RICH, Nathaniel (1585-1636), of Warwick House, Holborn, London and Stondon Massey, Essex

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.1585,1 1st s. of Richard Rich of Leez Priory, Essex and Jane, da. of John Machell, Clothworker, of London.2 educ. Emmanuel, Camb. 1601, BA 1604; G. Inn 1609; travelled abroad (France) 1612.3 unm. suc. fa. 1598;4 kntd. 8 Nov. 1617.5 d. c.Nov. 1636.6 sig. Na[thaniel] Riche.

Offices Held

Cttee. Somers Is. Co. 1615,7 Virg. Co. 1619,8 Providence Is. Co. 1630-d., dep. gov. 1635.9

Commr. inqury [I] 1622-3, 1625, ecclesiastical survey [I] 1623,10 plantation of Virg. 1624-5,11 trade 1625.12

Commr. sewers, Essex 1625-d.,13 swans, Essex and Suff. 1635.14


The Rich family was established in Essex by this Member’s grandfather, Richard Rich†, who served as Speaker of the House of Commons in 1536, and became the first Baron Rich and lord chancellor under Edward VI.15 Rich’s father, an illegitimate son of the chancellor, resided at Leez Priory as steward of the family estate. Rich himself was brought up with a strongly puritan outlook, and his education included a legal training in preparation for a career as man of business to his cousin the 3rd Lord Rich (Robert Rich†) and the latter’s son Sir Robert Rich*. Although essentially London-based, Rich acquired the small Essex estate of Stondon Massey in 1610 soon after coming of age.16 He played little part in county administration or politics, but, like his cousins, was on good terms with the local magnate, Sir Francis Barrington*, who shared his religious views.17

Rich relied throughout his parliamentary career almost exclusively on his family connections. As a nominee to various pocket boroughs he was free from direct constituency pressure, and some have seen this as the source of his unusual willingness to vote supply or propose a permanent increase in the Crown’s ordinary revenue.18 As early as 1621 he wished to make subsidies conditional upon a degree of parliamentary control over foreign policy. More than most Members, he exhibited a consistent belligerence towards Spain, in accordance with his colonial, commercial and religious interests.19 He was among the first to adopt an elevated notion of the role and powers of the Commons, for instance in questions of judicature; in doing so he demonstrated an extensive knowledge of history and precedent, occasionally challenging the leading legal experts in the House. He was also anxious to ensure legislative continuity between sessions, and perhaps partly for this reason kept notes in every Parliament he attended. On either single sheets of paper, or in small paper books, he made his notes in ink, almost certainly during debates, in a style that is characteristically his, using a mixture of longhand and shorthand. The coverage is selective, and even allowing for the possibility that some of his notes have not survived Rich does not appear to have attempted to record the proceedings of any of the parliaments of the period on a daily basis, but to have concentrated, with a ‘peculiarly sharp eye for an approaching crisis’, on debates that he felt to be of particular importance.20 Possibly Rich made further notes that were used and copied by others, as he appears to have been the author of part at least of an anonymous account of the 1628 Parliament, now British Library Stowe 366.21 There are, furthermore, hints among his unpublished papers that he may also have kept some kind of record of the brief 1629 session.22 He evidently intended to compile an archive of parliamentary material, if only for his own future reference.

I. The Parliaments of 1614 and 1621

Rich was first elected for Totnes in 1614, on the recommendation of the town’s recorder, (Sir) George Carey†, who had married one of Lord Rich’s daughters.23 His only appearance in the parliamentary record was on 19 May, when he was appointed to the committee for a bill to recover small debts more easily.24 Towards the end of the Parliament he noted the debates on Bishop Neile’s denial of the Commons’ right to question impositions (25-27 May).25 The original manuscript no longer exists, but survives only in copy form, and this perhaps omits material too illegible to have been transcribed. In any case, the decision to record the furore caused by Neile is an early indication of his dislike of ecclesiastical sycophants and their attempts to justify unparliamentary taxation.

For the next few years Rich was primarily concerned with colonial expansion, which he was keen to pursue for both commercial and religious purposes. Following his cousin, Lord Rich, he became one of the principal landowners in the new colony then known as Somers Island (now Bermuda), and a recognized expert on its affairs. The island’s main crop was tobacco, and by 1617 Rich received assurances that the settlers would ‘work night and day to raise some profit’ for him. Although he certainly envisaged the foundation of a godly community on the island, his correspondence shows that he was alarmed to hear from a radical nonconformist divine there that the Anglican liturgy and prayer book had been abandoned altogether. Perhaps fearing King James’s disapproval, Rich did not endorse the islanders’ alternative service of worship. To his brother Robert, who had gone out as his agent, he sent a carefully annotated Bible, in return for samples of the island’s sweet potato marmalade, pepper, prickly pears, and other exotic produce.26

Rich was well connected at Court, and was knighted in 1617 at the request of Lady Hatton, perhaps via the influence of her son-in-law, Sir Robert Rich*.27 Lady Hatton was at this time embroiled in a very public bitter struggle with her husband, Sir Edward Coke*, for custody of her daughter, and although there is no evidence that Rich himself was directly involved, his sympathy for Lady Hatton may explain his later antagonism on several occasions towards Coke in the Commons. Lord Rich, created earl of Warwick in 1618, died not long afterwards, and it was probably at the behest of Sir Robert Rich, now 2nd earl of Warwick, that Rich joined the board of the Virginia Company in 1619. Together the two men soon became embroiled in factional conflict for control of the Company, supporting Sir Edwin Sandys* against Sir Thomas Smythe*. Sandys was victorious, but his alliance with Warwick was short-lived, for when, in 1620, Sandys attacked Warwick for using the colony as a base for piracy against Spanish traders, Rich vigorously defended his cousin. He castigated Sandys above all for the unpatriotic act of telling tales to the Spanish resident: ‘God deliver me from the clemency of the Spaniard and from them that would inform for him’.28

At the next general election Rich was returned for East Retford on the recommendation of Sir Gervase Clifton*, who had married one of Warwick’s sisters.29 As in 1614 Rich made notes during some debates. These cover the dates 16 Feb.-2 Mar. 1621, but there is a gap covering the period 19-23 Feb., when Rich was absent due to illness.30 This time Rich took a more prominent role in the Commons than he had done in 1614; it was later said that from the start he was one of ‘the chiefest pilots of this Parliament ... in danger to be cast upon some rocks either of prerogative or liberty’, and perhaps not sufficiently ‘cautelous of hazarding themselves’.31 On the first day of business Rich was appointed to the privileges committee (5 Feb.), and to a sub-committee to consider how to acquaint the king with the Commons’ most immediate concern, freedom of speech, which was in doubt following the interrogation of Members after the controversies of 1614.32 Fears were allayed by a message from James promising to respect Members’ privileges on 15 Feb., in response to which Rich called for ‘the very words’ to be set down in the Journal.33

On 7 Feb. Rich moved that ‘all the old bills that were put in the last Parliament might be brought in and read ... as if they were new bills’; and at the end of the month he again urged that an hour every morning be set aside to expedite public bills.34 To him the most urgent business was the enforcement of the recusancy laws, for which it was resolved to send a petition to the king. In particular, Rich wished to prevent Catholics from frequenting the capital. On 13 Feb. he objected to the customary clause ‘except by His Majesty’s licence’ in such petitions, which he regarded as ‘unnecessary, repugnant, destructive, and ... a back door to evade’.35 He was appointed to a conference with the Lords (15 Feb.) to prepare the petition, and two days later stressed that the recusancy committee was ‘to consider of all the causes why the statutes against recusants are not executed’.36 He was also named to consider a bill concerning the observation of the Sabbath (15 February). When this bill was attacked by Thomas Sheppard as a puritan measure, Rich was so outraged that he called the following day for Sheppard to be expelled without allowing him to defend himself.37 Sheppard was swiftly unseated, to the dismay of the king, who sent a message to the House on 17 February. In his diary Rich recorded that James expressed his displeasure that ‘we had turned a fellow out of the House for speaking against puritans’.38

