Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Greville, Robert (1608-1643)

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GREVILLE, ROBERT, second Lord Brooke (1608–1643), parliamentary general, only son of Fulke Greville, by Mary, daughter of Christopher Copley of Wadworth, Yorkshire, relict of Ralph Bosville of Gunthwaite in the same county, was born in 1608. When about four years of age he was adopted by his cousin, Fulke Greville, first lord Brooke [q. v.] by whom he was educated, partly in England and partly abroad. He was returned to parliament for the borough of Warwick in 1627-8, but vacated his seat on 30 Jan. 1628-9, having then attained his majority, and succeeded his cousin in the barony of Brooke of Beauchamp Court, Warwickshire. He was a member of the company of adventurers for the plantation of Providence and Henrietta Islands, incorporated by letters patent on 4 Dec. 1630, in the management of which he took an active part. About this period he formed with Lord Saye and Sele [see Fiennes, William] the design of emigrating to New England. The settlement of Sayebrook in Connecticut was founded in 1635 by John Winthrop under a commission from the two lords (Holmes, Annals of America, i. 229; Dugdale, Baronage, ii. 442; Cal. State Papers. Colonial, 1574-1660, pp. 122-3).

Greville was summoned to attend the king on his Scottish expedition in 1639. He denied the obligation, but went as far as York, and there in April was imprisoned for refusing to subscribe the protestations of fidelity which Charles then imposed upon all his principal officers. After giving unsatisfactory answers to some interrogatories he was set at large and dismissed from attendance. In May 1640 his house was entered by order of the king, his papers seized, and his person arrested. He was, however, soon released, and in August was one of the signatories of a petition presented to the king at York praying that 'the war might be composed without blood,' and in the following month was nominated one of the commissioners on the part of the king to negotiate with the Scots the Treaty of Ripon (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1638-9 pp. 506, 516, 518, 1639 pp. 67, 103, 105, 119, 1640 p. 153; Clarendon, Rebellion, i. 207, 274; Notes of the Treaty of Ripon, 1640, Camd. Soc. 2).

He supported the impeachment of Laud and Stratford, and is distinguished by Clarendon as in 1641 the only positive enemy to the whole fabric of the church and state besides Lord Saye and Sele in the House of Lords. On 4 June 1642 he and the Earl of Warwick were ordered to search all ships suspected to be conveying supplies to the rebels in Ireland (Clarendon, Rebellion, i. 321, 409, 509; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1641-3, p. 334). As lord-lieutenant of militia for the counties of Warwick and Stafford he in July garrisoned Warwick Castle, and mustered the train bands and volunteers at Stratford-upon-Avon for the parliament. While bringing ammunition of war from London to Warwick he was met by the Earl of Northampton with a considerable force near Edgehill. Greville agreed to leave his artillery at Banbury till he obtained instructions from the parliament, and to give the earl three days' notice before attempting to remove it. Parliament having directed him to advance, Greville, after giving the stipulated notice, defeated the earl at Keinton or Kineton, near Banbury, on 3 Aug. The earl then laid siege to Warwick Castle, but Sir Edward Peyton, who was in command, held out until relieved by Greville on 23 Aug. (Some Speciall Passages from Warwickshire concerning the proceedings of the Right Honourable Lord Brooke, 4 Aug. 1642; Petition and Resolution of the Citizens of the City of Chester, &c., 20 Aug. 1642; Good Newes from West Chester, &c., 18 Aug. 1642; A Famous Victory … on 3 Aug. 1642 near Keintith [sic] in Warwickshire, London, 1642; Proceedings at Banbury, &c., London, 1642).

Shortly after this he returned to London, and on 16 Sept. was appointed speaker of the House of Lords for that day. Towards the end of the month he was joined by the Earl of Essex with his army at Warwick, with whom he marched towards Worcester. He returned to Warwick to procure ammunition, which he forwarded in time for the battle at Edgehill, though he himself arrived too late. On 7 Jan. 1642-3 he was appointed under Essex general and commander-in-chief for the associated counties of Warwick, Stafford, Leicester, and Derby. He took Stratford-on-Avon by assault in February, and soon completely secured Warwickshire for the parliament. He then advanced into Staffordshire, forced his way into Lichfield, and compelled the governor to retire into the Minster Close. While directing the attack on the Close he was struck by a bullet in the eye, and killed on the spot (2 March), the day of St. Chad, to whom, as was remarked, the cathedral is dedicated. Clarendon's opinion that he was one of the most obstinate of his party is far more probable than Dugdale's conjecture that he would soon have left them. Henry Harington eulogises him as a hero and martyr (An Elegie upon the Death of the Mirrour of Magnanimity, London, 1642-3). Milton extols him as 'a right noble and pious lord,' and a staunch friend of toleration (Works, ed. Mitford, iv. 442). Greville married soon after he came of age Lady Catharine Russell, eldest daughter of Francis, earl of Bedford, by whom he had five sons, the eldest of whom, Francis, succeeded to the title, but dying unmarried was succeeded by his brother Robert, who dying without male issue the title devolved upon his younger brother Fulke.

Greville wrote:

  1. 'The Nature of Truth: its Union and Unity with the Soule, which is One in its Essence, Faculties, Acts; One with Truth …' London, 1640. Greville had written a treatise upon the prophecies contained in Matt. xxiv. and Rev. xx., and his difficulty in discovering `the true sense of the spirit' in these chapters set him upon 'a more exact and abstract speculation of truth itselfe, naked truth, as in herselfe, without her gown, without her crown,' which is throughout mystical. The book shows some acquaintance with Aristotle and the school-men. The treatise was severely criticised by Greville's friend, John Wallis [q. v.] in 'Truth Tried; or animadversions on a Treatise,' &c., London, 1642, 4to. (For a discussion of Brooke's philosophical position see Rémusat, Philosophie Anglaise depuis Bacon jusqu'à Locke, 1875).
  2. 'A Discourse opening the Nature of that Episcopacie which is exercised in England …,' London, 1641-2, 4to.
  3. Two of the speeches in 'Three Speeches spoken in Guildhall concerning his Majesty's refusal of a treaty of peace … 8 Nov. 1642' the other being by Sir Harry Vane), London, 1642, 4to.
  4. 'A Worthy Speech … at the election of his captains and commanders at Warwick Castle, as also at the delivery of their last commissions,' London, 1643. 'An Answer [assigned to Greville] to the Speech of Philip, earl of Pembroke, concerning accommodation in the House of Lords, 19 Dec. 1642,' although printed as if by order of the House of Commons, was proved on the publication of Lord Clarendon's `Life' (1759) to have been written by Lord Clarendon himself. It was shown to the king, who was quite deceived, at Oxford by way of testing the power which he supposed himself to possess of recognising Clarendon's hand in the slightest of his compositions.

[Collins's Peerage (Brydges), iv. 351; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 432; Orford's Works, ed. Berry, i. 356; Dugdale's Baronage, ii. 442; Clarendon's Rebellion, iii. 453-5, 460; Clarendon's Life, i. 161-2; Rushworth's Hist. Coll. v. 37,147-8; Parl. Hist. iii. 46; Whitelocke's Mem. p. 36; Lords' Journ. i. 357a; Comm. Jonrn. ii 607; Certaine Informations from Severall Parts of the Kingdom, &c., 28 Feb. 1642-3; Speciall Passages, 28 Feb.-7 March 1642-3; A Continuation of Certaine Speciall and Remarkable Passages, &c., 2-9 March 1642-3.]

J. M. R.