In looking for the possible connections that would clarify the basis of the relationship between the two boatbuilding families Pett and Holbourn I have found it helpful to keep a record of the many families of Peter and Phineas Pett, an complete history of the Pett Dynasty would be a monumental undertaking. I have taken the trouble, as need demands, to note some points of interest from their lives, herein set out below.
So knit together that the Devil himself could not discover them
As concerns the brothers of Lydia Pett, by the Peter (of Deptford) who in 1583 was granted a Crest of Arms, Master Shipwright and his first wife, whose name is uncertain, their was a Joseph of Limehouse, who succeeded him as Master Shipwright at Deptford (d.1605, buried at Stepney.) whose son, also Joseph was the Master Carpenter employed at Chatham in 1643 by the then Earl of Warwick. This Joseph surveyed the timber for the construction of the Soverign of the Seas, he died in 1652, around the age of sixty. he was married to an Elizabeth (ne) Hoborn, daughter of Richard, Shipwright and Church Warden at Chatham Their was also their son Peter Pett who carried on the private family business of Shipbuilding at Wapping.
Another son of Sir Peter Pett was Richard who also naturally enough, raised his son, Peter of Deptford (b.1593~d.1652), to be a Shipwright. The sons of this Peter Pett were Phineas (Capt. RN) and the Peter who was baptised in St. Nicholass Church in 1630, who was later to be educated in the St. Pauls School and then at the Sidney ~ Sussex College of Cambridge, where he was admitted in 1645. Then graduating to Pembroke College, Oxford, and in 1648 elected to a fellowship at All Souls, and became Bachelor of Civil Law to Greys Inn, 1657/8, Knighted at the Restoration, 1661, by the Duke of Ormond, after which this Peter Pett sat as an M.P. for Askaeton, in the Irish Parliament.
He was called to the bar from the Middle Temple in 1664, as a Barrister in law of the Middle Temple, and one of the original Fellows of the Royal Society in 1663, from which he was later expelled in 1675 for not performing his obligations to the society. He also became Advocate General in Ireland. This Peter Pett died in 1699. He was a learned author and many of his manuscripts have survived him. Given this, it is not difficult to imagine he may have studied the works of the Lawyer Robert Holborne who had, records suppose, died when this Peter Pett was approaching his twentieth year, and also just may have had a connection to the family tree of that said Lawyer, by reason of his own grandfathers brothers sons marriage to the daughter of the Church Warden at Chatham, i.e. the Shipwright Richard Hoborn ~
At about the time Phineas succeeded the Shipwright John Holding, to the post of Keeper of the Plank yard, his income was meagre by the standards set by his family. Struggling himself, from the ravages of his former destitution he records in his diary how it became his duty, for which he considered himself unfit, to take charge of the affairs of his poor sisters and brother, over which he felt more attention ought have been lavished by his kinsman Joseph whom cared not what became of them.
Phineas Petts sisters were : Jane Susannah who died in 1567, Rachel who was married to the Reverend W. Newman of Essex, Abigale, recorded as the eldest daughter and who died in 1599, Elizabeth, who the same year, fell ill and died as a plague victim, and Mary who lived until 1626 who is cited to have been betrothed to a Mr. Cooper. Out of these then, excluding Abigale, whom the story goes, was murdered by her father in law, the Suffolk Cleric Thomas Nunn, who after the death in 1597 of Elizabeth (nee) Thornton, Petts mother, (herself widowed in 1589) was held in trust with the custody of Phineass young brother Peter Pett, and his three above named sisters. In the words of Phineas, concerning his stepfather Thomas Nunn, here quoted from his diary, preserved as an autobiography, edited in 1918 for the Royal Navy Records Society, by W.G. Perrin :~ Upon a slight occasion about making clean his cloak being wet and dirty with riding a journey the day before, (he) furiously fell upon my eldest sister Abigale beating her so cruelly with a pair of tongs and a firebrand that she died within three days. Nunn a Clergyman, received the Queens pardon for his crime, but was to die immediately afterwards, ~ punished for his crime by an act of Divine retribution, or perhaps as the consequence of a mortal hand lending its influence to such an undertaking!?