Rich’s experience in matters of trade led him on 14 Feb. to move for complaints about the pretermitted customs, which he believed were responsible for causing a depression in the cloth trade, to be referred to a grand committee.39 He made no comment when his adversary Sandys initiated a wider debate on free trade and the causes of the current recession on 26 Feb. by attacking Spanish tobacco imports. Instead, Rich pointed out that another cause of the scarcity of money was the export of coin to pay for Irish corn.40 The following day he agreed with Sir Lionel Cranfield, who he noted ‘speaks upon knowledge’, that the shortage was due to an unfavourable balance of trade.41 Rich drew special attention to the ‘defect of trading with the West Indies, as in time of Queen Elizabeth’, and was possibly already thinking of a West Indies Company.42 This was tantamount to suggesting that England should commence a trade war with Spain, but even so Rich seems not to have supported Sandys’s campaign for a ban on Spanish tobacco, perhaps foreseeing that this strategy ran the risk of bringing unwelcome parliamentary attention to the entire tobacco trade, at the expense of the colonies. The outcome of Sandys’s initiative was a vigorous debate on 18 Apr. in which, to the alarm of the Virginia Company, a motion for a ban upon all tobacco imports was seriously entertained by many Members. Rich remained silent, but was presumably satisfied to see the debate end without any direct course of action being resolved.43 While understandably reluctant to take on Sandys in Parliament, where Sir Edwin’s influence was formidable, Rich was clearly biding his time to engage in a further round of conflict within and between the Virginia and Somers Island Companies.44

The attack on monopolies began while Rich was absent with an ‘extreme cold’, but he soon became involved, in close association with John Pym*, henceforward his constant political ally. Initially Rich found no general support for his bold suggestion on 26 Feb. of investigating not only the patentees, like (Sir) Giles Mompesson*, but also the projectors and referees.45 The following day he moved for a select committee to prepare the charges against Mompesson and ‘to have the residue of his offences mentioned by Mr. Pym to be examined’.46 However, he had a significant difference of opinion with Sir Edward Coke, Lady Hatton’s estranged husband, over what form the prosecution should take, agreeing on 28 Feb. that the Lords should be applied to for judgment, but ‘with a reservation of the liberty of the House, that if the Lords will not join with us we will punish him ourselves’.47 Rich was virtually alone in asserting that the Commons possessed this kind of independent judicature, and Sir Dudley Digges responded with a warning against bringing the powers of the House into issue.48 Rich seems to have taken special satisfaction at his differences with Coke; a week later he induced the Commons to omit one of Coke’s precedents for impeachment because its circumstances, the imprisonment of a former Speaker, were ‘a memorial to the breach of our privileges’.49

By this time it had become increasingly obvious that the investigation of the patents’ referees would be necessary, and when the gold and silver thread patent was discussed on 9 Mar. Rich repeated his call for the investigating committee to ‘enter into the quality of the commission, who advised it, being against the law’.50 Thomas Crewe was ready on 9 Mar. to name the offending referees, but was prevented by the untimely rising of the Speaker, to which Rich angrily responded by insisting on the correct procedure, that ‘Mr. Speaker must not rise but when a question is ended and that an hour might be prefixed convenient and that he might not rise before that hour’.51 On 12 Mar., despite the king’s concern that preoccupation with monopolies was delaying the subsidy, Rich desired ‘that not only the bills of grace, but a bill to be drawn to cut off monopolies by the root. Nameth Mr. Crewe and Mr. Noye to that purpose, who have already taken great pains in it’. His intervention was effective, and the bill was given a first reading the same afternoon.52

Rich’s proposal on 2 Mar. to thank Prince Charles for his forwardness against Mompesson was rejected for fear it might offend the king.53 However, he successfully moved on 27 Mar., after Mompesson had been condemned, that the Lords’ judgment should be published ‘for the satisfaction of the good and discouragement of evil-affected persons’.54 Rich proposed a bill on 28 Feb. against excessive fees for entering orders, and called again on 2 Mar. for a bill ‘to remedy this abuse by registers’;55 however, he does not seem to have played any role in the scandal against corrupt Chancery officials, including the lord chancellor, Francis Bacon*, which broke out after the Easter recess. At the second reading of a bill ‘for the general quiet of the subject against all pretences of concealment’ on 2 Mar., again in opposition to Coke, Rich argued that entitlement should be guaranteed after only 20, rather than 60 years’ quiet possession; he also proposed to let this include advowsons, and was appointed to the bill committee.56

After the Easter recess Rich became distracted by a series of demarcation disputes between the king and Lords. On 30 Apr. he moved for a select committee to consider how to reply to James’s desire that the Commons should not delve into the reform of Irish administration.57 The following day, in response to a royal complaint that the House was encroaching on the royal prerogative regarding baronetcies and the appointment of local magistrates, Rich seconded Edward Alford’s motion for a message to James, to protest that constant interpositions disrupted business and violated secrecy: ‘they would not have the king upon misinformation to cross our proceedings’.58 He then cited an ordinance of 9 Henry IV that no debate was to be reported to the king until concluded, and successfully moved for a committee to consider how this should be implemented.59

After Edward Floyd, a Catholic lawyer, caused deep offence by slandering James’s daughter, the queen of Bohemia, Rich revived his earlier suggestion that the Commons could assume a judicial role when necessary. On 2 May he queried a precedent dating from 1399 which showed that the Commons had declined to participate in the deposing of Richard II, insisting that this ‘implies that they had before joined in the judicature ... and also implies a present power in ourselves’.60 In this debate Rich displayed a thorough knowledge of medieval statutes, and he received considerable support, among others from Cranfield, for his interpretation of the 1399 precedent as a special case produced by the Lower House’s ‘zeal and loyalty to the Crown’.61 A committee was appointed to consider the matter further, to which Rich was named, though he tried to assure the Lords on 8 May that ‘what we have done is not to invade their liberties’.62 He joined in the criticism of Coke on 12 May for appearing to leave Floyd to the Lords’ discretion: ‘there was some mistaking in Sir Edward Coke, ... for if they judge the cause again it must needs be a wrong to us’.63 Rich’s radical view of Commons judicature was shown most clearly in his proposal on 15 May for dealing with two ecclesiastical officials, the chancellors of Peterborough (John Lambe) and Durham (Richard Cradock), who were accused of extortion. As in the cases of Mompesson and Floyd, he urged the House to ‘proceed upon due proof; and then if the Lords do not punish thoroughly well ... we will enter into judgment ourselves, which is our ancient course’.64 Although at this stage he was almost alone in his belief that the Commons could act independently to censure a member of Convocation, he called again on 1 June for the evidence against Lambe to be brought in confidence to the clerk of the Commons.65

When the king announced on 28 May that Parliament would adjourn for the summer on 4 June, Rich’s reaction reflected the general frustration that so much important business would be uncompleted. At first he proposed that since ‘we cannot now help the Commonwealth by bills’, Members should ‘prepare the grievances [petition] ... that we may do something to content the people’; and he especially recommended action against Proclamations, ‘to which greater countenance have been given since the last convention than ever before’.66 He wanted all the bills brought in from committee and ‘the clerk to make a catalogue of all businesses as they stand, that nothing may be lost’, which resulted a week later in a list of over 100 bills then going through the House.67 He also wondered if they could yet pass a few important bills, and successfully moved for a sub-committee to confer with the Lords about requesting more time for this purpose, naming his highest priorities as the bills against monopolies, concealments, and recusants.68 By 30 May, after a request for additional time had been refused by James, he was determined to press for bills, rather than a mere petition of grievances, declaring he was ‘loath it should be said ... they have sat 16 weeks and brought us herein trifles’.69 With unconcealed anger he delivered an eloquent account, peppered with Latin tags, of the decayed state of the country’s trade, naval defences, and religion, and of the king’s broken promises to hear and redress such grievances; despite attempts to silence him he complained bitterly that ‘we were preparing remedies, and are taken off and interrupted’.70 Above all he felt disappointed that they had failed to obtain any positive commitment to war on behalf of the Palatinate. He would have been willing to vote for a generous supply in order to support such a war, and on 4 June he closed the subsidy debate with a motion for ‘a select committee for the drawing it into form’.71 He wholly applauded Sir James Perrot’s proposal for a general declaration by which, before it dispersed, the House promised to assist the king ‘with their lives and fortunes’. This, he said, would ‘show to the world that we are not insensible of the sufferance of those of our religion’, and the idea was received by the Commons as a whole ‘with much joy ... all lifting up their hats in their hands, as high as they could as a visible testimony, in such sort, that the like had scarce ever been seen in Parliament’.72

