William Petre, 2nd Baron Petre

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

William Petre, 2nd Baron Petre
Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger William 2nd Lord Petre.jpg
William Petre by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (1599) mislabelled as his father, Sir John Petre[1]
Born24 June 1575
Died5 May 1637(1637-05-05) (aged 61)
BuriedSt Edmund and St Mary's Church, Ingatestone
Noble familyBaron Petre
Spouse(s)Katherine Somerset
Robert Petre, Elizabeth Petre
FatherJohn Petre, 1st Baron Petre
MotherMary Waldegrave
ReligionRoman Catholic

William Petre, 2nd Baron Petre (24 June 1575 – 5 May 1637) was an English peer and Member of Parliament.

He was born the son of Sir John Petre, 1st Baron Petre and was educated at Exeter College, Oxford and the Middle Temple.[2] William and his family were recusants — people who adhered to the Roman Catholic faith after the English Reformation.

He was elected MP for Essex in 1597, knighted in 1603 and inherited the Barony and the Ingatestone estate on his father's death in 1613. In 1623 he was appointed justice of the peace for Essex but, due to his uncompromising recusancy, he was dismissed in 1625 from the Magistracy and deprived of all of his other public offices.[2]

Ingatestone Hall[edit]

From its position on the Harwich road, and proximity to London, Ingatestone Hall was a constant meeting place and refuge for those disaffected to the Protestant religion or to the reigning sovereign. For example:

13th July 1627. My Lord Petre’s son going over sea to Flanders with many letters, and two barrels of treasure, gold and silver, in a pink, is brought back and committed, and here it is said, that at his father’s house at Ingatestone in Essex divers great Papists had been in consultation about a fortnight and departed thence but on Saturday last.[citation needed]

Secret guests may often have used the hiding place discovered at the Hall in 1855. It is very probable that some of the inns had similar places of concealment for these visitors, whom it would not always be safe to hide the Hall, for example the attic in the White Hart, the huge chimney block of the Eagle, behind the present billiard room, the present great cupboards of the Crown. Many of the houses about Fryerning Hall by the old chimneystacks, and for example Furze Hall might reveal similar ones if thoroughly explored.

Private life[edit]

It does not appear that the 2nd Baron got into any serious trouble about the Papists who frequented Ingatestone, in part due to the support of King Charles I. Possibly, by this time the Hall was used as a dower house, or a residence for the sons, as the 3rd Baron is described in 1638 by William Riley, Blue Mantle, as dying at West Thorndon, and being buried in an old vault appropriated to his family in the chancel of the Parish Church of Ingatestone.

William, 2nd Baron, died in May 1637, and is buried in the same vault. The tomb, which he erected in the north chapel in memory of his parents, bears also, his own effigy and that of his wife and children, but the tablet over his head is still waiting for an inscription.

Petre had married Katherine Somerset (died 1624), second daughter of Edward Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester in a double ceremony with her sister Elizabeth who married Sir Henry Guilford. Edmund Spenser celebrated the event in his poem, Prothalamion. They had seven surviving sons and three daughters.

His daughter Elizabeth Petre (1597–1656) married William Sheldon of Beoley, Worcestershire.


A pair of paintings among the Petre Pictures dating from 1590, attributed to Marcus Gheeraerts, were once thought to be the portraits of William's parents, John Petre, 1st Baron Petre and Mary. The paintings were restored after the fire at Thorndon Hall in 1876 and brought to Ingatestone Hall, and bear painted inscriptions naming the subjects. Art historian Roy Strong contends that these are in fact portraits of the William and his wife Katherine. The portraits are colourful and relaxed, showing fashionable changes in costume. Lord Petre wears a white ruff over a lace collar, embroidered doublet, the full breeches, bobbed hair, moustache and slight beard and, in the fashion of the time, the minute patch of hair below the bottom lip. His wife is equally in fashion; the cartwheel-topped skirt, the full upper sleeves and a variation of ruff open in front to show the neck, a delicate silver tiara and the splendid necklace of pearls, 1466 in all.[1]


  1. ^ a b Strong, Roy (1969). The English Icon: Elizabethan and Jacobean Portraiture. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  2. ^ a b "PETRE, William (1575-1637), of Ingatestone, Essex". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 2012-04-16.
Peerage of England
Preceded by
John Petre
Baron Petre
Succeeded by
Robert Petre