Of Phineass other sisters Lydia Pett was the only daughter by His father, Peter Petts first marriage. Lydia is found mentioned in Phineas Petts diary for 1610 on the occasion of her death, (April 27th), where he mentions that he had for some time been glad to maintain her, on account of the poor man that was her husband. He states that she died at Plumstead, and was there buried. She also finds mention in her brother Williams last testament. She was clearly married before 1589, her father having provided a legacy towards the upbringing of her daughter, also named Lydia. Later on in Petts diary an important account reads,: The 14th of February, being Wednesday and St. Valentines Day, my dear wife Ann departed this life in the morning, and was buried the Friday after in Chatham Church in the evening, leaving behind her a disconsolate husband and sad family. Not long after, I being at London, my only sister then living, Mary Cooper, departed this life the fifth of March for very grief of the loss of my dear wife
Again, taken from Phineas Petts own account, it is clear that his daughter Martha was married on the 25th April 1637, to a John Hodierne, sometimes my servant (apprentice), who in 1633 was recommended by Pett for the post of Master Carpenter of the Charles, on the basis of his having worked on the ship throughout its construction and also as he was a good mariner. Curiously, the name of John Hodirene is remarkably similar to that of a certain John Holborne, living in Chatham, a close cousin of the Mastmaker, but I suspect this is a mere coincidence, the year of the marriage is of a later date than the wedding of the Mastmaker Richard, who wed in 1604 to Margaret Ralande. This interestingly, was at a time when the plague was rife in Chatham and London, for in 1603, in the words of Phineas The sickness beginning to be very hot at Chatham, upon the persuasion of some of my friends I removed my wife and children from thence to my wifes fathers in Middlesex. He had recently, that July already taken Joseph and his family, and a party of friends, to Ipswich for the same reason.
Phineass own father had married twice, the first of these weddings gave him a daughter, Lydia and her four brothers, whose mother died around 1543. It is likely that Robert Holborn, cited as working with Pett at this time was a relative of Richard Hoborn, Cousin of Commissioner Pett. Peter of Deptford, the son of Peter of Harwich (d.1554) and Elizabeth Paynter, were Lydias parents, Peters sister married John Chapman, Master Shipwright, whose own son Richard was born in 1620 and Master Shipwright of Woolwich and Deptford, the Shipwright who was to build the Ark, raised in the Pett household, as in all probability was Mathew Baker with whom, from 1570 Peter Pett was associated in the works at Dover.
Peter Pett of Deptford married his second wife Elizabeth Thornton, the sister of Naval Captain Thornton, and in time fathered eight further children by this union. The three sons were Phineas, Peter and Noah, she died his widow in 1597. This Phineas born at Deptford in 1570, a son of Peter of Deptford was, with his fathers death in 1589 left as destitute. He had been sent to the Free School at Rochester for three years and then moved to a private school in Greenwich, until in 1586 aged 16 he entered Emmanuelle Collage, Cambridge. In 1590 he was bound a covenant servant to Richard Chapman, the Queens Master Shipwright and was a young trainee under Chapman, but had served only two or three years of his Apprenticeship when Chapman died. (1590/3)
Perhaps inevitably, a quarrel ensued between Baker and Phineas Pett and according to Petts side of the story, over the following ten to twelve years Mathew Baker lost no opportunity of doing him a bad turn. This does seem to bear out when the poisonous comments in Bakers own words are noted. Ironically, perhaps considering the lengthy predominance of the power of the Pett Dynasty over the years, but according to Pett, the administration of the Dockyards was, at the time altogether swayed by personal interest, jealousy and malicious intrigue. The familys of Peter Pett learnt well from the son of the first Royal Master Shipwright!
In 1601 Phineas was appointed assistant to the Master Shipwright at Chatham, over the year his good services particularly in fitting out the Fleet in six weeks won support for him at the Court. At the age of thirty four (1604) with various members of his family long known on the river for their skill in Shipbuilding, Phineas, the son of Peter of Deptford, (the father of Lydia) had been instructed, as the chief of the Kings Shipwrights, by the Lord High Admiral, to construct a vessel at Chatham with a length by the keel of 25 feet, and a breadth of twelve, and to have it adorned with paintings and carving, inside and out for the maritime training and amusement of the young Prince Henry. Although a long delay appears to have occurred from the presentation of the model that inspired this ship, to the point of its construction, when finally begun, the craft was rapidly built and brought up river to Limehouse for its final fitting out.
