|Sir John Perrot|
Mezzotint after George Powle
|Born||7–11 November 1528
Haroldston, Pembrokeshire, England
|Died||3 November 1592 (aged 63)
Tower of London, London, England
|Parents||Thomas Perrot (1505–1531)
Mary Berkeley (1510/1 – after 1586)
Sir John Perrot (November 1528 – 3 November 1592) served as Lord Deputy of Ireland under Queen Elizabeth I of England during the Tudor conquest of Ireland. He is alleged to have been the son of King Henry VIII, in an account written by Sir Robert Naunton, who had married Sir John's granddaughter, Penelope.
Early life 
John Perrot was born at Haroldston (near Haverfordwest), Pembrokeshire, the third child of Mary Berkeley and Thomas Perrot (or Perrott), Esquire of Haroldston. It was claimed he was the son of Henry VIII, whom Perrot notoriously resembled in temperament and appearance. Others reject the claim. According to historian Roger Turvey, the allegation of Henry VIII's fatherhood originated with Sir Robert Naunton (1563–1635). Naunton never knew Sir John, and used second-hand accounts of his person and character, along with a series of historically inaccurate events to reach his conclusion on John's paternity. For example, John was Mary Berkeley's third child, not her first, and history does not record her and the king being in the same location during this period. Naunton even claimed that Sir Owen Hopton, Lieutenant of the Tower of London, overheard Sir John say, 'Will the Queen suffer her brother to be offered up a sacrifice to the envy of his frisking adversaries?' thus suggesting that Perrot himself fueled the rumours of his paternity. However, Hopton had been removed[by whom?] from the Tower eighteen months prior to Perrot's imprisonment, so he could not have overheard Perrot make the claim there.
Perrot joined the household of William Paulet, 1st Marquess of Winchester, and thereby gained his introduction to Henry VIII. His advancement faltered on the death of the king in January 1547, but Perrot did receive a knighthood at the coronation of Henry's successor, Edward VI in the following month. He was appointed High Sheriff of Pembrokeshire for 1551.
In June 1551 Perrot also visited France in the train of William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton, who had been sent to arrange Edward VI's betrothal to Elisabeth of Valois, the infant daughter of Henry II of France. Perrot's skill as a knight and in the hunt fascinated Henry, who sought to retain him for reward. Perrot declined, but on his return to England his debts were paid by the French king.
During the reign of Mary I (1553–58), Perrot suffered a brief imprisonment in the Fleet with his uncle, Robert Perrott, on a charge of sheltering heretics at his house in Wales. Following his release, he declined to assist William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke, in seeking out heretics in south Wales, but went on to serve with him at the capture of Saint-Quentin in 1557. In spite of his Protestantism, Perrot was granted the castle and lordship of Carew in Pembrokeshire, and at the beginning of Queen Elizabeth's reign the naval defence of South Wales was entrusted to his care. In 1562 he was elected Knight of Pembrokeshire.
In 1570 Perrot reluctantly accepted the newly-created post of Lord President of Munster in Ireland, a province in the throes of the first of the Desmond Rebellions. Perrot landed at Waterford in February of the following year and reduced the province to peace in a vigorous campaign.
The chief rebel, James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald, eluded government forces for some time. In one grisly incident, after 50 rebels had been slain, Perrot sought to awe the rebels by cutting off the heads of the slain and fixing them to the market cross of Kilmallock. Fitzmaurice refused to come in and Perrot issued him with a challenge to single combat, which the rebel declined with the comment, "For if I should kill Sir John Perrot the Queen of England can send another president into this province; but if he do kill me there is none other to succeed me or to command as I do." Perrot's offer provoked mutterings from the more level-headed servants of the crown, and his reputation for rashness grew. Soon after, he was ambushed by the rebels, who outnumbered his force ten to one, but was relieved when the attackers fled on mistaking a small cavalry company for the advance party of a larger crown force. In 1572, after a second and successful siege of the Geraldine stronghold of Castlemaine, County Kerry, Perrot had the satisfaction of receiving Fitzmaurice's submission.
