Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bulkeley, Richard (1533-1621)

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BULKELEY, Sir RICHARD (1533–1621), knight, the eldest son of Sir Richard Bulkeley of Cheadle and Beaumaris, and Margaret, daughter of Sir John Savage of Clifton and Rocksavage, Cheshire, was descended from an old Cheshire family (see pedigree in Ormerod's Cheshire, ed. Helsby, iii. 628; and in Earwaker's East Cheshire, i. 181). In 1561, while his father was still alive, he was appointed constable of Beaumaris, and in 1570 he was elected sheriff for Anglesey. He represented Anglesey in the parliaments of 1562, of 1571, in February 1603–4, and in April 1614. His first wife was Katherine, daughter of Sir William Davenport of Bramhall, Cheshire, who died on 21 Oct. 1573, leaving him one son and one daughter. In February 1576–7 he was married to a daughter of Sir William Burgh, knight, lord Burgh of Gainsborough, and the day preceding the marriage he received the honour of knighthood. By the second marriage he had two sons and two daughters. From entries of his children's baptisms at Cheadle it would appear that in the earlier period of his life he chiefly resided there, but latterly he seems to have preferred his Welsh estate, where in 1618 he erected the mansion of Baron Hill. He was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth, and a member of her household. Near London his residence was at Lewisham, where in 1577 the queen ‘went a-maying’ (Nichols, Progresses of Elizabeth, iii. 577). He succeeded in retaining her friendship till the last, notwithstanding the special hostility of the Earl of Leicester. Having been appointed chief ranger of Snowdon, Leicester attempted to bring within the limits of the forest most of the freeholders' lands in the counties of Anglesey, Caernarvon, and Merioneth. The scheme was only defeated by the promptitude and influence of Bulkeley; whereupon Leicester in revenge accused him before the council of having had conferences in 1585 with Thomas Salisbury, one of the accomplices of Anthony Babington [q. v.] (Pennant, Tour in Wales, ed. Rhys, iii. 391). The queen, however, expressed her incredulity as to any ground for such an accusation, and after Bellot, bishop of Bangor, had examined into the matter, Bulkeley received his liberty. Subsequently, according to Pennant, the earl's retainers hired boats with the design of drowning Bulkeley on his passage from Westminster to London. Having been informed of their designs, Bulkeley borrowed the lord mayor's barge, and furnishing it with men, drums, and trumpets, rowed down to Greenwich, where the court was held, and on landing caused the drums to be beat and the trumpets to be sounded. The Earl of Leicester called the queen's attention to the strange conduct of Bulkeley, but when Bulkeley stated the cause of it, she effected an outward reconciliation between them which lasted till the earl's death shortly afterwards. Bulkeley had a violent quarrel with his eldest son for having married ‘a poor cottager's daughter,’ and refused to grant him any allowance (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1603–10, p. 132). In 1618 the son's widow sued him for an allowance, and for slandering his son's mother in denying the validity of the marriage (ibid. 1611–18, p. 602), and decision was given for an annuity of 592l. (ibid. 1619–23, p. 87). Bulkeley died on 28 June 1621, at the advanced age of eighty-eight. Possessing great wealth, he made use of it in the encouragement of foreign commerce, and in supplying himself with the best material comforts he could purchase. He was a liberal entertainer of strangers passing to and from Ireland. He is said to have been ‘of goodly person, fair of complexion, tall of stature. He was temperate in his diet, not drinking of healths. In his habit he never changed his fashion, but always wore round breeches and thick bumbast doublets, though very gallant and rich’ (Pennant, Tour in Wales, ed. Rhys, iii. 389). Shortly after his death Thomas Cheadle and Lady Bulkeley were put on their trial for conspiring to poison him (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. addenda, 1580–1625, pp. 640–1). They were acquitted, but, on the ground that unfair influence had been used to secure an acquittal, a new trial was granted, which after many delays took place before the justice of assizes for Anglesey in 1634 (ibid. 1634–5, p. 135). The jury found them not guilty, but because Cheadle had used undue practices to hinder the course of proceeding, they bound him over to keep the peace. They also found that the evidence pointed to the probability that Bulkeley had died by poison, although it was not such as infallibly to convince. Details of the circumstances of the trial and the evidence on one side and the other are in the State Papers (ibid. 1634–5, p. 257).

[Dunn's Heraldic Visitations of Wales, ii. 135; Ormerod's Cheshire, ed. Helsby, iii. 628; Earwaker's East Cheshire, i. 181; Pennant's Tour in Wales, ed. Rhys, i. 40, iii. 388–94; Parry's Royal Visits and Progresses in Wales, 2nd ed. 317–18; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. ix. 125, 353; State Papers (Dom. Series).]

T. F. H.