Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Perrot, James

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PERROT, Sir JAMES (1571–1637), politician, born at Harroldston in Pembrokeshire in 1571, is stated to have been an illegitimate son of Sir John Perrot [q. v.] by Sybil Jones of Radnorshire. He matriculated from Jesus College, Oxford, as Sir John's second son, on 8 July 1586, aged 14, left the university without a degree, entered the Middle Temple in 1590, and, ‘afterwards travelling, returned an accomplish'd gentleman’ (Wood). He settled down upon the estate at Harroldston which had been given him by his father, and seems for a time to have devoted himself to literary composition. In 1596 was printed at Oxford, in quarto, by Joseph Barnes, his exceedingly rare ‘Discovery of Discontented Minds, wherein their several sorts and purposes are described, especially such as are gone beyond ye Seas,’ which was dedicated to the Earl of Essex, and had for its object to ‘restrain those dangerous malecontents who, whether as scholars or soldiers, turned fugitives or renegades, and settled in foreign countries, especially under the umbrage of the king of Spain, to negociate conspiracies and invasions’ (cf. Oldys, ‘Catalogue of Pamphlets in the Harleian Library,’ Harl. Misc. x. 358). This was followed in 1600 by ‘The First Part of the Consideration of Hvmane Condition: wherein is contained the Morall Consideration of a Man's Selfe: as what, who, and what manner of Man he is,’ Oxford, 4to. This was to be followed by three parts dealing respectively with the political consideration of things under us, the natural consideration of things about us, and the metaphysical consideration of things above us; none of which, however, appeared. Perrot also drew up ‘A Book of the Birth, Education, Life and Death, and singular good Parts of Sir Philip Sidney,’ which Wood appears to have seen in manuscript, and which Oldys ‘earnestly desired to meet with,’ but which was evidently never printed. In the meantime Perrot had represented the borough of Haverfordwest in the parliament of 1597–8, and during the progress of James I to London he was in July 1603 knighted at the house of Sir William Fleetwood. He sat again for Haverfordwest in the parliament of 1604, and in the ‘Addled parliament’ of 1614, when he took a vigorous part in the debates on the impositions, and shared to the full the indignation expressed by the lower house at the speech of Bishop Richard Neile [q. v.], questioning the competence of the commons to deal with this subject. When parliament met again in 1621 it contained few members who were listened to with greater willingness than Perrot, who combined experience with a popular manner of speaking. It was he who on 5 Feb. 1621 moved that the house should receive the communion at St. Margaret's, and who, in June, moved a declaration in favour of assisting James's children in the Palatinate, which was received by the house with enthusiasm, and declared by Sir Edward Cecil to be an inspiration from heaven, and of more effect ‘than if we had ten thousand soldiers on the march.’ Later on, in November 1621, he spoke in favour of a war of diversion and attack upon Spain in the Indies. Hitherto he had successfully combined popularity in the house with favour at court, and had specially gratified the king by supporting his plan to try Bacon's case before a special commission; but in December the warmth of his denunciation of the Spanish marriage, and his insistence upon fresh guarantees against popery, caused him to be numbered among the ‘ill-tempered spirits.’ He was, in consequence, subjected to an honourable banishment to Ireland, as a member of Sir Dudley Digges's [see Digges, Sir Dudley] commission for investigating certain grievances in Ireland (Wood; cf. Gardiner, History, iv. 267). In the parliament of 1624 Perrot, as representative for the county of Pembroke, played a less conspicuous part; but in that of 1628, when he again represented Haverfordwest, he made a powerful speech against Laud.

Perrot played a considerable part in his native county. In 1624 he became a lessee of the royal mines in Pembrokeshire, and from about that period he commenced acting as deputy vice-admiral for the Earl of Pembroke. In August 1625 he wrote to the government that Turkish pirates were upon the south-west coast, having occupied Lundy for over a fortnight, and made numerous captives in Mounts Bay, Cornwall. From 1626 he acted as the vice-admiral or representative of the admiralty in Pembrokeshire, and wrote frequently to Secretary Conway respecting the predatory habits of the Welsh wreckers, and the urgent necessity of fortifying Milford Haven. He was a member of the Virginia Company, to which he subscribed 37l. 10s. In 1630 he issued his ‘Meditations and Prayers on the Lord's Prayer and Ten Commandments,’ London, 4to. He died at his house of Harroldston on 4 Feb. 1636–7, and was buried in the chancel of St. Mary's Church, Haverfordwest. He married Mary, daughter of Robert Ashfield of Chesham, Buckinghamshire, but left no issue. Some commendatory verses by him are prefixed to the ‘Golden Grove’ (1608) of his friend Henry Vaughan.

[Barnwell's Perrot Notes (reprinted from Archæol. Cambr.), 1867, p. 59; Wood's Athenæ, ed. Bliss, ii. 605–6; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Metcalfe's Book of Knights; Le Neve's Pedigrees of the Knights, p. 165; Old Parliamentary Hist. v. 525, viii. 280; Cobbett's Parl. Hist. i. 1306, 1310, 1313; Gardiner's Hist. of Engl. iv. 28, 67, 128, 235, 255; Spedding's Bacon, xiii. 65; Williams's Eminent Welshmen; Williams's Parliamentary History of Wales; Madan's Early Oxford Press (Oxford Hist. Soc.), pp. 40, 49.]

T. S.