DYOTT, Richard (c.1590-1660), of Stafford, Sadler alias Robe Street, Lichfield, Staffs. and the Inner Temple, London

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1624 - 22 Mar. 1624
1 Apr. 1624
1640 (Apr.)

Family and Education

b. c.1590, 1st s. of Anthony Dyott* and 1st w. Catherine, da. of John Harcourt of Ranton Abbey, Staffs. educ. Corpus Christi, Oxf. 1604, BA 1607; I. Temple 1607, called 1615.1 m. 4 Jan. 1615, Dorothy (bur. 11 Apr. 1672), da. and h. of Richard Dorington, grocer and alderman of Stafford, 6s. (2 d.v.p.).2 suc. fa. 1622; kntd. 13 Sept. 1635.3 d. 8 Mar. 1660. sig. Ric[hard] Dyot.

Offices Held

Steward, Lichfield 1622-41;4 recorder, Stafford by 1624-31;5 justice, Council in the North 1628-41;6 steward, reader’s dinner (jt.), I. Temple 1633;7 temporal chan., Palatinate of Dur. 1639-at least 1640;8 master in Chancery extraordinary c.1655.9

Commr. subsidy, Lichfield 1624;10 j.p. Ripon, Yorks. 1629,11 Yorks. (W., N. and E. Ridings) 1630-at least 1640, Staffs. 1634-at least 1640, co. Dur. 1639-at least 1640;12 commr. gaol delivery, Ripon 1629-at least 1633,13 recusancy, northern counties 1630,14 oyer and terminer, Northern circ. 1632,15 charitable uses, Staffs. 1634, 1637-at least 1639,16 sewers 1634, swans, Staffs. and Warws. 1635,17 array, Staffs. 1642,18 assessment (roy.) 1643.19


The eldest son of a Staffordshire barrister, Richard Dyott was trained for the law, receiving an education at Corpus Christi, Oxford and the Inner Temple. In January 1615, five months before he was called to the bar, he married the daughter and heir of a wealthy Stafford alderman, Richard Dorington. Over the next seven or eight years he lived in Stafford, where four of his sons were baptized, perhaps in his father-in-law’s household. In November 1620 he was elected the borough’s junior parliamentary burgess, doubtless at the behest of Dorington, who had claimed the right to nominate candidates at the previous two general elections.

Dyott played no recorded role in the 1621 Parliament. However, he did keep a rough diary of its proceedings,20 being by inclination an inveterate note-taker, with a habit for jotting down observations, anecdotes and sayings that interested and amused him.21 This diary comprises a single paper volume, with entries written mainly in longhand and brown ink. At 148mm wide by 194mm long it was small enough to fit comfortably on Dyott’s lap. Unfortunately it is now so water-damaged and faded that in many places it is illegible. Indeed, the final 14 pages are so indistinct that it is uncertain from this manuscript alone whether Dyott recorded the whole Parliament or whether his notes continue only down to the adjournment of 4 June.22 So far as can be determined, all entries in the diary are in Dyott’s own hand, with the exception of two passages relating to proceedings on 23 Mar., which are in a script larger and neater than Dyott’s own. The first section comprises the bulk of the king’s speech to the Lords as it was reported to the Commons in the Painted Gallery by the lord treasurer (Sir Henry Montagu*). The second, shorter section, concerns the thanking of the king that afternoon at Whitehall. Both sections were probably incorporated into the diary by a secretary from parliamentary separates. The main focus of the diary is on procedure and speeches. Its author rarely recorded the reading of legislation, unlike several of his fellow diarists, such as Sir Thomas Barrington, Edward Nicholas and John Smith. Dyott’s diary was overlooked by the Yale Centre for Parliamentary History when it published its transcripts of the 1621 parliamentary diaries in the 1920s. However, the Yale editors did discover a fair copy among the papers of the Belasyse family that differs only in minor details from the original, which they provisionally labelled the Belasyse diary.23 From this version, which was published alongside the other 1621 diaries, it is apparent that Dyott recorded the events of the winter sitting as well as those leading up to the summer adjournment.

