PEYTON, Sir Edward, 2nd Bt. (c.1584-1652), of Isleham, Cambs.

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



1624 - 5 Mar. 1624
18 Mar. 1624

Family and Education

b. c.1584, 1st s. of Sir John Peyton*, 1st bt. of Isleham and Alice, da. of Sir Edward Osborne† of St. Dionis Backchurch, London, Clothworker, gov. of Levant Co. 1581-92 and ld. mayor of London 1583-4. educ. Bury St. Edmund’s g.s., Suff. c.1598; G. Inn 1611; MA Camb. 1618. m. (1) 24 Apr. 1604 (with £3,000), Martha (bur. 30 Oct. 1613), da. of Robert Livesey of Tooting Bec, Surr. 4s. (at least 1 d.v.p.) 1da.; (2) 6 June 1614, Jane (d. aft. June 1631), da. of Sir James Calthorpe of Cockthorpe, Norf., wid. of Sir Edmund Themilthorpe (d.1613) of Worstead, Norf., 3s. (2 d.v.p.); (3) 13 Dec. 1638, Dorothy Minshaw (bur. 10 Apr. 1681), da. of Edward Ball of Stockwell, Surr. 2s.1 kntd. ?2 or 4 Oct. 1608;2 suc. fa. as 2nd bt. 1616. d. by 3 Dec. 1652.3 sig. Edw[ard]/Edwarde Peyton.

Offices Held

J.p. Suff. by 1614-16, 1617-at least 1632, Cambs. 1617-34 (custos rot. 23 Dec. 1617-5 Feb. 1618), 1636, I. of Ely, Cambs. 1617-at least 1632,4 Cambridge, Cambs. 1642;5 commr. sewers, Gt. Fens 1617-at least 1631, Suff. 1619, oyer and terminer, Norf. circ. 1617-35,6 to compound regarding provisions for royal Household, Cambs. 1620;7 sheriff, Cambs. and Hunts. 1622-3; commr. subsidy, Cambs. and Cambridge 1624, Forced Loan, Cambs. and I. of Ely 1626-7;8 freeman and alderman, Cambridge 1627; commr. swans, Cambs. and other counties 1627,9 charitable uses, Cambs. 1629-36,10 gaol delivery Camb. 1632-at least 1635;11 dep. lt. Cambs. 1637-8.12

?Commr. felons’ goods, several counties by 1619.13

Capt. of ft. (parl.) 1642.14


Heir to one of Cambridgeshire’s most substantial landowners, Peyton was the son of godly Protestants with close family ties to the puritan 3rd Lord Rich (Robert Rich†). Little is known of his upbringing, but a horror of Catholicism may have been inculcated in him from an early age: as a schoolboy at the former monastery in Bury St. Edmund’s, he witnessed the discovery of thousands of bones at the bottom of a well, which he supposed were the remains of children, murdered to conceal the unchaste behaviour of the monastery’s inmates. Like his father, Peyton never went to university, despite Wood’s claim to the contrary, but was awarded an MA by Cambridge in 1618.15 His admission to Gray’s Inn in August 1611 at the age of 27 was presumably honorary. Despite his lack of formal learning, Peyton was the author of five treatises, three of which were published, including The Divine Catastrophe of the Kingly Family of the House of Stuarts of 1652.

Following his marriage to Martha Livesey in 1604, Peyton received a grant from his father of the Suffolk manor of Great Bradley, which lay just across the Cambridgeshire border from his family’s principal seat at Isleham.16 Possession of Great Bradley enabled Peyton to lay claim to a place on the Suffolk bench, but he evidently continued to reside at Isleham.17 Peyton was probably the ‘John’ Peyton of Suffolk who was knighted early in October 1608; certainly he was being styled as a knight by 16 June 1609, when he and his father reached agreement with their tenants at Wicken manor regarding the division of Sedge Fen.18 Great Bradley remained Peyton’s address until at least June 1614 when, after barely seven months as a widower, he married Lady Jane Themilthorpe, the former wife of a Norfolk squire, a match which enhanced his personal fortune by about £7,000.19 It also resulted in his departure for Norwich, where he was resident in 1615.20

