PEAKE, Peter (1586-1658), of Hills Court, Ash, nr. Sandwich, Kent
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Family and Education
bap. 25 June 1586, 7th but 4th surv. s. of Edward Peake* (d.1607), being o.s. with his 2nd w. Mary, da. of Thomas Cox of Berks., wid. of one Tyser of Sandwich. educ. G. Inn 1613. unm.1 sig. Pe[ter] Peake.
Commr. sewers, Kent 1631-at least 1639, assessment 1657.5
Peake inherited some property under his father’s will, but went into practice as an attorney after training at Gray’s Inn.6 In June 1623 he was chosen town clerk of Sandwich, defeating lord warden Zouche’s candidate by 19 votes to eight.7 Zouche was furious, and in August an apologetic Peake endeavoured to conciliate the lord warden with a present of fruit.8 In January 1624 Peake was ordered by the Sandwich corporation to confer with Zouche about the latter’s choice of nominee for one of the borough’s parliamentary seats, and in July 1624 was consulted by the corporation over a case in the Chancery Court at Dover.9
Peake stepped down as town clerk in 1625, but secured ‘most voices’ from the corporation at the general election of 1626.10 He played no recorded part in the Commons, but may have kept a diary of its proceedings that is now in the British Library. This diary covers the period from 14 Apr. until the dissolution on 15 June and once belonged to a later member of the family named Thomas Peake, whose signature appears on the first folio.11 The author was certainly a lawyer, as many of the entries relating to legal matters are marked with a cross and the word ‘law’. The diary, which has never been published, was written in a small, pocket-sized volume while the author was in the chamber. Unlike many other diaries it is not a blow-by-blow account of proceedings but a highly selective record, focusing on key dramatic moments, such as the laying of charges against Buckingham and Richard Montagu, and the examination of witnesses in connection with the alleged poisoning of James I. Legislation is almost entirely ignored, but a summary of contents of the bill concerning legal citations, which passed the House on 18 Apr., is listed.12
Following the Parliament, Peake continued to act for Sandwich in legal matters, as the writings concerning the free school there were sent to him in London in 1627 for his advice.13 He was re-elected by the borough in 1628, but though he left no trace on the records of the first session, in 1629 he was among those instructed to consider a bill against the begging of forfeitures before attainder (22 January). Moreover, on 13 Feb. he was added to the committee to inquire into complaints about the overseas post.14
Peake evidently took no further part in politics. Though never called to the bar, his services at Sandwich earned him the recordership, which he resigned in 1636 after seven years. A neutral in the Civil War, he was appointed steward of the Cinque Ports’ Court of Chancery and Admiralty in June 1645 on the recommendation of Sir Edward Boys* and the 2nd earl of Warwick (Robert Rich*), but resigned in February 1651. Although nominated to the Kent assessment commission in 1657, he was ‘weak in body’ by 31 May 1658, when he drafted his will. In this he thanked the wife of his ‘respected nephew’ Thomas Peake for taking ‘great pains and care’ of him in his sickness. He also left £100 to another nephew, Peter Peake of Sandwich, and £400 as a portion to his great-niece Susanna. The residue of his estate, including his library of books, plus the lands he leased at Higham, in north Kent, from St. John’s College, Cambridge, he left to the head of the family to perform ‘all trusts reposed in him according to his faithful promise made unto me’. His body was to be ‘decently but privately buried’ in the north chancel at Ash near the grave of his niece Susan. The will was proved on 14 July by his nephew Thomas. No later member of the family entered Parliament.15
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Peter Lefevre / Andrew Thrush
- 1. Cent. Kent. Stud. St. Clement’s, Sandwich par. reg.; Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. lxxv), 141; GI Admiss.
- 2. W. Boys, Sandwich, 423, 425.
- 3. PBG Inn, i. 330.
- 4. Bodl. Rawl. C416, f. 11; Rawl. A225, f. 64.
- 5. C181/4, f. 101v; 181/5, f. 147; A. and O. ii. 1246.
- 6. Cent. Kent. Stud. PRC17/56, ff. 145v-6.
- 7. E. Kent Archives Cent. Sa/AC7, f. 107v; SP14/146/46.
- 8. SP14/151/54.
- 9. E. Kent Archives Cent. Sa/AC 7, ff. 115, 117v.
- 10. Ibid. f. 137v.
- 11. Add. 71466. We are grateful to Chris Kyle for drawing this diary to our attention. Thomas Peake used the blank pages in the diary to make notes of his own.
- 12. Ibid. f. 172v. For the charges against Montagu, see ff. 172v-8; for those against Buckingham, and the examination of the witnesses, see ff. 133v-54v.
- 13. E. Kent Archives Cent. Sa/AC7, f. 144.
- 14. CJ, i. 922a, 929b.
- 15. PROB 11/281, f. 296.