MELLER (MILLER), Sir Robert (c.1564-1624), of Little Bredy, Dorset and Westminster
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Family and Education
b. c.1564, 1st s. of John Meller of Winterbourne Came, Dorset and Anne, da. of Giles Winterhay of Chetnole, Dorset.1 educ. I. Temple 1579.2 m. (1) 3 Aug. 1584, Dorothy (d. 15 Oct. 1591), da. and h. of Henry Bailey of I.o.W., 1s.; (2) Margaret (d. 11 Oct. 1632), da. of Robert Freke of Iwerne Courtney, Dorset, teller of the Exch. 1571-92, 1s. 1da.3 suc. fa. 1595;4 kntd. 23 July 1603.5 d. 1 Sept. 1624.6
Recvr.-gen., Exch. Som. and Dorset 1589-97;7 j.p. Dorset 1597-d.,8 capt. militia ft. 1598,9 sheriff 1599-1600,10 commr. piracy 1605, 1611, 1622;11 freeman, Lyme Regis, Dorset 1608;12 commr. subsidy, Dorset 1608, 1621-2, 1624,13 sewers 1617, oyer and terminer, Western circ. 1618-d.14
Member, Virg. Co. 1610.15
Meller’s family acquired Winterbourne Came in the early years of Elizabeth I’s reign, and the manor of Little Bredy, eight miles from Bridport, in the mid-1590s. Meller settled on the latter estate, and is credited with rebuilding the manor house. He first entered the Commons in 1601 as Member for Poole.16
Meller was returned for Bridport to the 1604-10 Parliament on the interest of his first wife’s stepbrother, Sir George Trenchard†.17 He made little impact on the Commons’ business, attracting just seven nominations, of which over half related to local issues. In the opening session he was appointed to consider bills to erect a new church at Melcombe Regis, Dorset, and to defray the charges of the king’s Household (27 Apr. and 31 May 1604). Following the prorogation he was assessed at £20 towards a Privy Seal loan.18 The 1604 Melcombe Regis Act was opposed by the vicar of Radipole, Dorset, who sponsored an amending bill in the second session. On 23 Jan. 1606 Meller was named to the committee, and he attended the meeting on 5 Feb. at which the bill was abandoned. He was also appointed to scrutinize the bill to regulate bonds for assurance of title in conveyancing (29 Jan. 1606),19 to help prepare for a conference on the Union (29 Nov. 1606), and to consider the bill to divert the revenues of Frome Whitfield rectory, Dorset to charitable uses elsewhere (17 Feb. 1610). His final appointment, on 29 June 1610, was to confer at the Dorset assizes with Matthew Chubbe*, about the latter’s offer to spend £200 on building almshouses. He is not known to have stood for election again.20
In 1621 Meller established a perpetual rent-charge on his estate to provide £40 p.a. for the local poor.21 Although purportedly in good health when he drew up his will on 30 Apr. 1624, he died at Bath barely four months later, at the age of 60. In accordance with his wishes for a private funeral ‘without show or any pomp’, he was buried at night at Winterbourne Came. He bequeathed to his wife the goods and livestock at his secondary seat at Up Cerne, Dorset, and to his younger son his house at Westminster. Meller was succeeded by his son, Sir John*.22
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: John. P. Ferris
- 1. Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 186.
- 2. I. Temple database of admiss.
- 3. Dorset Par. Regs. ii. 2; Hutchins, ii. 186, 290; William Whiteway of Dorchester (Dorset Rec. Soc. xii), 125.
- 4. Hutchins, ii. 186.
- 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 124.
- 6. William Whiteway of Dorchester, 64.
- 7. SO3/1, f. 181v; HMC Sackville, i. 104.
- 8. C231/1, f. 28.
- 9. Som. and Dorset N and Q, ii. 313.
- 10. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes, (PRO, L. and I. ix), 39.
- 11. C181/1, f. 114; 181/2, f. 159; 181/3, f. 72v.
- 12. Dorset RO, B7/B6/11, p. 9.
- 13. SP14/31/1; C212/22/20-1, 23.
- 14. C181/2, ff. 294, 313v; 181/3, f. 118v.
- 15. T.K. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire, 342.
- 16. Hutchins, ii. 185-6, 289; Som. and Dorset N and Q, xxii. 57; T. Gerard, Survey of Dorset, 27.
- 17. Hutchins, iii. 326; Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv), 10.
- 18. CJ, i. 187b, 229a; Som. and Dorset N and Q, xiii. 107.
- 19. CJ, i. 259a, 261a; Dorset RO, Weymouth bor. ms S189/5.
- 20. CJ, i. 326b, 394b, 444b.
- 21. Hutchins, iv. 34.
- 22. PROB 11/144, ff. 124v-5v; William Whiteway of Dorchester, 64; Hutchins, ii. 186.