On the 14th of March, a day before the Royal progress through London, the ship, emblazoned with pendants and ensigns, as yet unnamed, was set to riding before the Kings Lodgings at the Tower for his inspection, so that the Prince expressed great delight with his gift. After which the vessel was moved to a mooring against the Privy Stairs at Whitehall, and there remained for a week until, attended by the Admiral, Prince Henry proceeded on board. The boat was taken under sail down river to Pauls Wharf (south of St. Pauls, and on the east side of Baynards Castle), where she was christened by the Prince with a bowl of wine in the customary manner, naming her the Disdain. Phineas Pett, as the builder was then presented, and so commended himself to the boys favour as to be at once received into his service, and was sworn in the next day at St. Jamess House, the Princes residence
In the first week of December 1610, Henry, the junior Prince of Wales, on a visit to Woolwich boarded the Prince Royal, it then being fully rigged and ready to sail for Chatham. Built in dry docks, the Royal Prince was the Navys first triple decked vessel. Topped with four masts she also carried fifty five cannon. So impressed with the new ship, the Prince remained aboard her for about three hours. An effort to launch her in the Kings presence was unsuccessful, the river at Woolwich not being suitable to such an undertaking even on the best of tides, a fact that saw the steady decline of the Dockyard. Phineas Pett recorded that Prince Henry was wonderful desirous to have had us set sail, if we could possibly have done it without damage. An effort was therefore made as Phineas later noted, : We opened the dock gates and made all things ready against the tide, but the wind blowing very hard at south west kept out the flood so as it proved a very bad tide. At the Lord Admirals command, and on the highest point of the tide, her ropes were slipped and the great ship began to move, only moments later coming to rest, as she lodged in and held tight between the clenches of the lock gate. The King and his attendant Courtiers having departed with some disappointment, a second attempt was made on the following high tide, two hours after midnight. The enthusiastic young Prince having returned, as good as his word by that time. At about Two AM. the Royal Prince was successfully launched and came to rest midstream in the Thames, to the great joy and comfort of the Princes Highness.
The Prince Henry later travelled by barge to Chatham on May the 6th of 1611 so that upon the following day he might once again board his own great warship, and afterwards travelled from ship to ship along the lower reaches of the Medway, accompanied only by Sir Robert Mansell, Treasurer of the Navy and Phineas Pett, who offered the Prince private infomation concerning the condition of several of the vessels, the particulars of which the Prince noted down in his table~book. After having
Phineas was later that year summoned to attend the Prince at Richmond, where he spent some considerable time with Henry at Chapel and dinner, and engaged with the Prince in a long private conference on matters described as of importance. In W Culling Gazes account, Dr. Birch wrote : After his Highness was risen from dinner, and had talked with him for a while at the bay window in the Presence~Chamber, he gave Mr. Pett leave to go to his dinner, which was prepared for him and his company (Captain Thomas King and John Reynolds, the Princes Master Gunner) by Mr. Alexander, the principal Gentleman Usher, at the house of Mr. Wilson, his Highnesss tailor. During the dinner Mr. Pett was sent for three several times by the Prince, who wanted satisfaction in some points, and ordered him attend again, after he had finished his dinner, between two and three of the clock. At that time his Highness delivered his pleasure fully to him, with protestation of the trust which he reposed in him, and the good opinion which he had of Mr. Petts performance of what was committed to his charge, and with many expressions of his favour and intentions to provide for him, concluding with these words, Go on cheerfully in that which I intrust you with, and let not the care for your posterity encumber you any ways. For you shall leave the care both of yourself and them to me, who have a purpose carefully to provide for you.
These gracious speeches made such an impression on Mr. Pett, that when he came to kiss the Princes hand at parting, he could not avoid shedding some tears ; though he then little thought that this would be the last time he should see his Highness alive, or these the last words that he should ever hear from his mouth. Henry, Prince of Wales died in late December, 1612 aged twenty~two.
