PERROT, Sir John (1528/9-92), of Haroldston and Carew Castle, Pemb.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. 1528/9, reputed illegit. s. of Henry VIII by Mary, da. of James Berkeley of Thornbury, Glos., w. of Thomas Perrot of Islington, Mdx. and Haroldston; half-bro. of Sir Henry and Richard Jones. educ. St. Davids. m. (1) Anne (d. Sept. 1553), da. of Sir Thomas Cheyne(y) of Shurland, Kent, 1s. Sir Thomas; (2) by 1566, Jane, da. of Hugh Prust of Hartland, Devon, wid. of Sir Lewis Pollard of Oakford, Devon, 1s. 2da.; at least 1s. illegit. James 2da. illegit. suc. Thomas Perrot 1531. Kntd. 17 Nov. 1549.2

Offices Held

Sheriff, Pemb. 1551-2; commr. goods of churches and fraternities, Pemb. 1553, concealed lands 1561, armour 1569; commr. musters Pemb. 1570, Denb. 1580, Haverfordwest 1581, piracy Card., Carm. 1575, Pemb. 1577; j.p. Pemb. 1555-8, q. Card., Carm., Pemb. 1559-d., q. all Welsh counties 1579-d., marcher counties 1582; steward, manors of Carew, Coedraeth and Narberth, Pemb., and St. Clears, Carm. 1559, lordship of Cilgerran, Pemb. 1570; constable, Narberth and Tenby castles, Pemb. 1559; gaoler, Haverfordwest 1559; mayor, Haverfordwest 1560-1, 1570-1, 1575-6; custos rot. Pemb. by 1562; pres. of Munster 1570-3; member, council in the marches of Wales by 1574; ld. dep. Ireland 1584-8; dep. lt. Pemb. in 1587; PC 10 Feb. 1589.3


In both the Marian Parliaments in which he sat, Perrot opposed government measures, and he was one of the ‘right protestants’ who met at ‘Harondayles home’ to discuss parliamentary tactics in 1555. He sheltered protestants at Haroldston, and served under the 1st Earl of Pembroke at St. Quentin in 1557. Upon Elizabeth’s accession he became a favoured courtier. Freed from a sentence of outlawry for non-appearance at court on an attachment for debt (which he expiated in the Marshalsea), Perrot rapidly became a key man in the administration of his own shire and the recipient of profitable crown offices there, as well as grants of land and advowsons both there and in England. His commissionership for concealed lands brought into his net some of the former lands of the dissolved priory of Haverfordwest—not without violent quarrels, carried into Star Chamber in 1561, with those whose titles were challenged. He also made a successful bid for some of the lands forfeited to the Crown 30 years earlier by the attainder of his stepfather’s great kinsman Sir Rhys ap Gruffydd. The grant made on his petition in 1554 (for his ‘service heretofore and hereafter to be done’) of Rhys’s old lordship and castle of Carew does not seem to have become effective, since it was only in 1559 that he received the stewardship and not until 1562-6 that a succession of crown leases rounded off his control of the lordship. The castle he largely rebuilt, and eventually made his principal seat.4

Perrot was returned to the 1559 Parliament for Wareham, presumably through pressure exerted on the Rogers family by the 2nd Earl of Bedford, his former commander. In the next Parliament he came in for Pembrokeshire, and was appointed to the succession committee, 31 Oct. 1566. He was one of 30 MPs summoned on 5 Nov. to hear the Queen’s message on the succession. His mayoralty of Haverfordwest in 1570 gave him control of the borough machinery, and although his departure for Ireland enabled an anti-Parrot faction to put up a candidate for the borough in the 1571 parliamentary election, the pro-Parrot sheriff fraudulently returned his patron’s man, John Garnons. By 1572 the opposing faction controlled the borough and was able to return its man, Alban Stepneth, but Perrot’s partisans (Wogans and Bowens) kept up a running faction fight with Stepneth’s family group (Philipps of Picton, Owen of Henllys and Barlow of Slebech) in the streets of Haverfordwest for most of the year, with soldiers recruited for Perrot’s bodyguard in Ireland, or returning thence as deserters, to add to the turmoil. Perrot came home from Ireland in 1573, and settled in Pembrokeshire. He had been replaced as vice-admiral by Sir William Morgan of Pencoed with Richard Vaughan of Whitland as his deputy in the west. But Perrot was himself one of the Pembrokeshire commissioners for piracy, and there were conflicts of jurisdiction and mutual accusations of trafficking with the pirates. In 1579 Perrot was entrusted with a squadron of ships to clear the seas not only of pirates, but of Spanish vessels making for Ireland. In this, to the glee of his enemies, he had no great success, nor did he make much progress in his allotted task of fortifying Milford Haven. In a different sphere, he was one of a commission appointed in 1581 by the Privy Council to inquire into irregularities in the diocese of St. David’s, with whose bishops he was on chronically bad terms.5

During the years 1583-4 he was consolidating his influence round Haverfordwest by obtaining the lease of further rectories and granges in the former priory lands, extending it eastwards by acquisitions across the Carmarthenshire border, and exploiting what he already possessed by rack-renting and encroachments, all in face of a deteriorating financial situation. Several disputes arising out of these transactions came before Star Chamber in 1583. Now that he was a member of the council in the marches of Wales, the Privy Council would not allow his suits to be heard there, but referred them to the local assizes. In one quarrel (with Griffith Rice of Newton in 1581) the Council itself intervened. In general, however, it protected this ‘inward favourite of the Earl of Leicester’ from his many detractors, two of whom served sentences of imprisonment for slander before Perrot’s return to Ireland in 1584.6

