PERRY, John (c.1639-1732), of Blackheath, Kent
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. c.1639 yst. s. of George Perry of Thorpe, Surr. by Margaret. m. 16 May 1678, Anne (d. 1733), da. of Rowland Ingram, Draper, of London, 1s. 5da. and 9 other ch.1
Freeman, Brewers’ Co. 1665, livery 1669, asst. 1678–9, 1723–4, rent warden 1684–5, middle warden 1685–6, upper warden 1686–7, master, 1687–Feb. 1688; commr. court of conscience, Greenwich 1689–90.2
Jt. farmer of the excise, Wales and Cornwall 1668–71, hearthmoney 1674–84.3
Asst. R. African Co. 1686–8, 1693–4, 1698–9, sec. 1699–1718; dir. E. I. Co. 1692–3, 1695–6; member, co. of copper miners in Wales 1693–d; commr. Greenwich Hosp. 1695; gov. St. Thomas’ Hosp. 1719–d., Christ Church, St. Barts., Bethlem, Bridewell.4
Commr. land bank 1696.5
Perry’s father died before 1647, when all his children were minors, leaving an eldest son named William, three other sons (including John) and four daughters. The family appears not to have been related to the well-known merchant family of the same name, but did have mercantile connexions. Two of Perry’s elder sisters married the London merchants George Dashwood (father of Sir Robert, 1st Bt.* and George*) and Edward Buckley, a Brewer, and Perry may well have been brought up under their influence. Indeed, Perry was to marry into an important merchant family. In 1665 he was sued by the Brewers’ Company for trading while not being free of the company, subsequently being admitted to the company on the gift of a silver tankard. Although he remained closely associated with the Brewers’ Company, Perry may have begun to move from trade to finance in the Restoration period when he undertook two tax farms in association with Buckley, Dashwood and his own brother William. He was named warden in the charter granted to the Brewers’ Company in April 1685, but by 1688 his political views appear to have become unacceptable to James II as he was removed from the office of master by the King’s order in February that year.6
During his early career, Perry may have lived in St. Giles Cripplegate, Middlesex, but by 1689 he was living at Blackheath. He was returned for New Shoreham, a borough with which he appears to have had no prior connexion, in 1690, when he was classed as doubtful although possibly a Court supporter by Lord President Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†). Throughout his parliamentary career his activity was dominated by his commercial interests, particularly his membership of the East India Company, in which he held £2,400 of stock in 1689, and the Royal African Company. As might be expected, he was a frequent nominee to committees and was often involved in drafting legislation concerning the improvement of trade and transport. In the next session, in December 1690, Perry was listed by Carmarthen as a probable personal supporter. In April 1691, he was classed by Robert Harley* as doubtful although possibly a Country supporter.7
Perry was a frequent speaker in the 1691–2 session. He supported the East India Company in the debate on 13 Nov. 1691, was against the committee of the whole’s rejection of the estimate for building several new ships in the debate on the navy on the 14th, and on the 27th he and others moved that a £300,000 debt on transport ships be referred to the committee for supply. He moved to bring in a bill for encouraging privateering against France, being named to the committee for drafting the bill on 16 Dec. On the same day he supported a move to tax the inns of court under the proposed land tax bill, and two days later in a committee of the whole he again spoke in support of the East India Company. At the end of December, the company made proposals for offering security for their stock and Perry’s name appears in the list of sureties accredited with the substantial sum of £30,000. In a debate on the debts due to the London orphans on 29 Jan. 1692, Perry proposed that City revenues be charged to provide a perpetual fund for the purposes of repayment. He was a teller on two occasions: on 2 Jan. 1692 for agreeing with a resolution concerning the cost of the troops in Ireland; and on 12 Feb. for reading a clause permitting Quakers to affirm.8
Perry’s activity increased in 1692–3 and as well as making his frequent speeches, he was a teller on seven occasions in this session. He continued to support the East India Company, speaking on 17 Nov. 1692 against a move to vote on a new company, saying ‘I do not think the company in so bad a condition as some gentlemen represent it’, and gave details of the value of the ships sent out by the company since the last session. On 3 Dec. he told against the second reading of a bill to prevent the export of rabbit and hare wool and to stop fraudulent sales by the Hudson’s Bay Company. Having presented a petition from the buttonmakers of England against the import of foreign buttons on 15 Dec., Perry then presented a bill for this purpose on 31 Dec., told in support of it twice (4 Jan., 22 Feb. 1693), and spoke for it as encouraging native manufacture and providing employment for the poor on 6 Feb. He spoke for committing the bill to prevent the export of gold and silver on 31 Dec., and proposed a joint-stock company to revive the Greenland trade on 10 Jan. 1693. On the same day, he