Carew, Alexander (DNB00)

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CAREW, Sir ALEXANDER (1609–1644), governor of the island of St. Nicholas, Plymouth, was the only surviving son of Richard Carew of Antony in Cornwall, the first baronet of that house, by his first wife, Bridget, daughter of John Chudlegh of Devon. He was horn on 30 Aug. 1609 and baptised at Antony on 4 Selptta Lord Clarendon asserts that Carew received a good education, but it does not appear that ever matriculated at an English university. In the Long parliament he was returned as the colleague of Sir Bevil Grenville in there representation of the county of Cornwall, and threw in his lot with the opponents of the court. When the bill of attainder of Lord Stratford was being pushed through the House of Commons, Sir Bevil Grenville besought his fellow-member to oppose it, but Carew vehemently replied, ‘If I were sure to he the next man that should suffer upon the same scaffold with the same axe, I would give my consent to the passing of it.' On the breaking out of civil war he was entrusted by the parliament with the command of the island of St. Nicholas, at the entrance of Plymouth harbour, on which was situated a fort of considerable strength, while the mayor of Plymouth ruled over the castle and the town. When the parliamentary forces in the west of England met with serious reverses, Carew began to think that both his person and his property were insecure, and opened a correspondence, chiefly through the agency of his neighbour, Mr. Edgecumbe, with Sir John Begteley, than commanding the royal army before Exeter, for the surrender of the island and fort to the king. The historian of the rebellion alleges that although Berkeley gave an ample assurance of safety, Carew would not proceed any further without a pardon under the great seal, and that before this could be obtained his design was discovered through the treachery of a servant. Ha was suddenly seized while in the fort and carried prisoner into the town, whence he was despatched by sea to London and disabled from sitting in parliament. On Tuesday, 19 Nov. 1644 he was condemned to death for treachery by a council of war held at Guildhall. His wife, Jane, daughter of Robert Rolle of Heanton, Devonshire, by a petition to the House of Commons set forth her husband's distracted state of obtained a respite of the sentence for a month in order that he might settle his worldly affairs and prepare for death. About ten o'clock in the morning of 28 Dec. 1644 he was brought to the scaifold on Tower Hill. His speach contained a reference to the ‘last words and writing’ of his father and grandfather, and the signal for the executioner to do his duty were ‘the last words that ever my mother spoke when she died.’ He was buried on the same day in the church of St. Augustine, Hackney. His widow died 25 April 1679 in her seventy-fourth year. A monument to her memory, with an elaborate inscription recording her virtues, was erected in Antony Church.

Carew’s dying speech was printed separately in 1644, and is included in a collective called ‘England’s Black Tribunal set forth in the Trial of King Charles I,’ &c., 1660, PP. 99-100.

[Clarendon's History (1849), iii. 246-7; Rushworth's Historical Collection, pt. iii. bk. ii. pp. 796~7; Heath's Brief Chronicle (1663), pp. 33, 110; Vicar's Parliamentary Chronicle, pt. iii. (1646), p. 29, pt. iv. p. 86; W. Robinson's Hackney, ii. 63; Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub. i. 65, iii. 1109; Parochial History of Cornwall, i. 27.]

W. P. C.