Peyton, Edward (1588?-1657) (DNB00)

PEYTON, Sir EDWARD (1588?–1657), parliamentarian, was eldest son and heir of Sir John Peyton of Isleham, Cambridgeshire, by his wife Alice, daughter of Sir Edward Osborne [q. v.] The father was M.P. for Cambridgeshire in 1592 and 1604, and high sheriff of the county in 1593 and 1604. He was knighted in 1596, and was eleventh on the list of eighteen on whom the dignity of baronet was first conferred on 22 May 1611. He died at Isleham on 19 Dec. 1616, and was buried beneath an elaborate monument in the church there. Edward was educated at Bury school and at Cambridge. On his marriage in 1604 his father gave him the manor of Great Bradley, Suffolk. On 4 Feb. 1610–11 he was knighted at Whitehall, and on 16 Aug. 1611 was admitted to Gray's Inn. He succeeded to the baronetcy and to the family estates at Isleham on his father's death in 1616. A staunch puritan in religion, he was elected M.P. for Cambridgeshire to the parliament meeting in 1621, and sat for the same constituency till the dissolution of the second parliament in Charles I's reign, in 1626. His intemperate displays of puritan zeal led the Duke of Buckingham to recommend, about 1627, his removal from the office of custos rotulorum for Cambridgeshire. Thenceforth Peyton was an avowed enemy of the court and of the established church. His temper was violent, and in October 1632 he was summoned before the Star-chamber for riotously waylaying some neighbours and provoking them to fight (Cal. State Papers, 1631–3, p. 424). In 1638 a warrant for his arrest was issued by Archbishop Laud and other members of the ecclesiastical commission court (ib. 1638–9, p. 206).

Peyton's estates suffered under his rule. Before 1642 he had alienated, with the enforced assent of his eldest son John, his chief property at Isleham, receiving annuities, it is said, for his own life and that of his heir. The manor of Wicken he made over to the eldest surviving son of his second marriage, Thomas, of Rougham, Suffolk.

In the war of pamphlets of 1641–2, which preceded the final breach between king and parliament, Peyton played an active part on the side of the parliament. In 1641 he published ‘The King's Violation of the Rights of Parliament,’ and in 1642 ‘A Discourse concerning the fitness of the Posture necessary to be used on taking the Bread and Wine at the Sacrament,’ to which Roger Cocks issued a reply. Peyton advocated a sitting posture. He also contributed some prefatory verses to Humphry Mills's ‘Night Search,’ pt. ii. (1641). When war broke out Peyton took up arms against the king, and claimed to have fought at Edgehill, Newbury, and Naseby, and to have been imprisoned after Edgehill in Banbury Castle. Sir Robert Heath placed his name in 1643 in the list of those whom the king proposed to impeach. His property underwent further injury in the course of the war. He complained that at Broad Chalk, Wiltshire, where his brother Robert had been vicar since 1629, he was robbed of 400l. worth of household stuff by the royalist garrison of Langford, and the furniture was not restored to him when the place was captured by Cromwell. In fact, the parliamentary party, despite his services in its behalf, paid his property hardly more respect than the royalists. His son Thomas fought for the king; and, as it was reported that Peyton had made over to him much landed property, attempts were made by the committee for compounding to sequestrate the remnant of Peyton's estates. The claims of the parliament were satisfied by Peyton and his sons in 1651 (Cal. Committee for Compounding, pt. ii. 1491–2).

Meanwhile Peyton had published in 1647 his ‘Highway to Peace, or a Direction set forth for the composing of these unhappy Differences betwixt King, Parliament, Army, City, and Kingdom.’ In 1652 Peyton gave more conspicuous proof of his revolutionary sympathies in ‘The Divine Catastrophe of the Kingly Family of the House of Stuarts; or a short History of the Rise, Reign, and Ruin thereof; wherein the most secret and chamber Abominations of the two last Kings are discovered, Divine Justice in K. Charles, his overthrow vindicated, and the Parliament Proceedings against him clearly justified. By Sir Edw. Peyton, Kt. and Bart., a diligent Observer of those Times,’ London, 1652, 8vo. In a dedication to ‘the supreme authority of this nation, assembled in this present Parliament,’ Peyton traces the hand of God in the king's defeat and death. Wood denounced the work as ‘most despicable and libellous,’ ‘full of lies, mistakes, and nonsense.’ Though inspired by a fanatical hatred of the first two Stuart kings, and disfigured by many perversions of historical facts, Peyton supplies some useful details of court life. The religious views which he here expounded approximated to those of the Fifth-monarchy men. He anticipated the establishment of a theocracy such as the Jews enjoyed under Moses. The work was reprinted in 1730, when the publisher, William Bowyer, jun., was, with the promoter of the publication, Charles Davis, taken into custody by order of the House of Commons, on the charge of publishing a seditious libel. Sir Walter Scott included the work in his ‘Secret History of the Court of James I’ (Edinburgh, 1811, ii. 301–466).

Peyton died intestate in 1657. He was described as ‘of Wicken’ in the letters of administration issued on 1 July to his widow Dorothy.

Peyton was thrice married: first, in 1604, at Streatham, to Martha, daughter of Robert Livesay of Tooting; she died in 1613. His second wife was Jane, daughter of Sir James Calthorpe, and widow of Sir Edmund Thimelthorpe. His third wife, whom he married in December 1638 at St. James's, Clerkenwell, is said to have been Dorothy, daughter of Edward Bale of Stockwell, although in the license her surname is given as Minshawe (Bishop of London's Marriage Licences, Harl. Soc. p. 239). After Peyton's death she married Edward Low, vicar of Brighton, and she was buried at Brighton on 10 April 1681. By each wife Peyton had issue. His eldest son John, by his first marriage (1607–1693), was third baronet. The second son, Edward, was appointed lieutenant-colonel of horse by the parliamentary general, Basil Feilding, earl of Denbigh, on 23 March 1643–4 (State Papers, 1644, p. 66). His eldest daughter, Amy, was wife of Henry Lawrence [q. v.], president of Cromwell's council of state.

Robert (d. 1685), eldest son of Thomas (1617–1683), eldest child of Sir Edward's second marriage, who owned the estate of Wicken, emigrated to Virginia and settled in Mathews county, where he named his residence Isleham, after the old estate of the family. Robert was father of five sons, and the Virginian Isleham remained in the hands of his descendants till 1830. The baronetcy of right descended to Robert's sons, but the title was, until 1815, borne by the descendants of Robert's younger brother Charles, of Grimston, Norfolk.

[Notes kindly furnished by Miss Bertha Porter; Wood's Athenæ Oxon., ed. Bliss, iii. 320–1; Waters's Chesters of Chicheley, pp. 238 seq.; Herald and Genealogist, vi. 63 seq.]

S. L.