Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Edgcumbe, Richard (1499-1562)

EDGCUMBE, or EDGECOMBE, Sir RICHARD (1499–1562), country gentleman, was the eldest son of Sir Piers Edgcumbe [see under Edgcumbe, Sir Richard, d. 1489]. His grandson, Richard Carew [q. v.], says that he studied at Oxford, but of this there is no other record. He was among the knights created by Edward Seymour, earl of Hertford, 18 Oct. 1537, and two years later he succeeded to his father's estates. On a portion of the Stonehouse property, which had come into the family through his mother, and which Sir Piers had already emparked, he built the house named by him Mount Edgcumbe, which was completed in 1553. He was sheriff of Devon in 1543 and 1544, and in 1557 he was named commissioner of muster in Cornwall to call out and arm three hundred men. A very pleasant picture of the knight is presented in ‘A Friendly Remembrance of Sir Richard Edgcombe,’ written by Carew, and found among his manuscripts, which has since been printed in various publications. From this paper it appears that Edgcumbe in his youth dabbled in astrology, and caused doubts to be cast upon his orthodoxy, which were dissipated only by his keeping afterwards a private chaplain. He was possessed of some literary skill, and was complimented by Cromwell on the lucidity of the reports which he sent up from quarter sessions. He prided himself on his housekeeping, taking care to always have in hand two years' provision of all things necessary for himself and his family, and he kept in a chest for current needs a sum of money which he never allowed to fall below 100l. His hospitality earned him the name of ‘the good old knight of the castle.’ He died on 1 Feb. 1561–2, as is shown by the inquisition on his will, and was buried in Maker Church under a tombstone, the inscription on which states that he died 1 Dec. 1561. He was married first to Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Arundell, who left no issue; and secondly to Winifred, daughter of William Essex, by whom he had four sons and four daughters. Piers (or Peter) Edgcumbe, the eldest son (1536–1607), was sheriff of Devon in 1566, and represented Cornwall county in the parliaments of 1562–3, 1572, 1588, and 1592, and Liskeard borough in those of 1584 and 1586. Richard, the second son, was M.P. for Totnes 1562–3.

[Collins's Peerage, ed. Brydges, v. 321–8; Prince's Worthies of Devon (ed. 1810), p. 345; Fuller's Worthies of England, Devon, p. 270; Metcalfe's Book of Knights, p. 71; Boase and Courtney's Biblioth. Cornub. p. 130; Polwhele's Hist. of Devon, i. 257; Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1547–80, p. 94; Returns of Members of Parlt.]

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