told against a clause put forward by Hon. Goodwin Wharton to exempt the victualling office from the requirement to pay its bills in course. He was unable to prevent a bill for a new East India Company being ordered, but on 18 Jan. 1693 he told against further consideration of the bill the next day, and against further consideration of it in two days’ time. In a local issue, Perry moved for a court of conscience to deal with small debts in Holborn and Finsbury on 17 Jan. and presented the enabling bill three days later. Perry spoke for a clause to protect the Hamburg Company’s rights in the bill to prevent the export of wool on 19 Jan., speaking against the bill itself at the third reading on 17 Feb. On 20 Jan. he also offered clauses to be added to the bill for raising £1 million which would appropriate part of the money for paying the navy, and on 20 Feb. he proposed a clause to the bill for additional duties which would exempt foreign contracts already signed for the use of the navy from those duties. Naturally, on 25 Feb. he spoke against the proposed address to the King to dissolve the East India Company.9
The regulation of the East India trade also featured in the next session when Perry told for recommitting a motion on the company (8 Jan. 1694). Perry’s seven other tellerships in this session were against the bill declaring the illegality of regulating weavers in Norwich (14 Feb.), for sending for Henry Henning in custody for absence from the House (14 Mar.), against granting Sir Jonathan Raymond leave of absence to attend a family funeral (15 Mar.), against imposing a duty on the coastal trade (26 Mar.), for including a proviso to the poll tax exempting those worth over £600 from the oaths (5 Apr.), and against a third reading of a clause to the bill for encouraging privateers (16 Apr.). Perry also reintroduced the bill for establishing a court of conscience at Holborn and managed it through the House until it was lost on a division.
Perry’s parliamentary activity in 1694–5 included three important tellerships: against the Court-inspired resolution that there had been a treasonous plot in Lancashire (6 Feb. 1695); for discharging the mayor of Liverpool from custody (20 Feb.); and against recommitting a report criticizing army abuses, again in opposition to the Court (26 Feb.). He also partly managed a bill for the assize of bread, and assisted in the management of a supply bill for duties on imports. He was listed during the session among Henry Guy’s supporters, in connexion with the Commons’ investigation of Guy for corruption.
Perry successfully contested New Shoreham in the 1695 election, and the ensuing session was one of his busiest. He was forecast as a probable opponent of the Court in the divisions on 31 Jan. 1696 on the proposed council of trade, and although an early signatory of the Association, he voted in March against fixing the price of guineas at 22s. Four of his 18 tellerships in this session were concentrated on the East India trade: against bringing up a petition from Bristol concerning the trade (11 Feb.); against nominating Sir William Scawen to a committee inquiring into the East India Company’s accounts (13 Mar.); against an amendment which would have deferred consideration of the bill to regulate the trade (28 Mar.); and against referring to the committee to settle the trade a petition from merchants against extending the company’s monopoly (2 Apr.). His other tellerships were against a resolution that clipped money be recoined at both its old weight and fineness (10 Dec.); in favour of excusing his colleague at New Shoreham, Henry Priestman, for not attending a call of the House (7 Jan.); for adding a clause to the land tax bill and against reading an amendment to the bill (27 Jan., 3 Feb.); for passing Sir William Williams’ parliamentary qualifications bill, in opposition to the Court (21 Feb.); against the Quaker affirmation bill three times (in contrast to his attitude in 1692) (3, 10, 13 Mar.); against a supply for the relief of poor French Protestants (11 Mar.); for a motion to adjourn all committees (31 Mar.); in favour of referring a petition of excisemen to the committee of supply (7 Apr.); and against retaining a clause for naturalizing subscribers to the proposed land bank (24 Apr.). On 7 Apr. Perry was first-named to the drafting committee for a bill to enforce the law for restraining marriages without licence and the registration of births, his subsequent management of the bill through the House including two tellerships (21, 23 Apr.).
In the next session, Perry voted against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick† on 25 Nov. 1696. He was a teller on fewer occasions in this session: on the Tory side in the Aldborough election dispute (21 Dec.); twice on the bill to restrict the wearing of wrought silks and dyed calicoes, once for hearing counsel on petitions concerning the bill (30 Dec.), and once against the bill itself (6 Feb. 1697); for receiving a clause concerning payment for soldiers’ quarters (21 Jan.); with the Tories against going into a committee of the whole to consider ways and means (5 Feb.); and on two local bills, against adjourning debate on preserving navigation at the port of King’s Lynn (6 Feb.), and against engrossing the bill to repair Whitby Harbour (10 Mar.).