Sometime after the autumn of 1621 Dyott became recorder of Stafford in succession to Matthew Cradock*, who had quarrelled with his colleagues on the corporation, among them Dyott’s father-in-law Richard Dorington. However, following the death of his father in April 1622, Dyott left Stafford for Lichfield, where in September he was appointed steward. His inheritance, most of which came to him during his father’s lifetime,24 amounted to about 1,300 acres and included two houses in Lichfield and various nearby properties which his father had leased or bought, most notably the manor of Freeford.25 Despite moving to Lichfield, Dyott remained Stafford’s choice for its second parliamentary seat in January 1624. The election took place during a meeting of the town council, after Dyott’s father-in-law unexpectedly produced a precept from the county sheriff. Dorington’s surprise tactic seems to have been calculated to upset the plans of Sir William Walter*, who had expressed an interest in the second seat. However, although Dyott was subsequently returned, Walter complained to the Commons that he had received more votes than his rival, whom he accused of securing his return ‘upon promise of saving the mayor harmless’. On investigating this complaint the committee for privileges found that it scarcely mattered whether Walter or Dyott had received the most votes, as the election had clearly been held without due warning.26 Consequently it was declared void on 22 Mar.,27 and Dyott, who had hitherto been permitted to sit in the House, was forced to seek re-election at the beginning of April.

Dyott played only a minor role in the 1624 Parliament. As in 1621 he kept a diary, though this too is now so water-damaged as to be illegible in many places.28 On 25 Feb. he was named to the committee for drafting a message to the Lords concerning the need to banish popish priests.29 Immediately after the appointment of this committee, Dyott underscored the importance of its intended work by drawing his listeners’ attention to a recent incident in his native Staffordshire. In this, his maiden speech, he related that a priest named Dr. Bishop, styling himself the bishop of Chalcedon,

hath lately gone up and down Staffordshire clad in a rich cope with a mitre on his head and a crosier’s staff in his hand and six chaplains attending on him, and confirmed numbers of people in divers places, in some places 160 at a time and in three gentlemen’s houses of that country confirmed 400, and the papists did not desire to conceal this but boasted of it to diverse others otherwise affected what a brave and glorious religion theirs was and how base and poor ours was.30

Most of Dyott’s fellow diarist-Members recorded this speech, many in detail, indicating the deep impression that it made on a Commons fearful of the rise of militant Catholicism at home and abroad.31 It may also have established its author’s anti-papist credentials, for on 28 Apr. Dyott was appointed to the select committee to investigate the claim that many schoolmasters and university lecturers were Catholic.32 Dyott made only one other recorded speech, concerning the affidavits which had been taken before the masters in Chancery following the disputed Cambridgeshire election of that year. Dyott favoured admitting affidavits as evidence provided they were used solely to establish the events surrounding the election, although he agreed that they should not be used to determine ‘the merits of the cause’. Later that day (5 Mar.) Dyott was appointed to the committee for the bill to make it easier to plead licences of alienation.33

While the 1624 Parliament sat, Dyott applied to join the ailing Virginia Company, to which his father had belonged, but although he was promised admission at the next meeting he appears never to have become a member.34 In 1625 Dyott was again returned to Parliament, but as the senior burgess for Lichfield rather than the junior Member for Stafford. This may have been the last occasion on which Dyott kept a diary, though as many of his papers were destroyed during the Civil War it is difficult to be sure.35 Although the coverage of the 1625 diary, which is intermingled with that of 1624, is restricted to just three days of the Oxford sitting (5, 11 and 12 Aug.),36 Dyott was certainly present during the earlier Westminster meeting. Indeed, on 7 July he boldly challenged the House’s appointment of a sub-committee to list those articles in the books of the Arminian cleric Richard Montagu which were regarded as so offensive as to merit complaint to the House of Lords. Despite his vehemently anti-Catholic utterances in the previous Parliament, Dyott’s sympathies lay firmly with Montagu and his ilk, as his private notebook makes clear. While he detested popery, he had little time for puritans, whom he accused of preferring to ‘draw from the lake of Geneva than from the ocean of the Church’, or indeed for Calvinists in general, whom he regarded as ‘doctrinal puritans’. On 7 July, therefore, he and a number of other, unidentified Members, set about ‘questioning the cognisance of the House in matters of religion’, and ‘insinuating, so much as they dared, a defence of Mr. Montagu’s doctrine as being popular and most common, and not yet condemned by the Church of England’. It was Dyott, however, who proved most forceful, pushing his objections ‘so far that he gave distaste to the House’.37

