CORBET, Sir Andrew (1580-1637), of Moreton Corbet and Acton Reynell, Salop
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Family and Education
bap. 28 Aug. 1580, 1st s. of Sir Vincent Corbet of Moreton Corbet and Frances, da. of William Humfreston of Humfreston, Albrighton, Salop.1 educ. Shrewsbury sch. 1597; Queen’s, Oxf. 1600; L. Inn 1602.2 m. settlement 6 Jan. 1607, Elizabeth (d.19 Mar. 1658), da. of William Boothby of Delfhouse, Staffs., 7s. (2 d.v.p.), 9da.3 kntd. 25 Aug. 1617;4 suc. fa. 1623.5 d. 6 May 1637.6 sig. And[rew] Corbet.
J.p. Salop 1618-d.;7 commr. subsidy, Salop 1621-2, 1624-5, 1628;8 member, Council in the Marches 1624-d.;9 dep. lt. Salop 1624-d.;10 commr. oyer and terminer, Oxf. circ. 1625-d.;11 collector Tenth, Shrewsbury 1625;12 commr. Forced Loan, Salop 1626-7.13
The Corbets, named for their heraldic device of a raven or crow (corbeau), were granted the lordship of Caus, Shropshire after the Conquest, and were regularly returned to the Commons as knights of the shire from 1296; they were distantly related to the Norfolk Corbets. By the end of Elizabeth’s reign the senior branch of the family, seated at Moreton Corbet, held 12,600 acres in northern Shropshire and a further 7,000 acres in Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire, all of which came to Sir Vincent Corbet in 1606 after the death of two elder brothers without male heirs. He was required to compound with Sir Henry Wallop* for the claims of the heiress to the unentailed portion of the estate, while the widow of his brother Richard Corbet II† held the Buckinghamshire lands in jointure until 1640. However, any difficulties which might have arisen from this jointure interest were circumvented by the future MP’s marriage to his aunt’s daughter from her first marriage, which took place six months after his father came into his inheritance.14
Unlike his elder brothers, Sir Vincent Corbet never served as knight of the shire, although he signed the Shropshire returns for 1604 and 1620. His son, by contrast, was returned for the county at the general election of January 1624, less than a year after inheriting his estates, serving as junior partner to his near neighbour (Sir) Richard Newport of High Ercall. Corbet left little trace on the official records of the session: he was named to two committees, one (28 Apr.) for the bill to regulate heralds’ fees (Shropshire had received a visitation the previous summer), the other for an estate bill (26 Apr.); while on 30 Apr. he was appointed to attend a conference with the Lords about the bill for limitation of legal actions. However, a letter he wrote to his estate steward early in March suggests that he was captivated by the key debate over war with Spain at the start of the session. On 24 Feb. he attended Buckingham’s relation of the breakdown of the marriage negotiations in Madrid, which convinced him, as the duke intended, ‘that the king of Spain never intended to match with our Prince’. Corbet also gave credence to further reports of Spanish preparations for a surprise attack on England, and was clearly outraged by the Spanish ambassador’s unwise call for Buckingham’s execution for insults aimed at the king of Spain in his speech.15
Re-elected in 1625, Corbet was named to the privileges committee (21 June) and ordered to attend a conference with the Lords about pardons issued to recusants (8 August). He did not sit in 1626, although there is no suggestion of a contest, as both he and Newport signed the county election indenture for that year.16 Corbet remained active in local administration during the Forced Loan, but by the time of his return for Shropshire in 1628 any enthusiasm he may once have had for war had faded: on 4 Apr., when the Commons voted five subsidies towards the war effort, he emphatically stated that ‘as the case standeth with us, four subsidies is enough’. Corbet spoke out again during the tense days following the king’s unacceptable first answer to the Petition. On 5 June Charles’s order to cease insinuations against ministers provoked the Commons into attacking Buckingham: when William Strode warned that Members risked a dissolution, Corbet retorted ‘shall we waive our resolutions for fear of dissolution? Let us go on and God will crown us with happy success’. Calls for a remonstrance were not halted by the king’s satisfactory second answer to the Petition, and on 11 June Corbet was one of many who insisted ‘that the excessive power in the duke of Buckingham and the abuse of it has been the cause of those evils that have fallen upon us, and is like to be the greatest cause of future dangers’.17
While occasionally strident in his condemnation of the government’s recent conduct, Corbet played no recorded part in the Petition of Right debates, and made only one other known speech during the 1628 session, on 24 Apr., when he and Newport cited a single local official as a recusant officeholder. He was named to no more than a handful of committees, the most important of which was charged with drafting the preamble to the long-delayed subsidy bill (7 June), while local interests explain his inclusion on committees for the Gerard estate bill (7 May) and the bill to exempt the Marcher shires from the jurisdiction of the Ludlow council (19 May). Corbet is not known to have spoken during the 1629 session, when he was ordered to attend the king with the Commons’ petition for a national fast (27 Jan.), and named to the committee for the simony bill (23 February).