On the death of his father in December 1616, Peyton assumed control of a landed estate which was still intact but evidently much burdened by debt.21 However, he was not permitted to execute his father’s will, a duty which instead devolved upon his unmarried sister Susan, who was also granted possession of the bulk of the family’s moveable goods.22 The purpose of this arrangement is uncertain, but Sir John Peyton presumably feared that if he permitted a cash-starved Sir Edward to act as his executor Susan would never obtain the full dowry to which she was entitled. His suspicion may have been correct, for soon after Susan was married in 1618 Peyton was engulfed by a financial crisis. Two manors which had previously been allocated to Peyton’s wife as her jointure were sold off, as was Lady Jane’s dower interest in the estate of her first husband. In addition, Peyton borrowed around £1,000 from a Suffolk clothier in May 1620.23 These desperate expedients failed to prevent Peyton’s finances from deteriorating further, and by October 1621 he was so strapped for cash that he sold for £500 an annuity which would have provided him with £1,000 over the course of 10 years. In the following February he again borrowed money from a Suffolk lender.24

In the midst of his mounting financial difficulties, Peyton was returned as senior knight of the shire for Cambridgeshire to the third Jacobean Parliament, thereby resuming his family’s parliamentary representation of the county, which had lapsed in 1614. He may have delayed making his journey to Westminster until mid-March 1621, however, for his name does not appear in the parliamentary records until 17 Mar., when he was appointed to a committee for a bill to enable the entail to be broken on the Norfolk estates of Martin Calthorpe, a relative by marriage of his second cousin once removed, Sir Samuel Peyton*.25 If Peyton did indeed linger at home, it was probably to monitor the decline in health of the chairman of the Cambridgeshire bench, Sir John Cotton† of Landwade. Peyton felt he was entitled to succeed Cotton as custos, having held that office himself over the winter of 1617-18. However, on the very day that Cotton died (5 Mar.) the chairmanship was bestowed on Peyton’s fellow Cambridgeshire knight, Sir John Cutts,26 who had prudently lobbied the royal favourite, the marquess of Buckingham. Peyton was outraged at having been thus outmanoeuvred, and nursed his sense of grievance to the grave.27

Although a parliamentary novice, Peyton soon earned the confidence of his colleagues at Westminster. On 17 Apr. he was entrusted to report the proceedings of the sub-committee for considering complaints against new patents of monopolies, which had met over the Easter recess,28 while on 1 May he was one of just ten Members appointed to find precedents to enable punishment to be visited upon those who reported the deliberations of the House outside its four walls.29 On 7 May he boldly argued that the Commons’ enjoyed an exclusive right to judicature after the Lords had challenged its right to punish the Catholic barrister Edward Floyd: ‘whosoever represent the commons in Parliament are the judges of their offences. But the Lords represent not the commons, ergo they are no judges of the commons, as the precedent proveth’.30 Peyton’s interest in the question of monopolies led to his appointment to the committee to annul the alehouse patent on 21 April. Three days later he surprisingly offered to guarantee the appearance before the House of one of the men involved in the patent, even vouching for his integrity (24 April). Around the same time Peyton drew attention to his earlier report from the sub-committee on patents, pointing out that Sir Edward Coke had omitted to mention one of the offending monopolies in his own report (23 April).31

Monopolies were only one of Peyton’s parliamentary interests in 1621; another was legislation connected with fen drainage. These measures were a perennial feature of early Stuart parliaments, and when a new bill was laid before the House in 1621 it attracted the attention of Peyton, who shared his late father’s dislike of such schemes. Many years later Peyton recounted that, shortly before the measure received a second reading, he was called out of the House by the serjeant-at-arms ‘to the little room in the lobby’, where the 3rd earl of Bedford and Sir Francis Fane, Member for Maidstone, offered to pay him a lump sum of £10,000, or £500 a year if he preferred, to withdraw his opposition. Given Peyton’s growing financial difficulties, this offer must have proved tempting indeed, but Peyton records that he scorned the bribe with the words ‘no money nor estate would make me betray the country’. It would be easy to dismiss this account as fanciful were it not for the fact that, during the ensuing debate (7 May), Peyton denounced the bill as ‘dangerous’ and ‘bad for the public’ after claiming that he could increase the annual income from his estate by £1,000 if it became law.32

