Robert Harley (1579–1656)

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Sir Robert Harley

Sir Robert Harley (1579–1656) was an English statesman who served as Master of the Mint for Charles I and later supported the parliamentarians during the English Civil War.

Life[edit]

He was the son of Thomas Harley of Brampton Bryan in Herefordshire. After his first marriage in 1603, he served in various local offices in Herefordshire and Radnorshire, including representing Radnor in Parliament in 1604, Herefordshire in 1624 and 1626 and Evesham in 1628. In 1623 he had married Brilliana daughter of Sir Edward Conway, one of the Secretaries of State, and acted as his aide in Parliament. He was rewarded for this by being appointed Master of the Mint. He was deprived of this office in 1635 but reinstated in 1643. During this period, his attitude was more that of a country gentleman than of a courtier.

In religion (like Brilliana), Harley was a puritan, taking an anti-Catholic and later also anti-Arminian line. He was elected to both Parliaments in 1640, where he opposed ship money, Laudian ecclesiastical innovations and the Scottish War. This led him to join the Parliamentary party.

He was an active member of that party both in Parliament and in Herefordshire, Brampton Bryan Castle undergoing siege in 1643 and 1644. On 30 September 1642, Parliamentarians led by Harley and Henry Grey, 1st Earl of Stamford occupied Hereford without opposition.[1] In December, they withdrew to Gloucester because of the presence in the area of a Royalist army under Lord Herbert.

His support for reconciliation with the king led to his being excluded from the House of Commons in Pride's Purge. He and his son Edward, a colonel in the Parliamentarian army, were imprisoned until after the king's execution. He resigned as Master of the Mint in May 1649 and took no further part in politics.

He left several sons, his heir Edward being the father of Queen Anne's Lord Treasurer Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Mortimer.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ron Shoesmith,The Civil War in Hereford (Logaston Press, Almeley, Herefordshire), pp.40 47.
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Randal Cranfield
Master of the Mint
1626–1635
Succeeded by
In Commission to
Sir Ralph Freeman
Sir Thomas Aylesbury
Preceded by
In Commission to
Sir Ralph Freeman
Sir Thomas Aylesbury
Master of the Mint
1649–1649
Succeeded by
Aaron Guerdon
Parliament of England
Preceded by
Member of Parliament for Radnor
1604–1611
Succeeded by
Rowland Meyrick
Preceded by
Sir John Scudamore
Fitzwilliam Coningsby
Member of Parliament for Herefordshire
1624
With: Sir John Scudamore
Succeeded by
John Ruddall
Edward Bridges
Preceded by
John Ruddall
Edward Bridges
Member of Parliament for Herefordshire
1626
With: Sir Walter Pye
Succeeded by
Sir Walter Pye
Sir Giles Brydges
Preceded by
Parliament suspended since 1629
Member of Parliament for Herefordshire
1640–1648
With: Sir Walter Pye 1640
Fitzwilliam Coningsby 1640–1641
Humphrey Coningsby 1641–1644
Edward Harley 1646–1648
Succeeded by
Not represented in Rump parliament