Robert RICH

(1st E. Warwick)

Born: ABT 1562

Acceded: 1618

Died: 24 Mar 1618, Felsted, Essex, England

Father: Robert RICH (2 B. Rich of Leez)

Mother: Elizabeth BALDRY

Married: Penelope DEVEREUX (B. Rich) 1581 DIVORCED 15 Nov 1605

Children:

1. Robert RICH (2 E. Warwick)

2. Henry RICH (1 E. Holland)

3. Charles RICH (d. 1627)

4. Lettice (Lucy) RICH

5. Penelope RICH

6. Essex RICH

7. Isabel RICH

Married 2: Frances WRAY (C. Warwick) (dau. of Christopher Wray and Anne Girlington)


On 10 Mar 1580/1, the Earl of Huntingdon, applied through Lord Burghley for the Queen's consent to his guard, Penelope Devereux, union with another suitor. Catherine Dudley, C. Huntingdon, succeeded in making for her the best possible marriage match; the young and eligible Lord Rich who had just succeed to his title and considerable property. The marriage proved a disaster.

Robert Rich was not the most pleasant of people and was described as being of a foul and vindictive disposition and of nasty temper. There is a story that Penelope Devereaux was forced to marry him. This was in spite of stamping her feet and refusing in the ceremony and having to be taken into the vestry by her uncle and persuaded by the threat that she would be turned penniless out into the street if she didn't.

Before 1595, Penelope became the mistress of Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy, and the three sons and two daughters of whom she became the mother after that date were subsequently acknowledged by Mountjoy to be his childred. Lord Rich could hardly have been ignorant of his wife's conduct, but he made no outward sign.

After the execution of her brother, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex in 1601, Lord Rich, by her own statement, abandoned Penelope. Thereforth, she lived in open adultery with Lord Mountjoy, but suffered no loss of esteem at court in consequence.

By mutual arrangement, a divorce "a mensa et thoro" was obtained. To be fair to Lord Rich he did abide by the conditions of the divorce settlement whereas she didn't. Only when she knew she was at death's door did she ask for his forgiveness which he willingly gave her as she forgave him. This of course was to make the score sheet look good when either appeared at the pearly gates and was a common thing to do in those days. It was only after Penelope's death did he look for another wife.

He at once took advantage of his release to marry Frances, daughter of Lord Chief Justice Sir Christopher Wray. Frances Wray came from Glentworth just three or four miles across the ridge where she lived at Glentworth Hall. She was married at the age of 15 to Sir George St. Pol and after 13 years (according to John Chadwick, Chaplain to King James I in 1597 but the figures do not tally accurately), she had the daughter Mattathia who's effigy lies in the alcove below her. Tragically this only daughter died before her second birthday and was followed some 16 years later by Sir George, a man once described by Lord Burghley as "one of the best men in the country".

After being a widow for three years Frances married Robert Rich of Leez Priory at Felstead in Essex, the gentleman with the full faced painted portrait on the medallion memorial to the left of Sir George St Pol's tomb. He appears on this wall memorial as the Earl of Warwick with his Countess behind him shown half faced profile with a coronet upon her head. This countess of course is Frances as her husband Rich purchased the title from a cash strapped King James I. for 10,000. In 1618, only a few months after buying his title Lord Rich, Earl of Warwick was dead and buried in a vault at Felstead. Countess Frances rowed with Lord Rich's son, Robert, second Earl of Warwick, who considered she had taken advantage of his father's trusting nature. Frances had made a marriage agreement with Lord Rich in that if she died first he would get her entire estate and if he did she would get a considerable part of his. What Rich was not told was that despite the fact that Frances received 1,700 a year from Sir George's considerable estate (mega - bucks in modern money) she actually owned no property except the house in Snarford as it all went to two nephews.

Frances took what was due to her from Rich's estate and retired to Snarford once more to carry out in the area her good and charitable works to the end of her days.

Although Frances is portrayed on both of the memorials in Snarford, on her death she was taken and Buried in the vault with Lord Rich at Felstead where no memorial of any kind to either exists. The son being of just a nasty disposition as his father he would not erect a stone to him or Frances.

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