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PASTON, ROBERT, first Earl of Yarmouth (1631–1683), was born at Oxnead, the seat of the Paston family in Norfolk, on 29 May 1631. He was eldest son of Sir William Paston, an antiquary, who had been high sheriff of Norfolk in 1636, was created a baronet 8 June 1642, and died 22 Feb. 1662–3 [see under Paston, Sir William, 1479?–1554]. His mother, Katherine, daughter of Robert Bertie, first earl of Lindsey [q. v.], died in 1636. He was educated at Westminster, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, and is said to have fought in the civil wars. His family suffered during the Commonwealth (cf. Cal. Comm. for the Advance of Money, i. 487), and he travelled abroad. When Charles II was restored, Paston was knighted on 29 May 1660. He sat in the House of Commons as member for Castle Rising from 1661 to 1673, and then gave place to Samuel Pepys. In 1661 he was made deputy-lieutenant for Norfolk, and captain in the Earl of Suffolk's regiment of militia horse.

On 22 Feb. 1662–3 Paston succeeded his father as second baronet; he became a fellow of the Royal Society on 20 May of the same year, and on 25 Jan. 1666–7 he was appointed gentleman of the privy chamber. On 19 Aug. 1673 he was created Baron Paston of Paston in Norfolk, and Viscount Yarmouth of Great Yarmouth, and took his seat on 20 Oct. of the same year. He was also appointed high Steward of Great Yarmouth 23 Dec. 1674; and he became lord-lieutenant of Norfolk 6 March, and vice-admiral of Norfolk 9 May 1675. In the same year he entertained Charles II at Oxnead, and on 9 Aug. he was wounded while in his coach by some ruffians who shot at him.

Yarmouth was evidently a friend of the king. He had obtained a lease of the subsidies of wood, glass, earthen and stone ware, oranges, citrons, lemons, and pomegranates in 1666, and on 24 Jan. 1677–8 he secured the joint surveyorship of the green wax. In 1679 he became colonel of the 3rd Norfolk militia. On 30 July 1679 he was advanced to the earldom of Yarmouth. He took some part in debates in the lords, and signed numerous protests. Yarmouth died 8 March 1682–3, and was buried at Oxnead. His portrait was painted by Kneller after 1675.

Yarmouth married Rebecca, daughter of Sir Jasper Clayton, by whom he left issue. His eldest son, William Paston, second Earl of Yarmouth (1652–1732), succeeded to the title, became a fellow of the Royal Society, and was treasurer of the household from 1686 to 1689. He was a supporter of James II, and married Charlotte Jemima Mary, natural daughter of Charles II; and, after her death, Elizabeth, widow of Sir Robert Wiseman and daughter of Lord North [see under North, Dudley, fourth Baron North]; but his sons, who were by his first wife, died before him, and the title, on his death on 25 Dec. 1732, became extinct. His estate was found to be so encumbered with debt that it had to be sold, and Oxnead was bought by George, afterwards Lord Anson [q. v.], the admiral, who pulled down the old mansion.

[Doyle's Official Baronage, iii. 736; Burke's Extinct and Dormant Peerage, p. 420; Pepys's Diary, ed. Lord Braybrooke, vol. i. p. xviii, vol. v. pp. 288, 289, 291; Wheatley's Samuel Pepys and the World he lived in, pp. 47–8; Evelyn's Diary, ed. Wheatley, ii. 83, 88, 184; Blomefield's Norfolk, iv. 491; Macaulay's Hist. of Engl. i. 489; Rogers's Protests of the Lords; Cal. of State Papers, Dom. 1663–4 p. 389, 1665–6 pp. 104, &c., 1667, p. 473; Turner's Hist. Sketch of Caistor Castle.]

W. A. J. A.