William Petyt 1636/7-1707

From Book Owners Online

William PETYT 1636/7-1707

Biographical Note

Born at Storiths, near Bolton Abbey in Yorkshire; son of William Petyt, a landowner and lawyer. Matriculated from Christ's College, Cambridge in 1660; admitted to the Middle Temple in 1660 and the Inner Temple in. Called to the bar in 1671. Treasurer of the Inner Temple between 1701 and 1702. In 1689, Petyt was appointed Keeper of the records at the Tower of London by William III. A Whig propagandist, Petyt authored the influential The Antient Right of the Commons of England Asserted (1680), described by the ODNB as ‘one of the most effective and powerful of the radical ancient constitutionalist tracts published in the late seventeenth century’. However, modern historians have since highlighted the unreliability of his ‘whiggish version of the past’ (ODNB).


Gave books to the Middle Temple in 1698; left manuscripts to be kept in trust as a collection (now in the Inner Temple). A list of his manuscripts, ca.1700, is in British Library Lansdowne ms 989, fos.99-101. Listed in Edward Bernard's Catalogi manuscriptorum, 1697, as owning numerous manuscripts.