When the second sitting began in November, Rich was still prepared to vote a generous subsidy, but he also maintained that the Commons had not committed itself to grant supply unconditionally, for ‘unless the king engage himself for the state of the Christian world we are free’. He therefore moved on 27 Nov. to notify James of ‘our desires to re-unite us to the Protestant princes abroad, to confirm this by Act of Parliament’.73 Rich was alone in proposing this bold step, which implied that Parliament as well as the king should be responsible for decisions of foreign policy.74 On the following day Rich proposed a sub-committee ‘of such as know the state of the Palatinate ... what number of men are there, and what sum will maintain those men, and when to give it, and how long to continue the charge’, a suggestion which again indicates that he wanted Parliament to be actively involved in the conduct of foreign policy.75

Religion was the principal motive behind Rich’s pro-war stance, and on 29 Nov. he called for another petition to James in the form of a ‘narration of the misery of our religion abroad and at home’.76 Four days later, on Rich’s motion, it was decided that 12 privy councillors and courtiers should present it to the king at Royston.77 When the king refused to receive this delegation Rich proposed that the Speaker should carry the petition instead: ‘if I had 1,000 voices, Mr. Speaker should have them all to go’.78 Relations between the Commons and James had become increasingly strained as the sitting progressed, and when Members received a message on 12 Dec. instructing them to deal with bills rather than affairs of state, Rich urged ‘great deliberation’ while they contemplated how to react.79 Five days later, with proceedings still at an impasse, Rich reacted angrily to the king’s assertion that free speech was a royal gift rather than a right, although he warned the House not to ‘enter into this large ocean of our privileges’, since there was a risk that if Members tried to define their rights ‘we shall rather contract than enlarge them’.80 Rich believed that freedom of speech had been ‘impeached in matter and manner’ in this and the preceding Parliament. By freedom of speech, he meant not ‘licentiousness and exorbitancy, but speech without servile fear, as it were, under the rod’.81 The king’s attempts to restrict the Commons’ choice of business was the greatest threat, and on 18 Dec. Rich recommended that his fellow Members read ‘especially’ the Commons’ Apology of 1604, presumably for its emphasis on constructive free speech.82 Once the Protestation had been entered in the Journal Rich moved, along with John Glanville, ‘that report may be made of the grievances handled yesterday, concerning the staplers, brewers, glass patent, and patent restraining fishing in Newfoundland’; so that ‘the town may take notice that we are again proceeding with business’.83 However, the order for adjournment came the same day, and he could only repeat his attempt to preserve prospective legislation by moving that ‘all bills be brought in that are in committees’ hands’.84 The most regrettable casualty for Rich was the monopolies bill, rejected without conference by the Lords on 10 Dec., leaving insufficient time for the Commons to respond. He lamented that an Act had been ‘promised by the king’, a promise which had encouraged ‘the people to give freely to the subsidies’, but the Parliament passed no legislation before its ignominious close.85

II. Virginia Affairs and the Parliament of 1624

Although Rich escaped imprisonment as a result of his activities in the 1621 Parliament, he was included, with several other puritan Members, on a commission to report on the condition of Ireland early in 1622, an employment that was widely regarded as a punitive political exile.86 Before he left he applied for and was granted leave to pay his arrears in the East India Company’s second joint stock without interest, fearing that he would be unable to maintain his investments during his absence.87 He had less success in arranging to defend his interests in the Virginia Company while he was away. A new tobacco contract was under negotiation, and it was perhaps no coincidence that the new lord treasurer, Cranfield, decided to include Rich, who could be expected to oppose such a contract, on the Irish commission at this time.88 Whatever the circumstances in which he was sent, Rich made a good impression in Ireland. The preacher at Gray’s Inn, Richard Sibbes, commended Rich to Archbishop Ussher as one ‘for sincerity, wisdom and right judgement worthy your inward acquaintance’; and a fellow commissioner, Sir Dudley Digges*, described him as ‘very laborious and painful’ in the work, during which his main task was to compile an account of the army’s arrears.89 After various delays, Rich was recalled in November 1622, received high praise for his labours, and was appointed to the standing committee on Irish affairs early the following year.90

On his return Rich threw himself into the culminating struggle in the colonial companies. In opposition to the tobacco contract Sandys had negotiated with Cranfield, now earl of Middlesex, he sought especially to save the Somers Island Company from paying impositions at the same rate as the larger Company.91 In March 1623 he offered Middlesex a comprehensive revenue plan by which the government itself would buy and sell the tobacco, thus protecting its own profits and those of the colonies.92 This was not implemented, but Rich’s arguments did persuade Middlesex to rescind the contract. Furthermore, Rich was able to inform the Virginia Company on 2 Apr. that after ‘late speech with my lord treasurer’ the latter had agreed to the idea of excluding all ‘foreign’ tobacco except a limited amount of Spanish.93 It was Rich’s evidence that was mainly responsible for discrediting Sandys’s management in the subsequent inquiry; James was entirely convinced by Rich’s arguments and intervened to safeguard the independence of Somers Island, appointing Sir Thomas Smythe as its governor and effectively bringing the conflict between the two Companies to an end.94

When a fresh Parliament was summoned to meet in 1624, Rich was returned for the Essex borough of Harwich under Warwick’s direct patronage. It seemed likely that Sandys and his ally the earl of Southampton would use the new assembly to exact their revenge for their defeat, especially against Middlesex. It was therefore fortunate for Rich and Warwick that the failure of the Spanish Match brought their interests suddenly into line with those of Prince Charles and the duke of Buckingham, achieving an atmosphere in which they could be temporarily united with their erstwhile enemies by a common hatred of Spain.95

When the Parliament opened Rich kept a detailed record of the first two weeks of the session, from 23 Feb.-6 Mar. 1624, concentrating particularly on Charles and Buckingham’s account of their abortive Spanish expedition. On 2 Mar. Rich also moved ‘to desire the king to declare himself presently’ for a breach with Spain.96 Rich regarded the treaties with Spain as ‘against religion’, not least because one of the conditions laid down by Spain was toleration for Catholics in England.97 He was appointed to attend the king on 5 Mar.,98 and six days later, in a much reported speech, he called for it to be put to the question ‘whether we think there be anything in the doubts alleged ... by the king that should retard his resolution to break off the treaties’, assuming that the result of such a vote would be a resounding negative. He went on to urge the House to pledge financial support for war against Spain by general acclamation rather than by vote. In a general acclamation any opposition to the motion would not be recorded, whereas a vote, unless it was unanimous, would provide evidence of dissent, no matter how small, and ran the risk of ‘rumours abroad, of our backwardness to come unto it’.99 James nevertheless refused to declare publicly that diplomatic relations with Spain had been broken, whereupon Rich demanded that such a declaration be made a precondition of supply. Like other leaders from 1621 he was silent in the subsidy debate until its close on 22 Mar., when he moved that ‘these three subsidies should be paid within a year after the king’s declaration [of war]’, an unusually short time-frame for such a sum to be raised.100

Rich was eager for the unpassed legislation of the last Parliament to be expedited, and consequently his early committee appointments included the perusal of the Journal of the previous session to see what bills from 1621 should be pursued (25 Feb.), the revived recusancy bill (25 Feb.) and the monopolies bill (26 February). Moreover, with Sir Arthur Ingram he was instructed on 4 Mar. to prepare a report on the 1621 Parliament’s proceedings concerning the decay of trade.101 He suggested on 10 Mar. looking back as far as the Journal for 1610, the last occasion on which legislation had been enacted, to see what longstanding grievances remained still unredressed.102

As in 1621, religious reform remained high among Rich’s personal priorities. After attending a conference on 3 Apr. concerning the petition against recusancy, he protested on 7 Apr. that the Lords had omitted the demand for a Proclamation, which he thought necessary for ‘the safety and satisfaction of the kingdom’.103 His committee appointments included bills concerning scandalous ministers (22 Mar.), simony (12 Apr.), the catechising and instruction of children (14 Apr.), bastardy (29 Apr.), and women’s attendance at church (1 May).104 He took responsibility for a bill to confirm Thomas Whetenhall’s endowment of lectures in three London parishes, two of which were in trouble with the Church establishment for puritan activities, and steered it through a series of committees before it was finally engrossed on 21 April.105 Rich was among those who wanted to indict Samuel Harsnett, the anti-Calvinist bishop of Norwich, for his ‘notorious and grievous’ restrictions on preaching, and moved on 3 May ‘therefore in a parliamentary course to present [Harsnett] to the Lords, as a man unfit and unworthy to hold his place’. This proposal was accepted by the Commons after some debate, but James’s support for Harsnett was well known and the Lords concluded that the case was more suitable for the Church authorities.106

