CAREW, alias HARVEY, Sir George I (1555-1629), of The Savoy, London and Clopton, Warws.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1604 - 4 May 1605

Family and Education

b. 29 May 1555, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of George Carew, dean of Exeter 1571-83, and Anne, da. of Sir Nicholas Harvey† of Ickworth, Suff. educ. Broadgates Hall, Oxf. 1564-73, MA 1579; vol. Ireland 1575; G. Inn 1605.1 m. 31 May 1580, Joyce (d. 14 Jan. 1637), da. and coh. of William Clopton of Clopton, Warws., 1s. d.v.p.; 1da. illegit. suc. fa. 1583; kntd. 28 Feb. 1586; cr. Bar. Carew of Clopton 4 May 1605, earl of Totness 5 Feb. 1626.2 d. 27 Mar. 1629.3 sig. G. Carew.

Offices Held

Servant to Ambrose Dudley, 1st earl of Warwick 1574;4 gent. pens. by 1584-at least 1602;5 master of Ordnance [I] 1588-92;6 PC [I] 1590-2;7 lt. of Ordnance 1592-1607,8 master 1608-d.;9 treas. at war [I] 1599;10 lord justice [I] 1599-1600;11 v.-chamberlain and recvr. gen. to Anne of Denmark 1603-19;12 commr. Union with Scotland 1604-6;13 commr. plantation [I] 1611;14 PC 1616-d.;15 commr. regency 1617,16 to release and banish four named prisoners 1617, to banish Jesuits and seminary priests 1618, 1624;17 member, High Commission, Canterbury prov. 1620-d.;18 commr. to compound for defective titles 1623, 1625;19 member, Council of War 1624, 1625, 1626-d.,20 Council in the North 1625-?d.;21 commr. trade 1625;22 treas. and recvr.-gen. to Henrietta Maria 1626-?d.,23 commr. for her revenues 1627;24 commr. Navy inquiry 1626-7.25

Lt.-Gov. of Carlow [I] and v.-constable, Leighlin Castle [I] 1576-at least 1581, constable 1583-1602;26 capt. privateer 1578, RN 1596, 1597; capt. of ft. [I] 1579;27 master of Ordnance, Cadiz expedition 1596, Islands voyage 1597, army assembled in London 1599;28 gov. of Guernsey 1610-21.29

Member, embassy, Flanders 1582, France 1598.30

Sheriff, co. Carlow 1583-4;31 commr. Spanish wrecks, Munster 1588;32 j.p. Mdx. by 1591,33 Warws. by 1608-at least 1625,34 Westminster 1618-at least 1625,35 Surr. 1620-at least 1625;36 commr. musters, Mdx. 1595-at least 1596;37 ld. pres. Munster [I] 1600-4;38 commr. enclosure riots, Warws. 1607;39 kpr. Nonsuch Palace, Surr. 1609-?1619;40 high steward, Stratford-on-Avon, Warws. 1610-d.;41 commr. survey, L. Inn Fields, Mdx. 1618,42 subsidy, Mdx. 1621-2, 1624,43 Forced Loan, Mdx. and Warws. 1626-7.44

Member, Council for Virg. 1607.45


Carew’s ancestors had held large estates in Devon since about 1300,46 and represented the county in several early Tudor and Elizabethan parliaments until the elder line became extinct in 1575. Carew’s father took holy orders but, as a married, man he was ejected from the deanery of Bristol during the Marian reaction.47 Described by Camden as ‘a most affectionate lover of venerable antiquity’, Carew followed in the footsteps of his kinsman Sir Peter Carew, whom he served in Ireland in 1574-5, in claiming a great inheritance in Ireland.48 By the end of Elizabeth’s reign he was in high favour with Sir Robert Cecil†, who referred to him in correspondence as ‘my dear George’, and would have brought him into the Parliament of 1601 if he could have been spared from his duties as lord president of Munster.49 On the collapse of Tyrone’s rebellion he returned to England and, on the death of Elizabeth in 1603, immediately volunteered to proceed to Edinburgh and take charge of Queen Anne’s escort for her journey south.50 His services earned him appointment as Anne’s vice-chamberlain. However, as a close friend of Sir Walter Ralegh†, who once referred to him as ‘my chosen friend and kinsman, from whom nor [sic] time nor adversity shall ever sever me’, he briefly fell under suspicion later in the year of plotting in favour of the Lady Arbella.51