Dyott continued to antagonize his puritan colleagues in 1626, when he once again represented Lichfield. Before being named to the committee to consider the bill against scandalous ministers (15 Feb.), a hardy puritan perennial, he mischievously proposed that a clause commending the clergy be inserted in the preamble.38 However, it was as an apologist of the duke of Buckingham that Dyott gave most offence to his colleagues. When, on 4 May, (Sir) John Eliot demanded that Buckingham be imprisoned on the grounds that he had been accused of treason in the Lords, Dyott declared that the motion was ‘not just, not regular’. He pointed out, entirely correctly, that where a peer was accused by his fellows, precedent suggested that the Lords alone, and not the Commons, were entitled to demand his imprisonment. For the Commons to usurp the functions of the Lords would ‘break the good correspondency between them and us’. Later that same day Dyott challenged the credibility of a witness who had cast doubt on Buckingham’s religion.39 However, it was not until 9 May that Dyott’s defence of the duke landed him in serious trouble. The previous day Dyott had attended the joint conference with the Lords to hear charges laid against Buckingham. Several of Dyott’s colleagues, who had also been present, had been enraged at the confident demeanour of the duke, which they conceived had been calculated to irritate them. Dyott, however, wondered what Buckingham had done that was so offensive. ‘I saw a cheerful countenance’, he remarked, ‘but no affront to any man there, no disparagement to us’. Dyott then accused those who criticized the duke of being the real offenders. Had Buckingham’s behaviour really been disagreeable, he argued, then surely the Lords would have reprimanded him, unless, that is, they had been too frightened to do so. If anyone in the House believed that the peers were too timorous to take action against the duke they were being insolent, for ‘it is an indignity to the Lords to think them thus poor and pusillanimous’. This highly provocative observation was too much for many Members, and ‘upon a general acclamation’ Dyott was called to the bar, whereupon Sir Dudley Digges suggested that he had been hired by Buckingham to ‘give this affront to the House’. Pym, too, detected the duke’s hand in Dyott’s speech: ‘We see there is an influence from the great man upon some men when they shall dare to speak in his defence in so high a strain’. Dyott was ordered to withdraw, and after a brief debate it was ordered that he be sequestered during pleasure, ‘the House being highly offended with him’.40 It was not until 23 May, when he made a ‘very submissive petition’, that he was permitted to resume his seat, whereupon he made a grovelling apology for ‘this error of mine’ and promised to be ‘of more temperate and inoffensive carriage hereafter’.41