On 26 Apr. a petition was presented to the Commons alleging that Middlesex had undermined the Virginia Company for private ends, which was clearly motivated by the Sandys faction seeking revenge for its defeat.107 Rich immediately attempted to pour cold water on it, warning that it would ‘revive a former wrangling which the Privy Council hath been much troubled with’.108 He reminded Members that ‘the sole commodity that comes from Virginia is tobacco, and there is a command that no tobacco shall be brought into the kingdom but from thence’.109 A committee was appointed to investigate, under instructions that ‘those that are of the Company [are] to be present to inform but have no voice’, and at its meeting on 28 Apr. the Sandys group severely criticized Middlesex and Rich for their dealings in these matters.110 However, further damage was halted on 29 Apr., when James forbade any further meddling in the affair since he had taken the Company into his own care.111 Unsurprisingly Rich was not involved in Middlesex’s impeachment, which Sandys (with Buckingham’s encouragement) was pursuing at the same time.

III. The 1625 Parliament

After the Parliament ended Rich was named to the commission ‘for settling a government’ for Virginia, following the collapse of the Company.112 The Sandys group renewed its attack on Rich in April 1625 in the hope that the new king, Charles I, might reinstate the Company, but its petition had no effect.113 Rich’s anti-Spanish views were sufficiently in tune with the new government’s objectives that he was nominated by Secretary Conway (Sir Edward Conway I*) for Newport in the Isle of Wight at the 1625 general election.114 As might be expected, Rich remained a firm advocate of the war that Charles and the duke of Buckingham were now determined to wage against Spain. However, he also continued to press for other policies and reforms, regarding them as an essential precondition for supply. His surviving notes for the 1625 Parliament are concerned entirely with discussion of the recusancy petition during the last week of June, and the momentous supply debate of 11 August.115

Rich was naturally at the forefront of the opening debates on religion. His first appointment of the session was to frame a petition for a general fast (21 June), and two days later he was one of those delegated to confer with the Lords to arrange it.116 He expressed his own most persistent concern, for ‘the enlargement of preaching’, on 25 June when he revived the motion, last heard in 1614, ‘that silenced ministers may be allowed to preach in all points agreeable to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England’.117 His aim was to protect puritan-inclined ministers from being subjected to additional tests of uniformity beyond the statutes defining basic articles of faith, and it was probably he who later introduced a subscription bill to this purpose.118 In line with the increasing alarm of many puritans over concessions to Catholics flowing from the king’s marriage, Rich demanded that ‘the laws may not be silenced or dispensed with by mediation of foreign princes or treaty of marriage, [and] that commissioners may be appointed to see the execution of the laws’.119 He was among those appointed on 4 July to incorporate alterations into the petition on religion, although he was prevented from inserting his request for commissioners, which was seen as an infringement of the royal prerogative.120

During the 1624 Parliament Rich had registered his disquiet at the rise of Arminianism in the Anglican Church by his assault on Bishop Harsnett. His anxieties became much more acute in 1625, when they focused on the writings of the Arminian cleric Richard Montagu. Rich and Pym were later recalled as the two Members who ‘so much tossed’ Montagu’s name in Parliament.121 On 7 July Rich was named to the committee to set down the particulars against Montagu, and endorsed the idea that the Commons could arrest him for contempt for publishing a second book after the first had been condemned in Parliament.122 Two days later, when the king demanded that the Commons release Montagu on the grounds that he was now a royal chaplain, Rich ‘settled the question’ with a motion that Montagu should be let out on bail rather than simply released, and that the king should be informed through the solicitor general (Robert Heath*) that ‘it was the opinion of the Commons that the book is a seditious and seducing book, and deserves a public censure’.123

After the Parliament adjourned to Oxford to avoid the plague Rich turned his full attention to the king’s pressing need for supply. Most Members’ enthusiasm for the war had by now cooled, leaving Rich among a minority who were convinced of the need to satisfy the duke of Buckingham’s request for additional subsidies. Rich was later said to have been ‘never out of my lord duke’s chamber and bosom’, and worked closely at this time with the favourite’s client (Sir) John Eliot*, although both seem to have been by this stage experiencing doubts about their allegiance.124 Rich delivered an important speech in the subsidy debate of 6 Aug. in support of a programme introduced by Eliot, whose relationship with Buckingham was becoming particularly strained, setting out a compromise whereby, once certain grievances had been addressed, ‘we shall be fitter to resolve the question of supply’. He appealed first for an answer to the Commons’ petition on religion; and secondly, he demanded to ‘know the enemy against whom our war is to be made’, since the primary objectives of the proposed military campaign were still unclear. His remaining points were more far-reaching, and were perhaps intended as advice to the young king, emphasizing ‘the necessity of an advised counsel ... in the government of these great affairs, ... the necessity of looking into the king’s estate ... so that he might be enabled to subsist of himself’; and of redress of the grievance of impositions.125

As this speech shows, Rich was one of a handful of leading Members who believed it was urgently necessary to improve the royal finances in order to avoid overburdening the taxpayer in time of war. He was commended by Sir Robert Phelips and Sir Francis Seymour for ‘showing us the way’.126 His comments on the need for counsel were probably intended to suggest that Charles should take more balanced advice from a range of sources, rather than relying exclusively on Buckingham, but some of Rich’s audience interpreted his words as an outright attack on the favourite, including Buckingham’s servant Edward Clarke, who rashly condemned the whole speech as an ‘invective ... unseasonable for this time’. Such remarks were regarded as unacceptable, and Clarke was immediately committed to the serjeant’s custody.127 Charles subsequently answered the petition on religion, and promised another meeting in the winter to pursue outstanding parliamentary business. On 11 Aug. Rich moved to have the king’s answer ‘printed for the ... contentment of the whole realm’, rather than just delivered to every knight of the shire.128 However, he was unable to persuade the Commons to increase its offer of supply, and the Parliament soon afterwards came to an abrupt close.

IV. The 1626 Parliament

At the next election Rich again relied on Warwick’s influence at Harwich. He still expressed strong support for the war effort, but it soon became clear that he, like other members of the parliamentary ‘middle group’ whose labours to reach a compromise ended in failure in 1625, had joined the outright opposition to Buckingham’s leadership. His diary, which mainly covers the period 9 Feb.-15 Mar. 1626, is dominated by exhaustive reporting of the debates about the mismanagement of naval affairs.129 On 22 Feb. he gave much space to Eliot’s presentation of the first specific attack on Buckingham’s conduct, and two days later he spoke in support of Eliot’s suggestion that the augmentation of the revenue should be conditional on the indictment of those responsible for previous wastage.130 Rich’s disillusionment with Buckingham was doubtless influenced in part by Warwick’s failure to induce the favourite to condemn Arminianism at the York House Conference of February 1626.