Uncanny as it seems, the Petts like the Dudleys, were the victims of their own fortuitous position and genius, in particular, Phineas and his son Peter, both endured the ill will of those in the boatbuilding fraternity, spurred by jealousy, who wished, for the sake of personal gratification, to see the Pett Dynasty fall. Fuller, in his Worthies of England states: I am credibly informed that the mystery of Shipwrights for some descents hath been preserved successfully in families, of whom the Petts about Chatham are of singular regard. In 1605 Phineas was at appointed Assistant Master Shipwright at Woolwich at the age of twenty. By 1607 he was in Woolwich, as the first Master of the Shipwrights Company,, which itself had become Incorporated by Royal Charter in 1605, (23rd April), and in his diary he records that in 1616 he was elected and sworn Master of the Corporation of Shipwrights at our common hall and meeting place at Redriff. Pett was later the First Commissioner at Chatham and held this same post from 1630 until his death in 1647. The Thames Shipwrights were to be granted Incorporation under letters~patent, by the style of Masters, Wardens and Cominaltie of Shipwrights of London.
Phineas was occupied in the surveying of various forests for timber during the early months of the summer of 1606, he had made the necessary arrangements for the ships at Chatham to be in readiness for presentation, on the occasion of a State visit from the King of Denmark, who duly arrived on the 17th July. So that, in Phineass words upon the news of his certain arrival they were all rigged and furnished with their ordinance and a great preparation was made aboard the Elizabeth Jonas and the Bear for entertaining the Kings, Queen, Prince and all the other State and troupes A curious insight into Petts preferred company is revealed in his diary covering these events, wherein he comments ~ the solemnity of this entertainment was performed on the tenth day of August, being Sunday at this time Sir Oliver Cromwell and other gentlemen, my good friends were lodged at my house.
Phineas Pett first met the King in 1607, through the good graces of the Earl of Nottingham, Charles Howard, the Lord High Admiral, to whom he had presented a model of a ship intended for the young Prince, Howard thought the mold good enough for the direct attention of the King and arranged for a presentation in the presence of James, and his son the Prince, at Richmond. King James being likewise impressed and exceedingly delighted with the sight of the model placed the task of constructing a full size replica of the ship in Petts charge.
1608 saw a Commission for the enquiring of all abuses and misdemeanours committed by all Officers in their several places, undertaken as a means to challenge the position of Admiral Howard, as Pett inferred by his rival, the Lord Northampton. This commission was intended to make reforms that promised the saving of great sums of money for the Crown, but infact amounted to no more than a malicious attack on the whole Naval administration. Pett considered it effects so adverse and unwarranted that it bought almost imminent ruin upon the whole Navy.
Phineas Pett was obviously something of a free radical amongst the established Master Shipwrights who appear to have seen in Phineas Pett a dangerous upstart, they made several attempts to thwart his advancement, but failed in the long run to deter him, one might well imagine this story to reveal a conspiracy, as Pett himself upheld. His crime, ~ his pertinent and bold initiative in experimenting with sweeping aside Mathew Bakers grand principals of Shipwrightry. Phineas Pett was to become the subject of an enquiry, that had simmered until it became so serious King James was forced to intervene, taking the matter personally in hand, in the light of stern criticism against Pett whilst he was out of the Country in 1621, from members of the Navy Commission, led by Burrell in this instance, on the seaworthiness that old but prestigious Ship the Prince. At the bequest of Baker, and party of accomplished and diverse Master Shipwrights, of the Thames, amongst them a Naval Captain, George Waymouth, all as eager as Courtiers for the attention of the King, to whom they complained of Pett, that amongst other outrages he was found employing the practice of furing, to subsequently broaden the width of the Prince Royal, it was alleged he had misjudged the calculated width thereof, under Bakers system. He had in fact introduced modifications into the methods followed by Baker and the older Shipwrights, such as his adjustments of the width of the floor and the shape of the bows.
