Corbet, John (1594-1662) (DNB00)

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CORBET, Sir JOHN (1594–1662), patriot, was the eldest son of Richard Corbet, by his wife Anne, daughter of Thomas Bromley, lord chancellor of England, and grandson of Reginald Corbet [q. v.], one of the justices of the queen's bench in the reign of Elizabeth. He was baptised at Stoke-upon-Terne, Shropshire, on 20 May 1594 (parish register). He was created a baronet on 19 Sept. 1627 (Patent Roll, 3 Chas. I, pt. xxxvi. No. 2). Blakeway states that Corbet ‘was one of those five illustrious patriots, worthy of the eternal gratitude of their country, who opposed the forced loan’ in 1627. Though many of the country gentlemen were imprisoned for refusing to pay the loan, only five of them, viz. Sir John Corbet, Sir Thomas Darnel, Sir Walter Earl, Sir John Heveningham, and Sir Edmund Hampden, sued out their habeas corpus. The case was heard in Michaelmas term 1627, and judgment was given on 28 Nov., when the court unanimously refused to admit the five appellants to bail (Cobbett, State Trials, 1809, iii. 1–59). They therefore remained in custody until 29 Jan. following, when they were released by the order of the king in council. The date of Corbet's baronetage seems, however, to throw considerable doubt upon Blakeway's statement, as Corbet must have refused to pay the loan prior to September 1627, and it is hardly credible that he could have been created a baronet after his refusal. Probably his identity has been confused with Sir John Corbet of Sprowston, Norfolk, whose baronetage was of earlier date (see Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1627–8, p. 327; Forster, Life of Eliot, 1864, vol. ii. passim). In 1629 Corbet served the office of high sheriff of Shropshire. Having publicly stated at the quarter sessions for Shropshire that the muster-master wages were illegal and contrary to the petition of right, he was ‘put out of the commission of the peace, attached, and brought before the council board, and was committed to the Fleet and there kept prisoner twenty-four weeks and three days, the plague being then in London’ (Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. 99 b). On 10 June 1635 Corbet was again imprisoned in the Fleet on an information against him in the Star-chamber (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1635, p. 238), and in October he petitioned the king for his release, stating that he had ‘remained four months a prisoner, to the great affliction of his lady and his sixteen children, the eldest not above sixteen years of age’ (ib. p. 455). In the following month he was released on giving a bond for 2,000l. for his appearance (ib. p. 507). In 1640 he was returned as one of the knights of the county of Shropshire, which he continued to represent throughout the Long parliament. The House of Commons by a resolution of 4 June 1641 declared that the imposition of 30l. per annum laid upon the subjects of the county of Shropshire for the muster-master's fee by the Earl of Bridgewater, lord-lieutenant of the county, was an illegal charge; that the attachment by which Corbet had been committed was an illegal warrant, and that he ought ‘to have reparation for his unjust and vexatious imprisonment’ (House of Commons' Journals, ii. 167).

On 30 Nov. 1641 he was chosen one of the twelve gentlemen who were deputed to present the petition and remonstrance to the king (ib. 327). In June 1645 his name appears in the list of those whom the committee appointed to consider the necessities of the members thought proper recipients of a ‘weekly allowance of four pounds per week for their present maintenance’ (ib. iv. 161). Corbet died in July 1662, in the sixty-eighth year of his age, and was buried in the parish church at Market Drayton. He married Anne, daughter of Sir George Mainwaring, knt., of Ightfield, Shropshire, by whom he had ten sons and ten daughters. She was known as the ‘good Lady Corbet,’ and survived her husband twenty years, dying on 29 Oct. 1682. He was succeeded in the baronetcy by his eldest son John who, opposed to his father in politics, sided with the royalists. For this he had to compound by payment of 10,000l. He only outlived his father a few years, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, on 22 Feb. 1665. The baronetcy became extinct upon the death of Sir Henry Corbet, the seventh baronet, on 7 May 1750, when the family estates passed to his nephew, Corbet D'Avenant, who assumed the name of Corbet, and was created a baronet on 27 June 1786. Upon his death, on 31 March 1823, the second baronetcy also became extinct. A portrait of the first baronet by Sir Peter Lely is in the possession of Mr. H. Reginald Corbet of Adderley Hall.

[Blakeway's Sheriffs of Shropshire (1831), p. 111; Lloyd and Duke's Antiquities of Shropshire (1844), p. 147; Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica (1841), vii. 98, 372; Wotton's English Baronetage (1741), ii. 75; Burke's Extinct and Dormant Baronetage (1838), pp. 132–4; Chester's Westminster Abbey Registers (1875), pp. 33, 161, 369; Official Return of Lists of Members of Parliament, pt. i. p. 492.]

G. F. R. B.