Peyton’s membership of the committee for a bill to reduce the maximum rate of interest a lender could legally charge (7 May) suggests that he may not have been entirely indifferent to his own financial welfare.33 He may also have kept a weather eye out for his neighbour and future electoral ally, Sir Simeon Steward*, as he was named to the committee to consider the bill to overturn a Chancery decree which had disallowed Lady Jermy’s claim to one-third of Steward’s Stuntney estate (1 May).34 As a godly Protestant, Peyton was naturally inclined to membership of committees concerned with recusancy (11 May) and inns (28 May), while his appointment to the conference with the Lords concerning with the Sabbath bill is also no surprise (24 May).35 His theological views may have influenced his opinion on a petition to restrict the magistracy to laymen, which was debated in the House on 25 Apr., as many hot Protestants were keen to limit the temporal power of the clergy. If it was illegal for a bishop to be present when a peer was on trial for his life, he remarked, then it was equally unacceptable for him to attend assizes or quarter sessions.36 Experience of the bench presumably underlay Peyton’s nomination to consider measures concerned with the abuse of licences to beg and the conveyance of rogues to houses of correction (both 22 November).37 Several of his remaining committee appointments, however, defy explanation: he had no traceable interest in the Oldbury tenants’ bill (20 Apr.), for instance, or in the Colchester haven bill (5 May).38 His inclusion on the committee for the bill regarding the purveyance of carts (21 Apr.) is particularly surprising, for in the previous year he had succeeded in removing his name from a list of Cambridgeshire commissioners who had been appointed to treat with the Crown ‘about the business of the undertakers’, a reference to the arrangements which were then being made to purvey provisions for the royal Household in his county.39 On the final day of the session (18 Dec.), Peyton was one of 11 Members ordered to inspect the clerk’s Journal at Speaker Richardson’s house the following morning.40

Peyton was summoned to appear before the Council board in February 1622 and allegedly threatened with imprisonment for failing to contribute to the Palatine Benevolence.41 In the following July he evidently visited the Court at Guildford, where, he later recalled, he and the sons of (Sir) Nicholas Bacon†, the relatives by marriage of his sister Anne, rescued the beautiful Dorothy Gawdy from the amorous attentions of Buckingham by conveying her over the rooftops to the safety of a private chamber.42 Later that year Peyton was pricked to serve as sheriff for Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, an appointment he subsequently represented as a punishment for having attacked the royal prerogative in the 1621 Parliament.43 His suspicions were probably groundless, for although troublesome Members were indeed occasionally punished in this manner, there is no evidence that Peyton had given any cause for offence while in Parliament.

By the beginning of 1624 Peyton had evidently not forgiven Sir John Cutts for having earlier snatched the chairmanship of the Cambridgeshire bench out from under his nose. When news reached him that a fresh Parliament was to be held, he chose to pair with his neighbour Sir Simeon Steward rather than with Cutts, who duly responded by forming his own electoral alliance with Toby Palavicino. The subsequent election, held at Cambridge Castle on 22 Jan., was a confused affair. The 22-year-old under-sheriff, Edward Ingrey, twice held ‘views’ to judge the strength of each side’s supporters. Cutts apparently received several hundred more votes than his opponents, but Ingrey declined to declare him the winner, and repeated demands by Cutts for a poll were ignored. During the tumultuous scenes which followed, Ingrey was shepherded away from the hustings by one of Sir Simeon’s relatives to Peyton’s lodgings, where he drew up the election return in favour of Peyton and Steward.

Cutts and Palavicino were naturally outraged at being denied victory in this fashion, and soon after Parliament assembled they submitted a petition to the committee for privileges, a body to which, ironically, Peyton had just been appointed.44 As a result of the ensuing investigation, Ingrey’s return was quashed. On 5 Mar. the Commons ordered a new election and summoned the under-sheriff to appear at the bar of the House to answer charges of misconduct. The chairman of the privileges committee, John Glanville, was convinced that Ingrey was in some way associated with Peyton and that the two men had colluded.45 Ingrey himself denied the charge,46 but the evidence of two Chancery lawsuits suggest that Glanville may have been correct in his suspicions. One of these shows that Ingrey eventually became the administrator of the goods of John Payne, the innkeeper of the Falcon tavern in Cambridge.47 This tavern, run by Payne, was one of two inns in Cambridge which served as Peyton’s and Steward’s headquarters during the second county election in March.48 As letters of administration were normally issued to close relatives of the deceased, it seems likely that Ingrey was Payne’s son-in-law. If this was indeed the case it would explain a remark reportedly made by Ingrey on the hustings, which was that, as he did not know who to return, he ‘would be advised by his father-in-law’.49

In view of its justifiable suspicions Ingrey was ordered to be kept in the custody of the serjeant-at-arms for a few days to prevent him from interfering in the fresh elections.50 The new election, which was held on 18 Mar. under the auspices of the sheriff, Robert Audley, resulted in Peyton’s victory over his opponent, Sir John Cage, but in the defeat of his ally Steward by Sir John Cutts. This outcome was accepted by the Commons, but both Steward and Cage were incensed, and refused to pay their share of the costs incurred during the election campaign, which in Steward’s case amounted to half of £248 13s. 7d. Like Cage, Steward evidently believed that his ally’s supporters had failed to vote for him. Peyton naturally denied the charge, maintaining that Steward had ‘gained a great furtherance’ at the hustings from his friends,51 but he had everything to gain from a secret accommodation with Cutts, as in all probability his earlier victory had only been achieved by suborning the returning officer.

