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

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PERROT, ROBERT (d. 1550), organist of Magdalen College, Oxford, second son of George Perrot of Harroldston, Pembrokeshire, by Isabel Langdale of Langdale Hall in Yorkshire, was born at Hackness in the North Riding of Yorkshire. He first appeared at Magdalen College as an attendant upon John Stokysley or Stokesley [q. v.], afterwards bishop of London (who was supposed to have been too intimate with his wife). By one of the witnesses at the visitation of Bishop Fox in 1506–7 he is mentioned as having condoned the offence for a substantial consideration. In 1510 Perrot was appointed instructor of choristers, and in 1515, being about that time made organist, he applied for a license ‘to proceed to the degree of Bachelor of Music.’ His request was granted on condition of his composing a mass and one song, but it does not appear from the college register whether he was admitted or licensed to proceed. Tanner, however, states that he eventually proceeded doctor of music. He was not only an eminent musician, but also a man of business, and he appears to have been trusted by the college in the purchase of trees, horses, and various commodities for the use of the college. He was at one time principal of Trinity Hall, a religious house before the dissolution, and then converted into an inn. Having obtained a lease of the house and chapel from the municipality of Oxford, Perrot demolished them both, and ‘in the same place built a barn, a stable, and a hog-stie’ (Wood, City of Oxford, ed. Peshall, p. 77). About 1530, upon the dissolution of the monasteries, he purchased Rewley Abbey, near Oxford, and sold the fabric for building materials in Oxford. In 1534 he was receiver-general of the archdeaconry of Buckingham (Willis, Cathedrals—Oxford, p. 119), and receiver of rents for Christ Church, Oxford. He was also receiver of rents for Littlemore Priory, near Oxford. ‘He gave way to fate 20 April 1550, and was buried in the north isle or alley joining to the church of St. Peter-in-the-East in Oxford’ (Wood, Fasti). By his will (dated 18 April 1550, and printed in full by Bloxam) he left most of his property to his wife Alice, daughter of Robert Gardiner of Sunningwell, Berkshire; and Alice Orpewood, a niece of Sir Thomas Pope [q. v.], founder of Trinity College, Oxford. He does not appear in his will to have been a benefactor to his college (as stated by Wood); but his widow, who died in 1588, bequeathed ‘twenty shillings to be bestowed amongst the President and Company’ of the foundation. Perrot had issue six sons and seven daughters. Among his sons were: Clement, organist of Magdalen College 1523, fellow of Lincoln 1535, rector of Farthingstone, Northamptonshire, 1541, and prebendary of Lincoln 1544; Simon (1514–1584), Fellow of Magdalen 1533, founder of the Perrots ‘on the Hill’ of Northleigh, Oxfordshire; Leonard, clerk of Magdalen in 1533, and founder of the second Perrot family of Northleigh; and Robert, incumbent of Bredicot, Worcestershire, 1562–85.

Tanner says that Robert Perrot composed and annotated ‘Hymni Varii Sacri,’ while, according to Wood, ‘he did compose several church services and other matters which have been since antiquated;’ but nothing of his appears to be extant.

Among the probable descendants of Robert Perrot, though the pedigree in which the succession is traced from the Harroldston branch is very inaccurate, was Sir Richard Perrott (d. 1796), bart., eldest son of Richard Perrott of Broseley in Shropshire. He was in personal attendance upon the Duke of Cumberland at Culloden. He then entered the Prussian service, and fought in the seven years' war, obtaining several foreign decorations, and being employed in various confidential negotiations by Frederick the Great. He succeeded his uncle, Sir Robert, first baronet, in May 1759, and died in 1796, leaving issue by his wife Margaret, daughter of Captain William Fordyce, gentleman of the bedchamber to George III (Burke, Peerage). A portrait of Sir Richard was engraved by V. Green in 1770 (Bromley). The scandalous ‘Life, Adventures, and Amours of Sir R[ichard] P[errott],’ published anonymously in 1770, may possibly be taken as indicating that the services rendered by the founder of the family were of a delicate nature, but was more likely an ebullition of private malice.

[Barnwell's Notes on the Perrot Family, 1867, pp. 80–90; Bloxam's Register of Magdalen College, vols. i. and ii. passim; Warton's Life of Sir Thomas Pope, 1750, app. p. xxi; Wood's Fasti, ed. Bliss, i. 42; Tanner's Bibliotheca, p. 593.]