PECK, Robert II, of Huntingdon.
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Family and Education
Bailiff, Huntingdon Mich. 1412-13, 1415-16, 1420-1, 1424-9.2
Quite possibly a son or kinsman of the Robert Peck who was bailiff of Huntingdon during the early 1380s, the subject of this biography first comes to notice in 1405, when he acted as a surety at the Exchequer for his neighbour, John Sabrisforth*. Two years later he attended both the county and borough elections to the Parliament summoned to meet at Gloucester. He also helped to choose the parliamentary burgesses in 1414 (Nov.), 1417 and 1419, being otherwise himself frequently in demand to fulfil this office. Peck may, on occasion, have had personal motives for wanting a seat, as, for example, in the spring of 1413, at which time he was negotiating with the Exchequer for a lease of the royal castle and honour of Huntingdon. These were finally farmed out to him at six marks p.a. on 30 May, with John Bickley* acting as one of his mainpernors, but it was then specified by the authorities that if anyone were to offer a higher rent he would have to match it or else relinquish his tenancy. Sure enough, the previous farmer attempted to renew his lease, and in October 1414 Peck was replaced, only to regain possession a few days later after submitting a more competitive offer. But despite his initial efforts, he was either unwilling or unable to keep up the bidding, and in the following year he gave up altogether. Peck was far luckier in his dealings with the prioress of Hinchingbrooke, from whom he and John Bickley leased a tenement in the parish of St. Benedict, Huntingdon. In November 1412 she agreed to reduce the annual rent of 8s. by well over half, although it is by no means clear if they were to compensate her in any other way. Not surprisingly, in view of his long record of service as an MP and as bailiff of Huntingdon, Peck was active in the borough as a witness to property transactions and as a trustee. He was, indeed, in office at the time of the dramatic quarrel between the townspeople and prioress, which erupted in 1425 because of her refusal to recognize certain local franchises, although (significantly under the circumstances) he was not involved in the violent attack on her property staged by many of the leading residents. Together with his fellow bailiff, John Foxton* (who had been one of the ringleaders), he did however help to negotiate a private settlement with the prioress, just a few days after his return from the 1425 Parliament. A royal commission of oyer and terminer was set up to investigate the affray while the Commons were still sitting, so Peck must have been kept very busy dealing with this contentious issue, especially as George Gidding* then took the law into his own hands and actually assaulted the prioress herself.3
Having retired from public life after his last return to Parliament in 1429, Peck lived quietly in the borough for a few more years. He acquired one third of a messuage there in 1431, but then disappears from the records.4
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Authors: E.M. Wade / C.R.
- 1. The return has been damaged, and gives only the Christian name, Robert. In view, however, of Peck’s remarkable record of attendance and the fact that he, alone of all the MPs who sat for Huntingdon during our period was called Robert, we may reasonably assume that he was elected on this occasion.
- 2. Huntingdon Recs. ed. Griffith, 61; Add. Chs. 33477, 33525, 33529, 33533, 33535-6, 33538, 33617.
- 3. CFR, xiii. 16; xiv. 18, 79; CPR, 1413-16, pp. 244; 363; Add. Chs. 33525-6, 33617.
- 4. Hunts. Feet of Fines (Cambridge Antiq. Soc. xxxvii), 102.