Perrot authorised over 800 hangings — most by martial law — but his presidency is regarded as successful[by whom?]. He criticised the reinstatement after the rebellion of the chief nobleman of Munster, Gerald Fitzgerald, 15th Earl of Desmond, and having vainly sought his own recall, departed Ireland without leave in July 1573. Upon presenting himself at court he was permitted to resign his office, in which he was succeeded by Sir William Drury.
Perrot returned to his Welsh home and occupied himself as vice-admiral of the Welsh seas and on the Council of the Marches. In 1578 the deputy-admiral, Richard Vaughan, accused him of tyranny, subversion of justice, and dealing with pirates; but Perrot retained the confidence of the Crown, for he became commissioner for piracy in Pembrokeshire in 1578, and in the following year received the command of a naval squadron charged with the interception of Spanish ships on the Irish coast.
Lord Deputy of Ireland 
In 1584 Perrot was appointed Lord Deputy of Ireland, to replace Lord Grey de Wilton whom Elizabeth I had recalled to England two years earlier. His chief task was to begin the plantation of the southern province of Munster, a significant escalation of colonial policy. The Crown sought to parcel out lands at nominal rents from the confiscated estates of the lately defeated Earl of Desmond — some 600,000 acres (2,400 km²) — on condition that the undertakers establish English farmers and labourers to build towns and work the land.
Before he had time to begin the plantation, Perrot got wind of raids into the northern province of Ulster by the Highland clans of Maclean and MacDonnell at the invitation of Sorley Boy MacDonnell. Perrot marched his army beyond the Pale and into Ulster, but Sorley Boy escaped by crossing over to Scotland, only to return later with reinforcements. Although Elizabeth roundly abused her deputy for launching such an unadvised campaign, by 1586 Perrot had brought Sorley Boy to a mutually beneficial submission. At about this time he also sanctioned the kidnapping of Hugh Roe O'Donnell (lured to a wine tasting on a merchant ship and then sealed in a cabin and brought to Dublin), a move which gave the crown some leverage in western Ulster. Perrot's northern strategy also brought the submission of Hugh Maguire, Lord of Fermanagh.
In the south, the plantation of Munster got off to a slow start in the face of legal challenges by landowners associated with the attainted Geraldine rebels. In 1585 Perrot did have success in perfecting a composition of the western province of Connaught, an unusually even-handed contract between crown and landowners by which the queen received certain rents in return for settling land titles and tenant dues. In the same year a parliament was convened at Dublin, the first since 1569, with many spectators expressing great hopes upon the attendance of the Gaelic lords. The sessions proved disappointing: although the act for the attainder of Desmond (which rendered the rebel's estates at the disposal of the crown) was passed, the legislative programme ran into difficulty, particularly over the suspension of Poynings' Law. At the prorogation of parliament in 1587 Perrot was so frustrated with the influence of factions within both chambers of the house (orchestrated to a large degree by Sir Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormond) that he begged to be recalled to England.
Perrot had helped to establish peace in Ireland, but unsparing criticism of his associates in government made him numerous enemies. A hastily conceived plan for the conversion of the revenues of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin to fund the erection of two colleges led to a sustained quarrel with Adam Loftus, Archbishop of Dublin, which Perrot wilfully aggravated by his interference with the authority of Loftus as lord chancellor. Perrot also interfered in Richard Bingham's government of Connaught, and in May 1587 he actually struck Sir Nicholas Bagenal, the elderly knight marshal, in the council chamber, an incident his enemies blamed on his drunkenness. In January 1588 Elizabeth granted Perrot's request for recall. Six months later he was succeeded by the experienced Sir William Fitzwilliam. In 1589 he was again elected to Parliament to represent Haverfordwest.
Upon Perrot's return to England, his enemies continued to work his ruin. At first he was received with favour and appointed to the Privy Council, where he maintained his interest in Irish affairs through correspondence with several members of the council in Dublin. In the heated politics following the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, Perrot found himself accused of treason on allegations presented by a former priest and condemned prisoner, Dennis O'Roghan. The evidence was contained in correspondence allegedly addressed by Perrot as lord deputy (with his signature attached) to King Philip II of Spain and the Duke of Parma, in which certain treasonable promises and bargains were put forward concerning the future of England, Wales and Ireland.
