RASHLEIGH, Robert (1585-c.1667), of Coombe, nr. Fowey, Cornw.
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Family and Education
bap. 29 June 1585, 1st s. of John Rashleigh of Coombe and Katherine, da. of Richard Bonython of Carclew, Cornw.1 m. (1) Mary, da. of Thomas Trefusis of Landew, Cornw., 1s.; (2) 16 Dec. 1619, Jane, da. of one Major, 1s. d.v.p.2 suc. fa. 1621;3 d. by 22 Jan. 1667.4 sig. Robert Rashleigh.
Rashleigh belonged to the senior but less prominent branch of his family in Fowey. While the junior line prospered in trade and built up a dominant position in the town, their cousins settled for the role of minor gentry and lords of the manor of Trenant, where their seat of Coombe was situated. Besides Trenant, Rashleigh’s inheritance included almost 300 acres in Tywardreath and St. Austell parishes, and a quay in Fowey.8 Although he appears not to have engaged in commerce, he did participate in the town’s affairs. Named in 1598 as a prospective trustee of Fowey’s ‘town lands’ in 1598, he was one of the ‘Eight Men’ elected in 1626 to manage this financial reserve. Such parochial responsibilities reflected the Coombe line’s limited local standing. By comparison, the junior, Menabilly branch of the family were the dominant landlords in the district, and moved on the county stage. Rashleigh’s subsidy rating of £5-7 during the later 1620s placed him a poor third in Fowey behind the Treffry family and his cousin Jonathan Rashleigh*.9
Rashleigh first became directly involved in parliamentary affairs during his term as Fowey’s portreeve in 1624, when he presided over the election of William Noye and Sir Robert Coke.10 He was elected there himself four years later, doubtless through the favour of his cousin Jonathan. As a port burgess he would have been entitled to sit on five bill committees. Those during the first session dealt with free fishing in America (17 Apr.), supplies of saltpetre (25 Apr.), and the false manufacture of sail-cloth (26 May); in the second session they concerned the charter of the Somers Island Company and the increase of trade (10-11 Feb. 1629).11 Rashleigh appears by name only indirectly in the Commons’ records, as a result of the arrest of his servant Thomas Hill at the suit of William Pemberton. Hill was granted privilege on 22 Apr. 1628, but the incident was of minor significance, and following a hearing before the committee for privileges Pemberton was discharged.12
Rashleigh initially refused to compound for knighthood, but paid £17.10s. in 1633.13 In the Civil War his sympathies probably lay with the royalists, though the surviving evidence is inconclusive. In August 1642, according to the Cornish parliamentary committee, a Mr. Trevanion (probably Charles*, a prominent royalist and Rashleigh’s cousin) ‘required’ Rashleigh to publish a pamphlet or poster opposing obedience to the militia ordinance.14 Rashleigh apparently spent his latter years in retirement, transferring the bulk of his estate to his eldest son John by 1663. When he drew up his will on 10 Feb. that year, his main concern was to provide for the children of his younger son Robert, who had recently died. Rashleigh himself died in around January 1667, when his probate inventory was prepared, and administration of his estate was granted on 14 Aug. that year to Robert’s widow, on behalf of her children.15 John married Jonathan Rashleigh’s daughter Elizabeth, and, following in his father’s footsteps, was returned to Parliament as Member for Fowey in 1661.16
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Paul Hunneyball
Cornw. RO, DD.R. 2757.