PETYT, Cyriak (by 1517-91), of Boughton under Blean, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Apr. 1554
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1517, s. of William Petyt of Brabourne by a da. of one Gladwines of Herts. m. by 1552, Florence, da. of Robert Charnocke of Holcot, Beds., 5s. 4da.2

Offices Held

Servant of John Baker I by 1543; under steward, manors of Langport, Littlebourne, Minster, Newington Belhouse, Newington Fee, Stodmarsh, Tirlingham and Waltham, Kent 1545; commr. relief, Kent, Canterbury 1550, for heretical books, diocese of Canterbury 1556, division of crown lands, Kent 1557, to survey lands of abpric. of Canterbury 1560; j.p. Kent 1554; surveyor of lands for Cardinal Pole in 1556-7.3


Cyriak Petyt, who came of a gentle but relatively undistinguished family, may have been a lawyer. His cousin, John Petyt, a baron of the Exchequer, was of Gray’s Inn and although there is no record of the Member’s attendance at an inn of court, it was probably he with whom one Dr. Willoughby claimed involvement during the prebendaries’ plot against Cranmer, saying that he had never ‘reasoned with Pettyd or any other lawyer touching indictments, or any such matter’: there was, however, at least one other of Petyt’s surname involved in the plot. Moreover, he was a friend of John Webbe of Faversham, Kent, a Catholic lawyer who joined him in purchasing a lease at Boughton under Blean and who left him a gelding, two gowns and £5; Petyt also often acted as a feoffee and as an overseer of wills, including those of Webbe himself, of Nicholas Crispe and of his father (Sir) Henry Crispe.4

The earliest reference to Petyt concerns his lease in November 1538 of tithes at Stockbury and Borden, late of St. Augustine’s abbey, Canterbury. He may have inherited a link with this monastery, as the valor ecclesiasticus of 1535 recorded that its manor and rectory at Selling were let to William Petyt, ‘generosus’. Presumably Cyriak Petyt was a man of some importance by March 1539, when he was admitted a freeman of Canterbury and, for reasons unspecified, excused from paying for the privilege. In the following year he acquired a grain rent from the farm of Ickham manor and the lease of a meadow at Westbere.5

Petyt’s role in the prebendaries’ plot reveals his conservative sympathies. At Easter 1543 a group of Cranmer’s clergy denounced the archbishop’s allegedly excessive zeal for reform in a petition which was presented to Henry VIII with the approval of Sir John Baker and the bishop of Winchester. The King, instead of punishing Cranmer as a heretic, appointed him judge in his own cause by ordering him to conduct an inquiry. The resulting depositions show that Petyt, who was identified as Baker’s servant, had helped to draw up the charges and that his confederates had included Speaker Moyle. Although Cranmer’s accusers were forced to sue for his pardon, there were no setbacks to the careers of Baker or Moyle, either of whom might have assisted Petyt’s advancement. In September 1544 Petyt paid £476 for former monastic property in Canterbury and London, in the following year he was given charge of eight Kent manors belonging to the court of augmentations, and in 1547 he attended the funeral of Henry VIII as an esquire. He purchased no further lands under Edward VI, during whose reign he is recorded on only one commission, but in November 1554 Petyt and John Webbe paid £80 for the remainder of a lease at Boughton under Blean, which had reverted to the see of Canterbury (whose temporalities were then in the Queen’s hands) on the suicide of Sir James Hales, son of John Hales I. That the lease was thus forfeit was unsuccessfully disputed by Hales’s widow in the celebrated lawsuit, Hales v. Petit. Petyt and his family were living at Boughton by May 1557, when they acquired further lands at Faversham and Graveney.6

