, was an English Master Shipwright, and Second Resident Commissioner of Chatham Dockyard. He is noted for the incident concerning the protection of his scale models and drawings of the King's Fleet during the Dutch Raid on the Medway
The Raid on the Medway, sometimes called the Battle of the Medway, Raid on Chatham or the Battle of Chatham, was a successful Dutch attack on the largest English naval ships, laid up in the dockyards of their main naval base Chatham, that took place in June 1667 during the Second Anglo-Dutch War...
, in Kent in June 1667, during the Second Anglo-Dutch War
The Second Anglo–Dutch War was part of a series of four Anglo–Dutch Wars fought between the English and the Dutch in the 17th and 18th centuries for control over the seas and trade routes....
Pett was the son of the King's Master Shipwright Captain Phineas Pett
Phineas Pett was a shipwright and a member of the Pett dynasty.-Family background:Born at "Deptford Strond", he was the second son of Peter Pett of Deptford, his elder brother being named Joseph....
. He was introduced to King Charles I of England
Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...
in 1634 and was ordered to construct a new ship of 500 tons, to be named the Leopard
Leopard was a 34-gun third-rate ship of the line of the English Royal Navy, built by Peter Pett I at Woolwich and launched in 1635.During the First Anglo-Dutch War, Leopard was captured by the Eendracht of the Dutch Republic at the Battle of Leghorn on 3 March 1653, with the loss of 70 men killed...
. With the construction of the Leopard
underway, Charles decided that he would have a ship built larger and more ornate than any of her predecessors.
In June 1634 whilst at Woolwich and on the Leopard
with the King, Phineas Pett, Peter's father, relates: "His Highness, calling me aside, privately acquainted me of his princely resolution for the building of a great new ship, which he would have me undertake...."
Under the watchful eye of his father Phineas, who had drawn up the plans for this great ship Peter Pett so built 'HMS Sovereign of the Seas
Sovereign of the Seas was a 17th century warship of the English Navy. She was ordered as a 90-gun first-rate ship of the line of the English Royal Navy, but at launch was armed with 102 bronze guns, at the insistence of the king...
' at Woolwich Dockyard
Woolwich Dockyard was an English naval dockyard founded by King Henry VIII in 1512 to build his flagship Henri Grâce à Dieu , the largest ship of its day....
One of the largest ship in the world at that time, the Sovereign was a ship of 1,637
tons and was launched on 12 October 1637, after about two years in construction.
John Evelyn was an English writer, gardener and diarist.Evelyn's diaries or Memoirs are largely contemporaneous with those of the other noted diarist of the time, Samuel Pepys, and cast considerable light on the art, culture and politics of the time John Evelyn (31 October 1620 – 27 February...
wrote in his Diary
The Diary of John Evelyn, a gentlemanly Royalist and virtuoso of the seventeenth century, was first published in 1818 under the title Memoirs Illustrative of the Life and Writings of John Evelyn, in an edition by William Bray. Bray was assisted by William Upcott, who had access to the Evelyn family...
on 19 July 1641 "We rode to Rochester and Chatham to see the Soveraigne, a monstrous vessel so called, being for burthen, defence, and ornament, the richest that ever spread cloth before the wind. She carried 100 brass cannon, and was 1600 tons, a rare sailer, the work of the famous Phineas Pett."
Despite his contracts from the King, Peter Pett sided with Parliament during the English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...
and was consequently retained as Commissioner at Chatham Dockyard
Chatham Dockyard, located on the River Medway and of which two-thirds is in Gillingham and one third in Chatham, Kent, England, came into existence at the time when, following the Reformation, relations with the Catholic countries of Europe had worsened, leading to a requirement for additional...
during 'The Commonwealth' (1649~60).
Pett was the only member of the group of Commonwealth Commissioners who governed the Navy with any technical knowledge of shipbuilding and the designs of most new ships rested principally upon him. He became a Justice of the Peace and was elected Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...
(MP) for Rochester
Rochester was a parliamentary constituency in Kent. It returned two Members of Parliament to the House of Commons of England from 1295 to 1707, then to the House of Commons of Great Britain from 1708 to 1800, and finally to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801...
in 1660 for the Convention Parliament.
Determined to survive the rigours of the nation's political upheavals, Pett, with great resourcefulness, having withheld Chatham from Charles I, was afterwards in Holland preparing the fleet to accompany the return of Charles II
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...
. The success of these efforts established for Pett a firm relationship with the King.