Whilst Weymouth had written in 1604, in a book he presented to the King, entitled the Jewell of Artes: Yet could I never see two ships builded of like proportions by the best and most skilful Shipwrights in this realm . . the cheifest cause of their error is because they trust rather to their judgement than to their art, and to their eye than to their scale and compass. It would seem that Pett had made one or two slight alterations in the accepted rules, as followed by his predecessors, in the design of the hull changes that Waymouth ought have approved of given he had been advocating the adoption of ship designs with a greater floor width.
A great fuss was duly made concerning little more than a said poorly chosen selection of timbers for the construction, and an over estimation of cost, which appears to have been no more than the usual practice. It was most commonly the general habit of Master Shipwrights to exceed their instructions in the building of ships ordered by the Navy, partly, perhaps, from a desire to do greater office than was required of them, and no doubt also to out match their peers, but naturally enough fundamentally because the greater the ship, the larger the profit to themselves. When considered, these factors allowing for his occasional unpopularity seems to mask the work of an innovator and hinder him, much like it did in the case of the Noble Earl of Leicester, Lord Sir Robert Dudley, in the age of Elizabeth.
In Perrins introduction to Petts Autobiography the biographer explains This indictment cannot be lightly set aside. Mathew Baker was the most prominent shipbuilder of that day, Bright and Richard Meryett (or Meritt) were Government Shipbuilders of long experience, while Nicholas Clay, John Greaves and Edward Stevens were private builders of considerable standing in their profession. It was these men who sided with Baker on who was competent to undertake the refit of the Prince Royal built under Pett. Perrin, giving the benefit of the doubt to Pett, comments on this matter that it is a pity hardly any authentic details have survived of the ship itself. Petts own reference to this matter in his Autobiography reads: touching the cross grained timber, his Majesty protested very earnestly the cross grain was in the men and not in the timber!
Thus notwithstanding the opinions of said divers mariners, having maliciously certified the ship (the Prince) unserviceable and not fit to be continued, by the 24th of February succeeding, by special command from His Majesty, who well understood their malicious proceedings, the selfsame surveyors were again sent to Chatham and under their hands certified that the ship might be made serviceable for a voyage into Spain with the charge of £300/~ to be bestowed upon her hull and the perfecting her masts, which certificate was returned under their hands and delivered to His Majesty. Whereupon the Prince was brought into the docks at Chatham on the 8th of March 1623, to be launched a fortnight later.
Petts autobiography although rich in history of the times tells me little about his familys conection to Robert Holborn. I shall close Petts diary for the present, but not before breifly recalling his son Johns adventure in the begining of October 1624 ~ when occoured : a wonderful great storm, through which many ships perished, especially in the Downs, amongst which was riding there the Antelope of his Majesty, being bound for Ireland under the command of Sir Thomas Button, my son John then being a passinger in her. A merchant ship, being put from her anchors, came foul of her, and put her also from all her anchors, by means whereof she drove upon the brakes, (Sands) where she beat off her rudder and much of the run abaft, miraculously escaping utter loss of all, for that the merchant ship that came foul of her, called the Dolphin~ hard by her utterly perished, both ship and all the company. Yet it pleased God to save her, and got off into the downs, having cut all her masts by the board, and with much labour was kept from foundering. Phineas received news of the shipwreck at Deal, and was dispatched by the Lord Admiral to attend to the ship and use his best means to save her. He used chain pumps, replaced the rudder, and fitted jury masts, by which effort she was safely brought to Deptford Dock.
