Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Richard Rich, Speaker of the House of Commons

Male 1497 - 1567  (70 years)

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  • Name Richard Rich  [1
    Suffix Speaker of the House of Commons 
    Alternate birth 1496  [2
    Birth 1497  Basingstoke, Hampshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Gender Male 
    Death 12 Jun 1567  Rochford, Essex, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Burial 8 Jul 1567  Felsted, Essex, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Alternate death 1568  [2
    Person ID I36201  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others
    Last Modified 26 Dec 2023 

    Family Elizabeth Jenkes   d. Bef 18 Dec 1558, St. Bartholomew's, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Marriage Between 1535 and May 1536  [3
    +1. Elizabeth Rich   d. 17 Oct 1591
    +2. Mary Rich
    +3. Robert Rich,   b. Abt 1538   d. 27 Feb 1581 (Age ~ 43 years)
    Family ID F21286  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 26 Dec 2023 

  • Notes 
    • Betrayer of Thomas More, torturer of Anne Askew, entrapper of John Fisher, suppressor of monasteries, destroyer of the Priory of St. Bartholomew-the-Great, Richard Rich was, correctly, called by Hugh Trevor-Roper a man "of whom nobody has ever spoken a good word." Naturally, he died in bed, rich and comfortable, and his descendants enjoyed their lives as wealthy and powerful aristocrats for over 300 years.

      In the movie The Man for All Seasons, Rich perjures himself against Thomas More in order to become Attorney-General for Wales. More responds, "Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world...but for Wales?"

      Brice Clagett, soc.genealogy.medieval, 12 Dec 2002:

      As Adrian Channing pointed out, Stow's "Survey of London" says that Richard Rich, 1st Lord Rich, was son of Thomas, son of John, son of Richard the mercer and sheriff of London. But other sources say that Lord Rich's father was Richard, son of Thomas, son of Richard the sheriff. CP 10:774; Donald Lines Jacobus, "The House of Rich," TAG 22:26 (apparently based on a Lansdowne manuscript). The Visitation of Essex, Harl. Soc. 13:176, makes Lord Rich a grandson of the sheriff (via the sheriff's son John who d.v.p. 1458), but that is chronologically impossible.

      Most of Lord Rich's biographers say that he was born in the parish of St. Lawrence Jewry, London, where Richard the sheriff lived and was buried. But Rich himself asserted that he was a native of Basingstoke, Hampshire. W. Gurney Bentham, "The Oath Book, or Red Parchment Book of Colchester" (1907) p. 157. Probably for that reason, Bindoff 3:192 asserts that Lord Rich was the son of one John Rich of Penton Mewsey (Hampshire), who in 1509 left a house in Islington, Middlesex, to his son Richard on condition that he was obedient to his mother. Indeed it seems that this is the only Richard Rich who is known to have existed at the time. Basingstoke and Penton Mewsey are 20 miles apart.

      The various sources and theories are discussed in Mary Elizabeth Doyle, "Sir Richard Rich, First Baron Rich (1496?-1567), A Political Biography" (Harvard Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1967, unpublished), pp. 19-22, 208. Doyle blows alternately warm and cool on the Penton Mewsey theory; speculates that John of Penton Mewsey might have been a grandson of Richard the sheriff of London, and says "it may be assumed that [Lord Rich] was a member of the London family," offering only weak support for that assumption. She further suggests that "it would seem that Sir Richard Rich deliberately concealed his parentage," without saying why she thinks that.

      Rich must be among a very small company of peers of the real whose parents' names are uncertain. Would that that were his only claim to fame.

  • Sources 
    1. [S2664] English Genealogy by Anthony Wagner. Third edition, Phillimore, Sussex, 1983., mistakenly calls him "Robert Rich, Lord Rich.".

    2. [S7050] Donald Lines Jacobus, "The House of Rich." The American Genealogist 21:234, 1944; 22:27, 1945.

    3. [S76] The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004-ongoing.