Sir Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick (1587-1685)

Earl of Warwick

Robert Rich,
2nd Earl of Warwick

Repro ID BHC3080
© National Maritime Museum London

A colonial administrator and admiral, Robert was the eldest son of Robert Rich, earl of Warwick and his wife Penelope Rich , and succeeded to the title in 1619. He was heavily involved in colonial ventures early in his career, joining the Bermudas, Guinea, New England and Virginia companies. His enterprises involved him in disputes with the East India Company (1617) and with the Virginia Company, which in 1624 was suppressed through his action. In 1627 he commanded an unsuccessful privateering expedition against the Spaniards.

His Puritan connections and sympathies, while gradually estranging him from the court, promoted his association with the New England colonies. In 1628 he indirectly procured the patent for the Massachusetts colony and granted the " Saybrook " patent of Connecticut in 1631. Compelled the same year to resign the presidency of the New England Company, he continued to manage the Bermudas and Providence Companies, the latter of which, founded in 1630, administered Old Providence on the Mosquito coast. Meanwhile in England Warwick opposed the forced loan of 1626, the payment of ship-money and Laud's church policy.

A decade later, the Earl was approached by Samuel Gorton and his followers in an attempt to establish their own colony in lands south of Providence, Rhode Island called Shawomet. Gorton had wanted the Massachusetts Bay Colony to stop its encroachments against him and his followers, and lobbied heavily to the "Governor in Chiefe and Lord High Admiral of the English Plantations in America" for the establishment of a town charter for Shawomet. Rich ruled in Gorton's favor, and, in return, Gorton renamed the town Warwick.

Related Links

Earls of Warwick - A comprehensive list of all who have held the title of Earl of Warwick since 1088.

Warwick Castle - One of the finest examples of medieval fortification in England.

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