A nephew of the second Commissioner Peter Pett at Chatham, was the Shipwright Richard Hoborn.6 (Styled Master Mast Maker, he was also Church Warden to St. Mary, Chatham maritime Parish in the 1660s.) The making of masts, yards, spars, tops and capstans was specialised work carried out by Shipwrights. This work was supervised by the Master Mastmaker, a post filled by the promotion of a yard Shipwright, or by a Carpenter of a warship. Assisting the Mastmaker were foremen and Quarter~men. The highest paid craftsman was the Liner of Masts. The first reference in the Declared Accounts of payments to a Mastmaker at Chatham is in 1619, when Richard Hoborn, and William Wyborne, (whom is also referred to in the Chatham Parish Records), were paid for making with HM materials a new mast, etc., for the Defiance, at a cost of £20/5s.~
An improvement to the finances of the Navy occurred after 1634 when Charles I, to raise money, introduced the obligation to provide ships for use in the Kings Service. Ship Money was imposed on parts of Kent in 1634. In 1635, 1636 and 1637 the whole of Kent had to provide each year a ship of 800 tons with 320 men at a charge of £8,000. Initially, this ship was fictitious although the amount levied on individuals was small. In 1638 the Kent Assessment was lighter £2,750, but in 1639 their were protests when the County was asked to provide a ship of 640 tons and was charged £8,000 instead of the expected £6,400. ~
That famous occasion of the Commission of enquiry in 1651/2, referred to as the Adderley Inquest, headed as it was by Lord Adderley, then the Minister at Chatham, and set up to enquire into activities at Chatham Dockyard, held that Richard had coffins built for himself and his wife, out of Dockyard timbers, and a bedstead that was most probably made for the Commissioner. In his defence, Hoborn declared that he had himself paid for the workmanship of the said coffins, and bedstead, although initially orders were issued for his discharge, together with a number of other Dockyard Employees.
With total disregard to the principals that are enshrined in the ancient traditions of Monarchy, the pinnacle of all Knighthood, Adderley somehow managed to conclude that it was not in the Countrys best interests to have a generation of brothers, cousins and kindred souls packed together in one place of public trust. Hoborn and the Petts denied all the charges made against them and the Commissioner retorted with counter charges against Adderley claiming that he had been negligent in his duties, in failing to preach to the Sailors and Dockyard men and further that he had used ill language and threatened to ruin the Petts.
The Committee concluded that the charges were without foundation and in February of 1652 they so reported to the Council of State, with the outcome of the investigation being that all the accused retained their positions and employment. In this particular regard it is interesting to note a comprehensive and recent study on The Development of HM Dockyard, Chatham, (Crawshaw) wherein it is recorded that Richard was a Mastmaker from 1619. The Crawshaw manuscript, privately published in two volumes, continues throughout to provide the reader with a rich insight into the statistics of the yard over its long history. During the first Dutch war nearly 2000 men were employed in all yards, and when peace came in 1654 an order was issued limiting the number to 980. In 1655 304 men were employed at Chatham and 100 additional men were to be entered to put out the Winter Guard and to prepare the next summer fleet. Concerning the position of Master Mastmaker the list of Officers thus employed is returned as over :~
HOLDERS TO THE OFFICE OF MASTMAKER ~
The above cited William Pett being the son of the ASM (Assistant Master Shipwright) who was charged under Adderley in 1651. He was refered to in corrispondance in 1671 as formerly Mastmaker, by the then Commissioner at Chatham, Mr J Cox, ~(indicating that the list may be incomplete). Grace Crawshaw, whose late Husband, a former Dockyard employee dedicated considerable time to this excellent, detailed and extensive research, not yet available in print, demonstrates, in this matter that the duration of Wm. Petts appointment is unknown. It is further explained in The Development of HM Dockyard, Chatham that in 1690, Commissioner Gregory was ordered to prosecute William Wyborne, the Master Mastmaker at Chatham who had been suspended on suspicion of embezzling ironwork. He was discharged and his son, Nathaniel was appointed to succeed him.
By the time of the Adderley Inquest, Master Mastmaker Richards younger brother Samuell was already 60 years of age, and therefore, the discovery that the Church Warden had stored coffins away for his demise is not altogether that surprising. It seems he may have been the nephew of Commissioner Peter Petts (b.1610) father Phineas, the 1st Commissioner, born in 1570 and who married three times. His first wife, Ann Nicholls providing him, like his father before him with eleven children, the 2nd Commissioner Pett, being the fifth son, Peter Pett, that Peypes, the Civil Servant, speaks so ill of, on account of the Dutch invasion some fourteen years later.