Perry’s busy pattern of activity continued in the 1697–8 session. His first appointment was on 13 Dec. 1697 when he was first-named to the drafting committee for a bill to regulate the assize of bread, managing the subsequent bill to the report stage. He again had numerous tellerships: against restraining the wearing of East India materials (10 Jan. 1698); against adjourning the committee to punish Charles Duncombe* (14 Feb.); in favour of an amendment to the land tax bill concerning the commission in Yorkshire and against the appointment of a new land tax commissioner in Coventry (29 Mar); in favour of excusing James Praed’s absence from a call of the House (4 Apr.); and three concerning the Two Million Fund when he told against a second reading, in favour of a provision to enforce the payment of bills, and against agreeing with an amendment to the bill (10, 18, 22 June).
Returned again for New Shoreham in 1698, Perry was classed in a list of about September as a Country supporter and was forecast as likely to oppose a standing army. He spoke in the debate on committal of the disbanding bill on 23 Dec., supporting a call of the House the day before the bill was next discussed. In the first session of this Parliament, his usual interest in trade was evident in his nomination to the drafting committee for a bill for a new East India Company (27 Feb. 1699), and in his tellerships in favour of passing a bill for the Westminster corn-market (24 Mar.), and against considering a report on encouraging Newfoundland trade (1 May). His Country Tory politics were evident in his appointment to the drafting committee for a bill to suppress vice and immorality (23 Dec.). He was teller on the Tory side in the Haslemere election dispute (9 Feb.), for an amendment to reduce the allowance of men for the navy from 15,000 to 12,000 (18 Feb.), and twice in the Ludlow election dispute (1 Mar.). In 1700, an analysis of the House according to ‘interests’ listed Perry, not surprisingly, in the Old East India Company interest. Perry was also a long-time stockholder in the Royal African Company and in 1699 was appointed its secretary. Thereafter his parliamentary activity declined. He was a teller only three times this session: against bringing up a clause to the bill for continuing the Old East India Company (9 Feb. 1700), in favour of bringing up Robert Burdett’s election petition (4 Apr.), and against hearing a report from the committee of elections the next day (5 Apr.).10
Perry was defeated at New Shoreham in both elections of 1701, but was returned again for the borough in 1702. The same year he sold his stock in the East India Company. He spoke in the debate on the numbers of seamen on 4 Dec. 1703, was forecast as a probable opponent of the Tack, and duly voted against it or was absent on 28 Nov. 1704. Perry lost his seat at New Shoreham in 1705 and appears not to have stood for Parliament again. In 1710 and 1713 he voted for the Tory candidates in the London election. He continued his commercial interests, and at the time of his death he held stock worth £7,200 in the Hudson Bay Company, £836 in the Royal African Company, £600 in the South Sea Company, in addition to 18 shares in the English Copper Company, and four insurance policies. He died on 29 Mar. 1732, aged 92, and was buried in the parish church of Lewisham, leaving his son, John, as his principal heir. Some years later a monument was put up to Perry and his wife, the inscription declaring Perry’s father to be called William Perry, a mistake (which has caused subsequent confusion) explicable perhaps by the intervening century between Perry’s father’s death and the monument’s construction.11
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Sonya Wynne
- 1. IGI, London; Monumental Inscriptions St. Mary, Lewisham eds. Kirby and Duncan (Lewisham Antiq. Soc.), 63; PCC 114 Bedford.
- 2. Guildhall Lib. ms 5449A (unfol.); 5458, f. 21; 5445/23, p. 231; HMC Lords, ii. 408.
- 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. iii. 970; iv. 540; vi. 77, 785–6, 857–8.
- 4. K. G. Davis, R. African Co. 164, 386; Add. 38871 (unfol.); 10120, ff. 232–6; CSP. Dom. 1693, p. 226; J. Aubrey, Surr. v. 318; Monumental Inscriptions St. Mary, Lewisham 63.
- 5. CJ, xii. 510.
- 6. PCC 248 Fines, 79 Pott, 110 Drax; M. Ball, Brewers’ Company, 128; J. M. Price, Perry of London; Guildhall Lib. ms 5448A (unfol.); 5445/21, p. 88; 5445/23, pp. 17, 231; Cal. Treas. Bks. iv. 540; vi. 857–8.
- 7. IGI, London; PCC 79 Pott; HMC Lords, ii. 408; Add. 22185, ff. 12–13.
- 8. Luttrell Diary, 16, 19, 43, 83, 84, 163.
- 9. Ibid. 233–4, 286, 320, 343, 350, 358–60, 371–2, 374, 378, 401–2, 430, 435, 437, 449, 454–5, 458, 464.
- 10. Cam. Misc. xxix. 380.
- 11. EHR, lxxi. 227; NMM, Sergison pprs. SER/103, ff. 454–6, acct. of parliamentary debate, 4 Dec. 1703; London Poll 1710, 28; London Poll, 1713 (London Rec. Soc. xvii), 109; PCC 114 Bedford; Monumental Inscriptions St Mary, Lewisham, 63.