepper apparently hoped to revive his electoral influence in January 1621, when the corporation resolved to reject the nomination of Sir Henry Savile* by lord president Scrope and secretary of state Sir George Calvert*. Under these circumstances, he believed ‘I myself should have had the offer [of a seat] before any foreigner’, and undertook to yield his place to Savile, who was desperate for a seat, having been rejected at Aldborough a few days earlier. As Pepper was called away from Richmond on the day of the election, he asked for a postponement, but when he returned he found that Sir Thomas Wharton*, whose manor of Aske lay only a mile north of the town, had persuaded the corporation to return William Bowes for the seat he had coveted.14

Pepper was more fortunate in 1624, when he himself took the place of Sir Talbot Bowes, the town’s senior Member in the previous three parliaments, who was obliged to relinquish his seat while serving as alderman (mayor) of Richmond; his partner was John Wandesford, Bowes’s great-nephew, and another Gray’s Inn lawyer. Pepper left little trace upon the parliamentary record: he was nominated to the committee for the bill to enfranchise county Durham (25 Mar.), where he was doubtless expected to support Wandesford, the committee chairman, over the enfranchisement of Barnard Castle, where the Bowes family wielded considerable influence.15 As a Yorkshire burgess he was also eligible to attend several other committees, among which that for the bill to restrict moor-burning (13 Apr.) and the investigation of the patent of the keeper of the gaol at York Castle (19 May) may have been of personal interest.16

Pepper is not known to have stood for election again: Sir Talbot Bowes regained the senior seat at the 1625 general election, while the other went to John Wandesford’s brother Christopher, a trustee of Pepper’s estates. Pepper sold much of his moorland pasture to Christopher Wandesford in 1630, and gave over his legal practice: John Wastell† replaced him as recorder in 1627.17 He died on 28 Mar. 1635, and was buried in St. Mary’s, Richmond.18 Any will or administration was probably filed at the Richmond Archdeaconry Court, and has since been lost.19 He was succeeded by his grandson John, who died in 1648. The next heir died in the 1660s, after which the estate passed away through the female line.20

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. C142/280/73.
  • 2. Vis. Yorks. ed. Foster, 298.
  • 3. Al. Cant.; GI Admiss.; PBG Inn, i. 100.
  • 4. St. Mary’s, Richmond par. reg. (transcript at N. Yorks. RO); C142/280/73, 142/504/89.
  • 5. C142/280/73.
  • 6. C. Clarkson, Hist. Richmond, 173.
  • 7. Clarkson, app. xlvii; N. Yorks. RO, DC/RMB/III/1/1/1, bor. ct. pprs. of July-Sept. 1627.
  • 8. SP14/43/107; C181/3, f. 96.
  • 9. C231/4, ff. 30, 237, 260.
  • 10. For whose connections see W. Yorks. AS (Leeds), RD/AP1/68/56, 82; Vis. Yorks. ed. Foster, 560.
  • 11. C142/160/51, 142/280/73; Hutton Corresp. ed. J. Raine (Surtees Soc. xvii), 160.
  • 12. PBG Inn, i. 100; Hutton Corresp. 193; N. Yorks. RO, MIC 1513/1722-4; Richmond Mercers’, Grocers’ and Haberdashers’ Archives (transcript at N. Yorks. RO), 25.
  • 13. Clarkson, app. xlvii; C142/310/64.
  • 14. J.J. Cartwright, Chaps. in Yorks. Hist. 203-4.
  • 15. C219/38/274; CJ, i. 749b, 766a, 782b.
  • 16. CJ, i. 705a, 764b.
  • 17. C142/504/89; Clarkson, 272; N. Yorks. RO, DC /RMB/III/1/1/1, bor. ct. pprs. of July-Sept. 1627.
  • 18. Clarkson, 173; Richmond par. reg. (transcript).
  • 19. Ex inf. W. Yorks. AS (Leeds).
  • 20. Richmond par. reg. (transcript); Borthwick, Prerogative AB 1645-78, f. 45; VCH Yorks. (N. Riding), i. 307-8.