Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pett, Peter (1630-1699)

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PETT, Sir PETER (1630–1699), lawyer and author, son of Peter Pett (1593–1652), master-shipwright at Deptford, grandson of Peter Pett of Wapping, shipbuilder, and great-grandson of Peter Pett (d. 1589) [q. v.], was baptised in St. Nicholas Church, Deptford, on 31 Oct. 1630. He was educated in St. Paul's School and at Sidney-Sussex College, Cambridge, where he was admitted in 1645. After graduating B.A. he migrated to Pembroke College, Oxford, and in 1648 was elected to a fellowship at All Souls'. He then graduated B.C.L. in 1650, was entered as a student at Gray's Inn, and settled there ‘for good and all’ about a year before the Restoration. From 1661 to 1666 he sat in the Irish parliament as M.P. for Askeaton. He was called to the bar from the Middle Temple in 1664. When the Royal Society was formed, in 1663, Pett was one of the original fellows, elected on 20 May, but was expelled on 18 Nov. 1675 for ‘not performing his obligation to the society.’ He was probably absorbed in other interests. He had been appointed advocate-general for Ireland, where he was knighted by the Duke of Ormonde. He was also much engaged in literary work, more or less of a polemical nature. A short tract of his, headed ‘Sir Peter Pett's Paper, 1679, about the Papists,’ is in the Public Record Office (Shaftesbury Papers, ii. 347). His published works are: 1. ‘A Discourse concerning Liberty of Conscience,’ London, 1661, 8vo. 2. ‘The Happy future Estate of England,’ 1680, fol.; republished in 1689 as ‘A Discourse of the Growth of England in Populousness and Trade … By way of a Letter to a Person of Honour.’ 3. ‘The obligation resulting from the Oath of Supremacy …,’ 1687, fol. He edited also the ‘Memoirs of Arthur [Annesley], Earl of Anglesey,’ 1693, 8vo, and ‘The genuine Remains of Dr. Thomas Barlow, late Lord Bishop of Lincoln,’ 1693, 8vo. He died on 1 April 1699. Pett has been often confused with his father's first cousin, Peter, commissioner of the navy at Chatham, who is separately noticed.

[Knight's Life of Colet, p. 407; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Wood's Athenæ, iv. 576; St. Paul's School Reg. p. 43; Burrows's Worthies of All Souls', pp. 476, 540.]

J. K. L.