PEYTON, Craven (c.1663-1738), of Stratton Street, Westminster

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1705 - 1713

Family and Education

b. c.1663, o. s. of Sir Robert Peyton† of East Barnet, Mdx. by Jane, da. of Lionel Robinson of Cowton Grange, Yorks.  educ. L. Inn 1680; Exeter, Oxf. matric. 13 May 1681, aged 17.  m. Lady Catherine, da. of John Granville, 1st Earl of Bath, sis. Hon. Charles† and Hon. John Granville*, s.psuc. fa. 1689.1

Offices Held

Capt. Mq. of Winchester’s (Charles Powlett I*) regt. of horse 1690.

Warden of the Mint, 1708–1714.2


Peyton’s father, a leading Exclusionist, had fled to Holland in 1685 after being implicated in the Monmouth rebellion. He returned to England with the Prince of Orange in November 1688, but died the following year, in great debt, and without having regained possession of his estates. Peyton was arrested at his father’s funeral but appears to have been able to come to an agreement with his father’s creditors, as in January 1691 he was noted as being the foreman of the jury at the treason trial of Lord Preston (Sir Richard Grahme†), when it was recorded that Peyton had inherited ‘his father’s aversion to K[ing] J[ames] [and] had often showed his unquestionable passion for the government and most particularly in hunting after the horses of disaffected persons’. In April Peyton was made a deputy-lieutenant of Middlesex on the special recommendation of the King. In the autumn of 1695 it was reported that he had ‘the vanity to stand’ for Middlesex supposedly with the support of the Duke of Bedford (William Russell†). At the county sessions in October, when the two Whig candidates agreed upon by the party were put forward for the November election, Peyton, who was also present, ‘declared that he would stand and that he had my lord Duke of Bedford’s interest’. However, this threat of a split in the Whig ranks resulted in Peyton being prevailed upon not to contest the election.3

Peyton seems to have removed himself from politics after 1695, and did not stand for Parliament again until 1705, when he was returned for Boroughbridge as a nominee of the Duke of Newcastle (John Holles†). Following the election, Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) classed Peyton as ‘honest’ and a gain for the Whigs, while another analysis of the 1705 Parliament noted him as ‘Low Church’. Although by affiliation a Whig, Peyton’s parliamentary career was to demonstrate a more consistent adherence to the Court than to the party. He was an active Member from the outset of his career, which included regular appointments to committees dealing with many and varied issues. At the beginning of the 1705–6 session he wrote to his patron, Newcastle, about the impending struggle over the choice of Speaker:

The Whigs and Court are unanimous about the Speaker, and we shall certainly have a considerable majority. We cannot reckon the others to be above 170 . . . We think here Mr Harley [Robert*] might have had it, but your Grace undoubtedly knows his reasons for declining better than I do. Some Whigs indeed declared against him, and it is plain from whence the hint came, but the generality being determined to gratify the Court, if he had stuck to his point those gentlemen would have come in to him.

In keeping with these views, he voted for the Court candidate as Speaker on 25 Oct. 1705. On 8 Dec. he spoke in the debate concerning the Lords’ earlier resolution on the Church of England, and he also contributed on several occasions to the debates on the regency bill. On 19 Dec. he spoke in the debate arising out of the insinuations made by the Tory Charles Caesar against Lord Godolphin (Sidney†). After the Christmas recess, he spoke against the Tory motion, on 12 Jan. 1706, for introducing a place clause into the regency bill, arguing that most people were ‘satisfied those in office [were] friends to Hanover’. On the 19th he spoke for the Court on the composition of the council of regency, and, not surprisingly, supported the Court on 18 Feb. in the proceedings on the ‘place clause’. Around this time he was noted, along with ‘most of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Members’, as being in favour of a bill for enlarging the harbour at Parton in Cumberland. Cunningham numbered him among the ‘thorough courtiers’ in this session.4

During the 1706–7 session Peyton took an active past in several pieces of legislation. In early 1707 he assisted in the management of a bill from the Lords for repealing a clause in the Act for the punishment of felons. In February he reported and carried up the bill for enlarging the passage to the New Palace Yard at Westminster, and presented a bill to prevent delays and expenses in lawsuits. On 7 Mar. he presented a report on the petition for the relief of Francis Sarsfield and was given leave to bring in a bill to that effect, which he presented on the 11th. At the end of March he reported and carried to the Lords a bill to empower the Treasury to compound with John Pye for a debt owing to the Queen. On 3 Apr. he acted as a teller in favour of an amendment to a supply bill, which related to the measuring of wine imports. In the first Parliament of Great Britain he was again active in relation to various bills. In February 1708 he reported and carried up the bill for repairing the harbour of Watchet in Somerset. On 15 Mar. he told against a motion for an amendment to the East India Company bill, and in late March he managed through the House a bill to enable Sir William Wyndham, 3rd Bt.*, then a minor, to make a marriage settlement. On 22 and 26 Mar. he was appointed to chair the committee of the whole on the bill for the payment of the Equivalent, while on the 27th he was a teller in favour of an amendment to a supply bill, presented the report on the Lords’ bill for investing the estate of the late William Lenthall† in trustees, and reported on the bill for payment of the Equivalent, which he carried to the Lords two days later. On the 30th he told for a motion to adjourn the debate on the bill for preventing frauds in stamp duties. He was classed as a Whig in an analysis of Parliament early in 1708.

