RICHBELL, Robert (c.1605-88), of High Street, Southampton and St. Dionis Backchurch, London.
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Family and Education
b. c.1605, s. of Robert Richbell, yeoman, of Overton, Hants. m. (1) by 1642, Frances (bur. 19 Nov. 1658), da. and coh. of Edward Exton, merchant, of Southampton, 9s. (5 d.v.p.) 4da.; (2) Lettice (bur. 21 Oct. 1661), 1da.1
Member, Skinners’ Co. 1638; commr. for assessment, Hants 1652, 1657, Jan. 1660-3, Southampton 1663-9, Hants and Southampton 1673-80; freeman, Southampton 1658, Portsmouth 1677; commr. for militia, Hants Mar. 1660; alderman, London Jan.-Feb. 1661; commr. for corporations, Hants 1662-3; mayor, Southampton 1662-3, 1670-1.2
Commr. for trade Nov. 1660-8.
Richbell’s name is an uncommon one, and he may have been related both to Thomas Richbell, a King’s messenger before the Civil War, and Capt. Jeffrey Richbell, a parliamentary officer. He was apprenticed to a London Skinner in 1622, but did not take out his freedom till 1638, and until late in life appears to have divided his business interests between London and Southampton. His attitude during the Civil War is unknown, but he was appointed to the Hampshire assessment commission during the Interregnum, and imported supplies of ordnance on behalf of the Protectorate. He was returned to the Convention for Southampton together with William Stanley, then or later his business partner. He was listed as a friend by Lord Wharton, but proved an inactive Member, serving only on the committee for the naturalization bill, to which he was added on the presentation of the hostile petition from the corporation of London on 3 Aug. 1660. He was probably a court supporter, but is not known to have stood again. He was elected alderman of London in 1661, but discharged without fine, presumably because after his second wife’s death in the same year he confined his business activities to Hampshire.3
Richbell was considered sufficiently loyal to act as commissioner of corporations, and during his mayoralty called out the militia to suppress a ‘mutiny’. He supplied the Portsmouth dockyard with deal, victuals and rosin, and owned wine-vaults near the Customs House and a moiety of a brewery. The King was accommodated at his house during his visit to Southampton in 1669, and two years later he was allowed to compound for customs frauds involving the import of wine and tobacco. Two of his sons became Spanish merchants, but his eldest son, Edward, was one of the Irish revenue farmers from 1675 to 1682. Richbell probably opposed exclusion, for in 1682 he was said to have shown ‘loyalty and zeal in his Majesty’s service ... on all occasions’. He was considered a possible court candidate in April 1688, but he was buried at St. Lawrence church on 16 July. In his will he disposed of a farm at Bartley in the New Forest and interests in Barbados and New England, besides the Southampton property. But nothing seems to be known of his descendants.4
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: M. W. Helms / John. P. Ferris
- 1. J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London, 138; PCC 80 Bruce, 36 Ent; St. Dionis Backchurch (Harl. Soc. Reg. iii) 116, 233; information from Miss S. D. Thomson, Southampton City Archivist.
- 2. J. S. Davies, Hist. Southampton, 493, 494; R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 362.
- 3. CSP Dom. 1637, p. 428; 1644, p. 377; 1655-6, p. 406; 1666-7, p. 333.
- 4. Ibid. 1661-2, p. 457; 1663-4, pp. 74, 590; 1664-5, pp. 27, 211; Cal. Treas. Bks. iii. 1141; iv. 823; Davies, op. cit. 500; Adm. 1746, f. 157; C7/290/46.