Henry Rosewell

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Sir Henry Rosewell (1590–1656) of Forde Abbey, Devon, was a puritan and supporter of the New World colonies.

Early years and education[edit]

Henry Rosewell was born on 1 November 1590 at Forde Abbey in Devon (Forde Abbey is in the parish of Thorncombe which was transferred from Devon to Dorset in 1842). Henry was the only son of William Rosewell (1561–1593) and Ann Walkeden who were married at St Martins, London on 20 June 1588. William Rosewell had purchased Forde Abbey from Sir Amias Poulet about 1581.

Henry was less than three years old when his father died and his mother, Anne, then married John Davis (later Sir John Davis of Bere Court, Berkshire). Henry was initially the ward of Matthew Dale (Grand Uncle or cousin) but John Davis purchased the ward ship in late 1593.

Henry Rosewell matriculated from Broadgates Hall, Oxford in 1606/07 and later that year was a student of the Middle Temple. He was knighted by James I on 19 February 1618/19 at Theobalds in Hertfordshire.

Relations[edit]

Henry’s grandfather was William Rosewell (c. 1520-1566) who was Solicitor-General to Queen Elizabeth 1559-1566 and owned a number of estates in Somerset and Devon.

Marriages[edit]

About the time he received his knighthood, Henry Rosewell married Mary Drake (1594–1643) the daughter of John Drake (of Musbury, Devon) and Dorothy Burton. Dame Mary Drake died and was buried in Musbury Church in 1643. Henry remarried Dorothy Brown (a widow). He had no known children by either wife.

Activities[edit]

Henry Rosewell was patron of the living of Limington, Somerset and on 30 December 1619, John Conant, of East Budleigh was admitted as Rector. John Conant was the brother of Roger Conant, the first governor of the colony in Massachusetts Bay, and it is possible that Henry Rosewell had a personal acquaintance with him, as Roger signed the bond concerning the first fruits of this living. John Conant was the uncle of Rev. John Conant D.D., Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford.

Henry Rosewell was a supporter of the movement to establish a colony in the New World. The Dorchester Company had succeeded in establishing the settlement at Cape Ann, in Massachusetts, but had ceased to exist in 1625. A new company, formed partly of members of the first company, obtained, about 1627, a grant from the Council for New England. The grant was confirmed and a Royal Charter to form the Massachusetts Bay Company was given on 4 March 1629. Sir Henry Rosewell’s name appears first on the list of grantees and he may have been a director or governor (perhaps in name only). Sir Henry had family connections with those involved in both the Dorchester and Massachusetts Bay companies but it is doubtful whether he took an active part in either venture.

He was High Sheriff of Devon in 1629 and Justice of the Peace (listed 1630, 1647 and 1653).

He was evidently a Puritan and was brought before the Court of High Commission in 1634 for holding a private chapel at Forde Abbey.

He was the subject of a series of Chancery suits over the estate of Sir John Drake, his brother-in-law, from 1641 until his death and subsequently left as a legacy to his widow. Sir Henry appears to have been made the scapegoat by the other executors of Sir John Drake's will. Dame Dorothy Rosewell was finally ordered by act of Parliament on 3 March 1663 to sell the manor of Limington to Francis Summers and James Tazewell. James Tazewell was the grandfather of William Tazewell, who emigrated to Virginia in 1715, and ancestor of Henry Tazewell.

It has been suggested that Henry Rosewell was the model for the main character of Hudibras, a mock heroic narrative poem from the 17th century written by Samuel Butler. However, Isaac D'Israeli refutes this in his 'Curiosities of Literature'.

He sold Forde Abbey in 1649 to Edmund Prideaux and, at least until 1653, Sir Henry had his residence at Limington, Somerset.

Death[edit]

Henry Rosewell made his will 11 August 1653 at Limington by which he left all his property to his 'loving wife, Lady Dorothy Rosewell' and appointed as executrix, Dorothy Browne, daughter of Edward Browne Esquire, who was a minor at the time of Henry's death. Henry Rosewell died at Greenway House, Churston Ferrers, Devon and was buried in the churchyard of Brixham, Devon on 3 April 1656. Probate was granted to Dame Dorothy Rosewell 15 May 1656.

References[edit]

James, Frances B (1888), 'Sir Henry Rosewell – A Devon Worthy', Transactions of the Devonshire Association, 20, 113-122.

PCC Prob 11/254.