England against the bigotry of the extreme protestants.
Petty's concluding years were darkened by the events which succeeded the accession of James II. The king was personally well disposed to him, and listened with attention to his scheme for reorganising the revenue and the administration; while Petty, partly from a general optimism, which, notwithstanding all his struggles and many disappointments, was one of the most pleasing features of his character, partly from his suspicion of both the great contending parties in church and state, was disposed, like Penn, to take a favourable view of the king's intentions. The disappointment, when it came, was, for this reason, probably the more keenly felt. Whether he heard before his death of the attack on the little industrial settlement which he had founded at Kenmare in Kerry, does not exactly appear; but his friend, Lord Weymouth, who dined with him at the Royal Society immediately before his death, attributes the change which he observed in him to distress at the news from Ireland. He died on 16 Dec. 1687 in London, and was buried in the abbey church, Romsey, where a monument was erected to him in the present century. The king appears to have maintained his personal goodwill to Petty to the last, and probably regretted the disastrous effects of his own policy on the fortunes of his friend in Ireland.
Petty married, in 1667, Elizabeth, widow of Sir Maurice Fenton, and daughter of Sir Hardress Waller [q. v.], regicide. She was created Baroness Shelburne by James II on 31 Dec. 1688. By this lady, who died in February 1708, Petty had three surviving children, Charles, Henry, and Anne. The two sons were successively created Lord Shelburne, but both died childless. The Petty estates thereupon passed to John Fitzmaurice, second surviving son of Petty's daughter Anne, who had married Thomas Fitzmaurice, first earl of Kerry, in whose favour the Shelburne title was again revived. Anne Petty appears to have inherited much of her father's mathematical and business faculties, and was declared by William, earl of Shelburne, to have brought into the Fitzmaurice family ‘whatever degree of sense may have appeared in it, or whatever wealth is likely to remain in it’ (Life of Shelburne, i. 3).
Besides the works already mentioned, Petty wrote a ‘History of the Down Survey,’ edited with notes for the Irish Archæological Society in 1851 by Sir Thomas Larcom, and ‘Reflections upon some Persons and Things in Ireland,’ which is a popular account of the same transactions in the shape of letters between himself and an imaginary correspondent (London, 1660); also a ‘Brief of the Proceedings between Sir Hierome Sankey and the Author’ (London, 1659). His will contained a curious and characteristic summary of his life and struggles. It was printed in 1769 as an introduction to the volume of ‘Petty Tracts’ (Dublin); but a more accurate reprint is to be found in the ‘Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy’ (vol. xxiv. ‘Antiquities,’ pt. i.), being given by Mr. Harding, in the appendix to his interesting accounts of the Irish surveys. A succinct catalogue of all his writings was left by Petty among his papers, in which he acknowledges his share in the authorship of the ‘Discourse against the Transplantation into Connaught,’ which had hitherto been attributed exclusively to Vincent Gookin [q. v.] Among his papers he left a set of pithy instructions to his children, which show a curious mixture of worldly wisdom and high feeling.
John Aubrey, one of Petty's friends, left an account of his personal appearance. ‘He is a proper handsome man,’ the antiquary writes, ‘measures six foot high, good head of brown hair, moderately turning up—vide his picture as Dr. of Physick—his eyes are of a kind of goose-grey, but very short-sighted; and as to aspect beautiful, and promise sweetness of nature; and they do not deceive, for he is a marvellous good-natured person, and εὔσπλαγχνος. Eyebrows thick, dark, and straight (horizontal). His head is very large (μακροέφαλος)’ (Bodleian Letters, ii. 487).
Several portraits of Petty exist, the best being that of him as ‘Doctor of Physic’ by Lely, now in the possession of Mr. Charles Monck of Coley Park, Reading. Aubrey alludes to a picture by Logan, which is probably that to be seen on the frontispiece of the maps of Ireland engraved by Sandys; and to another by Samuel Cooper. There is also a portrait by Closterman at Lansdowne House, in the possession of the Marquis of Lansdowne; an engraving of it, by J. Smith, is in the National Gallery, Dublin. In the ‘Bibliotheca Pepysiana’ at Cambridge are two good drawings of the ‘double-bottomed’ ship. A model of this ship, which is stated to have existed at Gresham College, has been lost.
[Much information in regard to Petty is to be found in Aubrey's Lives (Bodleian Letters, vol. ii.), in Wood's Athenæ Oxon., in the Diary of Pepys, and in Evelyn's Memoirs. A careful study by the German economist Roscher appeared in 1857 in the Transactions of the Royal Scientific Society