RALEGH, Gilbert (c.1583-1629), of Rectory House, Downton, Wilts.

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

b. c.1583, 1st s. of Sir Carew Ralegh* of Downton and Dorothy, da. of Sir William Wroughton† of Broad Hinton, Wilts. and wid. of Sir John Thynne† (d.1580) of Longleat, Wilts. m. by 1618, Lucy, da. of Sir George Wroughton of Broad Hinton, 5s. incl. Gilbert† (2 d.v.p.), 4da. (2 d.v.p.).1 suc. fa. 1627. bur. 20 Jan. 1629.2

Offices Held

Dep. v.-adm. Dorset, by 1611-d.; commr. piracy, Dorset 1611,3 swans, Hants, Wilts., Devon, Dorset, I.o.W. 1628;4 lt., I. of Portland and capt., Portland Castle, Dorset 1625-d.5

Gent., privy chamber, 1628-d.6


Ralegh was born in about 1583, possibly at Corsley in north Wiltshire.7 The connections developed by his father, Sir Carew, and uncle, Sir Walter Ralegh† evidently helped him secure the offices which formed the basis for his career. He may have been the ‘Mr. Rawlegh’ who accompanied lord admiral Nottingham (Charles Howard I†) on his embassy to Spain in 1605.8 In 1611 he was made a deputy vice-admiral of Dorset, and in the same year he secured a reversion to the lieutenancy of the Isle of Portland and captaincy of its castle, in succession to his father, who surrendered the post to him in 1625.9 Ralegh was returned to Parliament for Downton in 1614 on the interest of his father, who owned property in the town and had represented the borough in 1604. He left no impression upon the records of the session, and gave way to his father at the next election.

During the 1610s Ralegh probably spent much time on official business in Weymouth and Portland, Dorset. At his mother’s death in 1616 he inherited a life interest in a number of copyhold tenements in Corsley, but his cousin Sir Thomas Thynne* claimed a right to these when he took possession of the manor itself. Ralegh subsequently sued for restitution, but the dispute remained unresolved in 1622.10 During his final years Ralegh was involved in the supervision of French prize ships and the sale of confiscated goods: in December 1626 he impounded a cargo of wine and prunes from two French vessels berthed at Weymouth, with the intention of selling the goods, but the local comptroller and searcher for customs accused him of acting illegally. In the following month he complained to Edward Nicholas* that he had been denied profits due to his office as a result of private commissions granted to others by the Admiralty.11 In April 1627 Ralegh sought to buy a Dutch ship which he intended should be captained by his younger brother, George, but the deal seems to have failed, for in the following June he recommended his brother for the captaincy of another vessel, in which he had ventured £200.12

Ralegh was sworn a gentleman of the privy chamber in August 1628, but died, intestate, on about 7 Jan. 1629; he was buried at Downton on 20 Jan. following.13 Letters of administration were granted to his widow, Lucy.14 His son, grandson and great-grandson also sat for Downton, but the family’s interests in the borough ended with the sale of their estates there in 1720.15

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Henry Lancaster



  • 1. Wilts. RO, 914/1; Vis. Wilts. (Harl. Soc. cv-cvi), 160; R.C. Hoare, Hist. Wilts. ‘Downton’, 37.
  • 2. Wilts. RO, 914/1.
  • 3. C181/2, f. 159; APC, 1628-9, p. 136.
  • 4. C181/4, f. 2v.
  • 5. C66/2356/16; CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 549.
  • 6. LC5/132, p. 46.
  • 7. E115/320/20; 115/329/115.
  • 8. NLW, Carreglwyd I/699.
  • 9. SO3/5, Aug. 1611, unfol.; Harl. 1376, f. 76.
  • 10. C2/Jas.I/R1/56.
  • 11. CSP Dom. 1625-6, pp. 25, 497; 1627-8, pp. 7, 21, 45, 99.
  • 12. Ibid. 1627-8, pp. 151, 228.
  • 13. Diary of William Whiteway (Dorset Rec. Soc. xii), 102; Eg. 784, f. 73; Wilts. RO, 914/1.
  • 14. PROB 6/13, f. 100.
  • 15. Hoare, ‘Downton’, 36-7.