Defending Buckingham from his critics seems to have been Dyott’s main preoccupation during the 1626 Parliament, but other issues also attracted his attention, both before and after his suspension. On 18 Feb. the bill to annex the prebend of Freeford to the vicarage of St. Mary’s, Lichfield, received its second reading in the Commons. As lord of the manor of Freeford and a leading Lichfield resident, Dyott was naturally interested in this measure, and after commenting on a clause concerning tithes he moved that parties interested in the bill should be heard by their counsel at the committee, to which he was subsequently named. When the committee assembled for its first meeting, on 28 Feb., Dyott returned to the question of tithes. Lichfield’s parishioners claimed exemption from tithes on the grounds that they already bore the expense of repairing the chancel, but Dyott thought they were wrong to do so, as the proper responsibility for maintaining the fabric of their church lay with the vicar. However, a majority of the committee agreed with William Hakewill, who argued that imposing tithes on Lichfield now would be a ‘new burden upon the inhabitants’, and therefore it was agreed to strike out the offending clause. Dyott may have been irked by this minor defeat, for although the committee reconvened on 2 Mar. he apparently did not attend the meeting.42 The tithe question was not the only issue on which Dyott’s advice was rejected, for the Commons also ignored his arguments concerning a Remonstrance, which it was proposed should be drafted in defence of the House’s privileges. Speaking on 1 Apr., Dyott thought that such a protestation was ‘needless’, as the king had already guaranteed to uphold the Commons’ privileges in his speech of 8 February. He also warned his listeners that it might not prove acceptable to the king, for in December 1621 James I had declined to receive a similar Remonstrance. Instead of penning a new Remonstrance, a business which Dyott described as ‘full of difficulty’, the House should establish a select committee ‘to examine the points wherein our liberties have been infringed’. Once the committee had done its work, its findings would be entered into the Commons Journal. However, at the end of the debate Members ignored this advice and resolved ‘to consider of a remonstrance of our liberties’.43

Dyott was named on 8 May to the committee for the bill to enable Sir Charles Snell to make a jointure. On 25 May, two days after he was permitted to resume his seat, he was also appointed to the select committee for ordering and setting down the House’s grievances. His final nomination of the Parliament was on 9 June, when he was added to the committee for considering whether to permit the continued membership of the House of John More II, against whom a judgment had recently been obtained at law.44

During the spring of 1627 Dyott was himself the subject of legal action, when he was prosecuted by the in-laws of his late step-sister, Anne. Before the death of his father in 1622, and as a condition of receiving part of his inheritance in advance, Dyott had promised to provide portions for Anne and his two younger brothers, Robert and John. However, when Anne married, Dyott failed to pay her dowry, and now that she was dead he resisted the claims of her husband’s family to the money they were owed on the grounds that he had large family of his own to feed.45 Anne was not the only one of his siblings whom Dyott may have cheated in this way, for in 1653 Robert claimed never to have received the £400 portion assigned to him, or an annuity of £40 in lieu thereof. Dyott, on the other hand, had certainly received £350 from Robert, this being the sum which Robert had recovered from debtors as the administrator to his father’s estate.46 Robert’s complaint that he had not been paid may have been well founded, for by 1642 Dyott’s debts amounted to £1,500.47 However, Robert failed to mention that in October 1629 he had released Dyott from all debts, duties and demands ‘which I now or hereafter may have in mine own right or as administrator of Anthony Dyott, my late father, deceased’.48

Dyott represented Lichfield once again in the 1628-9 Parliament, but he did so as its junior Member, the senior seat being occupied instead by his erstwhile opponent, Sir William Walter. During the first eight weeks of the 1628 session he evidently made no contribution to proceedings. His first recorded appearance was on 6 May, when he spoke during a debate on how best to protect the liberties of the subject. The question then before the Commons was whether to seek an explanation or a confirmation of Magna Carta and the other six statutes concerning the subject’s liberties. If Members chose to explain the law they could hope to prevent a recurrence of the arbitrary government of the previous few years, but they would inevitably provoke further disagreement with the king. If they chose merely to confirm the law they would avoid conflict with the king but achieve no more than a restatement of apparently ambiguous laws, in which case it was likely that arbitrary government would continue. The dilemma was well expressed by Dyott, who opined that ‘if we go to an explanation we shall make the breach wider. If we go to a confirmation we shall be in a worse case than our ancestors were in’. Naturally, most Members would have preferred to pursue an explanation of the law rather than a confirmation. Dyott was among them, but he recognized that this was unrealistic and that it was therefore better to ‘take what we can get, and be contented with a confirmation’. Besides, he made ‘no question’ but that the king would eventually acknowledge the illegality of the Forced Loan, just as the privy councillors in the House had done, and he remained optimistic that Charles would also concede that billeting of troops was unlawful.49