Peyton returned to Westminster a few days before the Easter adjournment. Although subsequently named to 30 committees and two joint conferences, he played a relatively minor role in Parliament’s affairs, making only one recorded speech, the purpose of which was to report that there were no recusants in Cambridgeshire (27 April).52 Several of the committees to which he was named can be linked to his known interests, such as the one on the bill regarding the lands of Martin Calthorpe (14 Apr.), a measure which had attracted his attention in 1621 as it concerned his Kentish cousins. His name headed the committee list for this bill, and it also topped that for the land bill submitted by his former electoral opponent, Toby Palavicino (19 May). His place at the committee table may have been the price exacted by Palavicino in return for promising not to contest Cambridgeshire’s March parliamentary election.53 Peyton was probably included on the committees for bills to enable Sir Richard Lumley to sell land (23 Mar.) and prohibit Crown employees from receiving secret pensions from foreign princes (12 May) because he had been appointed to consider these same measures in 1621.54 A continuing interest in monopolies probably explains his appointment to the joint conference of 7 Apr., and his inclusion on committees to examine the patents and provisos tendered to the monopolies’ bill (22 Apr.) and to annul the letters patent granting Henry Heron the exclusive right to pack and dry fish (4 May).55 No fen drainage bills relating to Cambridgeshire were submitted in 1624, but Peyton’s antipathy towards such projects in general may explain why he was one of ten Members named to consider a bill for draining marshland in north Kent (28 April).56 Peyton’s membership of the committee for the bill to naturalize three named Scots, among them the ambassador to Denmark, Sir Robert Anstruther (10 Apr.), may hint at a personal connection, for at some unspecified time during his life Peyton visited the Danish Court.57 Peyton’s interests in the remaining committees to which he was appointed are untraceable, and in the case of at least three of them - those for bills concerning abuses in the levying of debts (24 Mar.), the lands of Sir Anthony Aucher* (7 Apr.), and the restitution of Carew Ralegh† (8 Apr.) - he absented himself from their meetings.58 Lack of personal interest did not, however, prevent him from attending two of the five meetings to consider the bill to secure Prince Charles’s title to the Yorkshire manor of Goathland after he was named to the committee on 20 April.59 As a Cambridgeshire knight Peyton was entitled to attend the committee to consider Lady Jermy’s renewed attempt to obtain part of the estate belonging to his estranged ally Sir Simeon Steward (7 April).60

Peyton’s slender contribution to the 1624 Parliament may be partly ascribed to his continuing financial difficulties, which induced him to mortgage one of his Suffolk manors while Parliament was sitting.61 In May 1625 he was again returned for Cambridgeshire as the senior knight, apparently without opposition from Cutts, who was elected to the junior seat. He took no recorded part in the Oxford sitting and is scarcely mentioned in the records relating to the Westminster sitting. After being reappointed to the privileges’ committee on 21 June, he was named to consider seven bills. Those for petty larceny (25 June) and the draining of Erith and Plumstead marshes in north Kent (28 June) related to measures with which he had been associated through committee membership in 1624, while his inclusion on the committees to consider bills regarding recusancy (23 June), tippling (24 June), benefit of clergy (25 June) and subscription (27 June) demonstrate his abiding concern for religion, popular morals and the Church. His appointment to the bill for ease in pleading of alienations (25 June) was apposite in view of his own recent sale of land.62 On 28 June he delivered in a bill to oppose the export of iron ordnance, which was given a first reading. As a former member of the committee which had pondered legislation on the same theme in May 1624, it seems likely that Peyton was simply reintroducing a bill which had earlier been shelved for lack of parliamentary time.63 Interestingly, the ordnance bill resurfaced once more in 1626, when Peyton was again appointed to the committee (14 February).64

Peyton was again returned for Cambridgeshire in 1626, but this time he allowed Cutts to take the senior seat. As in previous assemblies, he played a relatively minor role in proceedings. He took no recorded part in the attempt to impeach Buckingham, now a duke, although he was consumed by hatred of the favourite, a man he described as being swollen ‘like a toad to such a monstrous proportion of greatness in vast thoughts’, that he ultimately hoped to obtain for himself the crown of Ireland. Peyton nevertheless attended the committee which heard medical witnesses testify regarding the treatment given to James I during his final illness, and later claimed that the testimony provided by Dr. Alexander Ramsey proved that the duke had murdered James. He was no less impressed by the evidence presented by Dr. Eglisham, which convinced him that Buckingham had also poisoned the duke of Richmond (d.1624), the 2nd marquess of Hamilton (d.1625), the 3rd earl of Southampton (d.1624), and Southampton’s eldest son, Lord Wriothesley (d.1624).65