In 1667 Pett was blamed for the insufficient protection of the British fleet at Chatham, the charge being that he failed to tow the most capital ships higher up the river. Modern historians argue that it is doubtful whether this would have protected them, the Dutch being powerful enough to advance a few miles more, and that Pett didn't have enough manpower anyway. Being asked during the official investigation why he had brought his ship models into safety but not the ships themselves, he answered that the former were more valuable, much to the incredulous laughter of his accusers. Pett's view was that without the models it was impossible to build new ships, as it was not then feasible to build from drawings alone. Pett was fined and fired. He was seen to be a scapegoat for the incompetence of higher ranking officers, as shown in part of Andrew Marvell
Andrew Marvell was an English metaphysical poet, Parliamentarian, and the son of a Church of England clergyman . As a metaphysical poet, he is associated with John Donne and George Herbert...
's satirical poem:
- After this loss, to relish discontent,
- Someone must be accused by punishment.
- All our miscarriages on Pett must fall:
- His name alone seems fit to answer all.
- Whose counsel
Henry Bennet, 1st Earl of Arlington KG, PC was an English statesman.- Background and early life :He was the son of Sir John Bennet of Dawley, Middlesex, and of Dorothy Crofts. He was the younger brother of John Bennet, 1st Baron Ossulston; his sister was Elizabeth Bennet who married Robert Kerr,...
first did this mad war beget?
- Who all commands sold through the navy
James II & VII was King of England and King of Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685. He was the last Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland...
would not follow when the Dutch were beat
The naval Battle of Lowestoft took place on 13 June 1665 during the Second Anglo-Dutch War.A fleet of more than a hundred ships of the United Provinces commanded by Lieutenant-Admiral Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam attacked an English fleet of equal size commanded by James Stuart, Duke of York forty...
- Who treated out the time at Bergen
The Battle of Vågen was a naval battle between a Dutch merchant and treasure fleet and an English flotilla of warships in August 1665 as part of the Second Anglo-Dutch War. The battle took place in Vågen , the main port area of neutral Bergen, Norway...
- Who the Dutch fleet with storms disabled met
Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich, KG was an English Infantry officer who later became a naval officer. He was the only surviving son of Sir Sidney Montagu, and was brought up at Hinchingbrooke House....
- And rifling prizes, them neglected? Pett.
-Early life and Civil War:William was the son of the lord keeper Thomas Coventry, 1st Baron Coventry, by his second wife Elizabeth Aldersley. Coventry matriculated at Queens College, Oxford, at the age of fourteen...
with false news
The Four Days Battle was a naval battle of the Second Anglo–Dutch War. Fought from 1 June to 4 June 1666 in the Julian or Old Style calendar then used in England off the Flemish and English coast, it remains one of the longest naval engagements in history.In June 1665 the English had soundly...
prevented the Gazette,
- The fleet divided, writ for Rupert? Pett.
- Who all our seamen cheated of their debt,
- And all our prizes who did swallow? Pett.
- Who did advise
Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon was an English historian and statesman, and grandfather of two English monarchs, Mary II and Queen Anne.-Early life:...
no navy out to set,
- And who the forts left unrepairèd? Pett.
- Who to supply with powder did forget
- Languard, Sheerness, Gravesend and Upnor? Pett.
- Who should it be but the Fanatic Pett?
- Pett, the sea-architect, in making ships
- Was the first cause of all these naval slips:
- Had he not built, none of these faults had been;
- If no creation, there had been no sin.
- But his great crime, one boat away he sent,
- That lost our fleet and did our flight prevent.
Pett's will was proved on 2 December 1672, and it revealed that he had enough worldly goods to be able to live in comfort after his dismissal as Commissioner. For example, in his will there was mentioned a necklace containing over 270 pearls, and that he was Lord of the Manor
The Lordship of a Manor is recognised today in England and Wales as a form of property and one of three elements of a manor that may exist separately or be combined and may be held in moieties...
s of Woodbridge Ufford and Kettle Ufford in Suffolk indicates that he remained possessed of some wealth.
The Pett Dynasty
Some confusion may arise between the identities of Peter Pett and his many cousins; even the Navy Board had difficulty in keeping its records straight on this matter.
From probably before the time that John Pett, (son of Thomas) was 'paid' for 'Caulking' (making watertight) the 'Regent,' in 1499 the Petts have been variously mistaken, one for the other. Often this was the case with Peter, the Master Shipwright at Deptford, who died in 1652, and with each of that Peter's two sons, Sir Peter, the Advocate General for Ireland and Sir Phineas Pett, Master Shipwright at Chatham, who was knighted in 1680, and who was the Comptroller of Stores, and resident Commissioner at Chatham, and who is further to be distinguished from the Commissioner Peter Pett's brother Phineas, a clerk of the check at Chatham.
Three other Petts named Phineas were at the same time in the Naval Service at Chatham or in the Thames, one of whom was killed in action in 1666 whilst in command of the 'Tiger', this being a brother of the 2nd Commissioner at Chatham.
The Roll and index of the domestic State Papers have so confused the numerous Petts as to have been described as useless.