As a member of the committee for religion (10 Feb.), Rich proposed on 17 Apr. that a date be set to confront Montagu, and that a committee be established to prepare the accusations.131 He moved on 29 Apr. that, in accordance with Neile’s case in 1614, Pym should present the charges ‘not at a conference, but by a message, to be delivered at the bar in the Lords, where it may be more public’. Although this suggestion was adopted it nevertheless proved impossible to touch Montagu, leaving Rich to comment in his diary, ‘he may perhaps avoid the penalty of treason, but the Commonwealth shall not be free from the mischief’.132

The reform of the king’s estate remained of primary importance to Rich, and he moved on 24 Feb. for the chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Richard Weston* to make a statement of expenditure to the Commons, disregarding the latter’s excuse that it would first be necessary to seek leave from the king.133 Rich was named to a select committee on 28 Feb. to try to extract from the Council of War an explanation of the responsibility for the disastrous Cadiz expedition of 1625, and on 6 Mar. he moved ‘that a course may be taken to examine what number of our ships ride on the narrow seas, whether they are serviceable or not, and how commanded’.134 Next day he was delegated to a conference called by the Lords to urge speedy supply, and was one of six Members ‘specially trusted with taking the notes’.135 On the 8th he made a long report of an account by the lord chamberlain, the 3rd earl of Pembroke, of the king’s expenditure and need for additional revenue.136 He then moved for a committee to consider an answer to the Lords which motion, after a fairly close vote, the House supported. He was still prepared, as he said on 13 Mar., to give the king ‘more than our ancestors ever did’, but he also stated that ‘[un]til some impediments be removed, we are doubtful what success our gifts and enterprise will come to’.137 Rich reported the following day with the committee’s answer to the request for supply.138 Clearly frustrated by Charles’s unwillingness to discuss the redress on which supply must depend, on 27 Mar. Rich declared that granting Tunnage and Poundage to the monarch for life was a comparatively recent arrangement, and that ‘no man can show that in a high time of peace [that] impositions were laid upon all commodities’. He instead recommended the practice of Edward III, who ‘offered that if the subject would keep up his revenue according to the book of rates he would undertake that they should be quieted from further impositions’.139

Rich, acting in concert with Sir Dudley Digges, introduced a bill on 14 Apr. to privatise the war against Spain by setting up a rival Caribbean trading company. He presented ‘some particulars of privileges to be desired for this Company’, such as exemption from customs duties for at least five years. The exclusion of the government was pointed. When the enthusiastic Digges noted the absence of any reference to the customary right of the lord admiral (Buckingham) to a share of prizes and manpower, Rich confirmed ‘he is to have none at all in this’. Presumably with Warwick’s blessing he also offered Bermuda as a base, ‘where there are at least 3,000 Englishmen, and the haven there will receive 500 ships, which is of great importance to this state’.140 He stalwartly defended his patron when Warwick’s salt patent was attacked after the Easter recess. Rich was quick to point out on 5 May that this grant had been exempted from the provisions of the 1624 Monopolies Act, but that even so the earl would willingly relinquish the grant if it was found to be a grievance. He later acted as Warwick’s representative when the case was heard.141

Rich and Pym were assigned on 3 May to prepare the charge against Buckingham of wasting revenue by extravagant patronage, and the following day Rich was named to a committee to decide how to inform Charles of ‘the desire of the House ... for the rectifying and augmenting his revenues’.142 He chaired another committee appointed on 9 May to consider how to ask the Lords to commit Buckingham into custody. He suggested that this request be made by the Speaker, but despite his protestations that he was ‘not able to stand so long in a crowd’, in the end it was Rich himself who headed the delegation.143 He reported two days later that the Lords would consider it, but no action was taken. Business was then halted by the news that Digges and Eliot had been arrested for insinuating that Buckingham may have hastened James’s death. An outraged Rich protested on 12 May that ‘our liberties now suffer in a manner higher than ever they did in the memory of man’, and moved for a grand committee to consider how to proceed.144 After Digges was released and cleared a few days later, Rich continued to campaign on behalf of Eliot, who remained a prisoner until 20 May. In the wake of these events Rich and Pym argued on 22 May for a bill of rights to safeguard Members’ freedom of speech. To this demand he added that it was necessary to ensure ‘freedom from misinformation’, thereby recalling the Crown’s reaction to the Protestation of December 1621.145 However, he was ultimately forced to abandon his support for a bill.

Prospects for a compromise between the duke and his enemies rested on Buckingham surrendering some of his offices, but at the end of May he was elected chancellor of Cambridge University, a development Rich vainly attempted to frustrate by asking the fellows of Sydney Sussex College to confiscate letters that supported the favourite.146 On 5 June, as the House resolved itself into grand committee to consider how to protect their privileges, Rich lamented that with the Lords already adjourned, they would have to proceed alone, saying ‘we have sat long and done little; some things are fallen upon us that have blasted our hopes. That we shall do no good’. It was eventually resolved to prepare a general Remonstrance to the king, and Rich was appointed on 8 June to a committee for this purpose.147 As all hope of a constructive outcome disappeared, debate returned to the question of how to respond to the king’s renewed demand for supply. After clashing with Sir Robert Pye, who wanted to put the matter to the question, Rich convinced the Commons on 12 June that the Remonstrance must be completed first.148 His final task before the dissolution three days later was to prepare an introduction for its presentation to Charles.149

V. The Parliament of 1628-9

After the dissolution of the 1626 assembly Rich remained in conflict with the government as it sought to raise money by non-parliamentary means. In August he was earmarked, along with other members of Warwick’s circle, to pay a Privy Seal loan of £500, an unusually high amount that was clearly intended to fall the hardest on Buckingham’s opponents.150 This was not pressed, but the Forced Loan that followed in October was met with concerted opposition among the Essex gentry. Unlike his fellow Loan refusers, Rich escaped imprisonment, perhaps because he held no important county office.151 In the spring of 1627 Rich convinced his friend William Bedell, another Emmanuel alumnus, to accept the provostship of Trinity College, Dublin, a sign of his continuing interest in Ireland.152

Rich was re-elected for Harwich in 1628. As before he kept an occasional journal, but this time it begins late in the session and covers only the debates of 21-22 May on the Petition of Right, and 6-11 June on the Remonstrance.153 Nevertheless, he was busy from the outset, calling on 20 Mar. 1628 for the appointment of four grand committees for religion, courts of justice, trade, and grievances which, as he correctly declared, had been the ‘ordinary course of the House’ since 1621.154 He himself chaired the committee for complaints against the courts of justice. On 20 Mar. he supported the motion of William Strode for a fast, on the grounds that a fast was more necessary now than it had been in 1625, when ‘there was but one plague: but now there are many. If we consider the state of church or commonwealth ... never was there more cause’. He chaired the committee to draft the address, which was reported the following day.155 He called on 21 Mar. for the grievances of the last Parliament to be speedily brought in to the House.156 As ever he insisted that supply should depend on redress, moving on 24 Mar. for a grand committee to consider the liberty of the subject in person and goods.157

Welding together political, religious and economic ills, Rich was the first Member to link the threat of Arminianism with the high prerogative views of preachers like Roger Manwaring and Robert Sibthorpe, who had endorsed the ‘divine’ right of the Crown to levy unparliamentary taxation.158 He complained at the grand committee for religion on 24 Mar. of the king’s failure to execute the recusancy laws despite numerous petitions, and of the recent propagation of ‘popery under new and dangerous disguises’. In a thinly veiled attack on the Court he denounced the way that Arminians had been ‘advanced and preferred ... under the countenance of monarchy and authority’, and warned that if permitted to continue they ‘will preach we have no property’.159 The following day, he catalogued the worst encroachments on fundamental liberties of the person and the propriety of goods, from forced loans and billeting of soldiers, to the ‘banishment’ of foreign employments.160 Drawing on his own personal experience as an Irish commissioner he objected to ‘employments that are only a punishment and disgrace’, though he was careful to avert his criticism from the present ‘wise and gracious’ king.161 Speaking against billeting on 2 Apr., he made a rare reference to his ‘country’ Essex, where he testified that ‘men are not able to travel on the way to go to the church or to go to market’ for fear of encountering rapacious troops, and added that ‘in Ireland the course of billeting soldiers there makes them so poor that it yields no treasure or strength’.162 He chaired a committee to draft a petition against billeting which he reported on 9 Apr., and the following day urged that it be presented by the Speaker with the whole House attending, for ‘what the king should answer to such a petition we would be glad to hear with our own ears’.163

Rich took a more conciliatory line on the king’s propositions for supply. He declared on 2 Apr. that ‘I think the desire of the House is to forget all past’, and urged Members ‘to give a supply in general for supply of the king’s necessities’, rather than debate the particulars upon which the money would be spent.164 His suggestion on 11 Apr. that the date for collection of the subsidy be left undecided may have seemed moderate; but it was actually designed to ensure that the subsidy bill should not pass until grievances had been redressed.165 He opened the debate of 12 Apr. on the king’s message complaining of delay: ‘I hoped our moderation would have given a right understanding to His Majesty of our loyalty ... Let us consider how to hold firmly to His Majesty’s affection and to retain our liberties’.166 Amid concerns about ‘late privy whisperings’ and misinformation to the king, he warned on 12 Apr. of ‘an imputation ... that we here dislike the government of a monarch’. Five days later he proposed that the clerk’s Journal should record Members’ speeches anonymously, for their own safety.167

