REDGE, Robert, of the Middle Temple, London.

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



Family and Education

3rd. s. of John Redge of Redge, Salop by Margaret, da. of Meredith Porter.2 educ. Barnard’s or New Inn; M. Temple 1579, called by 1581.3 m. c.1581, Avis, da. of John Vivian, sis. of Hannibal Vivian.

Offices Held


Descended from a Shropshire family originally called Bowlder or Bowlden, who several generations earlier had adopted the name of their chief dwelling house, Redge was a practising lawyer. The reason for his return for Bossiney, at a by-election in 1581, is unknown, but he was already connected with Hannibal Vivian—with whom he was bound at the Middle Temple—and with other Cornish gentlemen, and presumably he found an influential patron, perhaps the 2nd Earl of Bedford, acting through the Vivians. At Newtown he was doubtless nominated by Sir George Carey, captain of the Isle of Wight. Redge may have been Carey’s lawyer: at any rate when he wished to marry Avis Vivian, and her mother and brother Hannibal thought him too poor, Carey provided him with ‘some reasonable portion for [her] relief’.4

Records of the lawsuits in which Redge is known to have taken part suggest that a plaintiff’s description of him as a man of ‘most troublesome and lewd disposition’, who used his knowledge of the law unjustly and for his private profit, may have been at least partly true. He acted for the defendant, Hannibal Vivian, in a notorious case brought by John Cosgarne, alleging the abduction of Vivian’s young relatives Joan and Anne, Cosgarne’s wards, their imprisonment in ‘dark and obscure caves under the cliffs of the sea’, and illegal marriages. In the later stages of this dispute Redge stopped at nothing to gain victory for his client. He helped to procure the arrest, on a charge of rape, of Cosgarne’s son, who carried on the quarrel after his father’s death, and according to the bill of complaint first forged a recognizance for debt against his opponent, and then refused to answer Cosgarne’s suit against him in the Star Chamber, on the ground that the plaintiff, being now technically an outlaw, could not plead. Charges of forgery and wrongful issue of legal documents were commonplace in Elizabethan lawsuits, but the Cosgarne case was not the only example of this kind of accusation against Redge. About 1595 he was before the Star Chamber answering questions about his alleged illegal serving of a subpoena in Montgomeryshire on John Edwards and others, and a threat to ‘beggar’ his opponents in the case. Another long and complicated Star Chamber suit involved his infant niece Blanche Redge, daughter and heir of his eldest brother John. Her guardian claimed that Robert Redge, ‘bearing a most malicious and envious mind’ against her prosperity and advancement, had forged a £500 bond in her father’s name to Hannibal Vivian. If this money was not paid, the mansion house of Redge and property in Chirbury, Shropshire, was to go to Avis Vivian (who was about to become Robert Redge’s wife), for three years after the death of Blanche’s parents. Hannibal Vivian, called upon to explain his own part in the transaction, denied being implicated in any fraud, and claimed that Robert Redge, some years earlier, when his plea for Avis’s hand was refused on the ground that he ‘being a younger brother was not possessed of any inheritance’, stated that his ‘possibilities were good’ since his brother John had at that time no children, and was unlikely to have any; ‘he did verily think that his father and brother would deal well with him towards his advancement if [the Vivians] would give their consent to this match’. Redge also denied the charges.5

This lawsuit, begun in January 1596, is the last reference found to him. No will or inquisition post mortem is known, so it is impossible to say whether he died in possession of lands which he had claimed in 1578 from his relatives, the Vaughans, who contested his rights).6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Harl. 5848, ff. 27-8; Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxix), 418.
  • 3. M. T. Recs. i. 242, 245, 359. In a Star Chamber case of 1578 or early 1579 he was described as ‘of Barnard’s Inn’, but the Middle Temple admission register says ‘late of New Inn’. It seems unlikely that he would have studied at two inns of chancery before an inn of court.
  • 4. M. T. Recs. i. 229; St. Ch. 5/R9/13.
  • 5. St. Ch. 5/C6/4, R9/13, R21/21, E41/34; Add. 37045, f. 63.
  • 6. St. Ch. 5/R18/15, R34/23. He may have been the ‘Robert Ridg’ brought before the Privy Council in September 1588 in connexion with complaints from the company of ‘merchants easterlings’ (APC, xvi. 267-8).