Peyton was re-appointed to the committee for privileges on 9 Feb. 1626. On the following day he was nominated to the standing committee for religion which, on 11 May, was ordered to consider a petition which he himself delivered to the House regarding the vicar of a parish in north-eastern Cambridgeshire, whom he termed ‘a whorer’ and ‘a drunkard’.66 His religious sympathies were, by now, well known, and on 20 Mar. he was one of nine Members instructed to pen a petition to the king regarding recusancy, while on 24 May he was ordered into the committee chamber with six other godly Members - Pym, Earle, Sir Thomas Hoby, Sir Francis Barrington and Sir Gilbert Gerard - to add to the House’s list of recusant officeholders a Suffolk minister who was also a magistrate.67 His inclusion on the committee for the bill to punish adultery and fornication (1 June) provides further evidence of his godly inclinations and underscores his attitude towards sexual misconduct, a subject on which he would labour at some length in The Divine Catastrophe. Following the first reading of a bill to drain 360,000 acres south of the River Gleane, Peyton condemned the measure (3 May), which he claimed had been previously rejected by Parliament, alleging its unpopularity in his native county.68 Among the remaining bill committees to which he was appointed in 1626 was one to prevent secret offices and inquisitions undertaken on behalf of the king (14 Feb.), a topic which he had been asked to consider in 1621.69 On 4 and 25 May respectively he was required to help draft petitions to the king regarding the Crown’s revenue and grievances.70

Peyton did not stand for re-election after 1626. Following the dissolution Peyton’s finances may have received a welcome fillip. Towards the end of 1626 his mother died, whereupon her interest in Great Bradley manor reverted to him. Moreover, during October and November 1627 Peyton paid off some of the loans he had contracted over the last few years.71 However, by June 1631 his financial affairs were again plunged into crisis. That month he obtained permission to break the entail on his Isleham manors after his wife, probably fearing that he would try to flee abroad to escape his creditors, petitioned the Privy Council to deny him a passport.72

In October 1632 Peyton was prosecuted in Star Chamber for riot. The details of this case, which resulted in a fine of £20 being imposed on Peyton, his eldest son John and two other defendants, are unknown, but rivalry between Peyton and his Cambridgeshire neighbour, (Sir) Robert Heath*, may have lain behind the lawsuit. Peyton later recalled how Heath unsuccessfully attempted to implicate Peyton as an instigator of a recent riot on Heath’s manor of Soham in the hope of acquiring Peyton’s estates after they were forfeited to the king for rebellion.73

In March 1633 Peyton penned, but did not publish, a treatise entitled ‘A Discours of Court and Courtiers’, which he dedicated to the young James, 4th duke of Lennox, from whom he claimed to have received ‘a more plentiful crop of favours than from any subject living’.74 Though not a courtier himself, Peyton was undoubtedly familiar with the Court and its workings, as his Cambridgeshire and Suffolk estates were situated close to Newmarket, a favourite haunt of both early Stuart kings. Divided into 14 chapters, the treatise offered the usual platitudes to the aspiring courtier, such as the need to avoid vanity, ambition and debauchery, while aiming a thinly disguised barb at the late duke of Buckingham in the form of a condemnation of ‘the counterfeit felicity of favourites’.75 Peyton’s principal purpose in penning this tract may have been to secure the protection of a wealthy courtier to shield him from effects of the impending collapse in his personal finances. If this was the case then he failed in his objective. In the early months of 1634, as his finances spiralled out of control, he was struck off the Cambridgeshire bench and removed from the list of commissioners for oyer and terminer on the Norfolk circuit. By the spring of 1635 Peyton owed £4,100 to Sir Edward Bullock, to whom he mortgaged his estate, but unable to repay even the interest on the loan he was prosecuted in Chancery.76 In July 1637 he bowed to the inevitable, and sold off his two largest manors in Isleham for £9,000 to Sir John Maynard*, of which £7,100 was to be paid direct by Maynard to Peyton’s creditors.77 He attempted to retain possession of his remaining property by borrowing £300 from Maynard, but once again he failed to honour his financial commitments, and in December 1638 he agreed to convey most of his remaining estate to Maynard at a knock down price.78 However, he clung to Wicken manor, and was probably saved from bankruptcy by his third wife, whom he married at around the same time that he sold the rest of his estate to Maynard. So desperate was he to lay his hands on her dowry that the wedding was solemnized the day before the bishop of London granted his licence,79 an act of undue haste which may explain why High Commission considered issuing a warrant for Peyton’s arrest.80