Fitzwilliam set up an investigation in Dublin, but O'Roghan's record of forging documents was produced, and for a time it seemed that the allegations would fail for lack of evidence. Rather than let the matter lie, it was decided (probably at Perrot's urging) to pursue an inquiry into the manner in which the allegations had been brought in the first place, a process likely to embarrass Fitzwilliam. The inquiry was conducted in Dublin by a commission that included several of Perrot's favourites on the Privy Council of Ireland, notably Charles Calthorpe, the Attorney General for Ireland, and Nicholas Walsh, the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. Both men were later accused of acting corruptly but had enough influence to save their careers.
In a lengthy interrogation the priest alleged that he had been tortured by members of the commission. Fitzwilliam was instantly directed on strict instruction from the queen to resume his own investigation and forward his findings to the Privy Council in London. Perrot faced a moment of crisis when further allegations were made — most notably by his former secretary, Henry Bird — of his frequent use in private conversation of violent language against the queen. Allegations were also made of his prior knowledge of the rebellion in 1589 of Sir Brian O'Rourke (later extradited from Scotland and hanged at London), which had occurred under the government of Bingham in Connaught.
Perrot was confined to the Tower of London, and in 1592 was brought to trial before a special commission on charges of high treason. O'Roghan's forged letters and the evidence concerning the O'Rourke rebellion played their part in the prosecution case, but the evidence most vividly presented was of his remarks about Elizabeth: he was said to have called the queen a "base bastard piskitchin" and to have disparaged her legitimacy on many occasions. Perrot protested his loyalty to the jury and, in reaction to a hectoring prosecution counsel, eloquently cried out, "You win men's lives away with words". But his defence then descended into blustering, and a verdict of guilty was returned. Sentencing was put off for some months in the expectation of a royal pardon, but Perrot died in the Tower in September 1592. Whether Elizabeth intended to pardon Perrot remains a matter of doubt.
Following Perrot's arraignment several of his favourites from the Irish commission to inquire into O'Roghan's allegations were replaced in their council seats by English appointees, who fully equated the Protestant cause with the state and inclined to take a harder line in dealing with Gaelic Ireland. Fitzwilliam was thus free to pursue a policy opposed in crucial aspects to Perrot's, and the northern lords (including Hugh O'Neill) found themselves subjected to increasing government encroachment on their territories, which resulted in the outbreak of the Nine Years War (1595–1603).
Perrot married twice:
- to Anne Cheyney of Kent, who bore his son and heir Thomas
- to Jane Prust, daughter of Hugh Prust (d.1559) of Thorvey, Hartland in Devonshire and widow of Sir Lewis II Pollard of King's Nympton, Recorder of Exeter, who bore him a son, William (died unmarried), and two daughters:
In March 1593, some four months after his death, the Crown reversed the attainder on his property so that his son Thomas — who had married Dorothy Devereux, a sister of Elizabeth's favourite Essex — could inherit.
Perrot also fathered bastard children. The best known, Sir James Perrott (1571–1637), produced the manuscript The life, deedes and death of Sir John Perrott, knight (published in 1728). A son John, born about 1565, appears in the Inner Temple Register in an entry dated 5 June 1583: "John Perot, of Haryve, Co. Pembroke, 3rd son of John Perot, Knight". A daughter Elizabeth, who married Hugh Butler of Johnston, was the granddaughter of Sir Christopher Hatton, a favourite of Elizabeth I and enemy of Sir John (the source of their hostility being Sir John's relationship with Sir Christopher's unmarried illegitimate daughter, also named Elizabeth).
|Custos Rotulorum of Pembrokeshire
The Earl of Essex
Lord Grey de Wilton
|Lord Deputy of Ireland
- Hart, Kelly (2009). The Mistresses of Henry VIII. The History Press. pp. 75–77. ISBN 0-7524-4835-8.
- Naunton, Robert, 1653. "Fragmentalia Regalia", ed Edward Arber, London, 1895.
