GILBERT, Adrian (c.1541-1628), of Sandridge, Dartmouth, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1541, 3rd s. of Otho or Otes Gilbert of Compton, by Katherine, da. of Sir Philip Champernown; bro. of Sir Humphrey Gilbert and half-bro. of Carew and Walter Ralegh. educ. M. Temple 1562-6. m. Eleanor Markham (d.1598) of Devon, wid. of a s. of Sir John Fulford.

Offices Held

Constable of Sherborne castle ?1599-1603.


According to John Aubrey, who could not have known him, Adrian Gilbert was ‘a man of great parts, but the greatest buffoon in England; cared not what he said to man or woman of what quality soever’. Among the Devon men with him at the Middle Temple were John and William Peryam; Henry Bayly, Roger Kemys, Edward Stafford, Robert Moyle, all later servants of Sir Walter Ralegh; William Medley, later associated with Humphrey Gilbert in a mining venture; and Thomas Harris, Henry Somaster and John Hender. For perhaps 30 years, Gilbert was an agent for his half-brother Ralegh, supplying him with £10 when he first went to court, and performing many services for him; Ralegh owned a ship called the Adrian, and employed Gilbert on his Sherborne estate from 1595-1603. It was here that Gilbert became involved in a quarrel with John Mere, the bailiff, who described Gilbert as an aged [sic] and corpulent man, and accused him of ‘great fury’ and ‘savage cruelty’. It was said that ‘he should not live with a nose in his face in Sherborne that durst find fault with anything that he [Gilbert] did there’. It was doubtless through the influence of Ralegh that Gilbert was elected to his parliamentary seat for Bridport. He sat on the committee for the bill concerning armour and weapons (8 Nov.) before being licensed to absent himself to visit Ralegh because of the latter’s sickness on 21 Nov.

Gilbert’s estate at Sandridge belonged to his wi