His lord deputyship proved as stormy as his presidency of Munster, and included a spectacular brawl (before members of the Irish Council) with old Sir Nicholas Bagnall the marshal. In 1588 Perrot returned to Pembrokeshire, living in the renovated Carew castle. In this critical Armada year the Earl of Pembroke as president of the council in the marches of Wales chose him as his deputy while he was busy elsewhere. Bent on reasserting himself in his old sphere of influence, he put up successfully for Haverfordwest at the 1588 election, receiving wages for the ensuing Parliament. Early in 1589 he became a Privy Councillor, and with this added prestige took a more active part than hitherto in the business of the House. On 18 Feb. 1589 he was given charge of the bill for reforming abuses in the Exchequer. Two days later he asked for more time in committee, and on 25 Feb. he took the bill to the Lords, asking them to expedite its passage. On 6 Mar. he was summoned to discuss it with the Queen. He was added to the committee of the Hartlepool harbour bill (1 Mar.), and reported this to the House (12 Mar.) He served on a committee about fish (l 2 (11 Mar.), on another concerned with Lincoln (15 Mar.), took a bill about forestallers to the Lords (28 Mar.), and spoke on an unrecorded subject (29 Mar). A bill to amend the law relating to the hue and cry was committed to him (18 Mar.), and the next day he reported that the committee recommended no change. On 26 Mar. he reported that the Queen had told him that she needed a bill against the embezzling of her armour and weapons; this was read three times and he took it to the Lords. As a Privy Councillor Perrot was appointed to committees on the subsidy (11 Feb.), purveyors (15, 27 Feb.), Dover harbour (5 Mar.), forestallers (5 Mar.), captains and soldiers (19 Mar.), husbandry and tillage (25 Mar.) and a declaration of war with Spain (29 Mar.).7

By this time, Perrot’s star was falling. Leicester was dead; Essex, though his sister had married Perrot’s son, lent his weight in west Wales to the anti-Perrot faction; and Hatton, whose daughter Perrot was reported to have seduced, bore him a personal grudge. A concerted attack by his enemies resulted in charges of treason which may have had no more solid basis than his own intemperate speeches. In 1591 he was imprisoned in the Tower. Sending home for money for his defence, he raised without difficulty £1,500 from current rents alone, without resort to the iron chest in which he kept his (possibly less legitimate) reserves at Carew.8

Volume 72 of the Lansdowne manuscripts in the British Library is largely concerned with Perrot, his lands, quarrels with the Welsh gentry, demands for his trial, and a long account of it. Attainted on 17 Apr. 1592, he died in the Tower, an inquisition post mortem being taken on 26 Sept. His estates included 15 or more well stocked manors. The town of Haverfordwest still benefits from the ‘Perrot Trust’ he endowed in 3579 for municipal improvement. His son Sir Thomas Perrot was restored in blood within six months of the father’s death, and was thus able to inherit Haroldston; Carew was granted by the Queen for a term of years to Sir John’s widow. Both Sir Thomas and his father’s illegitimate son James Perrot represented the shire in Parliament, but with the latter’s death the family came to an end.9

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: A.H.D.


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. DNB; Arch. Camb. (ser. 3), xi. 108-29; xii. 312-25, 337-9, 478-81, 484-7; Wards 9/129, f. 164; Dwnn, Vis. Wales , i. 89, 134; C142/119/114; Lit. Rem. Edw. VI , i. p. ccvii.
  • 3. DNB; DWB; CPR, 1553, p. 418; 1558-60, p. 45; 1560-3, pp. 445, 447; 1563-6, pp. 30, 317; 1569-72, p. 252; St. Ch. 5/P8/32; Flenley, Cal. Reg. Council, Marches of Wales, 60-9, 216; APC, ix. 267-8; xii. 364; xvii. 76; Arch. Camb. loc. cit. and (ser. 5), xiii. 195; P. H. Williams, Council in the Marches of Wales, 60-9, 354-7; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 537-41, 615; HMC Foljambe, 26; Haverfordwest Recs. 30, 184.
  • 4. SP11/4 nos. 22-3; 11/8 no. 35; CPR, 1558-60, pp. 45, 136, 239, 305; 1560-3, pp. 222, 608; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 266, 615; Augmentations, ed. E. A. Lewis and J. C. Davies (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xiii), 477, 479, 481-3, 488, 502-3; St. Ch. 5/P8/32; Arch. Camb. (ser. 5), iii. 27-41; xiv. 309-18; Spurrell, Hist. Carew, 9-11, 36-42.
  • 5. D’Ewes, 126-7; Camb. Univ. Lib. Gg. iii. 34, p. 209; EHR, lxi. 18-27; Arch. Camb. (ser. 5), xiii. 193-211; xiv. 318-23; xv. 298-311; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 398, 406, 414, 517-19, 541, 590-1, 629, 631, 636-7, 695; St. Ch. 5/G12/25; APC, ix. 267-8; x. 231, 262; xiii. 142.
  • 6. Augmentations, 245, 257, 487, 499; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 454, 522; St. Ch. 5/P50/21, P53/14, W69/30; APC, x. 283, 297; xii. 24; xiii. 88, 118; J. Wynn, Gwydir Fam. ed. Ballinger, 64; Arch. Camb. (ser. 3), xi. 112-13.
  • 7. Cal. Wynn Pprs. 115; NLW Jnl. ix. 170; D’Ewes, 430, 431, 432, 434, 436, 437, 439, 440, 441, 442, 443, 445, 446, 448, 453, 454; CSP Dom. 1591-4, p. 21.
  • 8. P. H. Williams, 239, 282; Arch. Camb. (ser. 3), xi. 124-5.
  • 9. Arch. Camb. (ser. 3), xi. 116-25; D’Ewes, 510-11; LJ, ii. 182-3; DWB, 749; Exchequer, ed. T. I. J. Jones (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xv), 303-4, 306, 308-9.