The question of legality also formed the subject of Dyott’s second speech of the session, which was delivered on 21 May, during the debate on the subscription bill. John Crewe asserted that a minister ought not to be deprived of his benefice for refusing to subscribe because Magna Carta made it an offence to deprive a man of his freehold without a trial by jury. Dyott, however, rejected this argument, pointing out that since a benefice was an ecclesiastical freehold it was ‘subject to an ecclesiastical jurisdiction’. Moreover, he observed that Cawdrey’s Case (1591) had given the Court of High Commission the power to deprive ministers. Besides, a minister who refused to subscribe turned himself out of his freehold by declaring his own incapacity. The loss of a benefice under such circumstances did not constitute a disseisin.50

Dyott made little effort to defend Buckingham when the latter came under renewed parliamentary attack in 1628. Mindful no doubt of his brief exclusion from the previous Parliament, he spoke only once on the subject, on 11 June, when, in an attempt to excuse the duke’s poor military record, he repeated Camden’s observation that English forces serving in a hot climate were prone to defeat because the excessive heat ‘distempered their bodies’.51 Dyott was named to only two committees during the session. The first concerned the bill to allow Gerard, Lord Dutton to make a jointure (7 May), while the second dealt with the bill for finding arms and the powers exercised by deputy lieutenants (added 4 June).52

Dyott took no recorded part in the 1629 session. It seems likely that he was absent, as he had been appointed a judge of the Council in the North in March 1628. During the early 1630s these judicial responsibilities kept Dyott at York for much of the time, and it was probably for this reason that he resigned the recordership of Stafford in 1631 and let out the manor of Freeford in 1632.53 As a legal officer to the Council, Dyott naturally became acquainted with its president, Lord Wentworth (Sir Thomas Wentworth*), although he may already have encountered Wentworth in the Commons. Dyott remained in contact with Wentworth following the latter’s departure for Ireland in 1633, informing him from York in March 1634 that several local justices, whom he described as ‘extreme zealots’, were continuing to levy the 12d. fine for not attending Sunday service upon recusants who had already compounded.54 He appears to have been well regarded by the lord deputy, who knighted him at Dublin in September 1635.

In 1639 Dyott was appointed temporal chancellor to the bishop of Durham in succession to Richard Hutton, and in the following year he was elected to the Short Parliament for Lichfield. He was not returned to the Long Parliament, and on the outbreak of Civil War he sided with the king. Captured by enemy cavalry after Edgehill, he was subsequently released as he had taken no part in the fighting. He nevertheless went on to defend Lichfield from parliamentary forces. Following the city’s surrender in July 1646, which he helped to negotiate, his estate was sequestered, but after considerable lobbying he was discharged without compounding in February 1652.55 By the mid-1650s he was sufficiently trusted to be serving as an extraordinary master in Chancery. He died intestate on 8 Mar. 1660 and was buried in St. Mary’s, Lichfield, where a large memorial was erected in his memory.56 His second son, also named Richard, represented Lichfield in Parliament between 1667 and 1677. Two portraits of Dyott, one of which may have been painted in 1638, are at Freeford manor.57

