Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Romney, William

ROMNEY, Sir WILLIAM (d. 1611), governor of the East India Company, only son of William Romney of Tetbury, Gloucestershire, and his wife Margaret, was a member of the Haberdashers' Company, and one of the original promoters of the East India Company. For some time governor of the Merchant Adventurers' Company, he went to the Netherlands as one of the commissioners for that society in June 1598 to obtain a staple for their wool, cloth, and kerseys. On 22 Sept. 1599 he subscribed 200l. in the intended voyage to the East Indies, and on 24 Sept. was made one of the treasurers for the voyage. An incorporator and one of the first directors of the East India Company, he was elected deputy-governor on 9 Jan. 1601, and governor in 1606. In November 1601 he urged the company to send an expedition to discover the North-West Passage, either in conjunction with the Muscovy Company or alone. When the latter company consented to join in the enterprise (22 Dec. 1601), he became treasurer for the voyage. On 18 Dec. 1602 he was elected alderman of Portsoken ward, and in 1603 one of the sheriffs of the city of London. On 26 July 1603 he was knighted at Whitehall. He joined in sending out Henry Hudson to discover a North-West Passage in April 1610. He died on 25 April 1611. By his will, dated 18 April 1611, he gave liberally to the hospitals, 20l. to forty poor scholars in Cambridge, and 50l. to the Haberdashers' Company to be lent to a young freeman gratis for two years.

Romney married Rebecca, only daughter of Robert Taylor, alderman of the city of London, by whom he had six sons and two daughters. The younger daughter, Susan, married Sir Francis Carew, K.B. His wife died on 31 Dec. 1596. She gave four exhibitions of 12l. each to the Haberdashers' Company, two at Emmanuel College and two at Sidney-Sussex College, Cambridge; 6l. a year to two freemen of the company, and 3l. a year to four poor widows.

[Remembrancia of the City of London, pp. 27, 495; Herbert's Livery Companies, ii. 544, 550, 551; Stevens's Dawn of British Trade to the East Indies, passim; Brown's Genesis of the United States, pp. 66, 92, 212, 232, 240, 384, 466, 987, 1045; Harl. Soc. Publ. i. 88, xvii. 212; Cal. State Papers, Dom. Elizabeth cclxviii. 5, James I xxiii. 11, xliv. 50, James I Addenda xxxix. 99, Col., East Indies, 1513–1616, passim.]

W. A. S. H.