TOLPAT, Peter (by 1526-63/64), of Chichester, Suss.

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



Family and Education

b. by 1526. m. by 1555, Anne, da. and h. of William Huntlowe ?of Dorset, wid. of Ralph Dunning (d.1544), of Chichester, d.s.p.1

Offices Held

Bailiff, Chichester 1557, mayor 1559-60.2


Nothing has come to light about Peter Tolpat’s origin or upbringing. He may have been a kinsman of the Thomas Tolpat of Singleton and William Tolpat of Petworth who were assessed for subsidy in 1525 at £2 and £3 in goods respectively. In his will he was to mention three brothers, William, Robert and Richard, and a nephew John, but as none of these has been traced he must be accounted an exception to the family’s insignificance. This distinction he may have owed to his marriage to the widow of a local surgeon and cousin to a London haberdasher, whose property in Hayes and West Wickham, Kent, she received about 1553. Himself a mercer, in 1547 Tolpat leased a tenement in South Street, Chichester from the dean and chapter.3

Tolpat’s return to the last Marian Parliament followed an election dispute between the corporation and the commoners. As John Sherwin recalled the episode in the course of a Star Chamber suit nearly 30 years later, in the last Parliament holden in Queen Mary’s time, the commoners and the baser sort did of a will make choice in the guildhall of one Roger Drue, then a commoner and no free citizen or enfranchised of the said city.The Member elected by the commoners had to be either a citizen or a person whom the corporation was willing to admit to the freedom before his election was confirmed. On this occasion the corporation found Drue unacceptable and in his stead chose Tolpat, who had just completed a year as bailiff. The dispute echoed that of 1541 when the commoners had chosen Robert Bowyer I as mayor, but what lay behind it is not known. With his fellow-Member Lawrence Ardren, Tolpat was presumably involved in the bill for the removal of weirs in Chichester harbour which passed the Commons but was lost in the Lords, doubtless at the instigation of the bishop whose weirs it threatened.4

It was Ardren and another colleague, John Digons, whom Tolpat named as two of the overseers of his will of 7 Sept. 1563. Among a number of modest legacies he gave 1s. to the cathedral, 40s. to the poor and 1s. each to the four serjeants of the city. Without a child of his own, he left the lease of his house, after his wife’s death, to his nephew John, a wedding gift of £10 to the step-daughter who lived with him, and 20s. each to his three sisters. The will was proved on 31 Mar. 1564.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: R. J.W. Swales


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. C1/1366/77; W. Suss. RO, wills 5, f. 21v.
  • 2. W. Suss, RO, wills 9, f. 184v; A. Hay, Chichester, 569.
  • 3. Suss. Rec. Soc. lvi. 23, 35; lviii. 13, 42; W. Suss. RO, wills 2, f. 44v; 5, f. 21v; PCC 13 Pynnyng; C1/1366/77.
  • 4. St.Ch.5/C23/37; Neale, Commons, 261-2; CJ, i. 49-50.
  • 5. W. Suss. RO, wills 2, f. 44v.