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Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick
The Earl of Warwick by Daniël Mijtens
Born5 June 1587
Died19 April 1658
Parent(s)Robert Rich, 1st Earl of Warwick
Penelope Devereux, Lady Rich
Arms of Rich: Gules, a chevron between three crosses botonée or
Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick, portrait by Anthony van Dyck

Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick (5 June 1587 – 19 April 1658) was an English colonial administrator, admiral, and Puritan.

Early life

Rich was the eldest son of Robert Rich, 1st Earl of Warwick and his wife Penelope Devereux, Lady Rich, and succeeded to his father's title (Earl of Warwick) in 1619 (a younger brother was Henry Rich, 1st Earl of Holland).

Early developing interest in colonial ventures, he joined the Guinea, New England, and Virginia companies, as well as the Virginia Company's offspring, the Somers Isles Company. Warwick's enterprises involved him in disputes with the British East India Company (1617) and with the Virginia Company, which in 1624 was suppressed as a result of his action. In August 1619, one of the privateer ships owned by the Earl, the "White Lion", delivered the first recorded enslaved Africans to British North America. The ship, flying a Dutch flag, landed at what is now Hampton, Virginia with approximately 20 Africans from the present-day Angola. They had been removed by the British crew from a Portuguese slave ship, the "São João Bautista".[1][2]

In 1627 he commanded an unsuccessful privateering expedition against the Spaniards.[3]

He sat as Member of Parliament for Maldon for 1604 to 1611 and for Essex in the short-lived Addled Parliament of 1614.[4]

Colonial ventures

Warwick's Puritan connections and sympathies gradually estranged him from the court but promoted his association with the New England colonies. In 1628 he indirectly procured the patent for the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and in 1631 he granted the "Saybrook" patent in Connecticut. Forced to resign the presidency of the New England Company in the same year, he continued to manage the Somers Isles Company and Providence Island Company, the latter of which, founded in 1630, administered Old Providence on the Mosquito Coast. Meanwhile, in England, Warwick opposed the forced loan of 1626, the payment of ship money, and Laud's church policy.[3]

His Richneck Plantation was located in what is now the independent city of Newport News, Virginia. The Warwick River, Warwick Towne, Warwick River Shire, and Warwick County, Virginia are all believed named for him, as are Warwick, Rhode Island and Warwick Parish in Bermuda (alias The Somers Isles). The oldest school in Bermuda, Warwick Academy, was built on land in Warwick Parish given by the Earl of Warwick; the school was begun in the 1650s (its early records were lost with those of the Warwick Vestry in a twentieth-century shipwreck), though the school places its founding officially in 1662. [1]

In September 1640 Warwick signed the Petition of Twelve to Charles I, asking the king to summon another parliament.[5]

Civil War period

In 1642, following the dismissal of the Earl of Northumberland as Lord High Admiral, Warwick was appointed commander of the fleet by Parliament.[6] In 1643 he was appointed head of a commission for the government of the colonies, which the next year incorporated Providence Plantations, afterwards Rhode Island, and in this capacity he exerted himself to secure religious liberty.[3]

As commander of the fleet, in 1648, Warwick retook the 'Castles of the Downs' (at Walmer, Deal, and Sandown) for Parliament, and became Deal Castle's captain 1648–53.[7] However, he was dismissed from office on the abolition of the House of Lords in 1649. He retired from national public life, but was intimately associated with Cromwell, whose daughter Francis married his grandson and heir, also Robert Rich, in 1657.[3]


Robert Rich was a descendant of Richard Rich, 1st Baron Rich, who first rose to political prominence and the peerage in the reign of Edward VI, and was previously an associate of Thomas Cromwell during the reign of Henry VIII.

Robert Rich married firstly, in February 1605, Frances Hatton (1590–1623), daughter and heir of Sir William Newport alias Hatton (1560-1597) and Elizabeth Gawdy, by whom he had at least five children.[8]

His second wife, whom he married between 12 March 1625 and 20 January 1626, was Susan (née Rowe) Halliday (1582–1646), daughter of Sir Henry Rowe, Lord Mayor of London, and his wife, Susan Kighley; and widow of William Halliday (d.1624), Alderman of London.[9]

His third wife was Eleanor Wortley, widow of Sir Henry Lee and of Edward Radclyffe, 6th Earl of Sussex; after Warwick's death she made yet another marriage to Edward Montagu, 2nd Earl of Manchester, in modern eyes an unusual marriage since he had previously been married to her step-daughter Anne Rich.[10]



  1. ^, 400 years ago, enslaved Africans first arrived in Virginia
  2. ^, The First Africans in Virginia Landed in 1619. It Was a Turning Point for Slavery in American History—But Not the Beginning
  3. ^ a b c d  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Warwick, Sir Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of". Encyclopædia Britannica. 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:"\"""\"""'""'"}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-free a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .id-lock-registration a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-subscription a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#33aa33;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
  4. ^ "RICH, Sir Robert (c.1588-1658), of Wallington, Norf., Hackney, Mdx. and Allington House, Holborn, Mdx.; later of Leez Priory, Essex". History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  5. ^ Kelsey 2004
  6. ^ 'July 1642: Ordinance for the Earl of Warwick to remain in his Command of the Fleet.', Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660 (1911), p. 12. URL: Date accessed: 13 April 2007.
  7. ^ 13 July 1648 - 'Taking of Walmer Castle' URL: Date accessed: 6 August 2007.
  8. ^ Aughterson 2004; Gowdy 1919, pp. 39–41; Nicolas 1847, p. 502; Kelsey 2004.
  9. ^ Aughterson 2004; Gowdy 1919, pp. 39–41; Kelsey 2004.
  10. ^ "She was a vain, petulant and grasping woman who had reached the top rungs of the social ladder through successive marriages to rich old men." (Miriam Slater, Family Life in the Seventeenth Century: the Verneys of Claydon House 1984:17).
  11. ^ "Double portrait of the Essex sisters: the countess of Manchester and lady Anne Rich (d. c. 1655)" However, the sisters were the Rich sisters, not the Essex sisters; the Countess of Manchester was Lady Anne Rich (who died c. 1641/2), and her sister was Lady Essex Rich. Source Cracroft's Peerage and other sources.