It is also a very curious thing that of the 2nd Commissioners children, by the first of his two wives, Katherine (nee Cole) one of his four sons was named Warwick, a name otherwise, but not exclusively, associated with that treasonable family of the Lords Dudley. Could it have been by reason of a knowledge of his cousin Josephs connection as existed with regard to the shipwright Richard Hoborn, who may also have been a cousin of that eminent Lawyer in the Ship Money debate, who had married one of the last surviving Heirs of that notorious family of Sir John Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland and Warwick?~
That a lesser known branch of that Lord Dudley whom became a Duke of Northumberland had cousins, who were known for their skill in Iron workings is of more than passing interest. In 1722 it was ordered that iron work at Deptford, Woolwich, and Chatham was to be wrought up under a Master Smith selected from PERSONS FITLY QUALIFIED. Thomas Dudley was given the first appointment of Master Smith at Chatham Dockyard, in 1723. It was (thereafter) ruled that no one was to be a Master Smith, who had not been a Foreman of the First and Principal Forge, in any Yard for three years. (The Master Smith was a subordinate Officer of the Master Shipwright.) Could this Thomas Dudley be related to the Dud Dudley, cited as the Ironmaster of Lord Sir John Dudleys foundry at Balliol? This must for now remain something for future consideration, suffice it to say that the latter~day Thomas Dudley retained his position until 1746. It is difficult to truly judge on this infomation alone if the Navy Board, who issued the appointments considered Thomas Dudley to so befit the position, or even if it was intended an insinuated slight against the very name of Dudley? Whatever the truth, it is not the only reference history offers up of an itinerant carpenter named Dudley.
By inference to the reference of Richard as a nephew of Pett, it seemed on the face of it, before I had come upon the Mastmakers will, most likely that his father had married one of Phineas Petts sisters. Lydia Pett, Peter Petts daughter by his first wife, (possibly named Avis?) would have been the most reasonable candidate, although none of Richards children were named Lydia, throwing doubt on this possible relationship, but for Richard to have been so clearly documented a nephew of Pett some such connection must have existed! No record of any son of Richard Holborn and Margaret has yet come to light, but they did have several daughters. Again, the parish record shows the birth of an Elizabeth, in consideration of Elizabeth as the missing link to the Pett Dynasty it must first be understood that of her sisters, Margaret is recorded buried 1630~31. Also, Anne who was baptised in 1614 at St. Mary Magdallen, Gillingham Green, was burried in 1626, Bethia (Baptised 1605) remains a mystery, her name reoccurring as a grandchild of Sarah who herself was Baptised in 1622. Little is known about these children, Sarah and Elizabeth being the only ones seeming to have lived long enough to marry, and this was in Sarahs instance under peculiar circumstance, as the wedding was recorded as Pr. Ex Licencia Officio to James Marsh, at Cuxton where the officiating Reverend was William Pett. This was in 1636 and as Sarah was baptised in 1622 she should have been little over fifteen years of age at the time of her marriage, unless it was a late baptism. From an account presented in the Development of H.M.Dockyard Chatham it can be assumed that Marsh was a young man, for in the said account, a James Marsh is cited as Master Boatbuilder for 1660. He is second on this list, which begins with George Wiggins from 1630. Marsh is followed in 1679 by Samuel Miller. The supervision of the work carried out in the boathouses was the responsibility of the Master Boatbuilder, an Officer similar in status and pay to that of the Master Mastmaker. This post was often a step up for the ambitious Shipwright seeking one of the often protected higher positions within the Service.
Elizabeth being the only child with no account of a husband thus fits the circumstance as it may be found in the will of her father who explains therein :
Item, to William Pett, the sone of Joseph Pett, deceaced, the somme of five shillings to be paid within twelve months after my decease. Item, to my grandsonne Peter Pett, the son of the aforesaid Joseph Pett after the decease of me and my wife all that ground which I hold by lease by Master Robinson of Rochester to whom I give all the remainder of the yeares unexpired he paying yearly four pence if it be demanded to him and them that shall hold the lease of the said ould house (in) which I now dwell . .
Witnessed by William Wyborne, Ri. Birley, Rob. Gilles.
Will proved at Westminster, 25th April 1654, on oath of Margaret Hoborn, sole Executrix, being sworn to administer the above will. Joseph, the son of Joseph Pett of Limehouse is further commonly cited as having married an Elizabeth.
