CORBET, Robert (1542-83), of Moreton Corbet, Salop.
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Family and Education
Master of the posts by 1575; chamberlain of the Exchequer by 1575; j.p.q. Salop by 1579-d.2
In the list of Members for the 1566 session of Parliament Robert Corbet is referred to as ‘junior’, no doubt to distinguish him from his uncle Robert of Stanwardine. Corbet succeeded another member of the family, Richard Corbet of Wortley, Yorkshire, who died in July 1566. An assessment of Robert made after his premature death relates that he
was of great estimation with the Queen’s Majesty and the nobility because he could speak perfectly sundry foreign languages by reason of his long absence in his youth out of England in foreign countries,
he having been ‘especially trained as it were in the Emperor’s court, who was like to have come to great worship had he lived’. This is supported by the references to Corbet in the correspondence of Philip Sidney and Hubert Languet. On 15 Apr. 1574 Sidney wrote from Venice that two of his friends, Corbet and Richard Shelley, were about to set out for Vienna:
In a few days you will see two noble Englishmen, to whom I shall give letters of introduction to you, and therefore it seems well to write a few words to precede their arrival, and prepare you to receive them with your wonted courtesy. The one whom I especially commend to you is Master Robert Corbet, my very greatest friend, a man of high birth, but one who, as Buchanan says, ‘in excellence of parts outdoes his birth’. He is of the right side in religion and not unpractised in the art of war; he speaks only Italian.
They stayed only a short time in Vienna before leaving for Prague, Languet writing that he had given them letters of introduction to friends in Prague, Nuremburg and Augsburg. Shelley, however, fell ill in Prague, and in the last reference to the travellers in the correspondence, Languet relates to Sidney how with Shelley ‘at the point of death, given over by his physicians’, Corbet had sought his advice on whether to continue his journey alone, since he had heard that troops were being raised in places through which he intended to travel, and that all the country about the Rhine and Lorraine was in a state of confusion. Before the end of the year he was back in England, receiving a gift from the corporation of Shrewsbury on his return.
In October 1575 Corbet was sent to the Spanish governor of the Netherlands, at the same time that other emissaries were sent to Philip II of Spain and the Prince of Orange, to urge him to come to terms with the Dutch. He reported to the Council and to Burghley on the unfavourable reception he received, and provided local news. No further commissions followed. While visiting his uncle Walter Corbet in London he contracted the plague, and died 30 May 1583. His body was carried to Moreton Corbet, where he was buried 24 July, next to his father. His brother Richard inherited the estates, including the unfinished house at Moreton Corbet which Robert, ‘carried away with the affectionate delight of architecture’, was rebuilding ‘after the Italian model’.3
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
Author: A. M. Mimardière
- 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament. Folger V. b. 298.
- 2. C142/187/56; A. E. C[orbet], Fam. of Corbet, ii. 295, facing p. 368; H. Owen and J. B. Blakeway, Shrewsbury, i. 361; Harl. 285, f. 26.
- 3. Folger V. b. 298; Corbet, 278, 295; W. A. Bradley, Corresp. of Philip Sidney and Hubert Languet, 56-7, 92, 96-7; APC, ix. 38; Read, Burghley, 162; CSP For. 1575-7, pp. 167-9, 181, 193, 199, 202, 210; C142/205/187.