EDGCUMBE, Richard (1640-88), of Cotehele, Calstock and Mount Edgcumbe, Maker, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679

Family and Education

bap. 13 Feb. 1640, 1st s. of Piers Edgcumbe. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1657. m. 5 Jan. 1671 (with £5,000), Lady Anne Montagu, da. of Edward Montagu I, 1st Earl of Sandwich, 3s. (1 d.v.p.), 6da. KB 23 Apr. 1661; suc. fa. 1667.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Cornw. 1663-80, Devon 1673-80, Hants 1679-8; member, Soc. of Mines Royal 1669, dep. gov. 1670-2, asst. 1678-d.; dep. lt. Cornw. 1670-d., Devon 1676-d.; stannator, Foymore 1673; j.p. Devon 1674-d., Cornw. 1675-d.; commr. for recusants, Cornw. 1675; freeman, Saltash 1683, Plymouth 1684, Bodmin and Liskeard 1685; common councilman, Truro 1685-d.2

FRS 1676.


Returned for Launceston at the general election of 1661, Edgcumbe became an inactive Member of the Cavalier Parliament, being appointed to only 25 committees. He was included in both lists of the court party in 1669-71 among those who usually voted for supply. In 1670 he served on committees for two bills of local interest, one to enable Peter Killigrew II to build a quay at Falmouth, the other to empower the King to grant leases of duchy of Cornwall lands. In 1671 he was ‘cullied’, according to Flagellum Parliamentarium, into marrying Lord Sandwich’s daughter. His honeymoon was interrupted by a summons to attend the House, and on arrival he was appointed to the committee for removing the Cornish assizes from his constituency to Bodmin. His only committee of political importance was for the appropriation of the customs to the use of the navy in 1675. Sir Richard Wiseman wanted the Earl of Bath and Lord Arundell of Trerice (Richard Arundell) to ‘make sure’ of him. His name continued to appear in the working lists, and he entertained the King at Mount Edgcumbe in 1677 ‘where he and the whole Court was nobly treated’. Nevertheless he seems to have gone into opposition by this time. Shaftesbury marked him ‘worthy’, and he was omitted from the ‘unanimous club’ of court supporters in 1678. (Sir) Joseph Williamson noted him as absent from a vital debate, though he certainly attended the House, being named to three committees of local interest in the earlier sessions of that year, two for settling the stannary laws and one for the Fal navigation. In December, however, he was again absent on a call of the House, and he may have veered back towards the Court, for when he was elected knight of the shire in March Shaftesbury marked him ‘vile’. He was given leave to go into the country on 29 Apr. 1679, and hence was absent from the division on the exclusion bill. He continued to represent Cornwall in the second and third Exclusion Parliaments, but was named to no committees and made no speeches. Nevertheless he was rewarded by the Court. On behalf of the Cornish tinners, he and Francis Robartes persuaded the crown to revert to the practice of four coinages a year, his petition on behalf of Stonehouse Quay was granted, and his lease of fishing and water rights over two years was extended for his sons. He was also a member of the Cornish syndicate that applied for the Tangier victualling contract in 1681. At the general election of 1685, Sunderland urged him to secure the return of loyal candidates. Edgcumbe expressed his zeal to serve the King, though he did not stand himself, being ‘exceedingly afflicted with the gout’. Before his death, however, he had moved into opposition to James II, being noted as one of those most considerable both for interest and estates. He followed the lead of Sir John Carew in giving negative replies on the repeal of the Tests and Penal Laws, but died before he could be removed from office. He was buried at Maker on 3 Apr. 1688. His son sat for various Cornish constituencies as a Whig from 1701 to 1742, when he was raised to the peerage.3

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. Collins, Peerage, v. 231; F. E. Harris, Life of Sandwich, ii. 235.
  • 2. BL Loan 16; HMC 9th Rep. pt. 1, p. 281; Add. 6713, f. 377; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 66, 71; J. Wallis, Bodmin Reg. 169.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1677-8, p. 313; 1685, pp. 21, 35; Cal. Treas. Bks. vi. 106, 142; vii. 45, 148-9, 404, 1526; viii. 99, 209.