1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Warwick, Sir Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of

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WARWICK. SIR ROBERT RICH, 2nd Earl of (1587—1658), colonial administrator and admiral, was the eldest son of Robert Rich, earl of Warwick (see above) and his wife Penelope Rich (q.v.), and succeeded to the title in 1619. Early interested in colonial ventures, he joined the Bermudas, Guinea, New England and Virginia companies. His enterprises involved him in disputes with the East India Company (1617) and with the Virginia Company, which in 1624 was suppressed through his action. In 1627 he commanded an unsuccessful privateering expedition against the Spaniards. His Puritan connexions and sympathies, while gradually estranging him from the court, promoted his association with the New England colonies. In 1628 he indirectly procured the patent for the Massachusetts colony, and in 1631 he granted the “Saybrook” patent in Connecticut. Compelled the same year to resign the presidency of the New England Company, he continued to manage the Bermudas and Providence Companies, the latter of which, founded in 1630, administered Old Providence on the Mosquito coast. Meanwhile in England Warwick opposed the forced loan of 1626, the payment of ship-money and Laud's church policy, and with his brother the first lord Holland (q.v.) came to be recognized as one of the heads of the Puritans. In March 1642 the Commons, in spite of the king's veto, appointed him admiral of the fleet, and in July he gained the whole navy for the parliament. He raised forces in Norfolk and Essex on the outbreak of the war, and as lord high admiral (1643—1645) he did good service in intercepting the king's ships and relieving threatened ports. In 1643 he was appointed head of a commission for the government of the colonies, which the next year incorporated Providence Plantations, afterwards Rhode Island, and in this capacity he exerted himself to secure religious liberty. Reappointed lord high admiral in May 164S, in the vain hope that his influence with the sailors would win back the nine ships which had revolted to the king, he collected a new fleet and blockaded them at Helvoetsluys. Dismissed from office on the abolition of the House of Lords in 1649, he retired from public life, but was intimately associated with Cromwell, whose daughter Frances married his grandson and heir Robert Rich in 1657. He died on the 19th of April 1658. The suspicions cast by his enemies on his religious sincerity and political fidelity appear to be baseless.