External links

Media related to Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick at Wikimedia Commons

Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Sussex
Lord Lieutenant of Essex
jointly with The Earl of Sussex 1625–1629
The Earl of Portland 1629–1635
The Lord Maynard 1635–1640
The Earl of Carlisle 1641–1642

English Interregnum
Preceded by
The Lord Maynard
Custos Rotulorum of Essex
Succeeded by
James Hay, 2nd Earl of Carlisle
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Robert Rich
Earl of Warwick
Succeeded by
Robert Rich
Baron Rich
(descended by acceleration)


3 Annotations

JWB  •  Link

"Earl of Warwick, Robert Rich, 1587-1658
The eldest son of Robert Rich, 1st Earl of Warwick and of his wife Penelope Rich. He succeeded to the earldom of Warwick in 1619 and was active in colonial ventures in New England and the West Indies during the 1620s and '30s. Warwick also financed and sometimes took part in unofficial privateering expeditions against the Spaniards. A staunch Puritan, he became increasingly alienated from Court life and was associated with the opposition to the King's policies led by Lord Saye and Sele at Broughton Castle.

In March 1642, Parliament appointed Warwick Admiral of the Fleet against the King's wishes. His appointment ensured Parliament's control of the Navy. Even before the First Civil War broke out, Warwick's ships transferred arms and ammunition from the northern arsenal at Hull to London. Realising the strategic importance of control of the sea, the King attempted to dismiss Warwick from command but, with dissent from only two captains, the fleet accepted Warwick as Admiral and declared for Parliament in July 1642. Under Warwick's command, the Navy intercepted ships carrying supplies to the Royalists and supported military operations on land, notably at the siege of Hull in 1643 and Lyme 1644. In April 1645, however, Parliament decided to extend the Self-Denying Ordinance to include naval officers, and Warwick stepped down from his command. He was appointed chairman of the 12-man Admiralty Commission which replaced the office of Lord High Admiral.

In May 1648, just as the Second Civil War was erupting, the Fleet mutinied against the appointment of the Leveller Thomas Rainsborough as Admiral, and a number of warships defected to the Royalists. Warwick was re-appointed Admiral of the Fleet and sent to ensure the loyalty of the remaining ships. In August 1648, Warwick confronted a Royalist fleet commanded by the Prince of Wales in the shallow waters of the Thames estuary. The Prince avoided a battle and sailed back to Holland, with Warwick in pursuit. He blockaded the Royalists in the neutral Dutch port of Helvoetsluys, where Prince Rupert took over command. Unable to attack in neutral waters, Warwick maintained the blockade for several months, during which three of the Royalist ships defected back to Parliament. Reluctant to spend the winter off Helvoetsluys, Warwick returned to England with his entire fleet in November 1648. This allowed Rupert's fleet to escape to Kinsale in southern Ireland and begin raiding Commonwealth shipping.

The new republican government in England regarded Warwick's actions against the Royalists as over-cautious. His brother the Earl of Holland was at this time facing trial for fighting against Parliament in the Second Civil War. It was impossible to allow Warwick to retain control of the Navy. In February 1649, his commission was revoked and he was replaced by the three Generals-at-Sea Popham, Blake and Deane. Thereafter, Warwick retired from public life."
David Plant, British Civil Wars and Commonwealth website…

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Self-Denying Ordinance
A bill passed by the House of Commons on 19 December 1644 stipulating that no member of the House of Commons or the House of Lords could hold any command in the army or navy. Since this meant that nobles were automatically debarred from military command (whereas members of the House of Commons could resign and retain their commands), the House of Lords hesitated, but finally passed the bill on 3 April 1645.

See… for further information.

Bill  •  Link

RICH, Sir ROBERT, second Earl of Warwick (1587-1658) eldest son of the first earl of Warwick and Penelope, Lady Rich, educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge; K.B., 1603; member of the Inner Temple, 1604; M.P., Maldon, 1610 and 1614; succeeded his father in 1619, and occupied himself largely with the colonisation of America and with privateering ventures, which involved him in controversy with the great merchant companies; during the early part of Charles I's reign gradually became estranged from the court; was associated with the foundation of the colonies of New Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Connecticut; refused to subscribe to the forced loan of 1626 and to pay ship money, and protected the puritan clergy; arrested and his papers searched on the dissolution of the Short parliament, 1640; active in raising forces for parliament on the outbreak of civil war; gained the fleet, July 1642, and (1643) was appointed lord high admiral; nominated head of a commission for the government of the colonies, 1643; associated in 1644 with the foundation of Rhode Island; generally exerted his authority in behalf of religious freedom; endeavoured unsuccessfully (1648) to regain the fleet, the greater part of which had revolted to Charles I, but was able to organise a new one; after the abolition of the House of Lords was removed by the independents from the post of lord high admiral; took no part in public affairs during the Commonwealth, but received support and encouragement from Cromwell. His grandson, Robert Rich, married the Protector's daughter.
---Dictionary of National Biography: Index and Epitome. S. Lee, 1906.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.


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