CAREW, Sir Gawain (c.1503-85), of Exeter and Wood, Devon and of London.

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



? 1542

Family and Education

b. 1503, 4th s. of Sir Edmund Carew of Mohun’s Ottery, Devon by Catherine, da. and coh. of Sir William Huddesfield of Shillingford, Devon. m. (1) lic. 28 Jan. 1531, Anne, da. of Sir William Brandon, wid. of Sir John Shilston of Wood and of Southwark, Surr., s.p.; (2) by July 1540, Mary, da. of Sir Robert Wotton of Boughton Malherbe, Kent, wid. of Sir Henry Guildford of Leeds Castle, Kent and Blackfriars, London, s.p.; (3) by Dec. 1565, Elizabeth, da. of Sir John Norwiche, s.p. Kntd. 1545.

Offices Held

Gent. pens. 1539-49; sheriff, Devon 1547-8, j.p. 1547-53, from 1559; dep. lt. Cornw. and Devon 1569; master of henchmen Dec. 1558; commr. piracy, commr. for maritime causes, Devon 1578.1


Under Mary, Carew was one of the west country gentlemen who disliked government policy and resented Spanish influence, though there is no indication that his name was removed from the lists of gentlemen pensioners, even when, following Sir Peter Carew’s implication in Wyatt’s rebellion of 1554, he was put in the Tower on a charge of treason. After an absence from Parliament during Mary’s reign, he came in for Plympton Erle in Elizabeth’s first House of Commons, probably through the intervention of the end Earl of Bedford. In the following Parliament Carew was elected for the county. His only recorded parliamentary activity in his two Elizabethan Parliaments is his membership of the succession committee, 31 Oct. 1566.2

With the Earl of Bedford and Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, Carew was active at the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign in helping to strengthen the new Queen’s position on the throne, he and his third wife receiving as reward in 1565 an annuity of 100 marks in survivorship. Though his name still appears on a Household list in 1559, he resided in the west country, where he was one of the radical protestants associated with the Earl of Bedford. On one occasion he and his nephew Sir Peter were together responsible at Exeter for escorting the bishop of Exeter, the ‘earnest preacher’ William Alley, to the pulpit and guarding him against the citizens, who disliked his ‘much inveighing against false doctrines’. Alley appointed both Carews overseers of his will.3

Carew’s connexions with Exeter were close. In 1562 he wrote to the mayor recommending ‘my man’ for the post of keeper of the cloth hall; the following year he bought the wardship of an Exeter heir; in 1574 he was granted an annual fee of £2 by the city; and a year or so later he was authorized by the Exchequer to search into the import of wines at Exeter. When he superintended the execution of an order relating to the harbour controversy there, he was given a hogshead of wine by the city. His brother George became dean of Exeter.4

In his will, made 11 Oct. 1582, Carew named Bedford as ‘ruler and overseer’, bequeathing him a cup of silver gilt ‘in token of the great love and good will that I have borne and do bear unto his lordship’. Carew left his lands, after the death of the widow, the executrix, to a relative, George Carew of Laughline, Ireland. The will was proved 30 June 1585.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: P. W. Hasler


  • 1. Vis. Devon, ed. Vivian, 135; Mill Stephenson, Mon. Brasses, 93; Lond. Mar. Lic. (Harl. Soc. xxv), 8; CSP Dom. Add. 1566-79, p. 130; Lansd. 146, f. 19; APC, vii. 34; Roberts thesis.
  • 2. CPR, 1554-5, p. 291; D’Ewes, 126.
  • 3. CPR, 1563-6, p. 410; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 115; Lansd. 3, f. 193 seq.; J. Hooker, Life of Sir Peter Carew, ed. Maclean, 110; PCC 10 Lyon.
  • 4. Wards 9/138, f. 345, 199, f. 299; HMC Exeter, 49; A. L. Rowse, Eng. of Eliz. 333; Trans. Dev. Assoc. xlvi. 438; W. T. MacCaffrey, Exeter, 1540-1640 (Harvard Hist. Monographs xxxv), 210-13.
  • 5. PCC 34 Brudenell; CPR, 1563-6, p. 410.