Cyriac and Florence Petit
- Date of Brass:
- Boughton under Blean
The late Elizabethan brasses at Boughton under Blean in Kent form an interesting group. There are family links between them as Thomas Hawkins' son of the same name married Ann, one of the daughters of Cyriac Petyt, and John Driland married another of his daughters, Elizabeth. Her figure is lost but her inscription now appears beneath her parents' figures after a Victorian restoration placed it under them and left their inscription by its own. The inscription on Thomas Hawkins's brass emphasises his age, 101, and his service to Henry VIII while that of the Petit brass is concerned with family. Elizabeth Driland's inscription records her marriage to John Driland of Faversham, gentleman, and that she was the daughter of Cyriacke Petit, esquire. She died on 3 December 1591.
Like Thomas Hawkins, Cyriac Petit also served Henry VIII, He was appointed feodary of Kent and worked diligently in this role, recording land tenure in the county and leaving behind a written Feodary of Kent that built on the work done in the past by those holding similar roles and bringing up to date the book compiled in Edward III's time, as Petit recorded:
This is the Book of the reasonable Aid levied in the time of King Edward III. on the occasion of knighting his eldest son in the 20th year of his reign, and now remaining in the Exchequer. This book of the knight’s-fees in Kent has been amended and renovated with greater freshness and clearness as to the names of all the possessors and proprietors of those lands, and also the names by which the lands themselves are now called or known, by Cyriac Petit, the king’s Feodary in Kent, as well from the testimonies, relations, and admissions of the possessors and proprietors in those times and the present, as from the evidence and declarations of divers trustworthy persons in each hundred throughout the county of Kent in the 35th year of King Henry VIII.
Petit was born in the early 1510s and is recorded working by 1543 for John Baker, a Kent MP. He was as an under steward for a number of Kent manors in 1545, a commissioner of relief in 1550 but in Mary's reign he was involved in the persecution of those of the reformed religion as a a commissioner for heretical books in the diocese of Canterbury, working with John Baker. During this reign he became an MP, initially in April 1554 as member for Winchelsea, then in November of the same year member for Chippenham in Wiltshire although he also served in Kent as a justice of the peace. Further commissions in the division of crown lands in Kent in 1557, as surveyor of lands for Cardinal Pole in 1556—7 and lastly surveying lands of the archbishop of Canterbury in 1560 probably kept him too busy to pursue a parliamentary career any further and he fell out of favour in Elizabeth's reign. He had benefited from the dissolution of the monasteries, acquiring the lease of the tithes of Borden and Stockbury, formerly of St Augustine's abbey in Canterbury in November 1538. He became a freeman of Canterbury in March 1539 and was excused paying for that privilege. He acquired further property in 1540 and more former monastic property in Canterbury and London in September 1544, paying £476. A further purchase led to Petit's other claim to fame. He and John Webbe paid £80 in November 1554 for the remainder of a lease at Boughton under Blean, a lease that had reverted by forfeit to the see of Canterbury, then in Queen Mary's hands, following the suicide (then a felony) of Sir James Hales. Hales' widow brought an action to recover the lease against Petit but was unsuccessful, the point of law contested being whether the felony was committed during Hales' lifetime. Petit was living at Boughton in 1557, presumably on the manor of Colkins, when he bought lands at Faversham and Graveney.
Petit was around eighty years old when he died, outliving his wife Florence by over twenty years after her death on 19 March 1568. He left five sons and four daughters. The brass of the sons is lost but that of the daughters survives as does a shield showing the arms of Petit impaling those of Chernock, Florence's family, He willed to be buried next to his wife at Boughton, leaving his manor of Colkins and other lands to his eldest son Henry and his wife Mary. Henry and Mary appeared on a list of recusants alongside Elizabeth Driland and Anne Hawkins in 1588. It is ironic that Petit, who was named as one of the oppressors in John Foxe's Book of Martyrs, should be commemorated by a brass from the same Southwark or London workshop as that book's printer John Daye.
Charles I Elton, Tenures of Kent (1867)
Jon Bayliss, The Southwark Workshops, 1585-1605, TMBS vol XIX part 2 (2015), 111-130.
Copyright: Jon Bayliss
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