CORBET, Richard II (c.1545-1606), of Moreton Corbet, Salop.
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Family and Education
b. c.1545, 2nd s. of Sir Andrew Corbet of Moreton Corbet and bro. of Robert. educ. prob. Shrewsbury. m. (1) Mary, da. of Morgan Wolfe of Meriden, Warws., wid. of Thomas Lee of Clattercote, Oxon., s.p.; (2) Judith, da. of Thomas Austin of Oxley, Staffs., wid. of William Basset of Blore, Staffs., s.p. suc. bro. 1584. KB July 1603.1
J.p. Salop 1588, dep. lt. 1590, sheriff 1592-3; member, council in the marches of Wales 1594.2
As a young man Corbet lived at Meriden, Warwickshire, which his first wife had received as her dower. When his elder brother Robert died without male issue, Richard inherited his Shropshire property, together with manors in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cornwall, Essex, and Herefordshire. He also inherited the half-finished Italian house his brother had begun to build at Moreton Corbet. While this was being completed he must have lived at Shawbury, for in 1598 the bishop of Lichfield wrote to ‘Richard Corbet, Esq., of Shawbury Park’, giving him permission to add a mortuary chapel to the church of Moreton Corbet.3
From 1584 onwards he was active in local affairs; in 1591 he was granted, at his own request, a warrant to apprehend Walter Lee; in 1596 he was instructed to prevent two alehouses called The Brethren in Market Drayton from brewing excessively in time of dearth, and ‘to forbid ... tippling and disorderly drinking in the said alehouses’; and it was to him that the bishop of Lichfield turned for information about the vicar of Stanton, when he heard that ‘his life and conversation did not answer his function’. As first knight of the shire he was eligible to attend the subsidy committee appointed on 22 Feb. 1587.4
In the autumn of 1589 Corbet was involved in an extraordinary episode for a gentleman of his standing. With others, he made a forcible and riotous entry upon the house of Elizabeth Vernon, a widow, drove off her cattle, took her goods, and laid waste her standing corn. The Privy Council considered this ‘very foul ... for that it is alleged, by reason of your great alliance and authority in that county, the poor widow feareth she shall not receive such good measure in justice for her repossessing and restitution as were requisite’, and they advised him to consider ‘how deeply it would touch you in credit if this foul disorder be not speedily reformed’. Perhaps he was keeping bad company, for in July the keeper of the Counter was instructed to allow him access to his brother-in-law, Sir Walter Leveson, who was imprisoned there for debt. Leveson’s financial affairs imposed a burden on Corbet and on his brother Vincent, who, in 1592, were instructed by the Council to compound with his creditors. Corbet had troubles of his own. Already in debt before his brother’s death, the building of Moreton Corbet drained his resources, and his liking for extravagant gestures can be seen in his giving the bailiffs of Shrewsbury enough venison to feast over 100 people in 1592. By the time of his death he owed more than £5,700. In his will, dated 12 July 1606, he instructed his executors to settle these debts out of the profits of his iron works, but the estate, which passed to Vincent Corbet, was still further diminished by the generosity of his other bequests. Most of his immediate family were remembered, and 12 menservants were mentioned by name, in addition to numerous bequests to such assorted friends as ‘the lord chief justice of England’, Mr Roger Owen of Condover (£40 each), and his ‘loving friend, Mr. Dodd, late preacher at Hanwell’ (£10). His wife received houses at Cla