PRETYMAN, Sir John, 1st Bt. (c.1612-76), of Loddington, Leics.
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Family and Education
b. c.1612, 1st s. of Sir John Pretyman of Driffield, Glos. by 3rd w. Mary, da. of William Bourchier of Barnsley, Glos. educ. L. Inn, entered 1629; Queens’, Camb. 1631. m. (1) by 1631, Elizabeth (d. Mar. 1663), da. and h. of George Turpin of Horninghold, Leics., 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 4da.; (2) by 1664, Theodosia, da. of Thomas Adams, merchant, of London, wid. of Lionel Knyvett, s.p. suc. fa. 1638, cr. Bt. c. July 1660.1
J.p. Glos by 1641-?46, Leics. July 1660-d.; commr. for assessment, Glos. 1641, Leics. Aug. 1660-4, Leicester 1664-9, array, Glos. 1642; sheriff, Leics. 1653-4.
Receiver of first fruits and tenths Aug. 1660-3.2
Pretyman was descended from a Suffolk family which had held land in Bacton since 1361, but his father moved to Gloucestershire in the reign of James I. Pretyman was appointed to the commission of array, and accused of serving with the royalist forces that took Cirencester in the early days, and in the garrison of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, but nothing could be proved against him. He sold Driffield and took up residence on his wife’s estates in Leicestershire, which he enlarged by the purchase of Loddington, valued at £788 p.a. He and his son were involved in the royalist rising of 1659, on which he claimed to have spent £3,000, and he was rewarded with a Nova Scotia baronetcy and the receivership of ecclesiastical revenue.3
Before the general election of 1661 Pretyman actively supported the wide franchise at Leicester, and he received a majority of the scot-and-lot votes. But the corporation preferred John Grey and there was a double return, which was resolved in his favour. He was one of the least active Members of the Cavalier Parliament, however, with only two committees. The first was on the bill to restrict the parliamentarian city of Gloucester to its old boundaries (6 Dec. 1661). By 1663 he had run into serious difficulties over his office, which he sought leave to alienate on the grounds of age. Permission was refused because he was nearly £20,000 in arrears with his payments to the crown, and his brother William, who was remembrancer in the same office, took over his functions. Listed as a court dependant in 1664, he undertook to drain Wildmore fen in Lincolnshire, and was granted 1,200 acres. When he petitioned the Commons from the Fleet prison to attend the session in 1667, the attorney-general held that ‘one in prison on execution cannot be set at liberty by virtue of privilege of Parliament’, and he was not released. In April 1669 he was deemed to have ‘forfeited the office by abusing his trust’. In the following year (Sir) John Heath, who had married the widow of Pretyman’s eldest son, tried to recover her jointure, and Loddington was vested in trustees to be sold by Act of Parliament to repay the debt of £16,000 still owing to the crown. He was
suspended from sitting in the House and from all privilege till he find out Hume (a most notorious fellow otherwise) whom he suggested to be his menial servant, whereas he was a prisoner for debt and thus by Sir John’s procurement has escaped his creditors. The serjeant was sent into the Speaker’s chamber with the mace to bring him to receive the sentence upon his knees at the Bar. Heretofore the House being disappointed (for in the meanwhile he was escaped by the back door) ordered that door be nailed up for the future. ... After a long debate for expelling him, the House have, for some good reasons, given him till the second Tuesday after our next meeting to appear.
In November he was able to satisfy the House that he had used every means at his disposal to find Hume without success, and he was restored to his seat. Named as a debtor to the crown by Sir George Downing in December, Pretyman ‘rose up in his place, and denied he owed the King anything’. On 31 Mar. 1671 he complained to the Commons that the trustees appointed to sell Loddington ‘had disposed of his lands at an undervalue’, but was unable to prove the charge. He was named to the committee of elections and privileges on 21 Feb. 1673, and after the King had withdrawn the Declaration of Indulgence he wrote to the Mayor of Leicester:
His Majesty made a most gracious speech to us declaring by the word of a King [that] for the time to come he will never suspend any law, and hath likewise given full satisfaction to the last address our House made unto his Majesty, insomuch that we are abundantly pleased with this day’s work.
After the prorogation in November 1674 Pretyman was arrested for debt. When Parliament reassembled a complaint was made that he was a prisoner in the King’s Bench, and this time the House resolved that he should be released to attend its service. After the adjournment in November 1675, Sir Richard Wiseman was confident that Pretyman’s vote ‘may be had’, but he did not know how to apply to him, except through the equally indigent Thomas King. He was buried at St. Bartholomew by the Exchange on 22 Dec. 1676, though posthumously blacklisted in the ‘unanimous club’. His son was described as a professional beggar in 1712, and no other member of the family entered Parliament.