RICH, Sir William, 2nd Bt. (c.1654-1711), of Sonning, Berks.
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Family and Education
b. c.1654, 2nd but o. surv. s. of Sir Thomas Rich, 1st Bt.†, of Sonning, by his 2nd w. Elizabeth, da. of William Cockayne, Skinner, of London. m. lic. 28 May 1672, aged 18, Lady Anne (d. 1716), da. of Robert Bruce†, 1st Earl of Ailesbury, and sis. of Thomas†, 2nd Earl of Ailesbury, Hon. James* and Hon. Robert Bruce*, 1s. suc. fa. as 2nd Bt. 15 Oct. 1667.1
High steward, Wokingham 1678–d.; freeman, Reading 1689, Gloucester 1698.2
Rich’s experience of Parliament began early, as a private Act was necessary in the 1672–3 session to confirm his marriage settlement. Despite marrying into a Tory family, Rich was a Whig, being associated with Lord Lovelace (Hon. John†) as early as 1680 and making an interest at Reading in 1685 and 1688. Returned for Reading at the elections for the Convention in 1689 and again in 1690, Rich was classed as a Whig by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) at the beginning of the new Parliament. Robert Harley* listed him as doubtful, or possibly as absent, in April 1691 when analysing the House in terms of allegiance to Court or Country. Grascome’s list of the spring of 1693, extended to 1695, described him as a Court supporter and a placeman. The ascription ‘placeman’ may reflect confusion with Sir Robert Rich, 2nd Bt.*, an Admiralty commissioner; alternatively, Rich may have held an office in Windsor Forest, for in 1680 he had been mentioned as a possible verderer there, and a Treasury caveat of May 1693 ordered that he be informed before any wood was felled in part of the forest. On 26 Feb. 1694 Rich was granted leave of absence from the House for three weeks, the first of a series of such grants, to recover his health.