Rokeby, Ralph (DNB00)
ROKEBY, RALPH (1527?–1596), master of requests, born about 1527, was the second son of Thomas Rokeby of Mortham, Yorkshire, by his wife Jane, daughter of Robert Constable of Cliffe in the same county (Œconomia Rokebeiorum, f. 313). His uncle John is noticed separately. Another uncle, Ralph Rokeby (d. 1556), was called to the degree of serjeant-at-law in 1552, fought against Wyatt in the following year, and declined the chief-justiceship of common pleas in 1555, when Sir Richard Morgan [q. v.] was disabled by insanity. This Ralph Rokeby's son, also named Ralph Rokeby (d. 1575), was educated at Queens' College, Cambridge, and then became a member of Lincoln's Inn, where he formed a friendship with John Stubbe (1543–1600?) [q. v.]; he was subsequently appointed secretary of the council of the north, and was described as ‘the most learned canonist of his time’ (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1598–1601, p. 205). He was buried at the Belfrey church, York, on 12 March 1594–5. By his second wife, Joan, daughter of John Portington, he left a daughter, Anne, who became second wife of Sir John Hotham [q. v.] Rokeby was author of ‘Œconomia Rokebeiorum,’ which he wrote in 1565 and revised in 1593 (a copy, made by Joseph Hunter, who calls it ‘a most curious piece of family history,’ is in Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 24470, ff. 294–333, and it has been printed in Whitaker's ‘Richmondshire,’ i. 158–80).
The subject of this article, Ralph, son of Thomas, was educated at Cambridge and Lincoln's Inn, where he was called to the bar. In 1566 he was sent on the queen's service to Ireland, and was recalled on 19 Feb. 1568–9 (ib. Ireland, 1509–1573, p. 402). On 1 Jan. 1569–70, however, he was appointed chief justice of Connaught and entrusted with the difficult task of introducing English law into that province. He soon confessed to Cecil that the people of Connaught ‘were unwilling to embrace justice,’ and urged that ‘it must be valiant and courageous captains and hardy soldiers that must make a way for law and justice, or else farewell to Ireland’ (ib.) At the same time he applied for three months' leave in order to marry, which was granted a year later; but no marriage took place. He is said to have represented the borough of Huntingdon in the parliament which met on 2 April 1571, but the official returns are wanting. In October 1571 he was recommended for the lord-chancellorship of Ireland by Loftus, and again in 1573 by FitzWilliam, but was not appointed. He became bencher of Lincoln's Inn in 1572, and a master of requests about 1576; in 1580 he appears as master of St. Catherine's Hospital, near the Tower (ib. Dom. 1547–80, p. 658). He was principally employed in searching for and examining papists (ib. passim); he served on the special commissions of oyer and terminer which indicted William Parry (d. 1585) [q. v.] in February 1584–5 and Babington in September 1586. Early in 1588 he subscribed 30l. for the defence of the kingdom against the Spanish armada, and in 1589 was on a commission for the sale of crown lands. He took part in the trials of Philip, earl of Arundel, in March 1588–9, of Sir John Perrot in March 1591–2, of Patrick Cullen and of Rodrigo Lopez in February 1593–4. He died on 14 June 1596, and was buried in St. Andrew's, Holborn, where there is an inscription to his memory. By his will, a copy of which is extant in Addit. MS. 24436, f. 87, he left sums of 100l. to Christ's Hospital, to the poor in Greenwich, to the poor scholars of Oxford and of Cambridge, to the prisoners in the Fleet, Newgate, King's Bench, Marshalsea, and other prisons. He appointed Lord-chancellor Egerton his executor—an office which is said to have been worth 10,000l. to the latter.[Œconomia Rokebeiorum in Addit. MS. 24470, ff. 294–333; Cal. State Papers, Dom. and Irish; Familiæ Minorum Gentium (Harl. Soc.), pp. 587–590; Cal. Irish Fiants in 11th Rep. Dep.-Keeper of Records in Ireland; Foster's Yorkshire Pedigrees; Whitaker's Richmondshire, i. 177, 178, 182; Willis's Notitia Parl. iii. 81; Dugdale's Orig. Jurid. pp. 260–2; Lascelles's Liber Munerum Hib.; Strype's Works index; Egerton Papers, pp. 110, 308; Ducarel's St. Catherine's Hospital, p. 85; Bagwell's Ireland under the Tudors, ii. 170; Retrospective Review, new ser. ii. 487; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr.]