- Owen, Henry (2009) . Old Pembroke Families in the Ancient County Palatine of Pembroke. BiblioBazaar. p. 56. ISBN 978-1-110-91492-0. Retrieved 2009-09-10. "Mary Berkeley was the mother of the most distinguished man of the name of Perrot, but he had little right to bear the name, for he was the son of King Henry VIII, whom he much resembled in person and character. [...] This was Sir John Perrot."
- Turvey, Roger. 2010. Sir John Perrot: The man and the Myth. Separating fact from fiction in the life of this legendary figure. The P-rr-tt Society special publication. London, England.
- Turvey, Roger (2005). The treason and trial of Sir John Perrot. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. p. 208. ISBN 0-7083-1912-2.
- Levin, Carole (2006), "Sister-Subject/Sister-Queen: Elizabeth I among her Siblings", in Miller, Naomi J.; Yavneh, Naomi, Sibling Relations and Gender in the Early Modern World: Sisters, Brothers and Others, Aldershot: Ashgate, p. 238, ISBN 0-7546-4010-8, "Sir John Perrot did claim to be the son of Henry VIII, though Henry never formally acknowledged him so. Perrot, born sometime between 1527 and 1530, was the son of Mary Berkely, whose husband Sir Thomas Perrot was a courtier and wealthy landowner. John’s physical resemblance to Henry VIII fueled rumors that he was the king’s son, a belief that Sir John strongly encouraged. [...] Perrot was lodged in the Tower but Elizabeth was reluctant to have him executed. 'God’s death! Will the Queen suffer her brother to be offered up a sacrifice to the envy of his frisking adversaries?' Perrot exclaimed."
- Jones 2009, p. 148.
- Vivian, Heralds' Visitations of Devon, 1895, p.629, pedigree of Prust
- Roger Turvey, ‘Perrot, Sir John (1528–1592)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004
- N.M. Nugent. Cavaliers and Pioneers : Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants 1623-1666. Vol 1, p 197.
- Jones 2009, p. 161.
- Jones, Philippa (2009). The Other Tudors: Henry VIII's Mistresses and Bastards. London: New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84773-429-7.
- Sir John Perrot on Welsh Biography Online
- Sir John Perrot at castlewales.com
- Perrot's of Pembrokeshire: Sir John's ancestors and extended family
- John Perrot (Parret) (1528/29-92)
- Trial of Sir John Perrot, April 27, 1592- Google book facsimile of Cobbett's State Trials (p.1591 ff.)
Other sources 
- Richard Bagwell, Ireland under the Tudors 3 vols. (London, 1885–1890).
- John O'Donovan (ed.) Annals of Ireland by the Four Masters (1851).
- Calendar of State Papers: Carew MSS. 6 vols (London, 1867–1873).
- Calendar of State Papers: Ireland (London)
- Colm Lennon Sixteenth Century Ireland – The Incomplete Conquest (Dublin, 1995) ISBN 0-312-12462-7.
- Nicholas P. Canny Making Ireland British, 1580–1650 (Oxford University Press, 2001) ISBN 0-19-820091-9.
- Steven G. Ellis Tudor Ireland (London, 1985) ISBN 0-582-49341-2.
- Hiram Morgan Tyrone's Rebellion (1995).
- Cyril Falls Elizabeth's Irish Wars (1950; reprint London, 1996) ISBN 0-09-477220-7.
- Gerard Anthony Hayes McCoy Irish Battles (Belfast, 1989) ISBN 0-86281-212-7.
- Dictionary of National Biography 22 vols. (London, 1921–1922).
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- The Prust Papers, at the North Devon Record Office, supplied by Hartland Digital Archive 2007
Further reading 
- A Critical Edition of Sir James Perrot's The Life, Deedes and Death of Sir John Perrott, Knight by Roger Turvey (2002)
- Turvey, Roger (2005). The treason and trial of Sir John Perrot. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. p. 208. ISBN 0-7083-1912-2.
- Sir John Perrot, Knight of Bath, 1527-1591 by G. Douglas James (1962)
- Sir John Perrot and the Irish Parliament of 1585-6 by V. Treadwell (1985)