ALLEYN, John (1621-63), of Gray's Inn.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



22 June 1660

Family and Education

b. 2 Mar. 1621, 4th s. of Giles Alleyn, rector of Little Waltham, Essex 1616-43, by Elizabeth, da. of William Massam, merchant, of Bartholomew Lane, London. educ. Emmanuel, Camb. 1638; G. Inn 1642, called 1649, ancient 1662. unm.1

Offices Held

FRS 1663.


Alleyn was probably descended from the family which under Henry VIII acquired Hatfield Peverel Priory and the advowson of Little Waltham, to which his father was presented in 1616. He was a clergyman of Puritan sympathies, but died too early in the Civil War to be summoned to the Westminster Assembly. Alleyn became a lawyer of deep learning, but was handicapped as a pleader by a ‘becoming lisping’. To him, however, it was said, the eloquent Heneage Finch was indebted for ‘the solution of many knots in the laws too hard for himself’; and when Finch chose to sit for Canterbury in the Convention, Alleyn succeeded him at Mitchell.2

A moderately active Member, Alleyn was named to 31 committees and made 11 recorded speeches, which (whatever his defects in utterance) reflected the views of the Presbyterian opposition. In a debate on advowsons on 30 July 1660, he spoke in favour of the patron’s rights, provided that they were exercised within six months of a vacancy, and that his nominee was approved by ‘very choice men’ in the county. He was appointed to the committee for settling ecclesiastical livings, but wanted the present incumbents to be given two years to conform. He was among those ordered to bring in a bill restraining leases of church property on 6 Aug., and four days later he was given sole responsibility for the bill, together with another to provide for a competent maintenance for vicars; but both bills were immediately transferred to Matthew Hale and Nathaniel Bacon. He was appointed to consider an additional clause to the judicial proceedings bill on 16 Aug., and added to the managers of a conference on the poll-tax. He served on the committee to establish the names of the regicides, and in the debate on the indemnity bill on 18 Aug. he remarked that ‘he was not in the House when the first vote was made. ... Taking away the King was most barbarous’, but the honour of the House required that those offenders who had voluntarily surrendered themselves should be pardoned, and therefore he could not agree with the Lords. He was instructed to manage a conference on the subject. On 22 Aug. he was ordered with three other leading lawyers to consider the effect on existing contracts of the bill reducing interest to 6 per cent, and he brought in an estate bill on behalf of the Norfolk Windhams.3

Wharton sent Alleyn a copy of the case for modified episcopacy ‘with some circumstances’, and when Parliament reassembled after the recess he urged that a day should be appointed to discuss the Worcester House declaration, but ‘not to do it too suddenly’. He was appointed to the committee for the attainder bill, and took the chair in the committee for the Windham estate bill. He was among those instructed to bring in a clause to repeal the Statute of Liveries, to prepare for a conference on college leases, to report on amendments to the bill for abolition of the court of wards, and to bring in a clause to prevent the adulteration of wine.4

At the general election Alleyn stood down in favour of his friend Sir Edward Mosley; but although he took no further part in politics, his Puritan conscience fought a losing battle with the worldly temptations of the Finches. It was doubtless Sir John Finch who put him up for the Royal Society, but he was not to remain a member for long. The two brothers invited him to play bowls and drink claret at Kensington on a Sunday. He accepted, borrowing a coach from a disapproving kinswoman, but returned with a raging headache which developed into a fatal fever. He died on 26 June 1663 and was buried at Little Waltham, to which parish he bequeathed £300 for apprenticing poor boys. Other legacies to family and friends, including Mosley, totalled £3,500. On his memorial inscription he was described as ‘not more famous for his eminent learning and knowledge in the laws than for his great integrity and uprightness, and his exemplary charity, both living and dying’.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Morant, Essex, ii. 94; T. N. Benson and A. T. Chapman, Little Waltham, 12; Al. Cant. i. 17; HMC Sackville, i. 153.
  • 2. Morant, ii. 131; Newcourt, Rep. ii. 634; Benson and Chapman, 16; Woodcock Pprs. (Cam. Misc. xi), 75.
  • 3. Bowman diary, ff. 107, 117v, 150; CJ, viii. 124, 128; Old Parl. Hist. xxii. 414.
  • 4. Old Parl. Hist. xxiii. 5; CJ, viii. 198, 205, 219, 220, 223.
  • 5. Woodcock Pprs. 75; PCC 76 Juxon; Benson and Chapman, 17.