Henry PECKHAM of Denham

Born: 1526

Died: 8 Jul 1556, Tower Hill, London, England

Father: Edmund PECKHAM of Denham (Sir)

Mother: Anne CHENEY

Married: Elizabeth DACRES (dau. of Robert Dacres and Elizabeth Mannock) (m.2 John Blount)

The details in this biography come from the History of Parliament, a biographical dictionary of Members of the House of Commons.

Second son of Sir Edmund Peckham by Anne, dau. of John Cheney of Chesham Bois, Bucks.; bro. of Sir Robert and Sir Georgem. lic. 6 Nov. 1547, Elizabeth, dau. of Robert Dacres, master of requests (d. 20 Nov 1543), by Elizabeth, dau. of George Monoux of Stoke by Nayland, Suff., wid. of Sir Thomas Denny of How, and sister of George Dacres.

Henry Peckham may have followed his father and elder brother into the service of the crown, for in an exchange of lands with Edward VI in 1550 he was called ‘the King’s servant’. His marriage to the daughter of a former Privy Councillor was almost certainly the work of his father and it was perhaps the influence of Elizabeth Dacres and her uncles Sir Anthony Denny and Sir John Gates that won him to Protestantism. In 1547 his father and elder brother settled upon Peckham the manor of Lavendon in Buckinghamshire and the remainder of some property in Dorset after the father’s death. In 1550 Lavendon was leased to a Buckinghamshire man and Peckham exchanged the lordship with the King for the manor of Dartington with lands elsewhere in Devon. In 1550 also he acquired from Edward Fiennes, Lord Clinton, rights for himself and his heirs in the manor of Lantian, Cornwall, and in the reversion of two manors in Sussex. Peckham was described as of Southland, which was part of the family estate at Denham, when in Apr 1552 he conveyed Dartington to John Aylworth, a transfer presumably connected with the sum of £3,000 for which he was bound to Aylworth in the same month.

Peckham’s election as a Member for Chipping Wycombe in Mar 1553 with a kinsman John Cheney suggests that both were helped by Sir Edmund Peckham, who had some influence in the borough. Peckham, however, may have been put in on this occasion, not so much through his family’s standing in south Buckinghamshire, but because as a Protestant kinsman of Sir John Gates he was more acceptable to the Duke of Northumberland than his father and brother who were Catholics. Unlike Gates, Peckham is not known to have supported Northumberland during the succession crisis later in the year, but rather he seems to have commanded some of the forces mustered by his father for Mary. He took part in resisting Wyatt’s march through London in 1554, when he had charge of the approach to Ludgate gate under his father, but was absent at the moment of Wyatt’s arrival, having ‘belike gone to his father or to look to the water side’. For Peckham’s loyalty on these occasions he was granted a manor in Gloucestershire in 1554 and another in Hertfordshire a year later.

Despite his support for the Queen at her accession Peckham soon showed reservations about her plans. He was re-elected for Chipping Wycombe to three of her five Parliaments, only missing one before his death, that of Nov 1554 when Mary asked for inhabitants. He was returned for both Wycombe and the newly enfranchised borough of Aylesbury to the second Parliament of the reign, but evidently he preferred to sit for Wycombe as Humphrey Moseley took his place in the House for Aylesbury. In Oct 1553 Peckhamstood for the true religion’ against the initial measures to restore Catholicism. Two years later he attended the meetings at ‘Harondayle’s house’ where the parliamentary opposition discussed its tactics, and he followed Sir Anthony Kingston’s lead in voting against one of the government’s bills. If his activities outside and within the House on this occasion cost Peckham a spell of imprisonment, as it did some others, it did not deter him from joining the Dudley conspiracy in 1556. Henry Dudley and his supporters were hostile to Mary's husband, Felipe of Spain, her persecution of protestants, and the possible restoration of former ecclesiastical lands to the church. They sought backing from Henri II of France for a rising in southern England to oust Mary in favour of her sister, Princess Elizabeth, and they plotted to steal £50,000 in silver bullion from the exchequer to finance it. Several meetings by the plotters were held in Peckham’s lodgings at his father’s home in the Blackfriars and it was proposed to store stolen bullion there. Peckham agreed to raise Buckinghamshire and it was he who persuaded Edmund and Francis Verney, John Bray, second Baron Bray, and several other kinsmen to join the plot. At Sir Anthony Kingston’s instigation he prevailed on Edward Lewknor to obtain a copy of Henry VIII’s will, which he annotated for use in publicly defending the rising. Peckham was one of the first to be arrested and despite his elder brother’s intervention and his own confession he was hanged on 7 or 8 Jul 1556. His widow was allowed to retain the manor of Tring, Hertfordshire, for life and she later married John Blount of London.


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