Mary’s reign saw Petyt become more active in public life. On 11 Mar. 1554 it was agreed at Winchelsea ‘by the whole assent and consent of all the commons that the lord warden shall have the nomination of the burgesses for the Parliament for this time’. The lord warden, Sir Thomas Cheyne, a conservative and Nicholas Crispe’s father-in-law, must therefore have been responsible for the return of Petyt and Joseph Beverley to Mary’s second Parliament. One of the Members for Winchelsea in the previous Parliament had been Sir Thomas More’s son-in-law William Roper, whose brother Christopher Roper was Petyt’s neighbour. Petyt must have been well known to the More family circle, several of whom had been involved in the prebendaries’ plot. William Roper figures largely in John Webbe’s will and his own will of 1577 refers to lands let to a Mr. Petyt. On 3 Nov. 1554 Sir Thomas Moyle was returned for Chippenham to the third Parliament of the reign, but after deciding to sit for Lynn, where he had also been elected, Petyt replaced Moyle at Chippenham on 20 Nov., eight days after the opening of Parliament. As all his property lay in the capital or in Kent, Petyt must have owed his election to official favour: this may have been secured through Moyle or Sir John Baker, who continued to hold high office and with whom he sat on many local commissions, including those for the punishment of heretics. Petyt was not one of those who ‘seceded’ from this Parliament.7

Petyt’s engagement in local affairs may have prevented him from seeking election to Mary’s later Parliaments and his Catholicism explains his later obscurity. There are few further notices of him. In February 1560 he was released from the forfeiture of a marriage and annuity due under the wardship of the son and heir of John Newland, which he had been granted in 1548 but for which he had no patent. A similar release was made to him in October 1562, concerning the wardship of the son and heir of Robert Browne, a citizen and grocer of Canterbury, granted to him in June 1545.8

In his will Petyt asked to be buried next to his wife at Boughton. He left his manor of Colkyns in Boughton and other lands to be held by his eldest son Henry and Henry’s wife Mary for their two lives, with remainder in tail male and further remainder to the testator’s younger sons, John and Thomas. He also mentioned two daughters, Elizabeth, wife of John Dryland, and Anne, wife of Thomas Hawkins of Nash Court, Boughton, by whom she was the mother of the three literary brothers, Henry, John and Sir Thomas. In 1588 one of Petyt’s sons, presumably Henry, and his wife with these two daughters and their husbands had appeared on a list of Kent recusants. Petyt was buried at Boughton on 15 Oct. 1591, where a brass was erected to his memory, and his will was proved on 4 Apr. 1592.9

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. LP Hen. VIII, xiv; Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. lxxv), 19-20; CPR, 1555-7, p. 379; Vis. Beds. (Harl. Soc. xix), 12; Boughton under Blean Regs. ed. Boodle, 70; Arch. Cant. xxii. 189; Mill Stephenson, Mon. Brasses, 211.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, xviii, xxi; CPR, 1553, pp. 355, 361; 1553-4, pp. 21, 36; 1555-7, p. 24; 1557-8, pp. 364, 398; 1558-60, p. 422; SP11/11, f. 130v.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xviii; L. W. Abbott, Law Reporting in Eng. 225 describes him as of Gray’s Inn; CPR, 1550-3, p. 70; 1554-5, p. 102; PCC 8 Wrastley, 41 Pyckering, 1 Martyn.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, xiv. xv; Val. Eccles. i. 21; Canterbury accts. Mich. 1538-9.
  • 6. LP Hen. VIII, xviii, xix, xxi; LC2/2, f. 68v; CPR, 1554-5, p. 102; 1555-7, p. 379; E. Plowden, Commentaries (1779), 253-64; Abbott, 226.
  • 7. Winchelsea hundred ct. bk. f. 56; Arch. Cant. xlv. 207-8; PCC 27 Langley; Foxe, Acts and Mons. vii. 292, 295.
  • 8. CPR, 1558-60, p. 343; 1560-3, p. 251.
  • 9. Canterbury prob. reg. C24, f. 24; Kentish Wills, ed. Clarke, 94-95; Boughton under Blean Regs. 79; DNB (Hawkins, Henry, John and Sir Thomas); London Recusant, ii. 1-11; Cath. Rec. Soc. xxii. 122; Mill Stephenson, loc. cit.; W. D. Belcher, Kentish Brasses, i. 16; ii. 22.