Peyton was appointed warden of the Mint in April 1708, presumably as reward for his constant support of the Court. He seems to have had a good understanding of the work involved, and was to take a leading role in legislation concerning coinage. Having been returned unopposed in the 1708 election, he continued to be active during the 1708–9 session, being described in November as a Member ‘who is of the mind of our governors in the House of Commons’. On 29 Jan. 1709 he reported on the petition of the inhabitants of the parish of St. Mary, Rotherhithe, in Surrey, while on 5 Feb. he was first-named to the committee for drafting a bill for continuing the Acts for encouragement of the coinage, which he presented on the 21st. In the same month he also reported and carried up the bill for enlarging Whitehaven harbour. In February–March he supported the naturalization of the Palatines. On 3 Mar. he reported from the committee on expiring laws, which resulted in his management of a bill to make perpetual the Act to prevent the counterfeiting of the coinage. On 20 Apr. he reported from the committee appointed to draw up reasons for disagreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the counterfeiting bill, and was ordered to deliver a message to the Lords desiring a conference on the matter, from which he reported the following day. During the 1709–10 session he supported the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell. On 10 Mar. 1710 he reported on the proceedings in relation to purchasing land for strengthening the fortifications at Portsmouth, Chatham and Harwich, which resulted in his managing through the Commons a bill for vesting such lands in trustees.5

Before the general election of 1710, leading Junto Whigs pleaded in vain with Newcastle to drop Peyton at Boroughbridge in favour of a ‘sounder’ man. Newcastle refused, stating that ‘I cannot say that gentleman does in all things quadrare [sic] with me, but I had given my consent before I left London that he might pursue his interest in that town’. Peyton was returned unopposed in the election, and was classed as a Whig in the ‘Hanover list’ of that year. However, he was less active in Parliament from this time. In the 1710–11 session he was one of a handful of Whigs to sit on the Tory-dominated committee of inquiry concerning the naturalization of the Palatines (15 Jan. 1711). In the following session, in his role as warden, he presented an account of the coinage on 13 Dec. However, events outside Parliament had begun to turn against Peyton. The death of Newcastle in July 1711 created problems for his nominees due to the conflict over the Newcastle estate between the dowager Duchess and the late Duke’s nephew and adopted heir, Lord Pelham. Like his friend Robert Monckton*, Peyton sided with the Duchess, noting that as far as he was concerned ‘my lady Duchess can do what she pleases’. Writing on 23 Sept. 1712 to Charles Wilkinson, a personal friend who managed a significant family electoral interest in Boroughbridge, Peyton reported ‘we are in daily expectation of peace, but our money here grows difficult to be got more than before, which is not rationally to be accounted for’. He voted on 18 June 1713 for the French commerce bill, one of the few Whigs to do so. Though the dowager Duchess would have put him up at the next election, having written that ‘Mr Peyton has been very civil to me from the first, therefore, I shall be ready to do him any service in my power’, she was not in a position to support his candidature at Boroughbridge in 1713. Although Peyton had hoped to stand on the Wilkinson interest as well, pressure from Lord Pelham, who was opposed to Peyton due to the latter’s siding with the Duchess in the inheritance dispute, forced Wilkinson to withdraw any offer of support. In the end Peyton did not contest the 1713 election. He managed to retain his place at the Mint until the death of Queen Anne, but was removed in December 1714. He does not seem to have stood for Parliament again, and died in obscurity on 25 Dec. 1738, aged 75, at Nutfield in Surrey.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Ivar McGrath


  • 1. T. Lawson-Tancred, Recs. Yorks. Manor, 379; info. from Prof. R. Walcott; Misc. Gen. et Her. ix. 123.
  • 2. J. Craig, The Mint, 206; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxii. 220; xxix. 209.
  • 3. Bodl. Carte 130, f. 324; Ballard 34, f. 142; Westminster Dioc. Archs. Browne mss, no. 21; State Trials, xii. 674; CSP Dom. 1690–1, p. 337; Devonshire mss at Chatsworth House, Hon. Edward Russell* to Lady Russell, 10, 12 Oct. 1695, Thomas Owen* to same, 15 Oct. 1695.
  • 4. Speck thesis, 95, 188; HMC Portland, iv. 248; Bull. IHR, xxxvii. 34; Cam. Misc. xxiii. 47, 54, 63, 73; Cumbria RO (Carlisle), Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/1/39, James Lowther* to [William Gilpin], 12 Jan. 1705[–6]; Cunningham, Hist. GB, i. 460.
  • 5. PRO NI, De Ros mss D638/55/1, Hon. Henry Boyle* to Lord Coningsby (Thomas*), 28 Apr. 1708; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 298; Newton Corresp. v. 2–3 et seq.; Add. 61459, f. 148; Bull. IHR, xi. 160.
  • 6. G. Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 225, 311, 324, 463; Herts. RO, Panshanger mss D/EP F55, Newcastle to [William Cowper*], 2 Sept. [1710]; Chandler, iv. 230; Boyer, Pol. State, i–ii. 688; Lawson-Tancred, 236–7, 252–3, 255; EHR, lxxxii. 483; Speck, 80; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxix. 209; London Mag. 1738, p. 631; Northampton Mercury, 1 Jan. 1739 (ex inf. Prof. J. M. Black).