In the debate on arbitrary powers Rich was more inclined than some Members to entertain some of the alternative propositions on liberties from the Lords. On 29 Apr., he admitted there might be grounds for allowing a pragmatic delay before the government need explain cause of imprisonment, so that it would not ‘directly contradict the power of committal by the king and Lords. Would not have the cause expressed in the warrant to the gaoler but only to the judges’.168 He nevertheless moved on 1 May ‘to consider whether they should proceed by the king’s bare word or by a bill’, and five days later expressed his concern about the king’s refusal to permit any explanations in the confirmation of Magna Carta and the statutes: ‘unless they be confirmed as we have expounded them, they are but shells and shadows’.169 Feeling increasingly unable to trust Charles, Rich anticipated that any bill they might pass would be vulnerable to the royal veto, and so agreed that a Petition of Right was the best way to proceed, with the condition that ‘we shall have His Majesty’s answer before we send up the bill of subsidies. After the king has granted our petition coming from both Houses, it may be passed under the Great Seal, which will make it forcible as any law’.170

On 14 May he reported from a conference at which the Lords repeated the appeal for trust, but he saw ‘no reason why we should accommodate or yield in the least’, and the Commons agreed.171 He did support a change proposed by the Lords five days later to justify the Forced Loan ‘for pressing occasions of state then alleged’, when he again seemed prepared to acknowledge a degree of ‘necessity’, while insisting on the illegality; however, he was in a minority and the Commons refused to yield.172 During several days of intense debate Rich was closely involved in further dialogue with the Lords. Unlike some Members, he worked towards a compromise. Nevertheless he rejected the Lords’ suggestion to ‘leave entire that sovereign power’, which seemed, as he reported back to the Commons on 23 May from the committee for drafting the House’s refusal, to allow the king an indefinite power above the law.173 After the Lords, largely due to Warwick’s influence, had withdrawn the saving clause, Rich moved, when it was put to the vote on 26 May, to have the Petition thrice read and then sent up to the Lords so that it would ‘have the solemnity of a bill’.174

Charles’s first answer to the Petition left the Commons sorely unsatisfied, and on 5 June, when Eliot’s protests had been peremptorily cut off, it was Rich who broke the ‘sad silence’, exhorting Members to keep fighting for ‘the security of those for whom we serve’.175 He took the lead in drawing up a further Remonstrance, with list of prospective heads including ‘often abortions of Parliament’ and ‘neglect of the counsels of Parliament’.176 On 6th June he as always bemoaned ‘the countenancing of papists in court and country ... [and] favour showed to the Arminians’. He also underlined the various complaints about the neglect of preaching and the restrictions on lecturers.177 Five days later he reported from a committee appointed to prepare charges against Buckingham, whose excessive power Rich declared would be ‘fatal to the king and kingdom’.178 On 12 June he recommended that the cleric Roger Manwaring be judged by the Lords for his attack on property rights; he also revived his claim that the Commons could impose punishment if the Lords failed to do so.179 When challenged on 14 June to clarify the references to Arminian bishops in power about the throne, he confirmed that Laud and Neile were the targets.180 Rich had laboured throughout the session to prove that Montagu’s books contradicted Church teaching, and as the prorogation approached he expressed the wish on 16 June that Montagu should be excluded from the general pardon.181

Rich had little opportunity to air his concerns about commercial grievances until late in the session. He supported protests against various trading impositions, and this was the main substance of the petition he helped to prepare for the Somers Island Company, which he presented on 20 June.182 He made the case again for a West India trading company that ‘would take the Spaniards money from him and beat him with his own weapons’; but time was already running too short for him to introduce a bill he had drawn to that purpose.183 On 24 June he expressed the frustration of the House that the problem of impositions could not be resolved in time to pass the Tunnage and Poundage bill: ‘in this strait of time we have no way left. If we do not make our Remonstrance herein we will lose our liberties’. He therefore moved to request ‘that the king would acknowledge it the good will of his subjects and not his right’.184 He was confident that the merchants would not pay any impositions and ‘ought to deny it in duty, when if it had pleased the king to have adjourned, we might have taken a course ... had his full revenue, and the subject well contented’.185 Before the end of the session he moved on 25 June that ‘those gentlemen which have a bill pending ... may deliver them to the clerk in readiness against the next meeting’.186 On 23 June he performed a ‘particular obligation’ to his kinsman the 1st earl of Holland (Henry Rich*) when submitting to the House the latter’s patent for gold coin exchange.187

Before the 1629 session there was probably some prior consultation between Rich and Eliot, as the latter visited the family of the earl of Warwick for Christmas.188 They differed over the reforms each most wanted to pursue. Whereas Eliot continued to believe that ‘evil counsel’ must be the main target, even after Buckingham’s assassination, Rich and Pym sought a more fundamental settlement with the king, in which they would have been willing to vote Tunnage and Poundage in return for assurances over religion.189 Rich began with a motion on 21 Jan. 1629 to resolve a vigorous debate about the Petition of Right, which had been printed in an unacceptable version incorporating a prerogative claim to Tunnage and Poundage. He favoured referring this matter to a special committee rather than the existing one: ‘it is not proper for the committee of grievances, for that is for the well-being of subjects, but this doth touch the very being of them’.190 In response Charles assured the House on 28 Jan. that he had levied such duties out of necessity rather than by the royal prerogative, and asked that it now expedite the Tunnage and Poundage bill. However, Rich, as the leader of a committee appointed to pen a response, delivered a statement later the same day to the effect that the House resented ‘the inconvenience arising by these messages, by debate and loss of time’, and would consider it in due course, after other grievances had been addressed.191

Rich proceeded on 29 Jan. to outline a return to religion based on the Elizabethan articles of faith, the public acts of the Church, and the ‘exposition of the writers’, explicitly rejecting the ‘sense of the Jesuits and Arminians’.192 On 31 Jan. he amplified his view of ‘what the public acts of the Church are’, naming ‘the catechisms; Articles of Lambeth, the conclusions of the Synod of Dort ... allowed by King James’. However, this list was queried by John Selden, who took the constitutionalist view that the documents it included were not really public acts, and in the ensuing debate differences of theological emphasis produced a deadlock which proved very difficult to resolve.193 Rich was very keen to find out, on 4 Feb., by what authority the attorney-general had drawn the pardons for Montagu, another leading Arminian, John Cosin, and the preachers Manwaring and Sibthorpe who had used the pulpit to justify unparliamentary taxation: ‘for either he did it himself or knew who did it’.194 He also moved a vote of thanks three days later to an informant concerning the possible complicity of Richard Neile, now bishop of Winchester.195 On 6 Feb. Rich suggested that the case against Montagu be referred to the Lords, so ‘that we do somewhat that may give contentment to those who sent us hither, and make expedition of the business of His Majesty and the Commonwealth’. This was not done; but he did persuade the House to appoint a sub-committee on 12 Feb. to try to co-ordinate its position on religion.196 He also made a series of contributions to the investigation into the release without punishment of certain Jesuits arrested in Clerkenwell.197

Rich and Pym began to lose control of proceedings when, on 13 Feb., the problem of Tunnage and Poundage turned into a privilege dispute concerning John Rolle* and three other merchants who had refused to pay, for which offence they had received subpoenas while lodging their complaint with the Commons.198 Rich was uncertain whether privilege should cover seizure of goods, and ‘wished to refer it to a committee’, presumably hoping thereby to go on with other business and avoid further constitutional clashes which might bring about an end of the Parliament.199 On 19 Feb. he resisted a further attempt by Eliot and Selden to punish the customs officers for breach of privilege: ‘I cannot discern upon what ground we should insist for this breach of privilege’. His doubts were induced by the fear that if the House pursued the matter it would end up attacking royal authority, as the customs farmers were the king’s servants. It was usual in such cases for Parliament not to punish the official but to appeal to the king himself.200 He was persuaded to change his mind two days later when it was argued that in fact the farmers had no commission for their actions.201 Nevertheless, on 23 Feb. he continued to pursue the relatively conciliatory line of seeking restitution of goods first, whereas Eliot wanted to press for immediate punishment. However, Charles now halted proceedings by claiming responsibility himself for the seizure.202

