RICH, Sir Robert, 2nd Bt. (c.1648-99), of Roos Hall, Beccles, Suff.

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



27 Feb. 1689
1698 - 1 Oct. 1699

Family and Education

b. c.1648, 2nd s. of Nathaniel Rich (d.1701) of Stondon, Essex by 1st w. Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Sir Edmund Hampden of Wendover, Bucks, m. 17 Feb. 1676, Mary, da. and coh. of Sir Charles Rich, 1st Bt., of Roos Hall, 4s. 7da. Kntd. 14 Feb. 1676; suc. fa.-in-law May 1677.

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Essex 1679-80, Suff. and Dunwich 1689-90; alderman Dunwich June-Oct. 1688, freeman 1689; j.p. Suff. ?1689-d., v.-adm. 1692-9, lt.-col. of militia horse by 1692-d., dep. lt. 1698-d.1

Commr. for public accounts 1691-2; ld. of Admiralty 1691-d.


Rich was descended from an illegitimate son of Richard Rich, Speaker in 1536 and ancestor of the earls of Warwick. His father, a prominent radical during the Civil War and Interregnum, opposed the Restoration and was imprisoned from 1661 to 1667. Rich married a distant cousin (of the legitimate branch), inheriting both her father’s baronetcy under a special remainder and his estate, including Roos Hall, which had been in the family since 1629. A leading Presbyterian and an intimate friend of Ferguson the plotter, he was questioned by the Privy Council after the Rye House Plot, but never charged.2

A Whig collaborator in 1688, Rich was described as ‘a very active, thorough man, and ready to serve his Majesty in the meanest capacity’. He was approved as court candidate for Dunwich and nominated a freeman by order in council; but this was cancelled on the restoration of the old charter. At the general election of 1689 he was involved in a double return, which was resolved in his favour by the House. An active Member of the Convention, he was appointed to 40 committees, including that for the toleration bill, made 12 recorded speeches, and twice acted as teller. On 16 June he opposed a motion to except only a few from the indemnity bill, saying ‘to pass by all bloodshed and violation of our laws is the way to bring in King James’; but when it came to naming individuals he spoke against excepting (Sir) Henry Bedingfield. On 1 July he was added to the committee to consider the Lords’ proviso on the succession. After the recess he was appointed to the committee of inquiry into war expenditure. He had been considered by the Treasury for the new victualling commission, and on 23 Nov. he supported the proposal to send for the navy victuallers. Later he acted as teller against a motion for their release on bail. On 29 Nov. he supported asking the King who was responsible for recommending Commissary Shales, saying

You were told, ‘You have sat several days upon the state of the nation to little effect more than that you have found out the navy and army were betrayed’. If that be little, I know not what is greater. It is said Shales is sent for out of Ireland, but if you do not know who advised to take him into employment, you do nothing.

On 14 Dec. during a debate on the delay in the relief of Londonderry he said that the boom, allegedly the main cause of the delay, had been easily broken by a small merchant ship, but the skipper had as yet received no reward. On the same day he was appointed to the committee to examine the state of the revenue. He objected strongly when William Wogan described the address on miscarriages of the war as a libel. On 30 Dec. he acted as teller against debating the tithe bill. As a member of the committee on the bill for restoring corporations he supported the disabling clause. He also helped to consider reversing the attainder of Sir Thomas Armstrong, speaking several times in its favour. On 20 Jan. 1690 he opposed a motion to hear the former Treasury solicitors, on the grounds that he believed ‘these men are satisfied they cannot justify themselves’, but he favoured hearing (Sir) Robert Sawyer. He supported the bill for reparations to (Sir) Thomas Pilkington.3

Rich continued to represent Dunwich under William III and remained a court Whig. In 1691 he was given a place on the Admiralty Board, which he held till his death on 1 Oct. 1699, aged 51. He was buried at Beccles. His younger son, an army officer, was returned for Dunwich as a Whig in 1715.

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. HMC Var. vii. 104; CJ, x. 36; Eg. 1626, f. 42; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 1643; xv. 202; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1557-1696, p. 239.
  • 2. DNB; CSP Dom. 1675-6, p. 513; July-Sept. 1683, pp. 53, 55, 63; Copinger, Suff. Manors, vii. 160-1; J. Ferguson, Ferguson the Plotter, 116, 122, 125; D. R. Lacey, Dissent and Parl. Pols. 438-9.
  • 3. CJ, x. 36, 302; Grey, ix. 325, 359, 443, 464, 481, 508, 531-2, 533, 550; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 65.