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Peryam, Sir Williamlocked

  • J. A. Hamilton
  • , revised by David Ibbetson

Sir William Peryam (1534–1604)

by unknown artist, c. 1600

© reserved

Peryam, Sir William (1534–1604), judge, was the eldest son of John Peryam (d. 1572) and his wife, Elizabeth, a daughter of Robert Hone of Ottery St Mary, Devon. He was born at Exeter and was a cousin of Sir Thomas Bodley. His father, a man of means, was twice mayor of Exeter, and his brother, Sir John, was also an alderman of that town and a benefactor of Exeter College, Oxford. William Peryam was educated at Exeter College, Oxford, and at Clifford's Inn. He was elected fellow of Exeter on 25 April 1551, but resigned on 7 October and sat for Plymouth in the parliament of 1563. In 1553 he joined the Middle Temple, where his arms are placed in the hall; he was called to the bar in 1565, became a serjeant-at-law in Michaelmas term 1580, and on 13 February 1581 was appointed a judge of the common pleas.

Peryam was thrice married: first, to Margery, daughter of John Holcot of Berkshire; second, in or before 1574, to Anne, daughter of John Parker of North Molton, Devon; third, in or after 1593, to Elizabeth Neville (1541–1621), a daughter of the lord keeper, Sir Nicholas Bacon. He left four daughters, of whom the eldest, Mary, was married to Sir William Pole (d. 1635) of Colcombe, Devon, on 20 July 1583, and Elizabeth to Sir Robert Basset of Heanton-Punchardon, Devon; Jane married Thomas Poyntz of Hertfordshire; and Anne, William Williams of Herringstone, Dorset.

Peryam was frequently in commissions for trials of political crimes, particularly those of Mary, queen of Scots, the earls of Arundel and Essex, and Sir John Perrot, and was a commissioner to hear causes in chancery. He was knighted in 1592. In January 1593 he was promoted to be chief baron of the exchequer, in which court he presided for nearly twelve years. On 9 October 1604 he died at his house at Little Fulford, near Crediton, Devon, and was buried at Holy Cross Church, where there is a tomb effigy; he had bought large estates in the neighbourhood. He had also built a 'fayre dwelling house' at Credy Peitevin or Wiger, which he left to his daughters, and they sold it to his brother John. A picture, supposed to be his portrait, and ascribed to Holbein, is in the National Portrait Gallery, London; another portrait, with a view of a country house, is at Exeter College, Oxford. Peryam's widow, in 1620, endowed a fellowship and two scholarships at Balliol College, Oxford, out of lands at Hambleden and Princes Risborough in Buckinghamshire.


  • J. Prince, Danmonii orientales illustres, or, The worthies of Devon (1701), 501
  • HoP, Commons, 1558–1603, 2.53; 3.124, 209
  • C. W. Boase, ed., Registrum Collegii Exoniensis, new edn, OHS, 27 (1894), 66
  • J. L. Vivian, ed., The visitations of the county of Devon, comprising the herald's visitations of 1531, 1564, and 1620 (privately printed, Exeter, [1895]), 603
  • C. H. Hopwood, ed., Middle Temple records, 4 vols. (1904–5)
  • inquisition post mortem, TNA: PRO, WARDS 7/37/72; C142/289/63


  • portrait, 1599, Exeter College, Oxford; version, Middle Temple
  • portrait, 1600, priv. coll. [see illus.]
  • H. Holbein?, portrait, NPG
  • tomb effigy, Holy Cross Church, Crediton, Devon
  • watercolour drawing, NPG

Wealth at Death

over £130 p.a. in lands: TNA: PRO, C 142/289/63

Oxford Historical Society
J. Sainty, ed., , SeldS, suppl. ser. 10 (1993)
National Archives of the United Kingdom, Public Record Office, London
J. H. Baker, ; SeldS, suppl. ser., 5 (1984)
P. W. Hasler, ed., , 3 vols. (1981)
W. Cobbett, ed. T. B. Howell & T. J. Howell, 34 vols. (1809–28)