Rich did not play a leading part in the final drama on 2 Mar., when the House refused to adjourn until Eliot had made his declaration against the ministers who encouraged Arminianism and extra-parliamentary taxation. After the resolution had been put, Rich merely commented on the problem caused by Black Rod at the door of the House: Charles’s message, he said, was ‘either to the Speaker alone or to the House; if to the Speaker alone, let us adjourn, and then he may speak with him; but if it be to the House we must hear him’. This was apparently intended to offer the House a pretext for its decision to adjourn itself without more ado.203

VI. Final Years

One productive aspect of the session came from Rich’s chairmanship of the committee for the bill to confirm the Somers Island Company’s charter which, although it achieved little in itself, gave Rich the chance to persuade Pym and Sir Benjamin Rudyard to invest in the Company.204 Rich escaped the retribution which was meted out to the less wary Commons leaders after 1629; but as a leading advocate of the Providence Island Company he was of central importance in developing the links which maintained contact between opponents of the Personal Rule.205 This first began to take form in a letter he received from Bermuda six weeks after the dissolution of Parliament; and he provided it not only with management expertise but also much of the finance for the original voyage of discovery and extra funding thereafter.206 In a letter to the master of Emmanuel in 1633 he expressed his forebodings about the marginalization of the godly in the Church; and he clearly saw the colonies as a safety net in this respect.207 He had presented to Stondon Massey, a puritan rector, Nathaniel Ward, who emigrated to Massachusetts in 1634; and Rich was also credited with persuading the young (Sir) Henry Vane† in the same direction.208 Rich’s religious connections had a marked tendency towards non-separating congregationalism, seen again in the future Independent divine Thomas Goodwin who in 1636 dedicated his Return of Prayers to him, noting his ‘abilities of learning, eloquence, and depth of wisdom in human affairs’.209

Rich drew up his will on 2 Dec. 1635, in which he asked to be privately buried at Stondon Massey, ‘in the night, without funeral pomp or mourning’. His bequests were mainly concerned with Bermuda. He left most of his shares to his relations there, but reserved some to found a free school to promote the ‘knowledge of true religion’ among ‘some of the Indian children’ from Virginia and New England. By a codicil dated 10 Nov. 1636 he left to William Jessop† all his East India shares, and a tenement at Stondon Massey. He left a gelding and a £20 ring to Pym, and made Lord Mandeville (Edward Montagu*) his executor.210 His heir was his nephew Nathaniel†, a republican enthusiast who was elected for Cirencester as a recruiter. Rich had desired a memorial, but none was ever erected; his portrait survives at Kimbolton Castle, Huntingdonshire.211

