PERNE, Christopher (by 1530-66 or later), of London.
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Family and Education
b. by 1530, prob. yr. s. of John Perne of East Bilney, Norf. educ. Queens’, Camb. adm. pens. Easter 1544. ?m. at least 3s.3
Christopher Perne was probably a younger brother of Andrew Perne, fellow of Queens’ College, Cambridge, several of whose family attended either that college or, after Andrew Perne became master there, Peterhouse. Beginning as a defender of Catholic doctrine, Andrew Perne became a leading Protestant preacher under Edward VI. Christopher Perne evidently shared the same outlook: in 1552 he received a lease of several Yorkshire parsonages and early in the following reign he was indicted with others who had ‘notably offended’, presumably by their conduct during the succession crisis. Like Andrew Perne, he made his peace with the Marian government, suing out a general pardon in October 1553 as Christopher Perne of London, gentleman.4
Perne’s parliamentary career probably began in 1555. A Ralph Perne, perhaps of the same family, sat for Dorchester in the Parliament of that year, but he is less likely than Christopher Perne to have been the ‘Mr. Perne’ who followed Sir Anthony Kingston’s lead in opposing one of the government’s bills: it was almost certainly for this offence that Christopher Perne was put in the Fleet on 11 Dec., two days after the dissolution. He was to owe his later returns to Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford, whom he may have met in Cambridge, and if he enjoyed the same patronage in 1555 (exercised by Sir William Cecil in the earl’s absence abroad) his constituency may well have been Bossiney, where the only Member known is Ralph Skinner, who also figures on the list of those who opposed the government’s bill. On 24 Dec. the warden of the Fleet was instructed to allow Perne the liberty of the prison and to bring him and his fellow-prisoner Gabriel Pleydell before the Council on the following Friday. On 29 Dec. Perne was bound in a recognizance to appear weekly before the Council and released from custody. His sureties Sir William Fitzwilliam II and Robert Warner were both associates of Bedford, to whom Warner was to owe his return for Bossiney to the Parliament of 1559. Early in 1556 Henry Peckham revealed details of the Dudley conspiracy to Perne who then made several of the plotters welcome in his house in the parish of St. Dunstan-in-the-west. On 30 May 1556 he was accordingly imprisoned and his two sureties were discharged. His name was coupled with that of Anthony Forster† on the controlment roll, but without any subsequent note of process, and he next appears in July 1557 as the recipient of a lease in reversion of the rabbit warren at Hamdon, Somerset. He may have owed his successful emergence from this latest crisis in part to the influence of Andrew Perne, whose acceptance of the Marian restoration of Catholicism was to be recognised in December 1557 by his appointment to the deanery of Ely.5
Despite his unsatisfactory record, Perne sought election to the Parliament of 1558, again evidently at the hands of Bedford. His name and that of Thomas Southcote appear on the Crown Office list as the Members for Plympton Erle (although they are among the 17 whose names are missing from a copy of the list), but on 5 Mar. 1558 the Journal records:
For that Christopher Perne affirmeth, that he is returned a burgess for Plympton in Devon, and hath brought no warrant thereof to the House, nor returned hither by the clerk of the crown, by book or warrant, he is awarded to be in the custody of the serjeant, till the House have further considered.
The Parliament was prorogued two days later evidently before a decision could have been made, and on 17 Mar. Perne appeared before the Council and was told that within a week he should ‘depart from the court and not come near thereunto by the space of seven miles, saving the first week of the next term to repair to London for such special suits as he hath to do in Westminster Hall, upon pain of forfeiture of £500’. This decree, if still in force, may have prevented Perne from attending the second session, even if his right to do so was admitted by the House, but there is no evidence of a by-election.6
The accession of Elizabeth brought little change in Perne’s chequered career. He was returned to the first two Parliaments of the reign but shortly after the opening of the second he was committed to the Marshalsea ‘for pickery’ and when a new writ was issued for Grampound in October 1566 he was ‘reported to be lunatic’. His subsequent history is unknown but he probably died before Andrew Perne made his will in 1588 and was perhaps the deceased brother mentioned in it who had sold all the lands and houses which he had inherited from their father.7
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard
- 1. Guildford mus. Loseley 1331/2.
- 2. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
- 3. Date of birth estimated from education. Vis. Cambs. (Harl. Soc. xli), 93; PCC 46 Leicester.
- 4. DNB (Perne, Andrew); Strype, Eccles. Memorials ii(2), 278; APC, iv. 86, 345; CPR, 1553-4, p. 449; 1566-9, pp. 369, 421; 1569-72, p. 164; 1572-5, pp. 28-29.
- 5. Guildford mus. Loseley 1331/2; APC, v. 203, 209, 214, 275; CPR, 1555-7, p. 453; 1557-8, p. 19; D. M. Loades, Two Tudor Conspiracies, 230, 235.
- 6. C193/32/2; Wm. Salt Lib. SMS 264; CJ, i. 51; APC, vi. 287.
- 7. Add. 5123, f. 16v; CJ, i. 75; PCC 46 Leicester.