PEYTO, Sir John (d.1396), of Chesterton, Warws.
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Family and Education
s. and h. of William Peyto of Drayton, Warws. by Margaret, da. and h. of Robert Langley of Wolfhampcote, Warws. m. by Oct. 1349, Eleanor (31 May 1333-bef. 1396), da. and h. of John Loges alias Warwick of Great Wyrley, Staffs. and Chesterton, 1s. ?1da. Kntd. by Aug. 1361.
Commr. of array, Warws. Feb. 1371; to collect parochial subsidies June 1371; put down rebellion Dec. 1481; of inquiry, Glos. Mar. 1387 (felonies), to take custody of Richard Faversham’s heir, Kent Mar. 1389; of sewers, Isle of Axholme, Lincs. and betwen Bikersdyke, Notts. and river Don, Yorks. Nov. 1490; oyer and terminer, Worcs. May 1391; to determine appeals in the admiral’s ct. Dec. 1391, May 1395.
Chief steward of the estates of Ralph, earl of Stafford, bef. June 1372.
Lt. of Dover castle c.1388.3
Lt. to the Earl Marshal, Thomas Mowbray, earl of Nottingham, bef. June 1389-Oct. 1391.4
The Peytos had come to England from Gascony in the late 13th century and settled at Drayton near Stratford-upon-Avon. It was John’s grandfather and namesake (the Warwickshire MP of 1330), who through his activities as a lawyer advanced the family, and both his sons, John† and William, had followed his profession. The elder, John (who sat for Warwickshire in 1337), was legal advisor to William Clinton, earl of Huntingdon, and to Wolstan Bransford, bishop of Worcester (receiving from the latter handsome rewards), while William served as counsel to Elizabeth, Lady Burghersh, and, by 1361, as attorney-general to Ralph, earl of Stafford.5 The standing of the family was such that John junior was enabled to make a profitable marriage to Eleanor Loges, who, when her father died in 1349, inherited Sowe and property at Great Wyrley: the rest of her inheritance, including Chesterton, falling to her just four years later on the death of John Saunderstead† of Rodbaston (Staffordshire). The Peytos sold Rodbaston some 20 years afterwards. It was with Eleanor that John joined the Holy Trinity guild at Coventry.6 Meanwhile, after his grandfather’s death in 1355, his father and uncle had quarrelled bitterly over property in Drayton and the custody of certain muniments and moveables, John himself being drawn into the affray on his father’s side and supporting him when acrimonious allegations of forgery and theft were made in the courts. When John senior died without issue in 1373, his property should then have passed to his brother and ultimately to our MP, but a substantial part of it belonged to his widow and much of the rest was confiscated by the Crown (to be retained for at least 20 years), owing to irregularities in the grants made to the deceased by Bishop Bransford.7
Through his mother, Peyto inherited Wolfhampcote and lands nearby, and it was also through her that he had a claim to the extensive estates of the Langley family. In 1368 (as one of five claimants) he tried to decide the matter by force of arms rather than by law: he entered Milcote (Warwickshire) and promptly enfeoffed in the manor his patron Ralph, earl of Stafford, the earl’s son and brother, and none other than Edward III’s mistress, Alice Perrers; and he also took possession of Siddington (Gloucestershire). Nevertheless, despite his use of force and subterfuge, he was ousted from Milcote by Sir John Trillow† and lost Siddington after two years. Litigation over these and other Langley estates went on until at least 1379; indeed, the question of title was to be revived after Peyto’s death.8 Peyto’s claim to the manor of Braunston in Northamptonshire seems to have had even less justification in law. In 1376 and again in 1377 Thomas, Lord Roos of Hamelake, complained that Sir John, his father and his son had broken into his property at Braunston, threatened his tenants, felled his trees and fished his ponds. The Peytos were evidently unable to prove their title to the land in dispute, but refused to relinquish their claim, which they pursued, unsuccessfully, for over a century.9 But there were some parts of Peyto’s inheritance which gave him little trouble; for instance in 1386 he succeeded to lands previously held by his father and paternal grandmother at Hodnell, Ascote, Snitterfield and elsewhere in Warwickshire.10