As the country stumbled into Civil War, Peyton wrote a tract condemning Charles’s attempt to arrest the Five Members, which was apparently never published and has not been traced.81 A second treatise, published in March 1642, advocated that communicants should sit rather than kneel on taking communion, and elicited a rejoinder from Roger Cocks.82 Although in his late fifties when war broke out, Peyton fought as a captain of foot for Parliament at Edgehill. Shortly after the battle his baggage was captured and his tract on the Five Members, perhaps the sole manuscript copy, fell into royalist hands. Its contents so enraged Sir Robert Heath that Peyton was condemned to death in absentia. Peyton subsequently claimed to have fought against the royalists at Newbury and Naseby.

The loss of his baggage allegedly cost Peyton £400 in cash, clothes and horses, while the plundering by royalist troops of his brother’s Wiltshire property saw him lose a further £400 in household goods. These financial injuries were exacerbated by Parliament itself, which in December 1646 imposed a fine amounting to £338 on his second son Thomas (who had fought for the royalists) in respect of Wicken manor. On appeal Peyton succeeded in getting this sum halved in February 1649.83

In October 1647 Peyton published The High-way to Peace, a forlorn attempt to reconcile the king, the New Model Army and Parliament. His final work, The Divine Catastrophe of the Kingly Family of the House of Stuarts, was published in April 1652, and is perhaps his best known and certainly his most controversial work. Written to justify the execution of Charles I and bolster the legitimacy of the fledgling republic, its major themes were the corruption of the Court and the tyranny of the early Stuarts. According to Peyton, James I had inherited a ‘vast treasure’ which ‘was all bestowed on the needy Scots, who like horse-leeches, sucked the Exchequer dry, so that honour and offices were set to sale, to fill the Scots’ purses and empty the kingdom’s treasure’. When these sources of income ran dry, new ones were created to satisfy James’s greedy countrymen, among them monopolies, the granting of which provoked widespread hostility, ‘myself after reporting thirty-two patents to the Parliament’.84 However, according to Peyton the most insatiable appetite for wealth and power was possessed by the murderous and sexually promiscuous duke of Buckingham, ‘a lord tall of stature, amiable of countenance, who like a ravenous kite engrossed all into his hands, to enrich and advance his kindred, and to place and displace whom he listed’. The duke’s ultimate crime was to poison his master James, but when in 1626 the Commons began to expose the awful truth in committee, the new king chose to conceal the truth by dissolving Parliament, thereby becoming an accomplice to his father’s murder. Charles again revealed himself in his true colours in 1629. Parliament was once more dissolved and several of its Members were imprisoned, ‘so that Sir John Eliot died and the rest remained in durance, because they had been faithful to their country’.85

According to Peyton, James, ‘out of hatred of his mother’s death’, had ‘plotted the ruin of parliaments’, as it had been a Parliament which had ‘ratified Queen Mary’s execution’. He had done this by limiting their field of action to the supply of his own wants, whereas the true purpose of a Parliament was ‘to reform abuses in the nation’.86 Both James and Charles had used their powers of patronage to pack parliaments with their own creatures, whose presence ‘hindered much the proceedings in Parliament by their vote’, and quickly suborned able Members who ‘spoke for the good of the people’ with offers of preferment. Among those Members of the Commons listed by Peyton as having betrayed their principles in return for advancement were Sir Henry Yelverton, Sir John Savile, John Glanville, Sir Robert Heath, Sir Thomas Wentworth and William Noye, although he added that ‘Master Noye showed afore his death a great remorse for it to some of his intimate friends’.87 Like James, Charles I had hated parliaments, and during the 1630s he had dispensed with them altogether, a policy which Peyton roundly condemned. ‘Without a Parliament’, he declared, ‘kings have no ears nor eyes to see the injuries of the public, but by their favourites’, whose self-interest encouraged them to behave ‘like bloodsuckers to drain the people and make themselves rich’.88

