RICH, Robert (c. 1620-75)

RICH, Robert (c. 1620–75)

styled 1624-49 Ld. Kensington; suc. fa. 9 Mar. 1649 as 2nd earl HOLLAND; suc. cos. 24 Aug. 1673 as 5th earl of WARWICK

First sat 20 Nov. 1661; last sat 24 Feb. 1674

b. c.1620, s. of Henry Rich (later Bar. Kensington and earl of Holland) and Isabel, da. of Sir Walter Cope. m. (1) 8 Apr. 1641, Elizabeth (d.1661), da. of Sir Arthur Ingram of Temple Newsam, Yorks. and Eleanor, da. of Sir Henry Slingsby of Redhouse, Yorks.; (2) 16 Nov. 1661 (with £3,000),1 Anne (d.1689), da. Edward Montagu, 2nd earl of Manchester, and Anne, da. of Robert Rich, 2nd earl of Warwick, 1s. 3da. d. 10 Apr. 1675;2 will 8 Apr., pr. 21 Apr. 1675.3

Associated with: Holland House, Kensington, Mdx.; St. James’s Fields [Square], Mdx. and Warwick House, High Holborn, Mdx.

Robert Rich succeeded to an estate consisting of lands in Havering and Romford in Essex, Cholsey in Berkshire, Kensington in Middlesex and Smithfield in the City of London. His younger brother Cope Rich later valued the estate at £8,000 a year, but surviving rentals suggest that half this amount would be nearer the mark.4 The Holland estate may have suffered from the earl and countess’s long absences abroad and their consequent reliance on Joseph Garrett, receiver and steward of the Holland lands between 1660 and 1668. By the early 1670s the Hollands had become involved in a lengthy and complex series of law suits against Garrett. Yet there are also indications that Garrett’s primary duty was to restrain the Hollands’ extravagance. The trustees for the estate were Edward Montagu, 2nd earl of Manchester, Charles Rich, 4th earl of Warwick, William Paget, 6th Baron Paget, and George Montagu. They too relied on Garrett, refusing to ‘meddle with every little account and expense of the earl and countess of Holland because it would make them appear mean and cheap in the eyes of the world, to be kept as children’.5

Despite his family’s strong legacy of involvement in politics and their staunch Presbyterian/parliamentarian traditions, Holland took little interest in Parliament. He seems to have had virtually no contact with Members of the Commons, although his brother-in-law, Sir James Thynne, sat for Wiltshire. He did not attend the Convention at all, even though much of its time was devoted to investigating those responsible for his father’s execution. Instead on 30 Mar. 1660 he gave his proxy to another brother-in-law, James Howard, 3rd earl of Suffolk. On 10 May 1661 he again left his proxy with Suffolk and it was probably this proxy which was noted at the call of the House on 20 May.6 In June 1663 he gave his proxy to Manchester, who was believed to be an opponent of Edward Hyde, earl of Clarendon. In May 1664, at a time when he was rumoured to be going abroad, his proxy went to Paget; it was vacated by the end of the session. He was in France for his health in 1666 and may still have been there during the troubled session of 1667-8 when his proxy was again held by Manchester. He was living in France between 1670 and 1672 and registered his proxy in March 1670 in favour of Edward Montagu, 2nd Baron Montagu.7 This proxy was vacated two weeks later when Montagu gave his own proxy to Arthur Annesley, earl of Anglesey. In the entire 15 years between the Restoration and his own death, Holland was recorded as attending Parliament just 15 times; six of those attendances occurred after he had inherited the earldom of Warwick. His response to various calls of the House during this period indicates that he was in very poor health. He died on 10 Apr. 1675 and was buried at Kensington at a cost of just over £56.8 He was succeeded by his infant son, Edward Rich, as 6th earl of Warwick. Three years after his death, on 8 May 1678, his widow claimed privilege of peerage when her servant, Robert Thornhill, was arrested.

Sources for studying Holland’s life are extremely poor, but a miscellaneous collection of personal, financial and legal papers survives amongst the records of the court of exchequer. These include household accounts which provide the only evidence available for the existence of three daughters. The documents confirm that by October 1684 his widow had married Richard Bourke, Viscount Dunkellin [I], later 8th earl of Clanricarde [I], but that she continued to be known by the more prestigious title of countess of Warwick.9 They also show that Warwick’s uncle, Cope Rich, attempted to claim the earldom for himself, alleging that Warwick and his countess had concealed the death of their son, Edward, and substituted another child ‘on purpose to defeat him of the inheritance’.10 The claim went unheeded and unproven.


  • 1 TNA, E 192/17/3, abstract of the settlement of the earl of Holland’s estate c.1673.
  • 2 PRO, E 192/13/1; E 192/13/9
  • 3 PROB 11/347.
  • 4 E 192/13/9, draft bill of complaint against Cope Rich.
  • 5 E 192/13/4, Mr Cowley’s examination.
  • 6 PH, xxxii. 248.
  • 7 CSP Dom. 1663-4, p. 589; 1665-6, p. 367; E 192/16/17, bills and receipts for going to France.
  • 8 E 192/13/1; E 192/13/9; E 164/55.
  • 9 E164/59/1.
  • 10 E192/13/1.