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


  • 1. Al. Ox.; CITR, ii. 29, 90.
  • 2. Vis. Staffs. ed. H.S. Grazebrook (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. 1884), pp. 118-19; CITR, ii. 357.
  • 3. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 203.
  • 4. T. Harwood, Hist. Lichfield, 345.
  • 5. Wm. Salt Lib., ms 369, pp. 160-1.
  • 6. CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 8; R. Reid, Council in the North, 498.
  • 7. CITR, ii. 206.
  • 8. Staffs. RO, D661/1/732; Cat. of Mss in I. Temple ed. J. Conway Davies, ii. 928.
  • 9. Staffs. RO, D661/1/29.
  • 10. C212/22/23.
  • 11. C181/4, f. 7v.
  • 12. C231/5, ff. 35-6, 143, 336; C66/2858.
  • 13. C181/4, ff. 8, 135.
  • 14. CSP Dom. 1629-31, pp. 301, 383.
  • 15. C181/4, f. 108.
  • 16. C192/1, unfol.
  • 17. C181/4, ff. 189, 199v.
  • 18. Northants. RO, FH133.
  • 19. J.C. Wedgwood, Staffs. Parl. Hist. (Wm. Salt Soc.), ii. 23.
  • 20. Staffs. RO, D661/11/1/1.
  • 21. Staffs. RO, D661/11/1/7 (Dyott’s notebk.).
  • 22. The last dated entry which is discernable is that of 9 May, which occurs on the 15th page from the end of the diary.
  • 23. CD 1621, v. 60.
  • 24. Staffs. RO, D661/1/44; Staffs. Incumbents ed. W.N. Landor (Staffs. Hist. Colls.), 346.
  • 25. Calculated from Staffs. RO, D661/2/775, omitting the acreage for Fulfen manor, which was purchased in 1638.
  • 26. J. Glanville, Reports of Certain Cases (1775), pp. 25-7; ‘Earle 1624’, ff. 47, 91.
  • 27. CJ, i. 745b.
  • 28. Staffs. RO, D661/11/1/2. For a description of its size, physical condition and layout, see Procs. 1625, pp. 15-16.
  • 29. CJ, i. 674a.
  • 30. Kansas ms E237, ff. 95v-6.
  • 31. Ibid.; ‘Earle 1624’, f. 29; ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 22v; Holles 1624, p.5; ‘Holland 1624’, i. f. 2 (Dyott mis-named ‘Dyer’); ‘Pym 1624’, f. 7; ‘Spring 1624’, p. 25 (mis-named ‘Dier’); Rich 1624, p. 13; ‘Jervoise 1624’, f. 9v (Dyott not identified as the speaker); ‘D’Ewes 1624’, f. 63v (ditto). The only diarists not to record the speech were Hawarde and Lowther.
  • 32. CJ, i. 692b.
  • 33. Ibid. 678a; ‘Holland 1624’, i. f. 34.
  • 34. Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, ii. 508.
  • 35. Staffs. RO, D661/2/729.
  • 36. Procs. 1625, pp. 15-16.
  • 37. Ibid. 339; Staffs. RO, D661/11/1/7, pp. 85-6; N. Tyacke, Anti-Calvinists, 140-2. Tyacke conjectures that Dyott acquired his religious views while at university.
  • 38. Procs. 1626, ii. 44, 47.
  • 39. Ibid. iii. 158, 161-3.
  • 40. Ibid. 201, 203, 208-9; iv. 284.
  • 41. Ibid. iii. 311-13. His petition has not been found.
  • 42. Ibid. ii. 69, 181. For the bill, and a breviat, see Lichfield RO, D30/5/30. A cttee. list, attached to the bill, appears to indicate attendance at the 2nd cttee. meeting only: C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 230-1.
  • 43. Procs. 1626, iii. 418-19.
  • 44. Ibid. 189, 332, 404.
  • 45. C2/Chas.I/D39/24.
  • 46. Staffs. Incumbents, 346; J.H. Morrison, PCC Admons. 1620-30, p. 34. For Robert’s activities as administrator, see C2/Chas.I/D62/81.
  • 47. Staffs. RO, D661/1/33.
  • 48. Staffs. RO, D661/1/40.
  • 49. CD 1628, iii. 271, 282, 293, 295-6; Procs. 1628, vi. 88.
  • 50. CD 1628, iii. 519-21.
  • 51. Ibid. iv. 268.
  • 52. Ibid. iii. 301; iv. 85.
  • 53. Staffs. RO, D661/2/139.
  • 54. SCL, (IHR microfilm), Strafford Pprs. 13, no. 231.
  • 55. Harwood, 19, 35-9; S. Shaw, Hist. and Antiqs. of Staffs. (1798), i. 237, 240-1; Staffs. RO, D661/1/33; CCC, 89, 547.
  • 56. Shaw, Staffs. 335.
  • 57. Ex inf. Mr. R.B.K. Dyott.