Pye, Robert (DNB00)

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PYE, Sir ROBERT (d. 1701), parliamentarian, was son of Sir Robert Pye (1585–1662).

The latter's eldest brother, Sir Walter Pye (1571–1635) of Mynde Park, near Killpeck, Herefordshire (cf. Gent. Mag. 1789, ii. 781), is said to have been educated at St. John's College, Oxford. He became a barrister at the Middle Temple, and was favoured by Buckingham. By the latter's influence he was made justice in Glamorganshire, Brecknockshire, and Radnorshire on 8 Feb. 1617, and attorney of the court of wards and liveries in 1621. He was knighted at Whitehall on 29 June 1630 (Metcalfe, Knights, p. 191), and, dying on 26 Dec. 1635, was buried, on 9 Jan. 1635–6, in the church of Much Dewchurch, where there is an elaborate monument in alabaster to his memory. By his first wife, Joan (d. 1625), daughter of William Rudhall of Rudhall, Herefordshire, whom he married on 22 July 1604, he had seven sons and seven daughters. The eldest son, Sir Walter (1610–1659), was father of Walter Pye, who was created Baron Kilpeck by James II after his abdication, and, being deprived of his Herefordshire property, died abroad without issue in 1690 (Herald and Genealogist, v. 32 sq.; Smith's, Obit. Camd. Soc. p. 11; Whitelocke, Liber Famelicus, Camd. Soc. pp. 54, 70, 90; Ellis, Orig. Letters, 3rd ser. iv. 170–2; Evelyn, Diary, ii. 658; Cal. State Papers, 1611–18, p. 432).

Sir Robert Pye, the parliamentarian's father, and Sir Walter's younger brother, became, by the favour of Buckingham, remembrancer of the exchequer in July 1618, was knighted on 13 July 1621, bought the manor of Farringdon, Berkshire, from the Unton family, and represented Woodstock in the Long parliament (Nichols, Progresses of James I, iii. 487, 669). He contributed 1,000l. towards the recovery of Ireland, remained at Westminster after the breach with the king, and passed for a thoroughgoing supporter of the parliament. In early life, says Ben Jonson, ‘he loved the Muses,’ and Jonson sent him, through John Burgess [q. v.], a rhyming petition for the payment of the arrears of his pension (Underwoods, p. lxxv). He died in 1662, having married Mary, daughter of John Croker of Batsford, Gloucestershire (Berry, Berkshire Genealogies, p. 131).

Robert, the parliamentarian, their son, married Anne, daughter of John Hampden, and in 1642 raised a troop of horse for the army of the Earl of Essex (Peacock, Army Lists, p. 55). In January 1643 a letter from the elder Pye to Sir Edward Nicholas was intercepted and read in the House of Commons, which proved that he was seeking to make his peace with the king, and secretly contributing money for his service. The letter also stated that his son's conduct in taking arms against the king was done without his consent or knowledge, neither should he have any supplies of money from him. It was only through Hampden's influence that the writer escaped expulsion from the house (Sanford, Studies and Illustrations of the Great Rebellion, pp. 488, 547).

The younger Pye was colonel of a regiment of horse under Essex during the Cornish campaign of 1644, and in June of that year captured Taunton Castle (Symonds, Diary, p. 73; Devereux, Lives of the Devereux Earls of Essex, ii. 413). He was wounded at the taking of Cirencester in September 1643 (Bibliotheca Gloucestrensis, p. 262). In April 1645 he was appointed colonel of a regiment of horse in the new model. In May 1645 he was sent to join Colonel Vermuyden and a body of horse who were to assist the Scottish army in the north of England; but, passing through Leicester on his way, he was persuaded to remain there to take part in its defence against the king (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1644–5, p. 504; Hollings, Leicester during the Civil War, 1840, p. 42). Pye showed much skill and courage during the defence, was taken prisoner when Leicester fell, and was exchanged for Sir Henry Tillyer a few days later (ib. pp. 44, 46; Lords' Journals, vii. 421). He published an account of the siege, entitled ‘A more exact Relation of the Siege laid to the town of Leicester … delivered to the House of Commons by Sir Robert Pye, governor of the said Town, and Major James Ennis,’ 4to, 1645. The events of the siege caused a lively controversy, and a number of tracts relating to it are reprinted by Nichols (Leicestershire, vol. iii. pt. ii. App.)

In September 1645 Pye took part in the siege of Bristol, and in May 1646 he was detached by Fairfax to command the forces sent to besiege Farringdon, which surrendered on 24 June 1646 with Oxford (Sprigge, Anglia Rediviva, ed. 1854, pp. 118, 258). He was one of the officers who undertook in March 1647 to engage their men to serve in the expedition to Ireland; but his regiment mutinied, and joined the rest of the army in their opposition to disbanding (Lords' Journals, ix. 214; Clarke Papers, i. 113). Pye succeeded in bringing off a certain number of troopers. These, who formed part of the force collected by the city to resist the army in July 1647, were regarded with special animosity by their late comrades (Rushworth, vii. 741). He was arrested by a party of the army in August 1647, but immediately released by Fairfax (Whitelocke, ii. 201).

Pye eventually became reconciled to the government of Cromwell, and sat in the parliaments of 1654 and 1658 as member for Berkshire. In January 1660 he again came forward as an opponent of military rule, and presented a petition for the readmission of the secluded members. For this the parliament sent him to the Tower, and, though he sued for a writ of habeas corpus at the upper bench, it was refused by Judge Newdigate. He was released on 21 Feb. 1660 (Commons' Journals, vii. 823, 847; Ludlow Memoirs, ii. 233; Kennett}, Register Ecclesiastical and Civil, p. 33). He represented Berkshire in the Convention parliament of 1660, but took little part in politics afterwards, though he lived till 1701. In December 1688 he joined the Prince of Orange on his way to London (Correspondence of Henry Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, ii. 219).

By his marriage with Anne Hampden, Pye had two sons, Hampden (b. 1647) and Edmund, M.D. (b. 1656). The last was the great-grandfather of the laureate Henry James Pye [q. v.]

[Harl. MS. 2218, f. 23 (pedigree); Burke's Commoners, i. 350, Extinct Baronetage, p. 433; other authorities mentioned in the article.]

C. H. F.