PEYTON, Sir Thomas, 2nd Bt. (1613-84), of Knowlton, Kent.
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Family and Education
b. 18 Aug. 1613, 1st s. of Sir Samuel Peyton, 1st Bt.†, of Knowlton by Mary, da. and coh. of Sir Roger Aston of Cranford, Mdx., master of the wardrobe to James I. m. (1) 21 May 1636, Elizabeth (d. 10 Sept. 1642), da. of Sir Peter Osborne† of Chicksands Priory, Beds., 3da.; (2) lic. 18 Jan. 1648, Cecilia (d. 26 Oct. 1661), da. of Sir John Clerke of Ford Place, Wrotham, Kent, wid. of Sir William Swan of Hoopes, Southfleet, Kent, 1s. d.v.p. 1da.; (3) 2 Mar. 1667, Jane (d.1672), da. of Sir William Monins, 1st Bt. of Waldershare, Kent, wid. of Sir Timothy Thornhill of Olantighe, Kent, of one Mathews, and of Francis Swift, s.p. suc. fa. 27 Sept. 1623.1
Commr. of sewers, Kent 1639, array 1642, dep. lt. 1642-3, July 1660-d., j.p. July 1660-d., commr. for oyer and terminer, Home circuit July 1660, assessment, Kent Aug. 1660-80, col. of militia Oct. 1660-81; commr. for sewers, E. Kent Sept. 1660, Rother marshes Oct. 1660, corporations, Kent 1662-3, loyal and indigent officers 1662; sub-commr. of prizes, Dover 1665-7; commr. for recusants, Kent 1675.2
Peyton’s family was of East Anglian origin, providing a knight of the shire for Suffolk as early as 1300. His great-grandfather, a younger son, acquired Knowlton under Henry VIII. Peyton inherited an estate of £1,000 p.a., but was already in financial difficulties before the Civil War, chiefly because of heavy family responsibilities. A student of Greek and Hebrew, he disliked the increasing ‘pomposities of the clergy’ under Laud, and defeated a court candidate at Sandwich in 1640. A moderate Royalist, he withdrew from Westminster in 1643, and was imprisoned and fined £1,000 by Parliament for disobedience. He was one of the Kentish leaders in the second Civil War, and incurred a further fine of £900. Nevertheless, he became one of the directors of the royalist Action Group during the Interregnum. In the intervals between periods of imprisonment, he devoted himself to royalist conspiracy and to ‘the business of farming, which notwithstanding will never repair the breaches made in my fortune by the evil of persons and times’. The decimators, indeed, valued his estate at only £540 p.a. Despite his misfortunes he was ‘an excellent husband to two very different wives’.3
At the Restoration Peyton assisted his kinsman, the Earl of Winchilsea, to marshal the nobility and gentry of Kent to greet Charles II on Barham Downs. As some compensation for his losses and sufferings he was given a share in the Newcastle coal farm, said by opposition pamphleteers to bring him in £2,000 p.a., and promised the reversion of an Exchequer office. At the general election of 1661 he declined an offer from Sandwich, his old constituency, and was returned unopposed for the county. He was not an active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, being named to only 48 committees, all but three of them before 1675. In the first session, however, he was on the committees for the corporations, uniformity and regicides bills, and on 14 May 1663 he was added to the committee for the bill to provide remedies against meetings of dissenters. He was listed as a court dependent in 1664 and appointed sub-commissioner of prizes at Dover during the second Dutch war. Together with his fellow-commissioners, John Strode II, Edward Massey and Sir Francis Clerke he was later charged in the House with irregularities, but after counsel had been heard at the bar, Lord Brereton (Hon. William Brereton) as chairman of the public accounts commission professed himself satisfied. Peyton was on both lists of the court party in 1669-71, when Sir Thomas Osborne included him among those who might be engaged by the Duke of York. He received the government whip for both sessions in 1675, and his name appeared on the Paston list and the working lists. But Sir Richard Wiseman apparently expressed some reservations about him, perhaps because he was ‘under agreement for sale of his estate’, and he was omitted from the court list of government supporters in 1678. But Shaftesbury marked him ‘thrice vile’, and in A Seasonable Argument it was said that he ‘had many boons, and yet has spent all, and his own estate to boot’.4
Peyton was included in the ‘unanimous club’ of court supporters, and did not stand for the Exclusion Parliaments, though he tried to find a candidate to oppose Edward Dering, and in 1681 campaigned for the court candidate, Sir William Twysden. He was in dire financial straits when he died of apoplexy on 11 Feb. 1684, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. His baronetcy became extinct on his death, and his four daughters sold Knowlton to Sir John Narborough.5
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Basil Duke Henning
- 1. The Gen. n.s. viii. 150; xxxi. 194; Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 3; Wards 7/68/8; Soc. of Genealogists, St. Michael Royal par. reg.
- 2. Kent AO, Q10-15; Dering Pprs. 47; G. S. Thomson, Twysden Ltcy. Pprs. (Kent Recs. x), 13, 23, 37; C181/7/56; CSP Dom. 1666-7, p. 246; 1680-1, p. 200; Arch. Cant. xxxiii. 103; Nat. Maritime Mus. Southwell mss 17/15.
- 3. Hasted, Kent, x. 90-91; Keeler, Long Parl. 304-5; A. M. Everitt, Kent and the Great Rebellion, 49, 60, 75, 169, 230, 266, 275, 279-80, 294; Cal. Comm. Comp. 459, 864; Cal. Cl. SP, iii. 383; Letters of Dorothy Osborne, 164.
- 4. Everitt, 315; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 109; CSP Dom. 1661-2, p. 144; 1664-5, p. 230; Merc. Pub. 14 Mar. 1661; Kent AO, S/N2, f. 175; Grey, i. 333-6; CJ, ix. 141; PC2/66/11.
- 5. Stowe 746, f. 20; Dering diary and account bk., 1680-3; J. R. Jones, First Whigs, 163; CSP Dom. 1680-1, p. 200; Hasted, x. 91.