CONWAY, Ralph (1605-c.1636), of Ragley, Warws.
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Family and Education
bap. Feb. 1605,1 3rd s. of Sir Edward Conway I*, 1st Visct. Conway (d.1631) and his 1st w. Dorothy, da. of Sir John Tracy† of Toddington, Glos.; bro. of Sir Edward II* and Thomas*.2 educ. ‘subscribed’ Oxf. 1624;3 travelled abroad (France) 1630-3.4 unm.5 d. aft. 8 Apr. 1636.6 sig. Ral[ph] Conway.
Gent. of privy chamber by 1630.7
Conway was born in the Netherlands while his father, Sir Edward, was lieutenant-governor of Brill, and he was naturalized during the 1605-6 session of Parliament.10 Unlike his elder brothers, whose early exposure to the Dutch wars led them to become professional soldiers, he probably spent his formative years in London and at Ragley, his father’s country seat. Provided with an annuity of £40 by Sir Edward, he seems to have spent much of his life hanging around Court, or visiting his relatives, who evidently enjoyed his company and indulged his profligacy.11 In 1628 his father, now Viscount Conway, secured his election at Andover through the mediation of Sir Thomas Jervoise*, with a view to ‘giving him a sight of business and affairs’, but he left no mark on the Parliament’s records.12
In November 1628 Conway was sent, apparently as a messenger, to meet the earl of Lindsey as he returned from the failed La Rochelle expedition. By 1630 he had become a gentleman of the privy chamber, doubtless through his father’s influence, but in July that year he obtained a licence to travel abroad. In his absence Viscount Conway died, bequeathing him a larger annuity of £140, though predictably he accumulated further debts on the Continent.13 He was back in England by 1633, and a year later (Sir) John Coke* allowed him to serve as a volunteer aboard a royal ship patrolling the English Channel. With characteristic nonchalance Conway delayed a month before joining his ship, then cheerfully reported to his patron in October that he was honoured ‘to be enrolled amongst the mariners, rejoicing that his hands have laboured at a mainsheet tack, but not with so much industry as might deserve the fourth part of a mess at one meal’.14 Following a second voyage during the winter of 1635-6 he tired of this life, and obtained a pass to the Low Countries. Still in debt, he entered Dutch service as a pikeman. He emerged unscathed from his first skirmish in early April 1636, but probably died later that year, since he is not mentioned in his stepmother’s will of 29 Mar. 1637. No will or administration has been found.15
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Paul Hunneyball
- 1. SP9/95, f. 185.
- 2. W. Dugdale, Warws. 848, 850.
- 3. Al. Ox.
- 4. APC, 1630-1, p. 52; CSP Dom. 1633-4, p. 497.
- 5. Dugdale, 850.
- 6. SP84/151, f. 172.
- 7. APC, 1630-1, p. 52.
- 8. CSP Dom. 1634-5, pp. 225-6; 1635, p. 454.
- 9. SP84/151, f. 172.
- 10. SP9/95, f. 185; Letters of Denization and Acts of Naturalization ed. W.A. Shaw (Huguenot Soc. xviii), 7.
- 11. PROB 11/160, f. 410; HMC Portland, iii. 22; CSP Dom. Addenda, 1625-49, pp. 105, 108.
- 12. Procs. 1628, vi. 124.
- 13. CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 373; 1633-4, p. 497; PROB 11/160, f. 410.
- 14. Letters of Lady Brilliana Harley ed. T.T. Lewis (Cam. Soc. lviii), 6; CSP Dom. 1634-5, pp. 225-6.
- 15. CSP Dom. 1635, p. 454; 1635-6, pp. 317, 359; SP84/151, f. 172; PROB 11/180, ff. 437-41.