Perdita woman: Elizabeth Petty


Elizabeth Petty was the daughter of the regicide Sir Hardress Waller. After the death of her first husband, Sir Maurice Fenton, she married Sir William Petty in 1667. They had three children. Henry, their second son, was born on 22 October 1675, three months after the Irish travels recorded in Elizabeth's diary. William Petty died in December 1687, and in December 1688 Elizabeth was created Baroness Shelburne. She died in February 1708.

Both Elizabeth and William Petty had extensive Irish connections. Although English-born, Sir Hardress Waller spent much of his life in Ireland, and his children were probably born there. Sir William Petty (also English-born and later famous as a political economist) oversaw the survey of forfeited estates in Ireland (the 'Down' survey) in the 1650s, and later undertook to produce the first comprehensive map of the whole island (published in Amsterdam in 1673). Although initally employed by commonwealth government, Petty acquiesced in the Restoration, and gained the goodwill of both King Charles and the Duke of York. He received his knighthood on the occasion of the first incorporation of the Royal Society (in April 1662), of which he was one of the founding members. He was also allowed to retain the estates in Ireland which had been granted to him during the Interregnum. It was the business of these estates which occasioned Elizabeth Petty's visit to Kerry in 1675.

Biography by Gillian Wright.

See the new ODNB entries for her father ('Waller, Sir Hardress (1604-1666)') and her second husband ('Petty, Sir William (1623-1687)).

British Library: MS Lansdowne 1228
business diary (June and July 1675.)
(Author)Elizabeth Petty
Summary entry.