In his 1633 treatise on the virtues of a courtier Peyton had described Charles I in the most flattering of terms. In his youth, Charles had been ‘the true pattern for all princes to walk in, and now is the mirror and glass for all the world’s imitation, being advised, grave, wise, moderate, prudent, chaste, religious’.89 However, in The Divine Catastrophe, Peyton cast doubt on Charles’s paternity, claiming that he had been fathered by one of Anne of Denmark’s Danish servants.90 Moreover, he now likened Charles to the Israelite King Rehoboam, an exquisite irony as James I had frequently been compared to Rehoboam’s father, Solomon. Just as Rehoboam had forfeited his right to rule ‘because he laid such heavy burdens on the Jews’, Charles had deserved deposition and death for having ‘laboured to destroy the commonwealth with all his power’. Kings were ‘ordained for the good of their subjects, not for their hurt’, Peyton argued, for if they were permitted to behave without consideration for their subjects God would become ‘the author of oppression’. None should decry Charles’s execution, for ‘God never punished a pious king that used his people well, otherwise God would be unjust’.91 In Charles’s place, God had raised up Oliver Cromwell*, a figure ‘equal with Alexander the Great’, whom He intended to be ‘a glorious son and a Prometheus’. The princes of Europe were advised to take heed of this development and ‘give over tyranny and submit to the power of the Redeemer and Saviour’.92

It has been claimed that Peyton lived on until April 1657,93 but in fact he died instestate soon after The Divine Catastrophe was published. The precise date of his death is unknown, but he was certainly deceased by 3 Dec. 1652, when his son Thomas submitted a petition to Chancery.94 Letters of administration were issued on 1 July 1657 to his widow Dorothy in respect of his Wicken property.95 None of his descendants sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