Peyto probably gleaned a good working knowledge of the law from his father, putting it to use in his numerous lawsuits over property. He also developed a talent for administration, which was recognized and employed by such members of the nobility as the earls of Stafford, Nottingham and Salisbury. He began his career, however, as a soldier: in 1359 he joined the retinue of Earl Ralph of Stafford to go overseas, there winning his spurs; two years later he and some of his kinsmen were of the same earl’s company campaigning in Ireland; and in 1371 he was instructed to raise a force of 60 men for service on the Isle of Wight under Sir Ralph Ferrers. It is not known exactly when he became chief steward of the Stafford estates, but it is quite likely that he held the post for a considerable time before Earl Ralph’s death in 1372. After that he was enlisted by Edward, Lord Despenser, for a campaign in the summer of 1473, and a year later he was engaged in preparations for that lord’s major expedition to France (being responsible for the collection of over £6,500 at the Exchequer to finance it), although when it sailed in March 1375 he himself did not embark. At some stage in his career, certainly by 1382, Peyto was accounted one of the knights retained by John of Gaunt.11
In the 1380s Peyto devoted his energies to affairs in England, where he served on royal commissions and represented his home county in four more Parliaments. He also took on such tasks as the feoffeeship of estates belonging to Stoneleigh abbey. It is not known when he first came to the attention of the Earl Marshal, Thomas Mowbray, one of the Lords Appellant of 1387-8, but during the year of their triumph he appeared as Mowbray’s surety at the Exchequer and held office as lieutenant of Dover castle as deputy to John, Lord Devereux, whom they had appointed constable. By the summer of 1489 he was acting as lieutenant to the earl as marshal of England, and during his period of office (which lasted about two years) he helped to organize Mowbray’s expedition to Scotland and to deal with other matters connected with his wardenship of Berwick-upon-Tweed. At some undiscovered time before June 1393 Peyto was employed as ‘receiver’ of money by William Montagu, earl of Salisbury.12
Sir John died on 5 Feb. 1496, being then succeeded by his son William (father of William Peyto, the MP of 1420).13
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
Variants: Payto, Peito, Peytowe.
- 1. As ‘junior’.
- 2. As ‘son of William Peyto’.
- 3. W. Dugdale, Warws. 474, quoting from Gascon roll 11 Ric. II (C61/100), where, however, no reference to Peyto has been found.
- 4. Nottingham Med. Studies, vii. 77. He continued to be active at the Marshalsea until Mar. 1392: Cal. Letter Bk. London H, 376.
- 5. Dugdale, 471-7; CPR, 1364-7, p. 439; Reg. Sede Vacante (Worcs. Hist. Soc. 1887), 204.
- 6. CIPM, ix. 369; x. 102; xv. 311; CFR, vi. 181, 185, 378; xiv. 182; VCH Warws. v. 42-43; viii. 107; VCH Staffs. v. 79-80, 121; CPR, 1370-4, p. 183; CCR, 1369-74, p. 469; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xi. 183; Reg. Holy Trinity Guild Coventry (Dugdale Soc. xiii), 32.
- 7. VCH Warws. iii. 266; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xiii. 36; CCR, 1360-4, pp. 526-7; 1369-74, p. 525; CIPM, xiii. 271; CFR, xi. 83.
- 8. VCH Warws. v. 200; vi. 269, 273; viii. 85; P.R. Cross, Langley Fam. (Dugdale Soc. occ. pprs. xxii), 11, 16; CIPM, xiv. 211; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 101, 265-6; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xiii. 81-82; CCR, 1369-74, p. 334; CPR, 1370-4, p. 301.
- 9. CPR, 1374-7, p. 414; 1377-81, p. 51; 1476-85, p. 539; CCR, 1374-7, p. 534; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xiv. 145.
- 10. VCH Warws. v. 156; vi. 116; Warws. Feet of Fines (Dugdale Soc. xviii), no. 2071; CIPM, xvi. 501; CAD, iii. A4565.
- 11. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. viii. 103-4; xiii. 101; CPR, 1361-4, p. 50; 1370-4, p. 102; 1374-7, p. 68; E101/28/15, 34/5; CCR, 1369-74, p. 451; Reg. Gaunt 1379-83, p. 9.
- 12. CPR, 1381-5, p. 311; 1388-92, pp. 30, 51, 57, 280; 1391-6, pp. 42, 395; A. Goodman, Loyal Conspiracy, 39, 160, 162.
- 13. C136/89/88; CFR, xi. 176.