Carew took the opportunity of the accession of the new king, James I, to press his claims in Ireland. One Thomas Wadding of Waterford provided him with a written discourse on his right to various lands and lordships in Munster, and between December 1603 and April 1604 several parcels of land in Ireland, some of them substantial, were granted to Carew in recompense for his service under the queen.52 At the general election in 1604, no doubt at Cecil’s request, the new lord warden of the Cinque Ports, the earl of Northampton, nominated Carew for the borough of Hastings, which reluctantly elected him.53 The paucity of royal spokesmen in the first Stuart Parliament made Carew one of the leading officials in the Commons in its opening session, although it should be noted that it is not always possible to distinguish between him and his distant cousin Sir George Carew II, who sat for St. Germans that same year. Carew was immediately named to the privileges committee (23 Mar. 1604) and also to the committee for the continuance or repeal of expiring statutes (24 March). On 26 Mar. he was among those Members instructed, on the motion of Sir Oliver St. John, to recommend measures for the relief of veterans of the Irish wars and, on the motion of Sir Henry Neville I, to produce a more acceptable definition of treason, a matter of great concern to him, with Ralegh still lying under sentence. He also helped to manage the conference with the Lords on wardship on the same day.54 On 28 Mar. he was among those who accompanied the Speaker to explain to the king the proceedings of the Commons over the Buckinghamshire election. After participating in the conference with the judges over the affair, which took place on or shortly before 11 Apr., he was again sent to see James as one of the delegation to thank him for resolving the dispute (1 April).55 It may have been Carew, rather than his cousin and namesake, who reported on 13 Apr. the bill to prevent outlaws from sitting in the Commons in future, which measure had been offered to the king by way of concession. The following day he attended the initial conference with the Lords on Union with Scotland, a subject which, three years later, he would describe as ‘fullest of difficulty’.56 After the weekend he was sent with Sir John Herbert, Lord Buckhurst (Robert Sackville*) and Lord Clinton (Thomas Clinton*) to inform the Lords that the Lower House intended to debate the matter further. He was the first Member instructed to prepare for the conference of 21 Apr. on religion, and on 5 May he was again sent to the Lords to desire that the following Sunday should not be profaned by a conference on purveyance. His name stands at the head of two legislative committees on the same day, for registering possible impediments to conveyances and preventing abuses by customs officers.57

Carew served on the joint commission for the Union, which sat following the end of the first session. Described by one well-placed observer as ‘a great favourite’ of Cecil’s, he was given a peerage during the recess, thereby removing him from the Commons.58 In 1608 he was promoted to the mastership of the Ordnance, an office which one contemporary observer described as ‘a mean place’, not befitting his talents.59 However, according to Chamberlain, he subsequently lost favour with Cecil, now earl of Salisbury, by his report on the condition of Ireland in 1611. He was quick to ingratiate himself with the new favourite, Sir George Villiers, carrying his robes when he was raised to the peerage, and paying assiduous court to his wife.60 ‘Well grown in years’, he drew up his will on 30 Nov. 1625. Summoned before the Commons in 1626 as one of the Council of War to give an account of the expenditure of the subsidies, ‘he excuseth himself by old age, a dead palsy, and other infirmities’.61 He died in the Savoy on 27 Mar. 1629 and was buried at Stratford-on-Avon, under a sumptuous monument erected by his widow, whom he left very rich.62 Some of his lands and his books and manuscripts he bequeathed to his illegitimate son Sir Thomas Stafford*.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Peter Lefevre / Andrew Thrush


