Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick

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Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick
The Earl of Warwick by Daniël Mijtens
Born(1587-06-05)5 June 1587
Died19 April 1658(1658-04-19) (aged 70)
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.


He was the eldest son of Robert Rich, 1st Earl of Warwick, 3rd Baron Rich (1559–1619) by his wife Lady Penelope Devereux (1563–1607), a daughter of Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex. His younger brother was Henry Rich, 1st Earl of Holland. The family was descended from Richard Rich, 1st Baron Rich, who rose to political prominence in the reign of King Edward VI, and was previously an associate of Thomas Cromwell during the reign of Henry VIII.

Early life[edit]

He succeeded to his father's title as Earl of Warwick in 1619. 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 a Member of Parliament for Maldon for 1604 to 1611 and for Essex in the short-lived Addled Parliament of 1614.[4]

Colonial ventures[edit]

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 was 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[edit]

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]

Marriages and issue[edit]

Robert Rich married three times:


  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. 349.
  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. ^ "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.
  10. ^ Aughterson 2004; Gowdy 1919, pp. 39–41; Kelsey 2004.
  11. ^ (Miriam Slater, Family Life in the Seventeenth Century: the Verneys of Claydon House 1984:17).


External links[edit]

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)