By deductions extracted from one of his uncles sons, also named Richard and dated 1588, the Church Warden was a son of Walter Holborn and Sarah Bromman. Walter, buried at Chatham St Mary in 1594 was the the brother in law of a Jone of Erith, widdow, whose son Edward was also a Shipwright at Erith. Regrettably no reference to her husband appears in this will to prove his identity, but she was widdowed in or before 1562, it is thus reasonable to suggest this might be the household of Robert of Harwich, the Kings Shipwright mentioned above. Edward had a son named Henry.
Lydia Pett, it has been said, was to have been the only Pett (daughter/sister) to have no recorded husband, although it is said that she was married and had a daughter named Lydia, and a child of Lydia is referred to in the Autobiography of Phineas Pett, it is thought that they lived in some poverty, and in any event, away from her husband and were supported by her cousin Phineas, ( ? ) who apparently treated her meanly Lydia Petts brothers included William Pett of Limehouse, who was before 1582, when he was included in his fathers renewed Patent, already in the Royal Service as a Master Shipwright but who died in 1587, two years before his father. Williams brothers included James Pett and Peter of Wapping, (Shipbuilder). It was this Pett whose 2nd son was to become a Clerk in Holy Orders and obtained for a while, the Living of the parish of Cuxton, Rochester and presided at the marriage of the young Sarah Hoborn, his cousin as the daughter to Richard, a nephew of Pett. Lydia died in 1610, the Cleric William Pett was her nephew. William Pett became Rector of Cuxton in 1632 but for reasons I am not clear on was rejected from this post in 1646, by Parliament, he nevertheless remained in the area, as records show that he had rented lands of the estate of Priors Hall, in Cliffe at Hoo during 1649. He was to share the cost of this, which amounted to £9/4 shillings, plus two fat lambs per anum with an Elizabeth Brown.
In the year of 1646 many clergymen rejected the use of the prayer book and continued Preaching outside the specific faith ordained by the King. These parsons were to become known as Presbyterians, and were to become very popular amongst their parishioners, this was to continue up to and for many, beyond the Restoration of Charles II in 1661. Presbyterian adherents were especially plentiful in the Dockyard towns of Chatham, Deptford and Woolwich, where clergymen found that often dissenters would outnumber the ordinary churchgoer. As William Petts family were very influential in these towns it is not surprising to find him amongst this congregation. Presbyterian services continued into the 1660s when they were often held in the private Chapels of the sympathetic Gentry. One such notable being the widow of Henry Vane, (Treasurer of the Navy), who sheltered such meetings at her Tonbridge estate of Fairlawne. William Pett did eventually move away to Devon where he was to die in 1651. Considering the necessarily conspicuous potential of a connection here between Vane and Pett, and Pett ~ Holborne, an association between Henry Vanes one time partner Sir Robert Holborne and Lydias branch of the Pett Dynasty looks increasingly plausible.
Richard was also mentioned as one of the Dockyard workers subsumed in the Kentish Rebellion of 1648. During the affray at Rochester the rebels set a guard on the bridge and armed the streets in a manner of a court of guard at every door, at the Dockyard they secured possession of the Kings Ships~ the Fellowship, the Sovereign and the Prince removing the arms, ordinance, ammunition and victuals from them and confronting Commissioner Pett and his fellows. Pett later protested that he had defended the yard but, in reality he was not in much of a position to have interfered in the anger of those with whom, to an extent he shared a common grievance. Pett was besieged in the Dockyard, and at its fortification of Upnor Castle immediately opposite, on the further side of the river Medway which was likewise overrun, but, as it transpired throughout Kent, Dover was to be the only town to resist the petitioners at all.
Dover Castle had been transferred from private control into the hands of the Cromwellian Major General Thomas Kelsey. During the insuing developments that led to the rebellion, Peter Pett had reported to the Committee that the Major Generals under Kelsey were too much undervalued and dispite Kelseys own observation that the spirit of the people was generally bitter against Swordsmen, Decimators and Courtiers there was a distinct lack of support for the Parliamentary Committee and the whole Cromwellian regime, particularly amongst the Kentish Gentry.