PERIENT, Thomas (1592-bef. 1678), of Colchester, Essex and Gray's Inn, London; later of Ford Palace, Hothe, Kent and Acton, Mdx.

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



14 Apr. 1614

Family and Education

b. 14 Aug. 1592,1 1st s. of Thomas Perient of Great Birch, Essex, and Anne, da. of John Browne of Wickham Hall, Essex.2 educ. Clare, Camb. 1609; G. Inn 1613.3 m. (1) Anne, da. and coh. of Sir Roger Aston*, master of the wardrobe 1603-12, of Cranford, Mdx., at least 1s. 1da.;4 (2) Mary (d.1678), da. of John Pennington of Chigwell, Essex, wid. of John Hodgson, upholder, of London and Robert Forster, Goldsmith, s.p.5 suc. fa. 1612;6 kntd. 22 Jan. 1616.7 d. by 1678.

Offices Held

Capt. militia ft. Essex 1612-22;8 j.p. Essex and Mdx. 1617-25, Kent 1620-5;9 servant to Abp. Abbot by 1620.10

Member, High Commission, Canterbury prov. 1620.11


Perient’s ancestors had held manorial property in Hertfordshire since 1414, but never entered Parliament.12 His grandfather settled in Essex in 1570 on a small estate near Colchester that had come into the family by marriage.13 Perient himself was within a year of his majority when he succeeded to some 370 acres in Great and Little Birch, valued by the escheator at £13 9s. p.a.14 Under his father’s will, Perient was committed to the guardianship of his maternal uncle, Sir Anthony Browne, and required to raise no less than £3,600 for the portions of his brothers and sisters.15

At Gray’s Inn Perient became a client of Sir Francis Bacon*, who arranged his return for St. Albans in 1614; however, he left no trace on the records of the Addled Parliament. In the Christmas revels, like his predecessor Sir Henry Helmes*, he took the lead as ‘Prince of Purpoole’. He subsequently performed the role of a lawyer’s clerk in the Cambridge play, Ignoramus, that delighted the king but enraged the legal profession.16 Perient’s first marriage made him a brother-in-law to Sir Gilbert Houghton*, Sir Samuel Peyton*, Sir Thomas Glemham*, and the eldest son of Sir Robert Wingfield*, and it was presumably due to the courtly connections of his in-laws that Perient was knighted early in 1616.17 In her own right Lady Perient was the recipient of a royal pension of £200 out of the customs, which probably became her husband’s most reliable income.18

Bacon’s protection was clearly of service to Perient when his wife and her siblings were involved in a Chancery suit with their father’s executor, Grimsditch. He was able to gain admission to Bacon’s chamber with an order drafted by the deputy registrar, ‘and then brought it out ... interlined with the lord keeper’s own hand’. A present of game to his patron may not have been unconnected, and he was also known, like Helmes, for his willingness to carry others’ bribes to Bacon.19 He was required to give evidence at Bacon’s trial for corruption in April 1621, and again testified before the committee for grievances in 1624, when Grimsditch charged Bacon’s successor, lord keeper Williams, with improper practices.20 By this time Perient had already taken up residence as Archbishop Abbot’s housekeeper at Ford Palace, Kent, ‘an old, decayed, wasteful, unwholesome, and desolate house’. There, his brother-in-law Peyton presumably introduced him to John Mennes, one of Peyton’s Sandwich constituents, an affable sea captain who advanced him £300 interest-free and ‘without other security than his bare word’.21 Despite this generosity, Perient was unable to save himself from financial difficulty. In 1625 he defaulted on a further loan of £100, and was removed from the commission of the peace. He presumably left Ford in 1627, when Abbot was obliged to take up residence there himself.

In 1629 a cursitor in Chancery obtained a warrant for Perient’s arrest, by which time he was living in Acton, Middlesex. The following year Perient himself brought an action in Chancery against Mennes, whose financial incompetence was well attested in later years by Samuel Pepys†; however, the outcome of the case is unknown.22 Perient was still alive in 1639, when he is mentioned in a grant concerning his wife’s pension out of the customs.23 Thereafter little more can be ascertained about him or his family. Although the date of Lady Anne’s death is unknown, Perient evidently outlived her and remarried; his second wife was a widow by the time she made her will in 1678.24

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. C142/336/52.
  • 2. Cussans, Herts. xii. 253.
  • 3. Al. Cant.; GI Admiss.
  • 4. Vis. Herts. (Harl. Soc. xxii), 156-7; St. George’s Canterbury Par. Reg. ed. J. M. Cowper, 28.
  • 5. Soc. Gen., Boyd’s London Units, 1625; PROB 11/359, f. 480v.
  • 6. C142/336/52.
  • 7. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 157.
  • 8. Bodl. Firth C4, p. 35.
  • 9. C231/4, ff. 42, 45, 98; Cal. Assize Recs. Essex Indictments, Jas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 253; Cal. Assize Recs. Kent Indictments, Jas. I ed. Cockburn, 144, 158.
  • 10. LPL, ms TG1, f. 13v.
  • 11. T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 3, p. 135.
  • 12. R. Clutterbuck, Herts. ii. 321; VCH Herts. iii. 64, 83.
  • 13. Morant, Essex, ii. 184.
  • 14. C142/336/52.
  • 15. PROB 11/120, f. 365.
  • 16. J.L. Hotson, Mr. W.H. 58; J. Nichols, Progs. of Jas. I, i. 52.
  • 17. C66/2189/20.
  • 18. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 385; PC2/43, p. 23.
  • 19. ‘Nicholas 1624’, ff. 64, 65; CD 1621, ii. 251; Letters and Life of Francis Bacon ed. J. Spedding, vi. 331.
  • 20. LJ, iii. 80a, 85v.
  • 21. C2/Jas.I/P24/37; E. Hasted, Kent, ix. 97.
  • 22. Cal. of Docquets of Ld. Kpr. Coventry, 1625-40 ed. J. Broadway, R. Cust and S.K. Roberts (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xxxiv), 419; C2/Chas.I/P18/27.
  • 23. Cal. of Docquets of Ld. Kpr. Coventry, i. 234.
  • 24. PROB 11/359, f. 480v.