  • 1. Vis. Suff. ed. Howard, ii. 122-3; R.E. Chester Waters, Geneal. Mems. of the Chesters of Chicheley, i. 238-40, 243; St. James Clerkenwell, iii. (Harl. Soc. Reg. xiii), 70; C142/376/114; Secret Hist. of Jas. I ed. W. Scott, ii. 391, 461; Al. Cant.; GI Admiss.
  • 2. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 146, Sir ‘John’ Peyton; Harl. 6063, f. 54. See also below.
  • 3. C5/15/81. We are grateful to A.P. Wright for this reference.
  • 4. C231/4, ff. 29, 41, 54, 56; 231/5, f. 126v; C66/1988; SP16/212.
  • 5. CUL, UA Collect. Admin. 5, f. 40.
  • 6. C181/2, f. 293; 181/4, ff. 165, 196v.
  • 7. SP14/113/1.
  • 8. C193/12/2, ff. 4v, 17v.
  • 9. C181/3, f. 226v.
  • 10. C192/1, unfol.
  • 11. C181/4, ff. 105, 200v.
  • 12. Harl. 4014, ff. 24v, 30.
  • 13. Secret Hist. ii. 339.
  • 14. Oxford DNB, xliii. 978.
  • 15. Ath. Ox. iii. 321.
  • 16. E. Anglian, n.s. viii. 291; Vis. Cambs. (Harl. Soc. xli), 5. See also C66/1649, m.35.
  • 17. PROB 11/129, f. 371v.
  • 18. C78/146/13. The date offered by CB (28 Mar. 1611) is therefore incorrect. The date suggested by Waters, 4 Feb. 1611, (Waters, i. 238) relates to Sir Edward Peto of Chesterton, Warws.: Shaw, ii. 150.
  • 19. C5/15/81.
  • 20. C110/44(i)/88. We are indebted to A.P. Wright for drawing our attention to the Peyton deeds in C110.
  • 21. C5/15/81.
  • 22. PROB 11/129, f. 371. Possession of the remainder was granted to Peyton’s mother during her lifetime.
  • 23. C110/44(i)/35-6; Fragmenta Genealogica, viii. 20. The clothier’s bond was for £2,000.
  • 24. C110/44(i)/79, 94.
  • 25. CJ, i. 559b. For Calthorpe’s relationship to Peyton, see W. Berry, Peds. of Fams. in Kent, 213.
  • 26. C142/385/33; C231/4, f. 120.
  • 27. Secret Hist. ii. 441. His recollection of this episode was, however, faulty: he was not ‘put out’, as he claimed in 1652.
  • 28. CD 1621, iii. 1; iv. 232; v. 331 (mis-named William); Secret Hist. ii. 344.
  • 29. CJ, i. 599b.
  • 30. CD 1621, ii. 352.
  • 31. CJ, i. 585b, 586b, 590a.
  • 32. Secret Hist. ii. 440; CJ, i. 611b. See also CD 1621, iii. 186.
  • 33. CJ, i. 611a.
  • 34. Ibid. 600b; CD 1621, vi. 119.
  • 35. CJ, i. 617a, 626a, 628b.
  • 36. Ibid. 590b; CD 1621, iii. 78.
  • 37. CJ, i. 641b.
  • 38. Ibid. 583a, 609b.
  • 39. Ibid. 585b; SP14/113/1.
  • 40. CJ, i. 669b.
  • 41. SP14/127/82; Secret Hist. ii. 440.
  • 42. Secret Hist. ii. 355. For his relationship to the Bacons, see Chester Waters, i. 222. The episode is undated in Peyton’s account.
  • 43. Secret Hist. ii. 432.
  • 44. HMC Rutland, i. 470; CJ, 671b.
  • 45. CJ, i. 687a; J. Glanville, Reps. of Certain Cases Determined and Adjudged by the Commons in Parl. (1775), p. 83.
  • 46. ‘Nicholas 1624’, p. 129.
  • 47. C2/Chas.I/I23/36.
  • 48. C2/Chas.I/P56/18.
  • 49. ‘Holland 1624’, i. f. 27. Payne’s letters of admon. have not been traced.
  • 50. CJ, i. 687b.
  • 51. C2/Chas.I/I23/36; 2/Chas.I/P56/18.
  • 52. CJ, i. 776a.
  • 53. Ibid. 705a, 707a, 766a; L. Stone, Sir Horatio Palavicino, 312-13.
  • 54. CJ, i. 703a, 747a (cf. 562a, 626b).
  • 55. Ibid. 698a, 757b, 773a.
  • 56. Ibid. 777a.
  • 57. Ibid. 761a; Secret Hist. ii. 391.
  • 58. CJ, i. 748b, 757a, 758a; C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 199, 225; Harl. 6806, f. 274.
  • 59. CJ, i. 771b; Kyle, 198.
  • 60. CJ, i. 757a. It may be significant that he was not named in person.
  • 61. C110/44(i)/35.
  • 62. Procs. 1625, pp. 206, 226, 239, 245-6, 254, 257.
  • 63. Ibid. 257; CJ, i. 702a.
  • 64. Procs. 1626, ii. 33.
  • 65. Ibid. iii. 38, 57, 68; Secret Hist. ii. 359-62. Southampton and Wriothesley were plague victims, but Hamilton may have been poisoned: CP.
  • 66. Procs. 1626, ii. 7, 13; iii. 231.
  • 67. Ibid. ii. 321; iii. 317.
  • 68. Ibid. iii. 146.
  • 69. Ibid. ii. 33; CJ, i. 597a.
  • 70. Procs. 1626, iii. 156, 331.
  • 71. PROB 11/150, f. 313r-v; LC4/200, ff. 66r-v, 202v; C110/44(i)/76.
  • 72. C110/45(i)/124; APC, 1630-1, p. 390.
  • 73. CSP Dom. 1631-3, p. 424; SP16/232/43; Secret Hist. ii. 385; K. Lindley, Fenland Riots and the English Rev. 85-6.
  • 74. Harl. 3364, f. 2. Lennox was almost 19: CP.
  • 75. Harl. 3364, f. 3r-v.
  • 76. C110/44(i)/51; C3/397/118; C2/Chas.I/B157.
  • 77. C110/44(i)/4, 19, 22.
  • 78. C110/44(ii)/70-1; 110/45(i)/180.
  • 79. Bp. of London Mar. Lics. 1611-1828 ed. G.J. Armytage (Harl. Soc. xxvi), 239; St. James Clerkenwell iii. (Harl. Soc. Reg. xiii), 70.
  • 80. CSP Dom. 1638-9, p. 206.
  • 81. Secret Hist. ii. 384.
  • 82. E. Peyton, A Discourse concerning the Fitnesse of the Posture necessary to be used in taking the Bread and Wine at the Sacrament; R. Cocks, An Answer to a book by Sir Edward Peyton.
  • 83. CCC, 1491-2; Secret Hist. ii. 384-5.
  • 84. Secret Hist. ii. 343-4.
  • 85. Ibid. 359-63.
  • 86. Ibid. 314, 431.
  • 87. Ibid. 426, 435-6.
  • 88. Ibid. 411.
  • 89. Harl. 3364, f. 15v.
  • 90. Secret Hist. ii. 339.
  • 91. Ibid. 407-10.
  • 92. Ibid. 462, 464.
  • 93. CB. It has also been claimed that Peyton was a prisoner in the Tower in 1655: Oxford DNB, xliii. 978.
  • 94. C5/15/81. See also C5/178/9; C110/44, pt. 2, no. 8.
  • 95. PCC Admons. 1655-60, ii. ed. C.H. Ridge (Brit. Rec. Soc. lxxiv), 159.