GREAVES, Robert (1585-1663), of Nottingham, Notts.

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



Family and Education

bap. 10 Apr. 1585, ?2nd s. of William Greaves† (d.1621), draper, of Nottingham and Mary (d.1630), da. of John Gregory, alderman, of Nottingham. m. (1) lic. 17 June 1618, Isabel (d.1626), da. of John Dalton, vintner, of Nottingham, 2s. d.v.p. 1da. d.v.p.; (2) 15 Jan. 1628, Mary Collinson (d.1675), 2s. 2da. bur. 21 Feb. 1663.1

Offices Held

Town clerk, Nottingham 1617-44, 1653-8,2 collector, Palatinate Benevolence 1622,3 commr. subsidy 1622, 1624, 1640-1,4 chamberlain 1625-6,5 commr. array 1642,6 common councilman 1653-?8.7


Greaves’ father was reputedly a Londoner by birth, but settled in Nottingham, where he probably traded as a draper. He certainly rose through the corporation, becoming sheriff in 1582-3 and coroner a few years later. He also represented Nottingham in the last Elizabethan Parliament and became an alderman in 1620, shortly before his death.8 Greaves’ uncle William Gregory*, Nottingham’s town clerk, was employing Greaves as his ‘servant’ by the time he made his will in December 1613. Indeed, he was almost certainly the ‘Robyn’ who took notes in Gregory’s absence on 16 Dec. 1607. In his will Gregory left Greaves his law books and much of his property.9 Gregory subsequently represented Nottingham in the 1614 Parliament, and on his death three years later Greaves took his place as town clerk.

Greaves sat in the first Caroline Parliament, but took no known part in debate or committee. Appointed a commissioner of array for Nottingham by the king in 1642, he spent much of the Civil War in the royalist garrison at Newark, for which offence he was dismissed as town clerk by the parliamentarians in August 1644 and his estate was sequestered. When he came to compound in May 1646 he claimed that he had been taken to Newark as a prisoner by the royalists in the autumn of 1643, but his excuse was considered unconvincing, and in July he was fined £40. In the following September he admitted to the Nottingham corporation that he had been employed by the royalists to oversee work on the Newark fortifications, albeit only for a week, whereupon it was decided to disenfranchise him. However, because ‘many are absent that he may expect friendship from, and because some other things will be made appear which yet are not’, the formal implementation of this decision was delayed and may never have been carried out. He was reappointed town clerk shortly after the death of his successor in August 1653, and was sworn in as a councilman on the 21 Dec., the same day that Oliver Cromwell* was proclaimed Lord Protector. He retired as town clerk due to age and infirmity five years later, when he was granted an allowance of £10 a year; he presumably ceased to serve on the Common Council at about the same time.10 His will, drafted on 29 Jan. 1662, shows he owned property in and around Nottingham. He died about a year later and was buried in accordance with his request in the church of St. Mary’s Nottingham.11 No further member of his family sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: George Yerby


  • 1. Notts. RO, St. Mary’s, Nottingham par. reg.; PR/NW Will of Marie Greaves widow of Nottingham, proved 12 Feb 1631; HP Commons, 1558-1603, ii. 213; Thoroton, Notts. (1790), ii. 42; J.T. Godfrey, Notes on the Par. Regs. of St. Mary’s Nottingham, 4-5; Abstracts of Notts. Mar. Lics. ed. T.M. Blagg and F.A. Wadsworth (Brit. Rec. Soc. lviii), 73.
  • 2. Recs. of the Bor. of Nottingham ed. W.H. Stevenson, iv. 430; Recs. of the Bor. of Nottingham ed. W.T. Baker, v. 356, 431-3.
  • 3. E403/2741, f. 31.
  • 4. C212/22/21, 23; SR, v. 64, 154.
  • 5. Recs. of the Bor. of Nottingham, v. 281.
  • 6. Northants. RO, FH133.
  • 7. Recs. of the Bor. of Nottingham, v. 242-3, 425.
  • 8. HP Commons, 1558-1603, ii. 213.
  • 9. Recs. of the Bor. of Nottingham, iv. 288; Borthwick, Reg. Test. 34, ff. 524-8.
  • 10. CCC, 1278; Recs. of the Bor. of Nottingham, v. 233, 237, 242-3, 281, 298-9, 432; Godfrey, 24.
  • 11. Notts. RO, PR/NW, Will of Robert Greaves, gent, of Nottingham, proved 10 Oct 1664.