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: George Yerby / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. Rich Pprs.: Letters from Bermuda ed. V.A. Ives, 387.
  • 2. Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 441.
  • 3. Al. Cant.; GI Admiss.; R.C. Bald, Donne and the Drurys, 97.
  • 4. Essex RO, D/ABW 32/91.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 167.
  • 6. PROB 11/172, ff. 253v-55.
  • 7. J.H. Lefroy, Mems. of the Bermudas (repr. 1981), i. 98.
  • 8. W.F. Craven, Dissolution of Virg. Co. 90.
  • 9. A. Brown, Genesis of US, ii. 979-80.
  • 10. APC, 1621-3, p. 422; T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 3, p. 231; pt. 4, pp. 66, 90; viii. pt. 1, p. 46.
  • 11. Rymer, vii. pt. 4, p. 144; APC Col. 1613-80, p. 87.
  • 12. Rymer, viii. pt. 1, p. 59.
  • 13. C181/3, ff. 162v, 164, 233v; 181/4, ff. 138, 191v.
  • 14. C181/5, f. 28.
  • 15. PROB 11/63, ff. 163-4.
  • 16. VCH Essex, iv. 244.
  • 17. R. Cust, Forced Loan, 277-8.
  • 18. C. Russell, PEP, 131-2, 427.
  • 19. L. Reeve, Chas. I and the Road to Personal Rule, 214.
  • 20. Russell, xviii, xx.
  • 21. CD 1628, i. 20-23, ii. 32, 36, 38, iii. 581, 557, 559, 584, 587, 588; NLI, ms 8013 (ix) contains another version of Rich’s 1628 notes.
  • 22. Hunts RO, DD M36, bdle. 4. We are grateful to Christopher Thompson for this and the preceding refs.
  • 23. Vis. Essex, 277-8; Harl. 3959, f. 16.
  • 24. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 291.
  • 25. Ibid. xlvi-vii, 352-4, 364, 374-5.
  • 26. Rich Pprs. 9-10, 86, 102, 117, 337.
  • 27. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 117.
  • 28. Ibid. ii. 492; Rich Pprs. 153; Craven, 90, 120, 133.
  • 29. Vis. Essex, 277-8.
  • 30. CD 1621, v. 497-534.
  • 31. Ibid. ii. 27.
  • 32. CJ, i. 508a, CD 1621, ii. 26.
  • 33. CJ, i. 522b, CD 1621, ii. 83-84; R. Zaller, Parl. of 1621, p. 41.
  • 34. CJ, i. 515b, 531b, CD 1621, ii. 34.
  • 35. CJ, i. 519a; Zaller, 43.
  • 36. CJ, i. 522b, 525a.
  • 37. Ibid. 524b, CD 1621, v. 503.
  • 38. CD 1621, v. 513.
  • 39. Ibid. ii. 78.
  • 40. Ibid. v. 515-7.
  • 41. Ibid. vi. 16; M. Prestwich, Cranfield, 303.
  • 42. Nicholas Procs. 1621, i. 105.
  • 43. CJ, i. 581a-582a.
  • 44. Hist. of Bermudas ed. J.H. Lefroy (Hakluyt Soc. lxv), 243-4.
  • 45. CD 1621, vi. 13, 269.
  • 46. CJ, i. 530b; CD 1621, vi. 15.
  • 47. CJ, i. 532a, b; CD 1621, iv. 116.
  • 48. C. Tite, Impeachment and Parl. Judicature, 50.
  • 49. CJ, i. 546a; CD 1621, iv. 136-7, v. 33, 282.
  • 50. CD 1621, vi. 50.
  • 51. Ibid. ii. 202.
  • 52. CJ, i. 549b, 551a.
  • 53. Ibid. 534b; CD 1621, vi. 23.
  • 54. CJ, i. 576b; CD 1621, ii. 271; iv. 202.
  • 55. CD 1621, v. 532; vi. 275.
  • 56. CJ, i. 534a, CD 1621, v. 19.
  • 57. CJ, i. 598a.
  • 58. Ibid. 599b; CD 1621, iii. 114; v. 125; Zaller, 101.
  • 59. CD 1621, vi. 116.
  • 60. Ibid. iii. 144.
  • 61. Ibid. vi. 129; CJ, i. 605a.
  • 62. CJ, i. 614a; CD 1621, vi. 147.
  • 63. CD 1621, ii. 362; iv. 334.
  • 64. Ibid. ii. 371, iii. 265.
  • 65. Ibid. iii. 384.
  • 66. CJ, i. 629b; CD 1621, v. 181.
  • 67. CD 1621, vi. 175, iii. 329.
  • 68. CJ, i. 630a; CD 1621, iii. 359.
  • 69. CD 1621, ii. 412.
  • 70. Ibid. iii. 361-2.
  • 71. Ibid. iv. 416.
  • 72. Nicholas, ii. 170; W. Hunt, Puritan Moment, 166-72.
  • 73. CJ, i. 649a; Nicholas, ii. 224-5; CD 1621, iii. 470-1; iv. 445, v. 219.
  • 74. Russell, 131-2.
  • 75. Nicholas, ii. 241, 244; CD 1621, vi. 207, 328.
  • 76. CD 1621, ii. 474.
  • 77. CJ, i. 657b.
  • 78. Ibid. 660a, b.
  • 79. CJ, i. 662a; Nicholas, ii. 313.
  • 80. CD 1621, vi. 242; vi. 334; CJ, i. 666b.
  • 81. CD 1621, v. 242.
  • 82. Ibid. v. 418.
  • 83. CJ, i. 668b; CD 1621, ii. 542.
  • 84. CD 1621, ii. 544.
  • 85. Nicholas, ii. 303.
  • 86. Chamberlain Letters, ii. 426-7, 468; Autobiog. of Sir Simonds D’Ewes ed. J.O. Halliwell, i. 213.
  • 87. CSP Col. E.I. 1622-4, p. 18; BL, India Office Lib. H/39, f. 69v.
  • 88. V. Treadwell, Buckingham and Ire. 188, 189.
  • 89. HMC 7th Rep. 250b; Prestwich, 349; C. Thompson, ‘Origins of the Parliamentary Middle Group, 1625-9’, TRHS (ser. 5), xxii. 77.
  • 90. Treadwell, 206-11, 214, 219.
  • 91. Rich Pprs. 252-6.
  • 92. Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, iv. 26-9, 39, 49-52, 116-17; Russell, 33.
  • 93. Recs. Virg. Co. ii. 269-70, 342-4, 365-6; iv. 19; Craven, 240, 244, 249-50, 269
  • 94. Recs. Virg. Co. iv. 158-60, 183, 198, 535; Rich Pprs. 257-68, 272, 275-7.
  • 95. Prestwich, 307, 436-7; T. Cogswell, Blessed Revolution, 100-4.
  • 96. CJ, i. 725a.
  • 97. Holles 1624, p. 15.
  • 98. CJ, i. 729b.
  • 99. Ibid. 683a, 733b; Holles 1624, p. 32; ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 70v-1; ‘Spring 1624’, p. 107; ‘Holland 1624’, i. f. 47.
  • 100. Holles 1624, p. 51; Cogswell, 146-9, 176, 192, 200-3.
  • 101. CJ, i. 673b, 674b, 728a.
  • 102. ‘Earle 1624’, f. 66v.
  • 103. CJ, i. 754a; Holles 1624, p. 64; ‘Spring 1624’, p. 183.
  • 104. CJ, i. 694a, 696a, 746a, 762b, 766b.
  • 105. Ibid. 688b, 762b, 772a.
  • 106. ‘Holland 1624’, ii. f. 75; Tite, 173.
  • 107. CJ, i. 691a.
  • 108. ‘Holland 1624’, ii. f. 50v.
  • 109. ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 178.
  • 110. Craven, 319, 329.
  • 111. CJ, i. 694b.
  • 112. APC Col. 1613-80, p. 87.
  • 113. Recs. Virg. Co. iv. 491, 497, 519, 535, 542.
  • 114. Cogswell, 80-81.
  • 115. Procs. 1625, p. 15.
  • 116. Ibid. 205, 208, 228.
  • 117. Ibid. 247.
  • 118. Russell, 231-3.
  • 119. Procs. 1625, p. 249 (Rich’s undated notes).
  • 120. Ibid. 299.
  • 121. N. Tyacke, Anti-Calvinists, 137-8.
  • 122. Procs. 1625, pp. 240, 334-5.
  • 123. Ibid. 362.
  • 124. R. Lockyer, Buckingham, 259-62.
  • 125. Procs. 1625, pp. 413-19; J. Forster, Sir John Eliot, i. 387-8; C. Thompson, ‘Court Pols. and Parliamentary Conflict in 1625’, in Conflict in Early Stuart Eng. ed. R. Cust and A. Hughes, 181-3.
  • 126. Procs. 1625, p. 419.
  • 127. Ibid. 413, 415, 418.
  • 128. Ibid. 459.
  • 129. Procs. 1626, i. 10-11.
  • 130. Ibid. ii. 92-4, 117; Russell, 282-3.
  • 131. Procs. 1626, ii. 13, iii. 10.
  • 132. Ibid. iii. 11, 99, 102, 103; Tite, 209.
  • 133. Procs. 1626, ii. 117.
  • 134. Ibid. 149, 204, 209.
  • 135. Ibid. 216
  • 136. Ibid. 227, 229, 233.
  • 137. Ibid. 274.
  • 138. Ibid. 283.
  • 139. Ibid. 382.
  • 140. Ibid. 441, 442, 443; Thompson, ‘Parliamentary Middle Group’, 78-81.
  • 141. Procs. 1626, iii. 174, 331.
  • 142. Ibid. 140, 156.
  • 143. Ibid. i. 398, iii. 201-2, 212-3, 229; Tite, 153, 199.
  • 144. Procs. 1626, iii. 237-8, 242, 245, 248.
  • 145. Ibid. 302, 304, 307.
  • 146. Two Biogs. of William Bedell ed. E.S. Shuckburgh, 270-1.
  • 147. Ibid. 373, 392.
  • 148. Ibid. 428; Russell, 308.
  • 149. Procs. 1626, iii. 445.
  • 150. E401/2586, p. 459; R. Cust, Forced Loan, 38.
  • 151. Ibid. 199, 230; Holles Letters ed. P.R. Seddon (Thoroton Soc. rec. ser. xxxv), 337.
  • 152. Two Biogs. of William Bedell, 272.
  • 153. CD 1628, i. 17, 22, 31; Russell, 381.
  • 154. CD 1628, ii. 34.
  • 155. Ibid. 34, 44.
  • 156. Ibid. 46.
  • 157. Ibid. 85.
  • 158. Tyacke, 133, 159; Russell, 384.
  • 159. CD 1628, ii. 85, 93.
  • 160. Ibid. 98, 105, 113.
  • 161. Ibid. 103, 111, 114.
  • 162. Ibid. 252, 263, 268, 272; Russell, 382.
  • 163. CD 1628, ii. 375, 391, 402, 407.
  • 164. Ibid. 247, 256, 261, 265, 269, 270.
  • 165. Ibid. 414, 419, 422; CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 74.
  • 166. CD 1628, ii. 431, 434, 439.
  • 167. Ibid. 432, 436, 516.
  • 168. Ibid. iii. 165.
  • 169. Ibid. 191, 199, 202, 270, 275, 280, 285, 288, 292, 295.
  • 170. Ibid. 290.
  • 171. Ibid. 407, 409.
  • 172. Ibid. 468, 477, 481.
  • 173. Ibid. 532-3, 537, 542, 545, 546, 548, 558, 580, 583, 586, 588; Thompson, ‘Parliamentary Middle Group’, 83-7.
  • 174. CD 1628, iii. 613, 615, 617.
  • 175. Ibid. iv. 114, 119, 123, 129, 132.
  • 176. Ibid. 170.
  • 177. Ibid. 142-3, 151, 172.
  • 178. Ibid. 237.
  • 179. Ibid. 281, 282, 284.
  • 180. Ibid. 321, 326.
  • 181. Ibid. 333, 336, 340.
  • 182. Ibid. 394.
  • 183. Ibid. 410, 413, 416, 419.
  • 184. Ibid. 448-9, 453, 456, 457, 462.
  • 185. Ibid. 458.
  • 186. Ibid. 473.
  • 187. Ibid. 426, 429, 434, 436.
  • 188. Foster, ii. 382, 389.
  • 189. C. Thompson, ‘Divided Leadership of the Commons in 1629’, in Faction and Parl. ed. K. Sharpe, 257-8, 260-2, 282; Reeve, 72-3, 80, 94-5.
  • 190. CD 1629, p. 6; HMC Lonsdale, 60.
  • 191. CJ, i. 923b; CD 1629, p. 113.
  • 192. HMC Lonsdale, 66.
  • 193. CD 1629, p. 119.
  • 194. Ibid. 124, 180.
  • 195. Ibid. 50.
  • 196. Ibid. 43, 60, 194.
  • 197. Ibid. 75, 78, 149, 153, 210.
  • 198. Ibid. 202.
  • 199. Thompson, ‘Divided Leadership’, 267, 269.
  • 200. CD 1629, p. 157, 223.
  • 201. Ibid. 91, 166, 232.
  • 202. Ibid. 235.
  • 203. Ibid. 267.
  • 204. CJ, i. 928a.
  • 205. Reeve, 210-12; Hunt, 259, 264; A.P. Newton, Colonizing activities of the Eng. Puritans, 31, 61, 83, 125, 167.
  • 206. Rich Pprs. 319-20, 326.
  • 207. Harl. 3783, f. 31.
  • 208. Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, i. 463; Hunt, 179.
  • 209. T. Goodwin, Return of Prayers (1636), STC 12040, sig. 2A2.
  • 210. PROB 11/172, ff. 253v-55.
  • 211. Rich Pprs. 386.