PRIDEAUX, Peter (1626-1705), of Netherton, nr. Honiton, Devon.

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



22 June 1685

Family and Education

bap. 13 July 1626, 4th but o. surv. s. of Sir Peter Prideaux, 2nd Bt. of Netherton by Susanna, da. of Sir Anthony Powlett of Hinton St. George, Som. m. 17 Nov. 1645 Elizabeth, da. of Sir Bevil Granville of Stow, Cornw. 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 6da. suc. fa. as 3rd Bt. Jan./Feb. 1682.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Devon Aug. 1660-80, 1689-90, col. of militia ft. Oct. 1660-before 1680, dep. lt. 1661-?87, 1703-d.; commr. for oyer and terminer, Western circuit 1661; v.-warden of the stannaries, Devon 1662-bef. 1676; sub-commr. of prizes, Portsmouth 1665-7, Plymouth 1672-4; freeman, Portsmouth 1665, Saltash 1683; commr. for pressing seamen, Devon c.1665-6, j.p. 1674-July 1688, Oct. 1688-d., commr. for recusants 1675; alderman, Tiverton 1683-Jan. 1688.2

Commr. for excise appeals 1670-9.3


Prideaux’s ancestors can be traced in Cornwall to the days of the Conqueror, and represented that county from 1298. The Netherton and Forde Abbey branches were founded by Prideaux’s grandfather, a younger son who became an eminent lawyer. Prideaux’s father tried to observe neutrality in the Civil War, but it did not pay; having collected £15,000 as commissioner of assessment for Parliament in 1643, he was compelled to sue out a pardon, contributing as much again to the Royalist coffers, and was accordingly liable to decimation under the Protectorate. Prideaux’s marriage to the daughter of the principal Cavalier hero in the west leaves little doubt where his own sympathies lay.4

In the general election of 1661, Prideaux was returned for Liskeard, probably on the Granville interest. But he opted for the family borough of Honiton, although it appears that it was his father who had been elected. He was moderately active in the Cavalier Parliament, serving on 75 committees, but made no speeches. With his colleague Sir Courtenay Pole and a Worcestershire Member he was ordered on 19 Feb. 1662 to bring in a bill against wearing foreign bone-lace. He was concerned with additional legislation for regulating corporations in 1662, 1663 and 1664. In April 1668 he was named to two important committees, to inspect the militia laws and to prepare a habeas corpus bill, but subsequently he played no part in legislation of political significance. He was on both lists of the court party in 1669-71, on the Paston list, and on the working lists. Sir Richard Wiseman wrote that he and Sir John Fowell were both known to Danby as sure men. It was alleged that he was in receipt of a secret pension of £200 p.a. ‘and his daily food’. The figure for his salary as commissioner for excise appeals was correct, though the payments were hardly secret; in addition he received a lump sum of £1,500 in 1671. No friend to nonconformity, he told a conventicler that he deserved to have his house pulled down about his ears for putting it to such a use. In 1675, Prideaux obliged Sir William Courtenay by acting as teller against a motion for sending in custody for Courtenay’s attorney, charged with breach of privilege by Sir Francis Lawley. In 1677 he was marked by Shaftesbury as ‘thrice vile’, and he was again on both lists of the court party in 1678.5

Prideaux may have contested Honiton in the court interest at one or two of the Exclusion elections. In 1685 he was strongly recommended at Bodmin by Lord Bath, his brother-in-law, but although he had connexions with the borough, he was not chosen. Presumably Bath later found a seat for him at St. Mawes, by arrangement with (Sir) Joseph Tredenham, who chose to sit for Grampound. But Prideaux was completely inactive for what remained of James II’s Parliament. He returned the standard negative answer to the questions put by Bath as lord lieutenant of Devon on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws. He rallied to William of Orange at Exeter during the Revolution, but he opposed the Association in 1696, and objected to the exclusion of Jacobites from the lieutenancy. A younger son entered Parliament as Member for Newport, Cornwall in 1701, but his heir did not sit till 1713, eight years after Prideaux’s death on 22 Nov. 1705.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 622.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. ii. 264; iv. 152, 433, 695; v. 197, 663, 1204, 1263; CSP Dom. 1665-6, p. 270; 1667-8, p. 108; 1671-2, p. 94; 1672-3, p. 236; HMC 14th Rep. IX, 274; M. Dunsford, Hist. Mems. Tiverton, 193; Exeter City Library, 48/14/152/1; R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 359; PC2/72/582.
  • 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. iii. 395; vi. 46.
  • 4. W. H. Black, Docquets of Letters Patent, 146; Cal. Comm. Adv. Money, 471; CSP Dom. 1665-6, p. 290.
  • 5. Harl. 7020, f. 43; CSP Dom. 1671, p. 187; Calamy, Contin. 356.
  • 6. CSP Dom. 1682, p. 539; 1700-2, p. 251; Maclean, Trigg Minor, i. 144, 216-17; HMC 7th Rep. 416; HMC 13th Rep. VI, 38, 40.