  • 1. Archaeologia, xii. 401; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 135; Trans. Devon Assoc. xix. 276; Dugdale, Warws. 686; Al. Ox.; GI Admiss.
  • 2. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 84; CP.
  • 3. Lismore Pprs. (ser. 1) ed. A.B. Grosart, 317; Vis. Devon, 135; W. Dugdale, Antiqs. of Warws. 686. However, the Council register records that he died on the 26th: APC, 1628-9, p. 274.
  • 4. Archaeologia, xii. 401.
  • 5. CSP Carew, 1575-88, p. 376; E179/70/115.
  • 6. CSP Carew, 1589-1600, p. 9; E351/2609.
  • 7. CSP Carew, 1589-1600, p. 41.
  • 8. E351/2630-2643.
  • 9. C66/1393; 66/1772/11.
  • 10. CSP Carew 1515-74, p. xxxiii.
  • 11. CSP Ire. 1599-1600, pp. 156, 498.
  • 12. LR6/154, unfol.; LR7/80/2.
  • 13. CJ, i. 319a.
  • 14. CSP Carew, 1603-24, pp. 69-9, 73.
  • 15. APC, 1615-16, pp. 686-7; 1628-9, p. 274.
  • 16. Archaeologia, xii. 403.
  • 17. T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 3, pp. 4, 65; pt. 4, p. 168.
  • 18. R.G. Usher, Rise and Fall of High Commission, 347.
  • 19. Rymer, vii. pt. 4, p. 77; viii. pt. 1, p. 32.
  • 20. Archaeologia, xii. 403; Rymer, viii. pt. 1, p. 18; CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 328; SP16/28, f. 58.
  • 21. CSP Dom. 1625-49, p. 5.
  • 22. Rymer, viii. pt. 1, p. 59.
  • 23. Archaeologia, xii. 403.
  • 24. LR5/57 (bk. of warrants and enrolments), f. 9.
  • 25. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 495.
  • 26. Archaeologia, xii. 401; HMC Hatfield, xiii. 194; CSP Carew, 1575-88, pp. 376, 464; CPR Ire. Eliz. ii. 601-3.
  • 27. Archaeologia, xii. 401; Naval Tracts of Sir William Monson ed. M. Oppenheim (Navy Rec. Soc. xxii), 344; Naval Tracts (Navy Rec. Soc. xxiii), 21; CSP Carew 1515-74, xxxii.
  • 28. Archaeologia, xii. 402; HMC Hatfield, vi. 114; E351/2611.
  • 29. Archaeologia, xii. 403; CSP Dom. 1580-1625, p. 633.
  • 30. Archaeologia, xii. 402.
  • 31. Ibid.
  • 32. CSP Carew, 1575-88, pp. 490-1.
  • 33. Hatfield, ms 278.
  • 34. SP14/33, f. 63; Rymer, viii. pt. 2, p. 17.
  • 35. C181/2, f. 331; Rymer, viii. pt. 2, p. 21.
  • 36. Cal. Assize Recs., Surr. Indictments, Jas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 187; Rymer, viii. pt. 2, p. 16.
  • 37. HMC Hatfield, v. 524; APC, 1595-6, p. 156.
  • 38. CSP Ire. 1600, p. 20; 1601-3, pp. 616-17; CPR Ire. Jas. I, 6b.
  • 39. C181/2, f. 35.
  • 40. Archaeologia, xii. 403.
  • 41. VCH Warws. iii. 249, 262.
  • 42. Rymer, vii. pt. 4, p. 77.
  • 43. C212/22/20-1, 23.
  • 44. C193/12/2, f. 60v; Procs. 1628, vi. 27; Rymer, viii. pt. 2, p. 141.
  • 45. A.B. Brown, Genesis of US, 209, 231, 843.
  • 46. Lysons, Devon, p. cxiv.
  • 47. Trans. Devon Assoc. xix. 276.
  • 48. Ibid. 278; CSP Carew 1515-74, vii.-xi.
  • 49. Letters from Sir Robert Cecil to Sir George Carew ed. J. Maclean (Cam. Soc. lxxxviii), 96, 115.
  • 50. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 193; HMC Hatfield, xv. 57.
  • 51. CSP Carew 1515-74, p. xxxi; HMC Hatfield, xv. 309.
  • 52. CSP Carew 1515-74, ix; CPR Ire. Jas. I, 1a, 4a, 4b, 9b, 10a, 12a, 57a-58a.
  • 53. E. Suss. RO, HAS/DH/B98/1, f. 89v.
  • 54. CJ, i. 149b, 152b, 153a, 154a, b.
  • 55. Ibid. 157a, 166b, 169b.
  • 56. Ibid. 170b, 172a; Add. 39853, f. 81v.
  • 57. Ibid. 173b, 178a, 199a, 200a.
  • 58. Winwood’s Memorials ed. E. Sawyer, ii. 59. The observer was Cecil’s secretary, Levinus Munck.
  • 59. W. Scott, Secret Hist. of King James, i. 329-30.
  • 60. Chamberlain Letters, i. 377; ii. 22, 257.
  • 61. PROB 11/155, f. 284; Procs. 1626, ii. 239.
  • 62. Dugdale, 686.